, CHAP. III.
Controversies of Bernard with several other real or supposed Heretics. Some Account of the Cathari.
So great was the esteem of Bernard throughout the western churches, that no characters of eminence in the religious world arose, but he was looked up to as a judge to decide concerning their merits. It happened, that he had not always the same means of accurate information, as in the case of Abelard; and hence there is reason to believe, that he treats as heretics some persons, who were " the excellent of the earth." I shall throw together into this chapter the best information, which I can collect, concerning these matters. At any rate we shall find some light concerning the real church of Christ.
Gillebert de la Porree, bishop of Poitiers, possessed of a subtile genius, and indulging a taste, like that of Abelard, undertook to explain the mystery of the
trinity, by some curious distinctions and refinements. Offence was, however, given by his publications, and the zeal and eloquence of Bernard were employed in confuting him by public disputation. I shall not attempt to explain this controversy. It seems to have originated from the metaphysical spirit of Gillebert, whose chief fault appears to have been, that he was not content with plain truth, and with stopping there in his inquiries, where the scripture does. The trinity in unity, received indeed in the simplicity of scripture, is one of the clearest, as well as one of the most decisively scriptural doctrines in the world; and so it has always appeared to those, who believe what is revealed, and who are content to be ignorant of the Manner how the Father, the Son, and the Holyghost are three in one. But, though there seems no positive evidence of the heresy of Gillebert, the council of Rheims condemned some of his propositions, which were of a dangerous nature. Gillebert recanted them: Bernard candidly expressed his belief of the sincerity of the recantation; and the bishop of Poitiers was allowed to return to his bishopric*
I have examined the sentiments of Gillebert, and cannot, I own, form any determinate conception of their nature. He wandered in the misty region of abstruse metaphysics, and seems both to have lost himself, and to have been unintelligible to his readers* Bernard endeavoured to stop the mystic inquirer in his career; and this was no unprofitable employment; but again Mosheim is displeased with the conduct of the abbot, and seems to intimate, that he himself understood the opinions of Gillebert, and that Bernard did not, when he says, " these refined notions were far above the comprehension of good St. Bernard, who was by no means accustomed to such profound disquisitions, to such intricate researches."! Does
* Bern. vol. ii. p. 1158. Du Pin's 12th cent. r.hap. viii.
+ Quarto, vol. ii. p. 602. As Mosheim's work, translated by Mnclain, is far better known than the original in England, I always quote the former, and would be understood. both here and clsewheiv. to refer to that rather than to the latter.
Mosheim really mean what he says, or, is the epithet good, synonymous with weak and ignorant? Bernard was, hpwever, with the critic's leave, a man of sound understanding and of true wisdom; and, if it were worth while, I could easily furnish the reader with such specimens of Gillebert's subtilities, as would fully justify the account given of him at the beginning of this chapter.
If to oppose the popedom with vigor and fortitude be in itself a certain criterion of a real christian, Arnold of Brescia may justly be ranked among the most eminent saints. But the spirit and views of an innovator should be known, that we may determine, whether he deserve the character of a reformer. In Arnold, the spirit of an old Roman republican was united with the theological sentiments of a socinian. He was the disciple of Abelard, and was in action as daring as that heretic had been in speculation. Bernard vehemently opposed his designs, and while he allowed his morals to be decent and regular, he guarded the christian world against his ambition and secular artifices. The conduct of Arnold demonstrated, that Bernard penetrated into the real character of the man. For the disciple of Abelard, having gained over at Rome a large party to his views, by his address and dexterity stirred up a sedition against the pontiff; during the violence of which, private houses were burned; the property of the clergy and nobles was plundered; the pope was driven from Rome; and, in general, the civil government was disordered and convulsed. Flushed with success, Arnold planned a scheme for the restoration of the forms of the old republic: but providence favoured not his designs. In the end he was seized and burned, and his ashes were thrown into the Tiber. His case demonstrates, that to oppose what is established, however great be the abuses or faults of an establishment, is an uncertain criterion of character. What is it, which men really mean to substitute in the room of that government, which is established? This is a question to which every man, who fears God, should seriously attend, before he suffer himself, by countenancing innovations, to introduce anarchy and confusion. Here Arnold of Brescia failed entirely.*
