The Doctrine and Discipline of the Waldenses.
THE leading principle of this church, which God raised up in the dark ages to bear witness to his gospel, is that, in which all the protestant churches agreed, namely, " that we ought to believe that the holy scriptures alone contain all things necessary to our salvation, and that nothing ought to be received as an article of faith but what God hath revealed to us.* Wherever this principle is not only assented to in form, but also received with the heart, it expels superstition and idolatry. The worship of one God, through the one mediator, and by the influence of one holy Spirit, is practised sincerely. For the dreams of purgatory, the intercession of saints, the adoration of images, dependence on relics and austerities, cannot stand before the doctrine of scripture. Salvation by grace, through faith in Christ alone, as it is the peculiar truth and glory of the scriptures, so it is the boast and joy of the christian, who knows himself to be that guilty polluted creature, which the same scriptures describe. How abominable to such an one must appear the doctrine of indulgences, and of commutation for offences, and the whole structure of the papal domination! The true love of God and of our neighbour, even the true holiness, which is the great end and aim of Christ's redemption, must be subverted by these human inventions. The waldenses were faithful to the great fundamental principle of protestantism. Enough appears on record to prove, that they were formed by the
* Vignaux in his memorials of the waldenses. See this principle expressed in a similar manner in the sixth article of the church of England.
grace of God, to show forth his praise in the world; and great as the resemblance appears between them and the reformed, if we had as many writings of the former, as we have of the latter, the resemblance in all probability would appear still more striking.
" They * affirm, that there is only one mediator, and therefore that we must not invocate the saints.
" That there is no purgatory; but that all those, who are justified by Christ, go into life eternal."
They receive two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's supper. They affirm, that all masses are damnable, especially those, which are repeated for the dead, and that therefore they ought to be abolished; to which they add the rejection of numberless ceremonies. They deny the supremacy of the pope, especially the power, which he hath usurped over the civil government; and they admit no other degrees, except those of bishops, priests, and deacons. They condemn the popedom as the true Babylon, allow the marriage of the clergy, and define the true church to be those, who hear and understand the word of God."
Vignaux mentions old manuscripts extant among the waldenses, containing catechisms and sermons, which demonstrate with what superior light they were favoured, in a time of immense darkness. A number of their old treatises evince, that for some hundred of years the principles of the gospel, which alone can produce such holiness of life as the waldenses exhibited in their conduct, were professed, understood, and embraced by this chosen people, while antichrist was in the very height of his power.
They appear to have had all the essentials of church discipline among them; and their circumstances of distress, of poverty, and of persecution, however disagreeable to flesh and blood, favoured that spirit of submission and subordination, which ever promotes a salutary exercise of discipline; through the want of which, among ourselves, church rules are too com
monly treated as insignificant. A state of refinement, of wealth, of luxury, and of political speculation, was unknown to the waldenses: how subversive such a state is apt to be of the most wholesome ecclesiastical authority, the experience of our own age demonstrates.
In a book concerning their pastors we have this account of their vocation.
" All, who are to be ordained as pastors among us, while they are yet at home, intreat us to receive them into the ministry, and desire that we would pray to God, that they may be rendered capable of so great a charge. They are to learn by heart all the chapters of St. Matthew and St. John, all the canonical epistles, and a good part of the writings of Solomon, David, and the prophets. Afterwards, having exhibited proper testimonials of their learning and conversation, they are admitted as pastors by the imposition of hands. The junior pastors must do nothing without the license of their seniors; nor are the seniors to undertake any thing without the approbation of their colleagues, that every thing may be done among us in order. We pastors meet together once every year, to settle our affairs, in a general synod. Those, whom we teach, afford us food and raiment with good will, and without compulsion. The money given us by the people is carried to the said general synod, is there received by the elders, and is applied partly to the supply of travellers, and partly to the relief of the indigent. If a pastor among us shall fall into a gross sin, he is ejected from the community, and debarred from the function of preaching."
Such was the manner of choosing the barbs, and such was the plan of church government.
