The Persecutions of the Waldenses.
THIS is the only subject relating to the waldenses, which has not passed under our review. Their external history is, indeed, little else than a series of persecution. And I regret, that while we have some large and distinct details of the cruelties of their persecutors, we have very scanty accounts of the spirit, with which they suffered; and still less of the internal exercises of holiness, which are known only to the people of God. But this is not the first occasion, which we have had to lament, concerning the manner in which church history has been transmitted to us.
In 1162, two years after Waldo had begun to preach
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the gospel in Lyons, Lewis VII. of France, and Henry II. of England, on foot, holding the bridle of the horse of pope Alexander III. walking one on one side of him, the other on the other, conducted him to his habitation; exhibiting, says Baronius,* a spectacle most grateful to God, to angels, and to men! For the princes of the earth, as well as the meanest persons, were now enslaved to the popedom, and were easily led to persecute the children of God with the most savage barbarity. We are astonished in reading the details of persecution. That, which raged against the waldenses in the former part of the thirteenth century, was indeed an assemblage of every thing cruel, perfidious, indecent, and detestable. But we are not to imagine, that contemporaries beheld such scenes with the same horror with which we do: the " god of this world," with consummate dexterity, infatuates his slaves, by a successive variety of wickedness, adapted to circumstances. The scenes of villany, meanness, indecency, hypocrisy, and barbarity, which, for several years, have been carrying on in France, under the mask of philosophy, liberty, and rationality, have found, in our own country, many defenders, or at least apologists. The reason is, that irreligious scepticism or atheistic profaneness is the darling of these times, as superstition was that of the thirteenth century. And, if men will not learn the all important lesson, namely, to obey the divine oracles, there seems no end of the deceits by which the prince of darkness will impose on mankind.
In 1176 some of the waldenses, called heretics, being examined by the bishops were convicted of heresy. They were said to receive only the new testament, and to reject the old, except in the testimonies quoted by our Lord and the apostles, f This charge is confuted by the whole tenor of their authentic writings, in which they quote the old testament authority as divine, without reserve or hesitation. Being intcr
rogated concerning their faith, we are told, that they said, " we are not bound to answer." Other accusations against them were as follow, namely, that they asserted the truth of the manichean doctrine of two independent principles, that they denied the utility of infant baptism, and that the Lord's body was made by the consecration of an unworthy priest, that unfaithful ministers had any right to the exercise of ecclesiastical power, or to titles and first fruits, or that the faithful ought to attend their pastoral services, or that auricular confession was necessary, or that oaths were in any case lawful. The reader, who has attentively considered the foregoing accounts of the waldenses, will know how to separate the falsehood from the truth contained in these charges. " All these things," says Baronius, " the wretched men asserted, that they learned from the gospels and epistles, and that they would receive nothing, except what they found expressly contained there, thus rejecting the interpretation of the doctors, though they themselves were perfectly illiterate. They were confuted," he adds, " at a conference before the bishop of Albi, from the new testament, which alone they admitted; and, they professed the catholic faith, but would not swear, and were therefore condemned."
From this account, however imperfect, and in several instances, palpably injurious, some farther light may be collected of the state of the waldenses at that time.
In 1178, the same Lewis and Henry, who had sixteen years before, in so unkingly a manner, given their " power and strength to the beast,"* hearing that the albigenses grew in numbers, determined to attack them by the sword, but afterwards thought it more prudent to employ preachers.t They sent to them
• Rev. xvi'i. 13.
f Baron. cent. xii.
It is evident, that the term Albigenses, or rather Albienscs, employed by our author, was taken from the town of Albi, where the waldenses flourished. And, indeed, through the dominions of Raymond, earl of Toulouse, and through the south of France, including the territories of
several bishops and ecclesiastics; and they employed Raymond of Toulouse and other noblemen to expel the refractory. The commissioners arriving at Toulouse, exacted, by an oath, of the catholics there, that they should give information of the heretics whom they knew. Great numbers were hence discovered. Among these was a rich old man called Peter Moranus, who had pretended to be John the evangelist* This person, denying the bread to be the body of Christ, was condemned: his goods were confiscated: his castles, the conventicles of heretics, were thrown down. Peter abjured his heresy, and was brought naked and barefoot into the church before all the people; the bishop of Toulouse and a certain abbot beating him on each side from the entrance of the building to the steps of the altar, where the cardinal legate celebrated mass. There, being reconciled to the church, he again abjured his heresy, anathematized heretics, and submitted to another penance, which was this, namely, after forty days to leave his country, to serve the poor at Jerusalem three years; and, during the forty days, each Sunday to go round the churches of Toulouse naked and barefoot, disciplined by rods, and tomake various restitutions. It was ordered, however, that if he should return after three years from Jerusalem, then the rest of his property, till that time held in sequestration, should be restored to him. Many others abjured their heresies, but some refusing to take the oaths of subjection were excommunicated, with candles publicly lighted; and princes were ordered to expel them from their dominions. Roger, prince of the Albiensian diocese, was excommunicated
The account of our English historian Hovedenf is similar to this of Baronius. It is remarkable, that the former calls the doctrine of the albigenses the arian
Avignon, their doctrines, at that time, spread with vast rapidity AD these were called in general Albigenses, and, in doctrine and mann"5. were not at all distinct from the waldcnses.
