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heavenly treasures of God himself, and, in a word, wonfound all things both divine and human. So that the church of Rome cannot be said to be the spouse of Christ, but that common prostitute described by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and St. John, in the Revelations, in such lively colours. For Christ hath joined his church to him to be his bride, holy, pure, fair, adorned with the ornaments and jewels of every virtue, without spot or wrinkle, such as the Holy Spirit figuratively describes her in the Canticles. Far be it, therefore, that Christ should ever think of changing this his beautiful and lovely bride for such a stinking, loathsome harlot.”
Further, Seisselius thus proceeds. “We do not deny, say the Waldenses, that God alone is the searcher of hearts, for, as the Scriptures saith, “He searcheth the heart and trieth the reins;' and therefore that he alone knows whether the works of men are pleasing unto him, and obtain his favour, which others can only know by conjecture. But he himself hath taught us how to form our judgment when he saith, “ Ye shall know them by their fruits; for an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit, nor a good tree evil fruit.' Hence though it be a difficult thing to judge of good works, because they receive their value from the intention of the doer, yet wicked works discover themselves, and the intention cannot make them good, especially when they are open, barefaced, and obviously repugnant to the law of God. Therefore, if I see the bishops and priests every day living in dissoluteness and luxury, robbing others of their goods, smiting their, neighbours, persecuting those that are good, blaspheming the name of God, prodigally wasting the patrimony of the church in voluptuousness and damnable crimes, may I not undoubtedly affirm, that they who commit these things are not the ministers of God, but his public and avowed: enemies? Surely such they are, though we should sup.. pose them created or confirmed by an universal synod of Christians, or by the Pope, or by Peter himself. But how much more may we conclude them such, when those that ordain them are worse than themselves, and their works obviously worse than theirs ? What shall we say, if it
appear that they have publicly and notoriously bought the papacy—that they openly set to sale sacerdotal functions, and that they set over the churches, not by mistake but out of malice, those who are known to be wholly unworthy of that charge, and who never in all their lifetime did any thing worthy either of a priest, or even of a christian? Shall we obey such priests and prelates who lead us the way to salvation neither by word nor work, but rather endeavour all they can to drag us into the same pit of destruction as themselves? Doth not our Saviour tell us that we must not suffer ourselves to be led by blind guides, lest when one blind man leads another, they both fall into the ditch ? Hath he not declared that such as these are cut off from the life of the church and the body of Christ, and destined to the fire? How can he be the vicegerent of Christ, who is not so much as a Christian, or a member of the mystical body of Christ, but whom he commands us to avoid as a heathen and publican, so long as he continues incorrigible.
The apostolic authority, the faith of Peter, which Christ said should not fail the Catholic church, and with which church he promiseth to abide for ever, is to be found amongst us who walk after the example of the apostles, and according to our weak measure, observe the commands and ordinances they have given us. We are those of whom the apostle Paul speaks in his Epistle to the Corinthians, · Brethren consider your calling, that ye are not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise; and the weak things of
this world to confound the things that are mighty; and the base things of this world, and things that are despised, yea and the things that are not, to bring to nought the things that are.' And the same apostle tells us, that he was sent to preach the gospel, not in the mightiness of man's wisdom, but in plainness and simplicity; alleging to this purpose what the Lord saith elsewhere, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nought the prudence of the prudent.""
Such is the description given us, by the archbishop of Turin, of the Waldenses of Piedmont, before Luther was born, or Calvin thought of, or the term Reformation even mentioned. And yet the Catholics have had the effrontery to ask us, “Where was your religion before Luther?” But let us further attend to the account which he gives us of the articles of their faith. On this particular he thus writes.
“They receive only what is written in the Old and New Testaments. They say that the Popes of Rome and other priests have corrupted the Scriptures by their doctrines and glosses-that they owe neither tythes nor first-fruits to the clergy-that the consecration of churches, indulgences, and similar benedictions, are the inventions of false priests. They do not celebrate the festivals of the saints. They say that men do not stand in need of the suffrages of the saints, Christ abundantly sufficing in all things. They affirm that marriage may be contracted in any degree, excepting only one or two at the most; as if the Popes had no power to prohibit marriage in any other degrees! They say that whatever is done to deliver the souls of the dead from the pains of purgatory is useless, lost, and superstitious--that our priests have not the power of forgiving sins. They say that they alone observe the evangelic and apostolic doctrine, on which account, by an intolerable impudence, they usurp the name of the Catholic Vol. II.
Church! Their barbs (pastors) do greatly err” saith Seisselius, “ because they are neither sent of God, nor by the pastors of the [Catholic] church, but of the devil, as appears from their damnable doctrine. They say that the authority of hearing confessions belongs to all Christians that walk according to the apostolic precepts, (which their barbs attribute to themselves) because the apostle James saith, “Confess your faults one to another.' They say that we ought not to have any kind of [set form of) prayer, except it appear that it was composed by some certain [inspired] author, and approved of God. Their barbs have often preached this doctrine to abolish the service of the glorious Virgin and of other saints. They do not think that Christians ought to say the angelical salutation to the mother of God, alleging that it has not the form of a prayer, but a salutation : but that they do only that they may rob the Virgin of this service, saying, that it is not lawful to worship or serve her any more than the rest of the saints. They affirm, that the blessings of the priests are of no vixtue at all. Did not Christ bless the bread in the desart? When the apostles sat down to eat bread, they blessed what was set upon the table. They say there is no need of holy water in the churches, because neither Christ nor his apostles either made it or commanded it: as if we ought to say or do nothing but what we read was done by them. They say, that the indulgences allowed of by the church are despicable, useless things—that the souls of the dead, without being tried by any purgation, immediately on their parting from the body enter into happiness or misery; and that the clergy, blinded by their covetousness, have invented purgatory. They say that the saints cannot take notice of what is done here below: They detest and abhor all images, and the sign of the cross, much more than we honour them. They make no distinction between the worship of Latria, which is due to
God only, and that of Dulia, which belongs to the saints. As to the fasts which the Catholic church has instituted for the honour of God and the saints, they have yet less reason to object these to us. They affirm that a lie is always a mortal sin, because David says, 'God shall destroy all liars."" And as to transubstantiation he tells us, " that the Waldenses made a mock of all the artifices which the Catholics had recourse to with the view of making it appear to them more plausible.” Upon this part of their conduct, the reflections of the learned archbishop are sufficiently pertinent to be here introduced. “ I think, saith he, that those took pains to little purpose, who when writing against this sect, made it their chief business to insist
the difficulties about the sacrament of the eucharist, and who in order to clear them, have spoken so sharply and subtilly, not to say confusedly, that I have great reason to doubt whether they ever understood the thing themselves. Yet I will not say that because I do not myself comprehend it, (for that I ingenuously confess) I think it also to surpass the capacity of others, but because it has always appeared to me to be a point of that difficulty, that the ablest have been ready to own that the strength of human understanding must in this case be subject to faith.”
A view of the Doctrinal Sentiments and Religious Practices
of the Waldenses, collected from their own writings. Having in the former section, laid before the reader the sentiments imputed to the Waldenses by four of their avowed adversaries, there can be no reasonable objection to our