To transcribe their confessions of faith would be tedious; let it suffice to mention the most interesting points. They unquestionably received the apostle's creed, and that commonly ascribed to Athanasius. They acknowledged the same canon of scripture, which the church of England does in her sixth article; and. what is very remarkable, they give the same acI
count of the apocryphal books, accompanied with the same remark of Jerom, which the reader will find in the same sixth article. They say, " these books teach us, that there is one God Almighty, wise and good, who in his goodness made all things. He created Adam after his own image. But through the malice of the devil and the disobedience of Adam, sin entered into the world, and we became sinners in and b)r Adam. That Christ is our life and truth, and peace, and righteousness, our shepherd and advocate, our sacrifice and priest, who died for the salvation of all who should believe, and also rose again for our justification."
The confession of the Bohemian waldenses, published in the former part of the sixteenth century, is very explicit on these articles. They say, that men ought to acknowledge themselves born in sin, and to be burdened with the weight of sin; that they ought to acknowledge, that for this depravity, and for the sins springing up from this root of bitterness, utter perdition deservedly hangs over their heads, and that all should own, that they can no way justify themselves by any works or endeavours, nor have any thing to trust to, but Christ alone. They hold, that by faith in Christ, men are, through mercy, freely justified, and attain salvation by Christ, without human help or merit. They hold, that all confidence is to be fixed in him alone, and all our care to be cast upon him; and, that for his sake only God is pacified, and adopts us to be his children. They teach also, that no man can have this faith by his own power, will, or pleasure; that it is the gift of God, who, where it pleaseth him worketh it in man by his spirit.* They teach also the doctrine of good works as fruits and evidences of a lively faith, much in the same manner as the church of England does in her twelfth article, and more largely in her homilies, t
The waldenses in general express their firm belief,
• Morland, p. 48. t M. 49
that there is no other mediator than Jesus Christ: they speak with great respect of the virgin Mary as holy, humble, and full of grace; at the same time that they totally discountenance that senseless and extravagant admiration, in which she had been held for ages. They asserted, that all, who have been and shall be saved, have been elected of God before the foundation of the world; and that whosoever upholds freewill, absolutely denies predestination and the grace of God.* 1 use their own term freewill, not that I think it strictly proper. But what they meant by an upholder of freewill, is not hard to be understood, namely, one, who maintains that there are resources in the nature of man sufficient to enable him to live to God as he ought, without any need of the renewal of his nature by divine grace.
" We honour," say they, " the secular powers with subjection, obedience, promptitude, and payment of tribute." On this subject they are repeatedly explicit, and mention the example of our Lord, " who refused not to pay tribute, not taking upon himself any jurisdiction of temporal power."
They give a practical view of the doctrine of the holy trinity, perfectly agreeable to the faith of the orthodox in all ages. Let it suffice to mention what they say of the Holy ghost. " We believe, that he is our comforter, proceeding from the Father and from the Son; by whose Inspiration we pray, being ReNewed by Him Who FormeTh all good works within us, and by Him we have knowledge of all truth." Of the nature and use of the sacraments, they speak the common language of the protestant churches. The difference, indeed, between real good men in all ages, even in point of sentiment, on fundamental questions, is much smaller than what many believe. Trifling differences have been exceedingly magnified, partly through ignorance and partly through malevolence. Through the course of this history the unifor
* Morland, p. 40.
mity of faith, of inward experience, and of external practice, has appeared in the different ages of the church. For it is the Same God, Who Worketh All In All his real saints.
It is remarkable that an ancient confession of faith, copied out of certain manuscripts bearing date 1120, that is forty years before Peter Waldo, contains the same articles in substance, and in many particulars the same words, as those, an abridgment of which has been given already, and which were approved of in the sixteenth century. The conclusion from this fact is, that though Waldo was a most considerable benefactor to the waldensian churches by his translation of the scriptures, his other writings, his preaching, and his sufferings, he was not properly their founder. Their plan of doctrine and church establishment, particularly in Piedmont, was of prior date, nor can any other account of the existence and light of a church so pure and sound in ages so remarkably corrupt be given than this, that the labours of Claudius of Turin in the ninth century had, under God, produced these effects. Men, who spend and are spent for the glory of God, and for the profit of souls, have no conception of the importance of their efforts. While the schemes and toils of an ambitious conqueror or an intriguing politician, which, at the time, fill the world with admiration, do often vanish like smoke, the humble and patient labours of a minister of Christ, though, during his own life, derided £lnd despised by the great ones of the earth, remain in durable effects to succeeding generations, and emancipate thousands from the dominion of sin and Satan. God will work, And Who Shall Let It? In one article, indeed, these professors of pure religion seem to have carried their zeal beyond the bounds of christian discretion. " We have," say they, " always accounted, as unspeakable abominations before God, all those inventions of men, namely, the feasts and the vigils of saints." To these they add the idolatrous corruptions of the popedom. They either did not know or did not
consider, that the anersaries of the martyrdoms of primitive saints were of very high antiquity, and were observed in the purest times, even in the second century. As they were at that time observed, they seem not to have had any superstitious alloy, and might be productive of the best consequences, much less do they deserve the title of " unspeakable abominations." But the adoration and canonization of saints, with other practices, which deserve the name abominations, being incorporated with these festivals, in the twelfth and some preceding centuries, do naturally account for the zealous and unreasonable indignation of these reformers.