• It should be recollected, that this is the account given by Baronius, • very determined enemy of the waldenses.
iieresy. But arian or manichee, or any other term of reproach sufficiently answers the design of determined persecutors. It seemed proper to give the account of the barbarous treatment of the rich old gentleman of Toulouse, who, though he recanted, was punished, because it confirms the truth of Perrin's narrative of the like persecutions, and demonstrates, from the testimony even of Roman writers, that the horrors of papal tyranny have not been misrepresented in general by protestant authors. And, on this occasion, I cannot but disapprove of the rashness or the prejudices of an able historian, who has already fallen under our notice.* He says, that the albigenses, being examined, denied the manichean doctrine of the two principles, though charged on that account with falsehood by their enemies: and this author believes these same enemies, who gave no proof of sincerity, that we know of, and accuses the albigenses of dissimulation, though such numbers of them were suffering continually for their principles. The man, who undertakes to be an historian, ought to be acquainted with the writings and evidences, which are produced on both sides of a controverted subject, so far as materials can be procured. If the author before us had read with the least attention the waldensian records, he would never h.ive asserted that the waldenses were legitimate descendants of the sect of Manes.
The subjects of Raymond, earl of Toulouse, and of some other great personages in his neighbourhood, so generally professed the waldensian doctrines, that they became the peculiar object of papal vengeance. The inhabitants of Toulouse, Carcassone, Btziers, Narbonne, Avignon, and many other cities, who were commonly called the albigenses, were exposed to a persecution as cruel and atrocious as any recorded in history. Rainerius, indeed, owns, that the waldenses were the most formidable enemies of the church of Rome, M because," saith he, " they have a great ap
Berington's Hist. of Henry II. p. 305.
pearance of godliness; because they live righteously before men, believe rightly of God in all things, and hold all the articles of the creed; yet, they hate and revile the church of Rome; and, in their accusations they are easily believed by the people."
It was reserved to Innocent the third, than whom no pope ever possessed more ambition, to institute the inquisition; and the waldenses were the first objects of its cruelty. He authorized certain monks to frame the process of that court, and to deliver the supposed heretics to the secular power. The beginning of the thirteenth century saw thousands of persons hanged or burned by these diabolical devices, whose sole crime was, that they trusted only in Jesus Christ for salvation, and renounced all the vain hopes of selfrighteous idolatry and superstition. Whoever has attended closely to the subjects of the two epistles to the Colossians and the Galatians, and has penetrated the meaning of the apostle, sees the great duty of Holding The Head, and of resting for justification by faith on Jesus Christ alone, inculcated throughout them as the predominant precept of christianity, in opposition to the rudiments of the world, to philosophy and vain deceit, to will worship, to all dependence for our happiness on human works and devices of whatever kind. Such a person sees what is genuine protestantism, as contrasted to genuine popery; and, of course, he is convinced, that the difference is not merely verbal or frivolous, but that there is a perfect opposition in the two plans; and such as admits of no coalition or union; and that therefore the true way of withstanding the devices of Satan, is to be faithful to the great doctrine of justification by the grace of Jes"s Christ, through faith alone, and not by our own works or deservings.* Hence the very foundation offe,se religion is overthrown; hence troubled consciences obtain solid peace: and, faith, working by love, leads men into the very spirit of christianity, while it com
* Eleventh Article of Religion.
forts their hearts, and stablishes them in every good work.
Schemes of religion so extremely opposite, being ardently pursued by both parties, could not fail to produce a violent rupture. In fact, the church of Christ and the world were seen engaged in contest. Innocent, however, first tried the methods of argument and persuasion. He sent bishops and monks, who preached in those places, where the waldensian doctrine flourished. But their success was very inconsiderable. In the neighbourhood of Narbonne two monks were employed, Peter de Chateauneuf, and Dominic* The former of these was certainly murdered; and, it seems probable, by Raymond, count of Toulouse, because he had refused to remove the excommunication, which he had denounced against that prince. Raymond himself strongly protected his waldensian subjects, though there seems no evidence that he either understood or felt the vital influence of the protestant doctrines. But he was provoked at the imperious and turbulent measures of the monk, and saw the extreme injustice of the papal domination. He was also a witness of the purity of life and manners of his own subjects, and heard with indignation the calumnies with which they were aspersed by their adversaries, who proclaimed to all the world their own hypocrisy, avarice, and ambition. Incensed at these proceedings, Raymond seems to have taken a very unjustifiable method of extricating himself from the distresses to which the papal tyranny exposed him. But the event was disastrous; Innocent obtained what he wished, namely, a decent pretence for his horrible and most iniquitous persecution; and thousands of godly souls were unrighteously calumniated as accessory to the crime.
I need not dwell on the insidious customs of the inquisition: they are but too well known. From the year 1206, when it was first established, to the year
• This is the famous founder of the dominicans, of whom I shall speak more distinctly in a separate article, and show how far the censures of Perrin concerning him, as author of the inquisition, are founded in fact.
1228, the havock made among helpless christians To so great, that certain French bishops, in the last men tioned year, desired the monks of the inquisition to defer a little their work of imprisonment, till the pope was advertised of the great numbers apprehended; numbers so great, that it was impossible to defray the charge of their subsistence, and even to provide stone and mortar to build prisons for them. Yet so true is it, that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, that in the year 1530 there were in Europe above eight hundred thousand who professed the religion of the waldenses.
When the albigenses saw that the design of the pope was to gain the reputation of having used gentle and reasonable methods of persuasion, they agreed among themselves, to undertake the open defence of their principles. They therefore gave the bishops to understand, that their pastors, or some of them in the name of the rest, were ready to prove their religionto be truly scriptural in an open conference, provided the conference might be conducted with propriety. They explained their ideas of propriety by desiring, that there might be moderators on both sides, who should be vested with full authority to prevent all tumult and violence; that the conference should be held in some place, to which all parties concerned might have free and safe access; and, moreover, that some one subject should be chosen, with the common consent of the disputants, which should be steadily prosecuted, till it was fully discussed and determined; and that he, who could not maintain it by the word of God, the only decisive rule of christians, should own himself W be confuted.