Tanchelin in Flanders, and Peter de Bruys, with his disciple Henry, in France, were also famous innovators in this century. The first appears to have been altogether so worthless and extravagant a person, that I shall not detain the reader a moment concerning his character, or his actions. Nor can I give such an account of the others, as is very satisfactory to my own mind. They were both treated as heretics: they both made many converts to their sentiments; and were condemned by the then reigning powers. Peter was burnt to ashes, and Henry was put under a confinement, in which he seems to have ended his days. Peter of Cluny, from whose writings we have the most copious account of the former, doubtless a man of a mild and moderate temper, charges Peter de Bruys with atrocious excesses, and represents him as supporting his tenets by violence and sedition.f The testimony against the moral character of Henry is still more peremptory. For Bernard charges him with scandalous impurities of practice, and refers to such proofs and circumstances, as might have led to a detection of the charges, if he had indeed been innocent. And it was very much by the authority of Bernard, that the credit and party of Henry were sunk in the christian world.J
These men, however, bore a striking testimony against the predominant corruptions of the church. The superstitious rites, with which the primitive custom of infant baptism was now disgraced, naturally gave a strong plausibility to their arguments in favour of adult baptism exclusively. They protested also against the extravagant sumptuousness of churches, the adoration of relics and images, and against masses, prayers for the dead, and transubstantiation. It is not
• Bern. p. 187, &c. vol. i. Berington's Abelard, p. 301, tec
f Du Pin's Heretics, 12 cent. Berington. Abel.
tVol.i.p. 238. Vol. ii. 1139.
worth while to discriminate with minute accuracy, what were the tenets of Peter, and what were those of Henry. With no great difference from one another, they descanted on the topics just mentioned; they loudly inveighed against the papal and clerical abominations, under which Europe groaned at that time, and provoked a storm of vengeance, which proved their ruin. If we may judge from the accounts of their lives, (and they are, very scanty and confused,) these men seem to have been rather bad citizens than heretics. The darkest circumstance relating to their character is, that they seem not to have been so clear and explicit in describing, what they approved, as what thtv condemned. Satire and invective are plants of rapid and easy growth in the malignant soil of human nature. Men of the greatest licentiousness, both in sentiments and practice, can discover and display, with sufficient ability, the evils of popery. It belongs only to souls truly humbled, and well informed in scriptural principles, to erect in its room the edifice of real evangelical truth and holiness; and I wish I could show the reader that Peter and Henry performed this in any degree.
But though, among the supposed heretics of this century, we have failed in attempting to discover any particular leaders, who carry the unquestionable marks of real christians, yet that there must have been some who were really such, is evident, from the consideration, that there certainly were opposers of the church of Rome at this time, who deserve the name of ProTestants.* The writer to whom I have already been indebted for some evidence of this nature, particularly in the account of Claudius of Turin, has, with singular learning and industry, illustrated this part of ecclesiastical history, and seems to have consulted the very best monuments and records. It would be tedious to follow him through the mazes of a scene beyond expression obscure and perplexed. Nor can I depend on
• Allix on the ancient churches of Piedmont. p. 139—183.
the attempts which he has made to class and distin guish his protestant sects. The accusation of manicheism was commonly brought against them all; nor will I venture to say, that every christian sentiment or practice which he describes, belongs to any one particular body of people. Those, who have conversed with different denominations of christian professors, know how difficult it is to explain the various ramifications of parties, which, nevertheless, all seem to spring from one root: they are aware, also, how frequently it happens, that those, who are only superficially acquainted with the sectaries, and have noticed some external agreement, will hastily suppose persons to belong to the same class, when, in reality, they are quite opposite in spirit; and lastly, they have observed, that a disagreement in externals by no means, in all cases, implies an opposition of sentiments. Christian professors may differ in these lesser matters, and may even suspect the soundness of one another's principles, merely for want of mutual intercourse, when, in substance and in all essentials, they are the same people. Elaborate attempts to explain the several peculiarities and discriminations, for want of proper evidence, have often darkened this subject, instead of elucidating it. The worst consequence of such attempts is, that by the mixture of good and evil, which runs through such accounts, where the leading vestiges of christianity are all along kept out of view, the reader can scarce discern any true church of Christ to have existed at all. How shall we conduct ourselves through this labyrinth? By laying down from the best authorities the real marks of godliness, which existed among the various sects of professing christians. If this can be done, the reader will find"that the presence of God has been among them, however difficult it be to define the limits of the church of Christ by human artificial distinctions. This I shall attempt to do in the case before us, omitting those things which are foreign to the design of this history.