The ancient catechism, for the instruction of their youth, contains the same vital truths, in substance, which form the catechisms of protestant churches. I shall mention two or three particulars, which are most strikingly peculiar.
" Q. Wherein consists your salvation?
An s. In three substantial virtues, which do necessarily belong to salvation.
Q. How can you prove that?
Ans. The apostle writes, 1 Cor. xiii. now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three. Q. What is faith?
Ans. According to the apostle, Heb. xi. 1. it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Q. How many sorts of faith are there? Ans. There are two sorts, a living and a dead faith.
Q. What is a living faith?
Ans. It is that which works by love.
Q. What is a dead faith?
Ans. According to St. James, that faith, which is without works, is dead. Again, faith is nothing without works. Or, a dead faith is to believe that there is a God, and to believe those things which relate to God, and not to believe In him.
This last clause seems happily descriptive of the point. To believe in Christ is by himself in John vi. illustrated by coming to him or trusting in him, being an exercise of heart toward Christ, which always works by love. Whereas a bare unoperative assent to certain doctrinal truths implies no reception of Christ in the heart, though it be all that thousands look on as necessary to constitute a genuine believer. That the composers of this catechism had in view this important distinction between speculatively believing a person to exist, and cordially believing In that person, appears from another question and answer.
" Q. Dost thou believe in the holy catholic church?
A. No; for it is a creature; but I believe that there is one."
They then proceed to show that the real church consists " of the elect of God from the beginning to the end of the world, by the grace of God, through the merit of Christ, gathered together by the holy Spirit, and foreordained to eternal life."
The waldensian churches had also an exposition of the apostle's creed, the ten commandments, the Lord's prayer, and the sacraments. So remarkably has the Spirit of God, in all ages, led the real church in a similar manner, to provide for the instruction of her children, by comments on the most necessary fundav mentals! The protestant churches, in their original construction, all followed the same plan. An excess of ceremonies, and a burdensome round of superstitions, filled all the dominions of the papacy, while here and there an inventive genius, like Peter Abelard, endeavoured to swell the minds of men by philosophical refinements. In the mean time the genuine christians were feeding on the bread of life, which was supplied by the divine word, and was communicated through the medium of catechetical and expository tracts, adapted to the plainest understandings. At this day true christians are employed in the same manner; and a diligent observer may distinguish them from those of the superstitious or the selfsufficient cast. In our times, indeed, there does appear one remarkable difference of circumstances from the state of religion in the thirteenth century, namely, that the selfsufficient, sceptical spirit predominates extremely above the superstitious.
I have examined the waldensian expositions, which, together with the scripture proofs annexed to them, must at that day have formed a very salutary body of instruction. But the numerous modern treatises, which are extant on the same subjects, render it superfluous for me to give them in detail. A few of the most striking thoughts shall be mentioned.
It deserves to be noticed, that in their exposition of the apostles' creed, waldensian reformers give us the well known text in 1 John, v. 7. as a proof of the doctrine of the trinity. They were, it seems, perfectly satisfied of its authenticity.
" The son of God, by the commandment of God the father, and by his own freewill, was lifted up upon the altar of the cross, and was crucified, and hath redeemed mankind with his own blood; which work being accomplished, he arose from the dead the third day, having diffused through the world a light everlasting, like a new sun; that is, the glory of the resurrection, and of an heavenly inheritance, which the son of God hath promised to give to all those who serve him in faith."
Hear, in a few instances, how in common with all evangelical expositors they understand the spiritual meaning of the commandments. For " the first degree to salvation is the knowledge of sin; and therefore acknowledging our fault, we approach with confidence to the throne of grace, and confess our sins."