All this was something more than specious: it was perfectly equitable and unexceptionably judicious; so much so, that the bishops and monks could not with decency refuse to accept the terms. The place 0 conference agreed upon was Montreal near Carcassone, in the year 1206. The umpires on the one side were the bishops of Villeneuse and Auxerre; on the other, R. de Bot, and Anthony Riviere.
Several pastors were deputed to manage the debate for the albigenses, of whom Arnold Hot was the principal. He arrived first at the time and place appointed. A bishop named Eusus, came afterwards on the side of the papacy, accompanied by the monk Dominic, two of the pope's legates, and several other priests and monks. The points undertaken to be proved by Arnold, were, that the mass and transubstantiation were idolatrous and unscriptural; that the church of Rome was not the spouse of Christ, and that its polity was bad and unholy. Arnold sent these propositions to the bishop, who required fifteen days to answer him, which was granted. At the day appointed, the bishop appeared, bringing with him a large manuscript, which was read in the conference. Arnold desired to be heard by word of mouth, only intreating their patience, if he took a considerable time in answering so prolix a writing. Fair promises of a patient hearing were granted him. He discoursed for the space of four days with great fluency and readiness, and with such order, perspicuity, and strength of argument, that a powerful impression was made on the audience.
At length Arnold desired, that the bishops and monks would undertake to vindicate the mass and transubstantiation by the word of God. What they said on the occasion we are not told; but the cause of the abrupt conclusion of the conference, a matter of fact allowed on all sides, showed which party had the advantage in argument. While the two legates were disputing with Arnold at Montreal, and at the same time several other conferences were held in different places, the bishop of Villeneuse, the umpire of the papal party, declared, that nothing could be determined, because of the coming of the crusaders. What he asserted was too true: the papal armies advanced, and, by fire and faggot, soon decided all controversies. If the conferences had been continued, an historian of the real church might have had much to relate. As
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the matter stands, he must withdraw: it is the business of the secular historian to relate the military achievements: some circumstances, however, which tend to illustrate the merit and conduct of the church of Christ, must be the objects of our attention.
Arnold and his assistants were, doubtless, of the number of those, who " did truth, and therefore came to the light, that their deeds might be made manifest, that they were wrought in God." And their adversaries were of those, who hated the light, and would not come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved."* Amidst the darkness and uncertainty in which, independently of revelation, every fundamental truth of salvation must be involved, in a world like this, and among creatures so depraved as mankind, a readiness to abide by the decisions of the divine oracles, or an unwillingness to stand the test of scripture, demonstrates who are right and who are wrong. In all ages this has appeared to be the case; but we seldom meet with so striking an instance as this which we have reviewed. " In the sacrifice of the mass, it was commonly said, that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt." This the church of England f calls a " blasphemous fable and a dangerous deceit," asserting that " there is none other satisfaction for sin, but the offering of Christ once made for all the sins of the whole world." This was one question in the controversy between the two parties, for the decision of which the scriptures were surely very competent. The recourse, which the popish party had to arms, in the room of sober argumentation, what was it but to pour contempt on the word of God itself, and to confess that its light was intolerably offensive to them? The approach of the crusaders, who, in the manner related, put an end to the conference, was not accidental; for Innocent, who never intended to decide the controversy by argument, on
* John, iii. f Article xxxi
occasion of the unhappy murder of the monk before mentioned, had despatched preachers throughout Europe, to collect all, who were willing to revenge the innocent blood of Peter of Chateauneuf; promising paradise to those, who should bear arms for forty days, and bestowing on them the same indulgences as he did on those, who undertook to conquer the holy land. " We, moreover, promise," says he in his bull, " to all those who shall take up arms to revenge the said murder, the pardon and remission of their sins. And since, we are not to keep faith with those, who do not keep it with God, we would have all to understand, that every person, who is bound to the said earl Raymond by oath of allegiance, or by any other way, is absolved by apostolical authority from such obligations; and it is lawful for any roman catholic, to persecute the said earl, and to seize upon his country," &c.
Who is this, that forgiveth sins, except God only? and, who is this, that also dispenses with the most solemn moral obligations? Is he not antichrist, showing himself that he is God? On this, and some other occasions, I choose to give the very expressions of the papal bulls, as a sufficient confutation of the sophisms, by which some modern writers have endeavoured to palliate or do away the crimes of the popedom. The language, indeed, of our early protestant writers against popery is severe beyond measure; but it hardly could be equal to the desert of those whom they opposed. The most material error of the modern protestants, as I have before observed, on these subjects, seems to be, that they have been too hasty in fixing the date of the Man Of Sin. But after he really appeared in the horrors of his maturity, he was all, which the most impassioned declaimer can say against him.
The tyrant proceeds in his bull: "we exhort you, that you would endeavour to destroy the wicked heresy of the albigenses, and do this with more rigor than you would use towards the Saracens themselves: persecute them with a strong hand: deprive them of their lands and possessions: banish them, and put roman catholics in their room." Such was the pope's me thod of punishing a whole people for a single murder committed by Raymond. Philip Augustus, king of France, was at that time too much engaged in wars with Otho the emperor, and John king of England, to enter upon the crusades. But the French barons, incited by the motives of avarice, which Innocent suggested, undertook the work with vigor.