Evervinus of Steinfield, in the diocese of Cologne, wrote to Bernard, a little before the year 1140, a letter preserved by Mabillon concerning certain heretics in his neighbourhood.* He was perplexed in his mind concerning them, and wrote for a resolution of his doubts to the renowned abbot, whose word was a law at that time in christendom. Some extracts of this letter are as follows. " There have been lately some heretics discovered among us near Cologne, though several of them have, with satisfaction, returned again to the church. One of their bishops and his companions openly opposed us in the assembly of the clergy and laity, in the presence of the archbishop of Cologne, and of many of the nobility, defending their heresies by the words of Christ and the apostles. Finding that they made no impression, they desired that a day might be appointed for them, on which they might bring their teachers to a conference, promising to return to the church, provided they found their masters unable to answer the arguments of their opponents, but that otherwise they would rather die, than depart from their judgment. Upon this declaration, having been admonished to repent for three days, they were seized by the people in the excess of zeal, and burnt to death; and, what is very amazing, they came to the stake, and bare the pain, not only with atience, but even with joy. Were I with you, father, should be glad to ask you, how these members of Satan could persist in their heresy with such courage and constancy, as is scarce to be found in the most religious believers of christianity?"
It cannot be denied, that the reigning corruptions both of faith and practice, from the times of Gregory the second and third, distinguished by real idolatry, had rendered the pretence of uniformity, considered as a mark of the church, intirely unsound. In these circumstances then, the appeal to a fair and open course of scriptural argument was not unreasonable: the refusal of this appeal, and the requisition of an un
• Allix, churches of Piedmont. p. 140.
qualified submission made to the supposed heretics, was unchristian: and, if neither in the general course of their lives, nor in their behaviour on this occasion, there was any thing arrogant, deceitful, or turbulent; and Evervinus charges them with nothing of the kind; the patience and joy of their martyrdom may seem to have arisen from the consideration, that God was with them. But Evervinus goes on; " their heresy is this: they say, that the church is only among themselves, because they alone of all men follow the steps of Christ, and imitate the apostles, not seeking secular gains, possessing no property, following the pattern of Christ, who was himself perfectly poor, and did not allow his disciples to possess any thing." Doubtless they carried this point too far:* for, rich christians are charged to be rich in good works, willing to distribute, apt to communicate:f these are precepts, which suppose that the possession of opulent property is not incompatible with the character of a true christian. The error is, perhaps, natural enough to those real good men, whose habits and prejudices are chiefly of the vulgar sort; and I would hence infer, that these supposed heretics were mostly of the lower class of people. God seems to have had a people among them, who detested the Romish abominations, and who served him in the gospel of his son. They appear, however, to have had no learned persons among them capable of doing justice to their characters. We must take these from the accounts of enemies. Evervinus proceeds: " Ye, say they to us, join house to house, and field to field, seeking the things of this world; so that even those, who are looked on as most perfect among you, namely, those of the monastic orders, though they have no private property, but have a community of possessions, do yet possess these things. Of themselves they say, we the poor of Christ, who have no certain abode, fleeing
* It is probable, however, that Evervinus misrepresented them, as will appear afterwards. flTim-vi. 17, 18.
from one city to another, like sheep in the midst of wolves, do endure persecution with the apostles and martyrs; though our lives are strict, abstemious, laborious, devout, and holy, and though we seek only what is necessary for the support of the body, and live as men who are not of the world. But you, lovers of the world, have peace with the world, because ye are of it. False apostles, who adulterate the word of Christ, seeking their own,* have misled you and your ancestors; whereas, we and our fathers, being born and bred up in the apostolical religion, have continued in the grace of Christ, and shall continue so to the end of the world. By their fruits ye shall know them, saith Christ; and our fruits are the footsteps of Christ. 44 The apostolical dignity," say they, " is corrupted, by engaging itself in secular affairs, while it sits in the chair of Peter." They do not believe infant baptism to be a duty, alleging that passage of the gospel, whosover shall believe, and be baptized, shall be saved.t They put no confidence in the intercession of saints; and all things observed in the church, which have not been established by Christ himself or his apostles, they call superstitions. They do not admit of any purgatory after death; but affirm, that as soon as the souls depart out of the bodies, they enter into rest, or punishment, proving their assertion from that passage of Solomon, which way sover the tree falls, whether to the south or to the north, there it lies, whence they make void all the prayers and oblations of believers for the deceased. Those of them who have returned to our church, told us, that great numbers of their persuasion were scattered almost every where, and that among them were many of our clergy and monks." All this seems to be at least as fair an account of
• Philip. ii. 21.