" All that love the creature more than the Creator, observe not the first commandment. If a man shall say, I cannot tell, whether I have a greater love to God, or to that, which he forbids me to love, let him know that what a man loves least, in a case of necessity, is that which he is most willing to lose, and that which he loves the most, he preserves. Men cast their merchandize into the sea, to preserve their lives; which shows that they love life more than property. By such rules thou mayest try, whether thou lovest God more than all persons and things besides, or, whether thou art an idolater."
On the second commandment, they are soundly argumentative and judiciously exact, because of the abominations, with which they were surrounded, and with which all Europe was infected, except themselves.
" In the third commandment we are forbidden to swear falsely, vainly, or by custom. An oath acknowledgetli that God knows the truth, and it confirmeth a thing that is doubtful: it is an act of divine service, and therefore, they who swear by the elements, do sin."
" Those who will observe the sabbath of christians, that is, who will sanctify the day of the Lord, must be careful of four things. 1st. To cease from earthly and worldly labours; 2d. to abstain from sin; 3d. not to be slothful Va regard of good works; and 4th. to do those things, which are for the good of the soul." They support their assertion by the case of the sabbath breaker in the book of Numbers, who was stoned to death.
In the rest of the commandments, they extend the meaning to the desires of the heart, and vindicate their interpretation by the well known passages in our Lord's sermon on the mount. How could serious persons, who thus see the spirituality of the law, ever find rest to their consciences, but in the blood of Christ? and how common is it for selfrighteous persons on the other hand to curtail the demands of the law, and make light of sin, that they may justify themselves!
On the Lord's prayer, in a very sensible introduction, they observe, that " God, who seeth the secrets of our hearts, is more moved by a deep groan or sigh, with complaints and tears that come from the heart, than by a thousand words." In opposition to the formal rounds of repetition at that time so fashionable, they say, " there is no man who can keep his mind attentive to prayer a whole day or a whole night together, except God give the special assistance of his grace. God hath therefore appointed to his servants other exercises, sometimes in, one way, sometimes in another, which are to be performed for the good of themselves or of their neighbours, with their hearts lifted up to God." " To pray much is to be fervent in prayer." " No prayer can be pleasing to God, which refers not some way or other to the Lord's prayer. Every christian ought to apply himself to understand and learn it."
There is among the records of this people a very ancient confession of sin, which was commonly used, and which shows that they taught every person to apply to himself that hideous picture of human depravity, which St. Paul delineates,* " that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God." If no more could be said for this people, than that they hated the gross abominations of popery, and condemned the vices of the generality of mankind, they might have been ostentatious pharisees, or selfsufficient socinians. But though, no doubt, there were unsound professors among them as among all other bodies of christians, yet, in their community, there were a number of real christians, who knew how to direct the edge of their severity against the " sins that dwelled in them," and who, being truly humbled under a piercing sight of native depravity, betook themselves wholly to the grace of God in Christ for salvation. Hear how they speak. " Excuse myself I cannot; for thou, O Lord, hast showed me both what is good and evil. I have understood thy power; I have not been ignorant of thy wisdom; I have known thy justice; and have tasted of thy goodness. Yet all the evil, which I do, proceeds from my own depravity. I have committed many evils from the beginning of my life; covetousness is rooted in my heart; I love avarice, I seek after applause, and bear little love to those, who have obliged me by their kindness. If thou do not pardon me, my soul must go down to perdition. An
• Rom. iii. 10.—20.
ger likewise reigns in my heart, and envy gnaws me; for I am naturally wittiout charity. I am slow to do good, but industrious to do evil.- I have blinded myself, and have had many evilthoughts against thee. I have cast mine eyes on vain delights, and have seldom lifted them up to thy face. I have lent an ear to empty sounds, and to many evil speakings; but to hear and understand thy laws hath been grievous and irksome to me. I have taken more pleasure in the noisome sink of sin, than in divine sweetness; I have even Worshipped sin; I have endeavoured to conceal my own guilt, and to lay it upon another. My mind and body are wounded; my heart hath been delighted with evil things; with many foolish and unprofitable objects. I have turned aside into bypaths, and, by my levity, have given an ill example to others. I have slandered my neighbour, and have loved him only, because of my temporal interest."