Raymond of Toulouse was now struck with terror. Political motives had fixed him with the protestant party, because his subjects and neighbours were very commonly on that side. But he himself seems to have wanted a divine principle of faith to animate his mind in the defence of the righteous cause. The other princes, his neighbours, seem equally as destitute as he was of the spirit of genuine religion. They might have resisted their enemies very vigorously by the aid of their subjects, whose loyalty was unalterably firm, and who knew it was a religious duty to be faithful to their temporal sovereigns. In those feudal times, Raymond, rather than Philip, was sovereign of the people of Toulouse: the spririt of the protestants was strong and powerful; and even the romanists, who were mixed with them, were perfectly disposed to unite in the common defence. But I find not in all the account of the war a single instance of a prince or leader, who was faithful to the cause of God as such. No wonder then that the chiefs sunk under the load of oppression, and suffered themselves, repeatedly, to be the dupes of Roman perfidy. The christians had then no other part to act, after having discharged the duty of faithful subjects and soldiers, but to suffer with patience the oppressions of antichrist.
Three hundred thousand pilgrims, induced by the united motives of avarice and superstition, filled the country of the albigenses with carnage and confus'0" for a number of years. The reader, who is not versed in history of this kind, can scarcely conceive the scenes of baseness, perfidy, barbarity, indecency, and hypocrisy, over which Innocent presided; and which were conduced, partly by his legates, and partly by the infamous earl Simon of Montfort. But let it suffice to have said this in general: it is more to our purpose to observe the spirit of the people of God in these grievous tribulations. The castle of Menerbe on the frontiers of Spain, for want of water, was reduced to the necessity of surrendering to the pope's legate. A certain abbot undertook to preach to those who were found in the castle, and to exhort them to acknowledge the pope. But they interrupted his discourse, declaring that his labour was to no purpose. Earl
kindled, and they burned a hundred and forty persons of both sexes. These martyrs died in triumph, praising God that he had counted them worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ. They opposed the legate to his face, and told Simon, that on the last day when the books should be opened, he would meet with the just judgment of God for all his cruelties. Several monks entreated them to have pity on themselves, and promised them their lives, if they would submit to the popedom. But the christians " loved not their lives to the death:"* only three women of the company recanted.
Another castle, named Termes, not far from Menerbe, in the territory of Narbonne, was taken by Simon in the year 1210. " This place," said Simon, " is of all others the most execrable, because no mass has been sung in it for thirty years." A remark, which gives us some idea both of the stability and numbers of the waldenses: the very worship of popery, it seems, was expelled'from this place. The inhabitants made their escape by night, and avoided the merciless hands of Simon.
A single act of humanity, exercised toward several women by this general, on the principles of chivalry,
caused a great fire to be
whose persons he preserved from military insult and outrage, is the only one of the kind recorded of him.
But the triumphing of the wicked is short: after he had been declared sovereign of Toulouse, which he had conquered, general of the armies of the church, its son, and its darling; after he had oppressed and tyrannized over the albigenses by innumerable confiscations and exactions, he was slain in battle in the year 1218.
Earl Raymond, whose life had been a scene of great calamity, died of sickness in the year 1222, in a state of peace and prosperity, after his victory over Simon. We are told, that, though political and humane motives at first alone influenced his conduct, he at length saw the falsity of the popish doctrine. No man, surely, was ever treated with more injustice by the popedom. But I know no evidence of his religious knowledge and piety. His persecutor Innocent died in 1216; and the famous Dominic, who, according to the assertion of our author Perrin, was active in the inquisition, and was accustomed to the destruction which Simon had begun by arms, died in the year 1220.
Amalric of Montfort, the son of Simon, wearied out with the war, resigned to Lewis VIII. the son and successor of Philip, all his possessions and pretensions in the country of the albigenses; in recompense of which, the French king made him constable of France in the year 1224. This was the step, which proved the ruin of the albigenses. The French monarchy was now interested in their destruction; and, though Lewis VIII. died soon after, and Lewis IX. his son and successor was a minor, yet the capacity of the regent, the queen mother, was found equal to the work of aggrandizing the crown at the expense of the albigenses. Raymond, the heir of his father's miseries, was treated with the most merciless barbarity; and, after a series of sufferings, he died of a fever at Milan.
Alphonsus, brother of Lewis IX. was put into possession of the earldom of Toulouse. Joan, the only daughter of the late earl Raymond, had been delivered, when only nine years old, to the French court, that she might, when of age, be married to Alphonsus. Thus secular and ecclesiastical ambition united to oppress the churches of Christ. The monk Rainerius, whom we have had occasion repeatedly to quote, acted as inquisitor in the year 1250. There is evidence of the extreme violence of persecution continued, against the Albigenses now altogether defenceless, to the year 1281. Long before this, in the year 1229, a council was held at Toulouse, one of the canons of which was, that the laity were not allowed to have the old or new testament in the vulgar tongue, except a psalter, or the like; and it forbade men even to translate the scriptures.
This is the first instance in the popedom which I meet with, of a direct prohibition of the books of scripture to the laity. Indirectly the same thing had long been practised. What an honour was this canon to the cause of the albigenses! What a confession of guilt on the side of the romanists! The people of God were thus, at length, for the most part, exterminated in Toulouse, and found no other resource but, by patient continuance in welldoing, to commit themselves to their God and Saviour. Antichrist, for the present, was visibly triumphant in the southwest parts, of France, and the witnesses "clothed in sackcloth," there consoled themselves with the hope of heavenly rest, being deprived of all prospect of earthly enjoyments.
It may not be improper to mention here, that our famous monkish historian, ^Matthew Paris, relates, that the albigenses set up a person named Bartholomew for pope, who resided in the neighbourhood of Toulouse, consecrated bishops, and governed their churches; and that in one battle the albigenses lost a hundred thousand men with all their bishops.
These stories easily confute themselves, nor is it necessary to observe, that the ignorance of M. Paris, in French history, is palpably glaring. Tine only use, which I would make of this fiction is to show, Row unsafe it is to rely on rumours published, concerning subjects which affect the passions of mankind, by persons who live in places very distant from the scene of action; and to guard the minds of those among ourselves, who hear stories concerning professors of godliness, propagated by men, who are unacquainted with the grounds of religious controversy.