j- The propriety of infant baptism has been once for all vindicated, in the first volume of this history. I shall only add here, that these sectaries are charged with manicheism, and of course with the total rejection of water baptism. It was no unusual thing to stigmatise new sects with the odious name of manichces, though I know no evidence that there were any real remains of that ancient sect in the twelfth century.
true christians, as might be expected from the mouths of enemies. Evervinus can be considered in no other light than that of an enemy, for he calls these men by the harsh name of monsters; and it deserves to be noticed, that, from his confession it plainly appears, there were societies of christians, in the twelfth century, who disowned the pope and all the fashionable superstitions. These societies were poor and illiterate indeed, hardly distinguishable from a number of fantastic and seditious sects, headed by the very exceptionable characters we have reviewed; and they were not denominated from any one leader of eminence. They do not seem to have understood the necessity of the existence of property, and therefore, with vulgar ignorance, they held, as it was reported, a tenet inconsistent with the good order of society;* yet, with all these defects, they probably possessed the spirit of real godliness; and, though imperfect in light, and in some points of practice, upheld the real truth of God in the earth, during the general profligacy and corruption.
If Bernard had been habitually conversant among them, I can conceive that much good might have arisen to both parties. From him they might have learned a more copious and perspicuous view of the doctrines of divine grace, and have improved in the knowledge of the fundamental truths of the scripture. His pious zeal and charity and humility might have instructed their minds, and disposed them to give up their absurd ideas concerning property and social rights: and he, from an intercourse writh them might have learned, that the pope was indeed the antichrist of scripture, and so have bten emancipated from a variety of superstitions, in which he was involved all his days. But mutual ignorance and prejudice prevented both him and them from even intimately knowing each other. In the 65th and 66th
• We shall afterwards see abundant occasion to doubt the truth even if this charge.
sermons on the canticles,* he attacks these sectaries; he condemns their scrupulous refusal to f swear at all, which, according to him, was also one of their peculiarities. He upbraids them with the observance of secrecy in their religious rites, not considering the necessity which persecution laid upon them. He finds fault with a practice among them, of dwelling with women in the same house, without being married to them; though it must be owned, he expresses himself as one, who knew very little of the manners of the sect. From the strength of prejudice, and from the numberless rumours propagated against them, he suspects them of hypocrisy; yet his testimony in favour of their general conduct seems to overbalance all his invectives, " If," says he, " you ask them of their faith, nothing can be more christian; if you observe their conversation, nothing can be more blameless; and what they speak, they prove by deeds. You may see a man, for the testimony of his faith, frequent the church, honour the elders, offer his gift, make his confession, receive the sacrament. What more like a christian? As to life and manners, he circumvents no man, overreaches no man, and does no violence to any. He fasts much, he eats not the bread of idleness, he works with his hands for his support. The whole body, indeed, are rustic, and illiterate; and all, whom I have known of this sect, are very ignorant."
He, who confesses a set of men to have been so apparently sound and upright in faith and practice, should not have treated them with contempt, because they were poor and vulgar. Their ignorance and rustic habits should rather serve as some apology for their errors concerning the nature of baptism and of human society. And the proofs of their hypocrisy ought to be very strong indeed, which can overturn such evidences of piety and integrity as Bernard himself has admitted concerning them. It seems also from his
« P. 1493, vol. i.
f The truth of this charge also, as will appear afterwards, is much to be doubted.
account, that they were not separatists, in the modern sense of the word. Though, no doubt, they had private religious assemblies, they attended the worship of the general church, and joined with other christians in every thing which they deemed to be laudable. It would be tedious to examine minutely the charges and arguments of Bernard. He attacks some manichean errors with great justice, supposing the men, against w hom he writes, to be manichees. He argues in defence of infant baptism, and, lamentable blindness in so holy a person! he vindicates the doctrine of purgatory and other Roman superstitions. He owns, that these men died with courage in defence of their doctrine, and blames those who had, in an illegal and irregular manner, destroyed some of them. Some notions, concerning marriage, which they were supposed to hold, he justly rebukes, though, from the excessive prejudice of their adversaries, it is very difficult to know how to affix charges of real guilt upon them.