There is not, in any age, a truly humble and serious christian, who will not acknowledge himself guilty in all these respects before God, even though his conduct has, comparatively speaking, been blameless before men. It is the want of selfknowledge, which keeps men ignorant of their ill desert before God; and, in truth, nothing is so much unknown to men in general as the propensity of their own hearts. This knowledge, however, was found among the waldenses; and hence they were an humble people, prepared to receive the gospel of Christ from the heart, to walk in his steps to carry his cross, and to fear sin above all other evils.
Some ancient inquisitorial memoirs describing the manners and customs of this people, speak to this effect: "kneeling on their knees, they continue in prayers with silence, so long as a man may say thirty or forty pater nosters. This they do daily with great reverence, when they have no strangers^ with them, both before dinner and after; likewise before supper and after, and when they retire to rest, and in the morning. Before thev go to meat, the elder among
Vol. Iff. " 57
them says, God who blessed the five barley loaves and two fishes before his disciples*in the wilderness, bless this table and that which is set upon it, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holyghost. And after meat, he says, the God which has given us corporal food, grant us his spiritual life, and may God be with us, and we always with him. After their meals, they teach and exhort one another."
Reinerius, their adversary, declares, "that a certain heretical waldensian, with a view of turning a person from the catholic faith, swam over a river in the night and in the winter, to come to him and teach him."
Hear what a character an ancient inquisitor gives of this people: " Heretics are known by their manners and words; for they are orderly and modest in their manners and behaviour. They avoid all appearance of pride in their dress, they neither wear rich clothes, nor are they too mean and ragged in their attire. They avoid commerce, that they may be free from falsehood and deceit: they live by manual industry, as day labourers or mechanics; and their preachers are weavers and taylors. They seek not to amass wealth, but are content with the necessaries of life. They are chaste, temperate, and sober; they abstain from anger. They hypocritically go to the church, confess, communicate, and hear sermons, to catch the preacher in his words. The ir women are modest, avoid slander, foolish jesting, and levity of words, especially falsehood and oaths."*
Their directions to pastors in visiting the sick are full of evangelical simplicity. The afflicted person is exhorted to look to Christ as the great pattern of patient sufferers, " who is the true Son of God, and yet hath been more afflicted than we all, and more tormented than any other. Let the sick man consider with himself, that he is grievously afflicted as his Saviour was, when he suffered for us; for which the man
ought to yield thanks to God, because it hath pleased him to give this good Saviour to death for us, and at the same time to beg mercy at his hands in the name of Jesus. And we christians ought to have a perfect confidence and assurance, that our Father will forgive us for his goodness sake. Let the sick person commit himself wholly to the Lord. Let him do to his neighbour, as he would have his neighbour do to him, making such arrangements among his relations, that he may leave them in peace, and that there may be no suits or contentions after his death. Let him hope for salvation in Jesus Christ, and not in any other, or by any other thing, acknowledging himself a miserable sinner, that he may ask mercy of God, finding himself in such a manner culpable, that of himself he deservetl! eternal death. If the pastor find the sick person alarmed and terrified with the sense of the divine displeasure against sinners, let him remind the distressed soul of those comfortable promises which Oup Saviour hath made to all those, who come to him, and who, from the bottom of their heart, call upon him; and how God the father hath' promised forgiveness, whensoever we shall ask it in the name of his Son. These are the things, in which the true preacher of the word ought faithfully to employ himself, that he may conduct the party visited to his Saviour.
And whereas, in former times, it hath been the custom to cause the disconsolate widow to spend much money on singers and ringers, and on persons who eat and drink, while she weeps and fasts, wronging her fatherless children; it is our duty, from motives of compassion, to the end that one loss be not added to another, to aid them with our counsel and our goods, according to the ability which God hath bestowed on us, taking care that the children be well instructed, that they may labour to maintain themselves, as God hath ordained, and live like christians."
The directions, which they gave to new converts, were, to study the epistolary instructions of St. Paul, that they might know how to walk in such a manner as not to give occasion of falling to their neighbours, and, that they might not make the house of the Lord a den of thieves. /
They were zealous in directing the education of children. " Despair not," say they, " of thy child, when he is unwilling to receive correction, or, if he prove not speedily good; for the labourer gathereth not the fruits of the earth, as soon as the seed is sown, but he waits till the due season. A man ought to have a careful eye over his daughters. Keep them within, and see they wander not. For Dinah the daughter of Jacob was corrupted by being seen of strangers."