Dauphiny is a province of France, which was very full of the waldenses, who inhabited valleys on both sides of the Alps. On the Italian side the valley of Pragela in particular had, in our author's time, in 1618, six churches, each having its pastor, and every pastor -having the care of several villages, which appertained to his church. The oldest people in them, Perrin observes, never remembered to have heard mass sung in their country. The valley itself was one of the most secure retreats of the waldenses, being environed on all sides with mountains, into whose caverns the people were accustomed to retreat in time of persecution. Vignaux, one of their preachers, used to admire the integrity of the people, whom no dangers whatever could seduce from the faith of their ancestors. Their children were catechised with the minutest care; and their pastors not only exhorted them on the sabbaths, but also on the week days went to their hamlets to instruct them. With much inconvenience to themselves these teachers climbed the steepest mountains to visit their flocks. The word of God was heard with reverence: the voice of prayer was common in private houses, as well as in the churches: christian simplicity and zeal abounded; and plain useful learning was diligently cultivated in the schools.
A monk inquisitor named Francis Borelli, in the year_1380, armed with a bull of Clement VII. undertook to persecute this godly people. In the space of thirteen years, he delivered a hundred and fifty persons to the secular power to be burned at Grenoble. In the valley of Fraissiniere and the neighbourhood, he apprehended eighty persons who also were burned. The
monks inquisitors adjudged one moiety of the goods of the persons condemned to themselves, the rest to the temporal lords. What efforts may not be expected, when avarice, malice, and superstition unite in the same cause?
About the year 1400, the persecutors attacked the waldenses of the valley of Pragela. The poor people seeing their caves possessed by their enemies, who assaulted them during the severity of the winter, retreated to one of the highest mountains of the Alps, the mothers carrying cradles, and leading by the hand those little children, who were able to walk. Many of them were murdered, others were starved to death: a hundred and eighty children were found dead in their cradles, and the greatest part of their mothers died soon after them. But why should I relate all the particulars of such a scene of infernal barbarity?
In 1460, those of the valley of Fraissiniere were persecuted by a monk of the order of Friar Minors, or Franciscans, armed with the authority of the archbishop of Ambrun. And it appears from documents preserved till the time of Perrin, that every method, which fraud and calumny could invent, was practised against them.
In the valley of Loyse, four hundred little children were found suffocated in their cradles, or in the arms of their deceased mothers, in consequence of a great quantity of wood being placed at the entrance of the caves and set on fire. On the whole, above three thousand persons belonging to the valley were destroyed, and this righteous people were in that place exterminated. The waldenses of Pragela and Fraissiniere, alarmed by these sanguinary proceedings, made provision for their own safety, and expected the enemy at the passage and narrow straits of their valleys, and were in fact so well prepared to receive them, that the invaders were obliged to retreat. Some attempts were made afterwards by the waldenses in Fraissiniere to regain their property, which had been unjustly seized by their persecutors. The favour of Lewis XII. of
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France, was exerted toward them; yet they could never obtain any remedy.
In Piedmont the archbishops of Turin assiduously laboured to molest the waldenses, having been informed by the priests in those valleys, that the people made no offerings for the dead, valued not masses and absolutions, and took no care to redeem their relations from the pains of purgatory. The lcfve of lucre, no doubt, had a principal share in promoting the persecutions; for the sums collected from the people, by the means of these and similar vanities, were immense. The princes of Piedmont, however, who were the dukes of Savoy, were very unwilling to disturb their subjects, of whose loyalty, peaceableness, industry, and probity they received such uniform testimony. A fact, which seemed peculiarly to demonstrate thengeneral innocence must be noticed; their neighbours particularly prized a Piedmontcse servant, and preferred the women of the valleys above all others, to nurse their children. Calumny, however, prevailed at length; and such a number of accusations against them appeared, charging them with crimes of the most monstrous nature, that the civil power permitted the papal to indulge its thirst for blood. Dreadful cruelties were inflicted on the people of God; and these, by their constancy, revived the memory of the primitive martyrs. Among them Catelin Girard was distinguished, who, standing on the block, on which he was to be burned at Revel in the marquisate of Saluces, requested his executioners to give him two stones: which request being with difficulty obtained, the martyr holding them in his hands, said, when I have eaten these stones, then you shall see an end of that religion, for which ye put me to death, and then he cast the stones on the ground.
The fires continued to be kindled till the year 1488, when the method of military violence was adopted by the persecutors. Albert de Capitaneis, archdeacon of Cremona, was deputed by pope Innocent VIII. to assault the sufferers with the sword. Eighteen thousand soldiers were raised for the service, besides many of the Piedmontese papists, who ran to the plunder from all parts. But the waldenses, armed with wooden targets and crossbows, and availing themselves of the natural advantages of their situation, repulsed their enemies; the women and children on their knees intreating the Lord to protect his people, during the engagement.
Philip, duke of Savoy, had the candor to distinguish the spirit of resistance made by his subjects in this transaction, from a spirit of sedition and turbulence, being convinced that they had ever been a loyal and obedient people. He accepted, therefore, their apology, and forgave them what was past. But having been informed, that their young children were born with black throats; that they were hairy, and had four rows of teeth, he ordered some of them to be brought before him to Pignerol; where, having convinced himself by ocular demonstration, that the waldenses were not monsters, he determined to protect them from the persecution. But he seems not to have had sufficient power to execute his good intentions. The papal inquisitors daily endeavoured to apprehend these sincere followers of Christ, and the persecution lasted till the year 1532. Then it was that the Piedmontese began openly to perform divine worship in their churches. This provoked the civil power, at length, against them to such a degree, that it concurred more vigorously with the papal measures of military violence.