Let not the lover of real christianity be distressed at these things. The power of prejudice is great; and it is hard to say how many wrong notions both Bernard and these supposed heretics might maintain, through the circumstances of the times, and yet both serve the same God in the gospel of his son. That H E did so is abundantly evident; that many of Them did so, their lives and their sufferings evince. It will be one of the felicities of heaven, that saints shall no longer misunderstand one another. But there want not additional evidences, that this people of Cologne were true ProTestants. Egbert, a monk, and afterwards abbot x>f Schonauge, tells us,* that he had often disputed with these heretics, and says, " These are they, who are commonly called cathari." From his authority I shall venture to distinguish them by this name. The term corresponds to the more modern appellation of PuriTans, and most probably was affixed to them, in derision and contempt, by their contemporaries. Egbert
• Allix.p. 149.
adds, that they were divided into several sects, and maintained their sentiments by the authority of scripture. See by the confession of an enemy their veneration for the divine word, and their constant use of it, in an age when the authority of scripture was weakened, and its light exceedingly obscured, by a variety of traditions and superstitions. " They are armed," says the same Egbert, " with all those passages of holy scripture, which in any degree seem to favour their views; with these they know how to defend themselves, and to oppose the catholic truth, though they mistake intirely the true sense of scripture, which cannot be discovered without great judgment." " They are increased to great multitudes throughout all countries, their words spread like a cancer. In Germany we call them cathari; in Flanders they call them piphles; in France, tisserands, because many of them are of that occupation, "t Bernard himself also, a Frenchman, speaks of both sexes of them, as weavers; and it became not a man of his piety to speak degradingly of the humble labours of peaceful industry. But such were the times! monastic sloth appeared then more holy than useful mechanical occupations. We seem, however, by comparing together several fragments of information, to have acquired some distinct ideas of these cathari: they were a plain, unassuming, harmless, and industrious race of christians, condemning, by their doctrine and manners, the whole apparatus of the reigning idolatry and superstition, placing true religion in the faith and love of Christ, and retaining a supreme regard for the divine word. Neither in that, nor in any other age, since the propagation of the gospel of Christ, have the fanciful theories of philosophers contributed to enlighten or improve mankind in religious matters. It is a strict attention to the revealed word, which, under the influence of the divine Spirit, has alone secured the existence of an holy seed in the earth, who should
t That ss wcaversi see T)u Pin, ccn1. xii. p. 88
serve God in righteousness; though they might frequently' be destitute of learning and every secular advantage; as seems to have been the case with the cathari. " Even so, Father, for it hath seemed good in thy sight."
It appears also, that their numbers were very considerable in this century; but Cologne, Flanders, the south of France, Savoy, and Milan were their principal places of residence.
" They declare," says Egbert, " that the true faith and worship of Christ is no where to be found, but in their meetings, which they hold in cellars and weaving rooms. If ever they do accompany the people, with whom they dwell, to hear mass, or to receive the sacrament, they do it in dissimulation, that they may be thought to believe what they do not; for they maintain, that the priestly order is perished in the Roman church, and is preserved only in their sect." He gives, however, and at too great a length to be here inserted, some noble testimonies of the soundness of their doctrine, in the rejection of purgatory, prayers for the dead, and the like.