In ecclesiastical correction, they were directed by our Lord's rule, in first reproving a brother in private; secondly, in the presence of two or three brethren; and, last of all, and not till other methods failed, in proceeding to excommunication. Private correction, they observe, is sufficient for faults not made known to many; but, in the case of open sins, they followed the apostolical rule, * Them, that sin, rebuke before all, that others may fear. " Marriages are to be made according to the degrees of kindred permitted by God. The pope's dispensations are of no value, nor deserve the least regard. The band of holy matrimony must not be made without the consent of the parents of both parties; for children belong to their parents."
Against the disorders of taverns, and the mischiefs of dancing they are exceedingly severe. Remark one sentence; " They, who deck and adorn their daughters, are like those, who put dry wood to the fire, to the end that it may burn the better. A tavern is the fountain of sin, and the school of Satan." For conversing with those, that are without, they give rules, full of christian simplicity; and they direct their people also in christian morals after a style and manner much superior to the spirit and taste of the thirteenth century. Their rules of ecclesiastical correction and excommunication were drawn from the new testament.
Private faults were to be censured privately, public faults before the congregation; and, in case of incorrigibleness, they proceeded to excommunication.* i > It may be proper to observe here, that Sir Samuel Morland, in his history of the evangelical churches of the valleys of Piedmont, bears the strongest testimony to the truth of Perrin's narrative. He gives us the attestation of Tronchin, the chief minister of Geneva, j>tv which attestation, he tells us, is, together with o|hM^J " original papers, in the public library of the uersity of Cambridge. The substance of the attestation itself is, that Tronchin declares, that Perrin coming to Geneva to print his history, communicated to him his work, and divers original manuscripts, from which he (Perrin) had extracted the ancient doctrine and discipline of the waldenses, which manuscripts Tronchin then saw and perused. Tronchin's testimony is dated in 1656. We have here the united testimony of Perrin, Tronchin, and Morland, to the authenticity of the history before us. And it appears that the same Tronchin, at the distance of thirty-eight years, corresponded both with Perrin and Morland. There is also a book concerning antichrist in an old manuscript, which contains many sermons of the pastors; it is dated 1120, and therefore was written before the time of Waldo. The existence, therefore, of these churches is still farther proved to have taken place before the days of that reformer. The treatise concerning antichrist was preserved by the waldenses of the Alps; and a brief summary of it is as follows. " He is called antichrist, because, being covered and adorned under the colour of Christ and his church, he opposes the salvation purchased by Christ, of which the faithful are partakers by faith, hope, and charity. He contradicts the truth by the wisdom of the world, and by counterfeit holiness. To make up a complete system of religious hopocrisy, all these things must concur, there must be worldly wise men, there must be relr
* Morland, p. 86.
gious orders, pharisees, ministers, doctors, the secular power, and lovers of this world. Antichrist, indeed, was conceived in the apostle's times, but he was in his infancy, unformed and imperfect. He was therefore the more easily known and ejected, being rude, raw, and wanting utterance. He had then no skill in making decretals, he wanted hypocritical ministers, and the show of religious orders. He had none of those riches, by which he might allure ministers to his service, and multiply his adherents: he wanted also the secular power, and could not compel men to serve him. But he grew to a full age, when the lovers of the world, both in church and state, did multiply and get all the power into their hands: Christ had never any enemyiike to this, so able to pervert the way of truth into falsehood, insomuch that the church with her true children is trodden under foot. He robs Christ of his merits, of justification, regeneration, sanctification, and spiritual nourishment, and ascribes the same to his own authority, to a form of words, to his own works, to saints, and to the fire of purgatory. Yet he has some decent qualities, which throw a veil over his enormities; such as an external profession of Christianity, tradition, and catalogues of episcopal succession, lying wonders, external sanctity, and certain sayings of Christ himself, the administration of the sacraments, verbal preaching against vices, and the virtuous lives of some, who really live to God in Babylon, whom, however, antichrist, so far as in him lies, prevents from placing all their hope in Christ alone. These things are a cloak, with which antichrist hides his wickedness, - that he may not be rejected as a pagan. Knowing these things, we depart from antichrist, according to express scriptural directions. We unite ourselves to the truth of Christ and his spouse, how small soever she appear. We describe the causes of our separation* from and"
• Hence it appears, that, in 1120. there were a body of the who had perfectly separated from the Roman church. Yet, it is ej'"r" from Bernard's account, that those, of whom he had srfnie knowl«-? ' were not separatists. This may be one instance of their differences laws