The waldenses, however, defended themselves with courage and success: the priests left the country: the mass was expelled from Piedmont; and, whereas the people had hitherto only the new testament and some books of the old translated into the waldensian tongue, they now sent the whole bible to the press; for, till 1535, they had only manuscripts, and those few in number. They procured, at Neufchatel in Switzerland, a printed bible from one, who published the first impression of the word of God which was seen in France. They endeavoured to provide themselves also with religious books from Geneva, but their messenger was apprehended and put to death.
The persecutions were continued against this people by Francis I. king of France, with savage barbarity; and, in particular, Jeffery, who was burned in the castleyard at Turin, by his piety, meekness, and constancy made a strong impression on the minds of many.
It would be uninteresting to pursue circumstantially the story of the persecutions, which continued with more or less violence till the end of the sixteenth century, when Bartholomew Copin of the valley of Lucerne, being at Ast in Piedmont with merchandise for the fair, was apprehended for uttering some words against the papacy. The man bore his sufferings with much firmness and constancy, and resisted various attempts of the monks to overcome his spirit. He wrote to his wife, professing his entire dependence on the grace of Jesus Christ for his salvation. But he died in prison, not without suspicion of having being strangled. After his death his body was burned in the fire.
The christian rules of submission to governments, and the practice of the waldenses in general, were at no great variance. Yet, it is certain, that the primitive christians would have conscientiously refused to bear arms at all against their own sovereigns, however tyrannical and oppressive they might be. Whether, in some instances, these persecuted christians of the valleys did not violate the apostolical precepts on this subject,* is not very easy to be decided, because it requires a very minute acquaintance with their particular circumstances, to determine who was their sovereign. Sometimes they were under the king of France; at other times under the duke of Savoy; and, it is not to be doubted, but that, at all times, they had a right to resist the pope as a foreign enemy, and an enemy of uncommon ambition, injustice, and cruelty.
At the end of the sixteenth century, in consequence
• Rom. xiii. 1 Pet. ii.
of some exchange made by virtue of a treaty between Henry IV. of France and the duke of Savoy, the waldensesof the marquisate of Saluces lost the privileges, which they had enjoyed under the French government; and, by the oppression of their new sovereign of Savoy, through the importunity of the pope, were obliged to fly into France for security. Some of them, from the love of the world, renounced the faith; but the greatest part preferred exile with a good conscience, to an enjoyment of their native country. On this occasion they declared, in a well written manifesto, their spirit of loyalty and peaceableness, the hardships of their case, and their perfect agreement in principle with all the reformed churches. So certain is it, that the waldenses were, in every substantial article, genuine protestants and witnessess of evangelical truth.
A number of waldenses, who resided in the Alps, possessed several villages, and, in particular, the city of Barcelonette. These, being persecuted by the prince of Piedmont in the year 1570, in conjunction with some others, implored the protestant princes to intercede with their sovereign on their behalf. The prince palatine of the Rhine exerted himself with much zeal on the occasion. But the people of Barcelonette being obliged to leave their settlements, amidst a choice of difficulties were reduced to the extremity of attempting, in the midst of winter to pass over a high mountain. The greatest part of them perished; the rest retired into the valley of Fraissiniere.
About the year 1370 some of the waldensian youths of Dauphiny sought in Calabria a new settlement, because their native country was too small for the number of the inhabitants. Finding the soil fertile, and the region thinly peopled, they applied to the proprietors of the lands, and treated with them concerning the conditions of dwelling there. The lords of the country gave them. the most kind reception, agreed with them on fair and equitable terms, and assigned them parcels of lands. The new colonists soon enriched and fertilized their respective districts by superior industry: and, by probity, peaceable manners, and punctual payment of their rents, they gained the affections of thenlandlords, and of all their neighbours. The priests alone, who found that they did not act like others in religion, and that they contributed nothing to the support of the hierarchy by masses for the dead, or by other romish formalities, were highly offended. They were particularly vexed to find, that certain foreign schoolmasters, who taught the children of these strangers, were held in high respect, and that they themselves received nothing from them except tithes, which were paid according to the compact with their lords. From these circumstances, the priests concluding that the strangers must be heretics, were tempted to complain of them to the pope. The lords, however, withheld them from complaining of the people. " They are just and honest," said they, " and have enriched all the country. Even ye priests have received substantial emolument from their labours. The tithes alone, which ye now receive, are so much superior to those, which were formerly produced from these countries, that you may well bear with some losses on other accounts. Perhaps the country, whence they came, is not so much addicted to the ceremonies of the Roman church. But as they fear God, are liberal to the needy, just and beneficent to all men, it is ungenerous anxiously to scrutinize their consciences. For are they not a temperate, sober, prudent people, not given to pleasures and excess of riot like others, and in their words peculiarly decent? and docs any person ever hear them utter a blasphemous expression?" The lords admiring their tenants, who were distinguished from the inhabitants all around by probity and virtue, maintained and protected them against their enemies, till the year 1560.