christ, that if the Lord be pleased to impart the knowledge of the same truth to others, those, who receive it, together with us may love it. But, if they be not sufficiently enlightened, they may receive help by our ministry, and be washed by the spirit. If any one have received more abundantly than we ourselves, we desire the more humbly to be taught, and to amend our defects. A various and endless idolatry marks the genius of antichrist, and he teaches men by that to seek for grace, which is essentially in God alone,exists meritoriously in Christ, and is communicated by faith alone through the holy Spirit." They then proceed to confute distinctly the various abominations of popery, on which points it is, at this day, unnecessary to enlarge. Suffice it to say, that to see and argue as they did in that dark age, required a light and strength of judgment, of which we can now scarcely form an idea. It is more to my purpose to mention some testimonies of the offices of Christ, which are interwoven in their arguments. " He is our advocate: he forgives sins. He presents himself in some measure to us, before we bestir ourselves. He knocks, that we should open to him: and, to obstruct all occasions of idolatry, he sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and desires, that every faithful soul should have recourse to him alone. For all the care of the faithful should be directed toward -Christ, imitating him that is above. He is the gate: whosoever entereth by him shall be saved. He
themselves, of which Evervimis speaks. And it is very conceivable, that men equally sincere, might not be, for a time, unanimous in this point. The dread of schism on the one hand, and of idolatrous contagion on the other, would each afford no contemptible argument on both sides of the question. The albigenses, however, a branch of the waldenses, in the year 1200 were so exceedingly numerous, that they then formed a distinct church, and were openly separated from the whole romish system. In truth, though it seems to have been the fault of some protestant historians to give too early a date to the reign of antichrist, and, on that account, to condemn unjustly several romish pastors, whom I have attempted to vindicate, yet the man of sin doubtless did appear, at length, in all that enormity, which the most vehement of.the protestant writers have described. Therefore it became absolutely necessary for real christians to depart from Babylon. The several bodies of the waldenses did so, though, t think successively and gradual!). They are properly the first of the protestant churches
alone hath the prerogative, to obtain whatever he requests in behalf of mankind, whom he hath reconciled by his death. To what purpose should we address ourselves to any other saint as mediator, seeing he himself is far more charitable and far more ready to succour us than any of them?"
There is also a short treatise on tribulation, a subject highly needful to be studied by all christians, by those more particularly, who, like the waldenses, lived in the flames of persecution.
The Noble Lesson, written in the year 1100, has already, m part, been given to the reader, and it closes the account of waldensian monuments, collected by Perry of Lyons.
Some of the thoughts, which I have transcribed from this author, on account of their extreme simplicity, may appear almost childish to persons, whose taste has been formed purely by modern models and maxims; and it must be confessed, that we discover no persons of superior capacity or uncommon genius among this people. Their means of knowledge were ordinary, their situation confined, and their circumstances perhaps uersally poor. Even so Father, For so It Seemed Good In Thy Sight.* The excellency of the power was therefore of God and not of man. How happened it, that they should possess so sound a portion of evangelical truth, so ably and judiciously confute established errors, so boldly maintain the truth as it is in Jesus, so patiently suffer for it, live so singularly distinct from the world, and so nobly superior to all around them; while princes, dignitaries, uersities, and all, that was looked on as great, splendid, and wise among men, wandered in miserable darkness? It Mas of the Lord, who is Avonderful in council and excellent in work; and his preservation of a godly seed in the earth, in such circumstances, is a pledge that he never will forsake his church, and that the gates of hell shall never prevail against it.
We have seen the most satisfactory proofs of the genuine apostolical doctrine, connected with holy practice by the influence of the holy Spirit, as subsisting among this people. At the reformation, some fundamental doctrines, particularly that of original sin, and of justification by faith in Christ, were indeed more distinctly and explicitly unfolded. But every candid and intelligent reader has seen that these, with all other fundamental truths, were understood and confessed by the waldenses. The principal defect of these records is, that invectives against antichrist and its abominations make up too large a proportion of their catechetical instructions; and the general vital truths of the gospel are not so much enlarged on as the reader, who seeks edification, would wish. How far this defect might be less obvious, or even disappear, could we see the many sermons of their pastors, I know not. But these churches were in perpetual trouble and danger; and their distressed circumstances form, in some measure, an apology for the imperfection of their writings.