In all this the fruits of godliness among the waldenses were apparent, even to those, who knew not the nature of godliness itself. The lords, moved by temporal interest, behaved with candour, while the priests, who felt, or thought they felt their interest tfndermined by these strangers, murmured and expressed their indignation. It is not to be wondered at, that the priests of idolatry should every where be the greatest enemies of true religion. It is nothing more than the natural effect of human depravity. Their passions, through the medium of interest, arc more sensibly struck at than those of others; and the true use to be made of such events is, for all men, laity as well as priests, to learn the true doctrine of the fall of man, and its consequences. The Calabrian waldenses sent to Geneva in the year 1560, to request a supply of pastors. Two, namely, Stephen Negrin, and Lewis Paschal, were sent into Calabria; who endeavoured to establish the public exercise of protestantism. Pope Pius IV. having notice of this, determined to extirpate a people, who had presumed to plant lutheranism, so he called their religion, so near to his seat. What follows of the history of this people is a distressful scene of persecution. Numbers of them beingmurdered, by two companies of soldiers headed by the pope's^ agents, the rest craved mercy for themselves, their wives, and children, declaring, that if they were permitted to leave the country with a few conveniences, they would not return to it any more. But their enemies knew not how to show mercy; and the persecuted christians at length undertook to defend themselves from their invaders, and they put them to flight. The viceroy of Naples, hearing of these things, appeared in person to prosecute the diabolical business of the pope; and, in a little time, the Calabrian waldenses were entirely exterminated. The most barbarous cruelties were inflicted on many: some were tortured, in order to oblige them to own, that their friends had committed the most flagitious incests; and the whole apparatus of pagan persecution was seen to be revived in the south of Italy. ^ °
A certain youth, named Samson, defended himself a long time against those, who came to apprehend him. But being wounded, he was, at length, taken and led to the top of a tower. Confess yourself to a priest here present, said the persecutors, before you be thrown down. I have already, said Samson, confessed myself to God. Throw him down from the tower, said the inquisitor. The next day the viceroy passing below near the said tower, saw the poor man yet alive, with all his bones broken. He kicked him with his foot on the head, saying, is the dog yet alive? give him to the hogs to eat.
But I turn from a scene; where there is nothing but a repetition of enormities, which have often been exposed in the course of this history, and which equally show the influence of the prince of darkness and the enmity of the carnal mind against God: let it suffice to add, that Stephen Megrin was starved to death in prison, and that Lewis Paschal was conveyed to Rome, where he was burned alive in the presence of Pius IV. That tyrant feasted his eyes with the sight of the man in the flames, who had dared to call him antichrist. Paschal, however, was enabled to testify, in his last scenes, from the word of God, many things which much displeased the pope; and, by the zeal, constancy, and piety, which he displayed in his death, he failed not to excite the pity and admiration of the spectators.
The waldenses of Provence fertilized a barren soil by their industry, but, like their brethren elsewhere, were exposed to persecution. An attempt was made to prejudice the mind of Lewis XII. against them, about the year 1506, by such calumnies as those, with which the primitive christians were aspersed. The king, struck with horror, directed the parliament of Provence to investigate the charges and to punish those, who were found guilty. But afterwards understanding, that some innocent men were put to death, he sent two persons to inquire into the conduct of this people, by whose distinct information he was so thoroughly convinced of their innocence, that he swore they were better men than himself and his catholic subjects; and he protected them during the rest of his reign. Thus the candor, humanity, and generosity of that monarch, who was deservedly looked on as the
father of his people, was providentially instrumental in the defence of the waldenses.
Some time after, these Provencal protestants wrote a letter to the reformer CEcolampadius of Basle, which, as a monument of christian humility and simplicity, well deserves to be transcribed. " Health to Mr. CEcolampadius. Whereas several persons have given us to understand, that he, who is able to do all things, hath replenished you with his holy Spirit, as it conspicuously appears by the fruits; we, therefore, have recourse to you from a far country, with a stedfast hope, that the Holyghost will enlighten our understanding by your means, and give us the knowledge of several things, in which we are now doubtful, and which are hidden from us, because of our slothful ignorance and remissness, to the great damage, as we fear, both of ourselves and of the people, of whom we are the unworthy teachers. That you may know at once how matters stand with us, we, such as we are, poor instructors of this small people, have undergone, for above four hundred years, most cruel persecutions, not without signal marks of the favour of Christ; for he hath interposed to deliver us, when under the harrow of severe tribulations. In this our state of weakness we come to you for advice and consolation."
They wrote in the same strain to other reformers, and were, it seems, so zealous to profit by their superior light and knowledge, that they willingly exposed themselves, by this means, to a share of the same persecutions which at that time oppressed the lutherans, so the reformed were then generally called, both in France and through all Europe. . . ..
CEcolampadius, in the year L530, wrote to the waldenses of Provence, to protest against the crime of attending the mass and bowing before idols, with which some of them were infected; showing that a public declaration of making satisfaction for the sins of the living and the dead by the mass, was the same thing as to say, that Jesus Christ hath not made sufficient expiation, that he is no saviour, and died for us
Vol. lit. 61
in vain; and that, if it be lawful for us to conceal our faith under the tyranny of antichrist, it would have been lawful to worship Jupiter or Venus with Dioclesian. These admonitions were well adapted to the circumstances of the waldenses; for they soon after had large occasion to practise them. Even one of the messengers, who brought the letters, was seized in his journey at Dijon, and condemned to death as a lutheran. In the parliament of Aix, in the year 1540, one of the most inhuman edicts recorded in history was pronounced against the Provencal christians. It was ordered that the country of Merindol should be laid waste, and the woods cut down, to the compass of two hundred paces around. The name and authority of king Francis I. was obtained by surprize, and the revocation of the edict, which he afterwards sent to the parliament on better information, was suppressed by the persecutors. The murders, rapes, and desolations were horrible beyond all description. In particular, a number of women were shut up in a barn full of straw, which was set on fire; and a soldier, moved with compassion, having opened a place for them that they might escape, these helpless victims of papal rage were driven back into the flames by pikes and halberts. Other cruelties were practised on this occasion so horrid, that they might seem to exceed belief, were not the authenticity of the accounts unquestionable; and he, who knows what human nature is when left to itself and to Satan, knows that there is no evil of which it is not capable.
In justice, however, to Francis I. a prince in his temper by no means cruel and oppressive, it is proper to add, that being informed of the execution of this barbarous edict, to which he had with great precipitation given his name, he was filled with bitter remorse, being now at the point of death, and he charged his son Henry to punish the murderers. The advocate Guerin, however, was the only person, who was punished on the occasion. He was, in truth, the most guilty, because it was he, who had suppressed the king's revocation of the bloody edict.
Those who had escaped, afterwards by degress recovered their possessions, and taking advantage of^the edict of Nantes, enjoyed the protection of government, in common with the rest of the protestants in France.
If we look into Bohemia, the country in which Waldo ended his days, we find that the waldensian churches existed there in the fourteenth century, but that they had been broken up as a professing people, when the hussites (of whom hereafter) began to flourish. The hussites were later than they by two hundred and forty years, and are allowed? by their own writers, to have agreed in principle with the waldenses; none of whose writings, however, were extant in Bohemia at the time when the doctrine of Hus was received in that country. So completely had papal tyranny prevailed! but providence raised up other witnesses.
In Austria the number of waldenses was exceedingly great. About the year 1467, the hussites entered into a christian correspondence with them; in the course of which they gently rebuked them on account of the idolatrous compliances too visible in their churches. The hussites also found fault with them, because they were too solicitous in amassing wealth. " Every day," say they, " has its cares and afflictions; but as christians ought to look only for heavenly riches, we cannot but condemn your excessive attention to the world, by which you may gradually be induced to set your whole heart on the things of time and sense." This looks like the language of younger converts, who, having not yet forsaken their " first love,"* are apt to see the evils of a worldly spirit in a stronger light, even than older and more experienced christians, who may have sunk into lukewarmness. It should be remembered, that the hussites were, at this time, beginners in religion, compared to the waldenses. These latter were, however, exposed soon after this to terrible persecutions; and those of them, who
escaped, fled into Bohemia, and united themselves to the hussites.
In Germany, in the year 1230, the papal inquisition oppressed the waldenses with peculiar severity. They were, notwithstanding, stedfast in their profession; and their pastors publicly announced the pope to be antichrist, affirming, that if God had not sent them into Germany to preach the gospel, the very stones would have beenraisedup to instruct mankind. " We give not," say they, " a fictitious remission, but we preach the remission of sins appointed by God himself in his word." About the year 1330, Echard, a dominican monk, an inquisitor, grievously oppressed them. At length, after many cruelties, he urged the waldenses to inform him of the real cause of their separation from the church of Rome, being convinced in his conscience of the justice of several of their charges. This was an opportunity, not often vouchsafed to this people by their enemies, of using the weapons of christian warfare. The event was salutary: Echard was enlightened, confessed the faith of Christ, united himself to his people, like Paul he preached the faith which once he destroyed, and, in the issue, was burned at Heidelberg; and the christians glorified God in him.
Raynard Lollard was another convert of the same kind, at first a franciscan and an enemy to the waldenses. He was taken by the inquisitors after he had diligently taught the gospel, and was burned at Cologne. From him the wickliffites in England were called lollards; and he it was, who instructed the English who resided in Guienne, in the waldensian doctrine. The connexion between France and England, during the whole reign of Edward III. was so great, that it is by no means improbable, that Wickliff himself (of whom more hereafter) derived, his first impressions of religion from Lollard. Princes and states may carry on wars and negotiations with one another; while HE, who rules all things, makes every event subservient to the great design of spreading thekingdom of his Son.
Flanders was also a violent scene of waldensian persecution, though our author seems to know little of the particulars. From another writer* it appears, that in 1163 some of the waldenses retired from Flanders to Cologne. Here they were discovered and con^ fined in a barn. Egbert, an abbot, disputed with them: three were burned; and a young woman, whom the people would have spared, threw herself into the flames. In 1183, gr^at numbers were burned alive. A person named Robert, first a waldensian, afterwards a dominican, was appointed inquisitor general by the pope. This man, knowing the usual places of concealment, burned or buried alive above fifty persons in the year 1236. But he met with that punishment in this life, which was calculated to convince him of his enormous sin. The pope suspended him for the abuse of his power, and condemned him to perpetual imprisonment.
Persecutors in Flanders tormented the christians by means of hornets, wasps, and hives of bees. The people of God, however, were strong in faith and love. They turned the scripture into Low Dutch rhimes, for the edification of the brethern; and they gave this reason for the practice. " In scripture there are no jests, fables, trifles or deceits; but words of solid truth. Here and there, indeed, is an hard crust; but the marrow and sweetness of what is good and holy, may easily be discovered in it." A peculiar regard for holy writ, amidst ages of darkness, forms the glory of the waldensian churches.
England, because of its insular situation, knew less of all these scenes than the continent. But the striking narrative of the sufferers, in the time of Henry II. which has been recorded, ought to be added to the list of waldensian persecutions. No part of Europe, in short, was exempt from the sufferings of these christian heroes. Paris itself, the metropolis of France, saw, in 1304, a hundred and fourteen persons burned alive, who bore the flames with admirable constancy.
• Brandt's Hist. of the Refer. in the Netherlands.
Thus largely did the " King of saints"* provide for the instruction of his church, in the darkness of the middle ages. The waldenses are the middle link, which connects the primitive christians and fathers with the reformed; and, by their means, the proof is completely established, that salvation, by the grace of Christ, felt in the heart and expressed in the life, by the power of the Holyghost, has ever existed from the time of the apostles till this day; and that it is a doctrine marked by the cross, and distinct from all that religion of mere form or convenience, or of human invention, which calls itself christian, but which wants the Spirit of Christ.
• Rev. xv. 3.