I am obliged to collect, from thinly scattered materials, the evidences of the true character of these cathari; and much has, I think, already appeared in their favour, from the mouths of enemies. Egbert, we see, allows, in perfect agreement with Bernard, that they were not separatists, in the modern sense of the word, and that they attended the public service and sacraments of the general church. I suppose they knew how to make a practical distinction between what still remained divinely excellent in the church, and what was idolatrous and corrupt. They seem to have conformed to the public worship, much in the same manner as the apostles themselves did to the jewish church, while it existed, still preserving an union among themselves in worship, and in hearing sermons, so far as the iniquity of the times would permit. That, which Egbert charges to their hypocrisy, I should think admits of a more liberal construction. It may appear to deserve the name of candor and even of charity. He, who agrees with you in practice, so far as you are right, ought to be respected for his conformity, notwithstanding, that in things, which he deems wrong, he explicitly opposes you. It were to be wished, that all serious christians had acted in that manner, and had not been so hasty, as some of them have been, in forming a total separation from the general church. Then the happy influence of their views in religion. might have spread more powerfully; nor is there any particular danger that they themselves would have received infection from the world, while they were estranged from it in practice and in manners. After all, circumstances may arise, when an intire separation from the whole body of nominal christians may become necessary to the people of God. But this should never be attempted with precipitation. And the meekness and charity, which the cathari exhibited in this point, seem highly laudable. He also, who has observed so much of the world, as to perceive that a deliberate system of hypocrisy usually prevails among a collection of idle vagrants, but seldom or never among men who subsist by patient industry, will be little moved by Egbert's charge of dissimulation.
The same Egbert confesses also, that they had many things mingled with their .master's doctrine, which are not to be found among the ancient manichees. " They are also," says he, " divided among themselves: what some of them say is denied by others." If the cathari held some doctrines quite distinct from manicheism, it should seem, that the whole charge of that ancient odious heresy, might be nothing more than a convenient term of reproach. Even Bernard, who appears to have been extremely ill informed concerning this people, remarks, that they had no particular father of their heresy; an observation, which may imply more than he was willing to allow, namely, that they were not heretics, but christians. As to the diversity of sentiments among themselves, what denomination of christians ever existed, who, in some lesser matters, did not maintain several diversities?
This people continued in a state of extreme persecution throughout this century. Galdinus, bishop of Milan, who had inveighed against them during the eight or nine years of his episcopacy,* died in the year 1173, by an illness contracted through the excess of his vehemence in preaching against them.
There is a piece, entitled " The noble Lesson," written undoubtedly by one of the cathari, which in the body of it says, eleven hundred years are already passed, since it was written thus; " for we are in the last time."f The writer, supposing that the world was drawing near to an end, exhorts his brethren to prayer, watching, and the renunciation of worldly goods. He speaks with energy of death and judgment; of the different issues of godliness and of wickedness; and, from a review of the'scripture history, connected with the experience of the times in which he lived, concludes, that there are but few that shall be saved.
The first principle of those, says he, who desire to serve God, is to honour God the father, to implore the grace of his glorious son, and the Holyghost, who enlightens us in the true way. This is the trinity, full of all power, wisdom, and goodness, to whom we ought to pray for strength to overcome the devil, the world, and the flesh, that we may preserve soul and body in love. To the love of God, he observes, the love of our neighbours should be joined, which comprehends the love even of our enemies. He speaks of the believer's hope of being received into glory. He
• Allix. p. 153.
f The manuscript of this composition was given to the public library of the university of Cambridge, by sir Samuel Morland in the year lfi.58. The people of whom the author speaks, are called Wallenses or Vaudes, from the valleys of Piedmont. They afterwards were called Waldenses, from Peter Waldo, of whom hereafter; and by that name, they are known to this day. But by the date 1100 they were evidently a distinct people before hit time, and, most likely, had existed, as such, for some generations. The seeds of the cathari had, in all probability, been sown by Claudius of Turin, in the ninth century. The whole of the " Noble Lesson," is given us by sir Samuel Morland in his history of the churches of Piedmont. AUix, 160. Morland's Hist.
explains the origin of all that evil, which reigns in the world; and he traces it up to the sin of Adam, which brought forth death; whence, says he, Christ hath redeemed us by his own "death. He asserts the necessity of holiness, in order to salvation. He explains the spirituality of the law of God, and describes the punishment of transgressors as the effect of divine justice and goodness. He illustrates the holiness of the divine character, in the economy of the old testament, and in the history of the Israelites, and delineates the purity and perfection of the gospel precepts. He relates the great historical facts of Christianity, and makes some j ust observations on the spirit of persecution. Very remarkable is the character, which he gives of the vaudes in his own time, contrasted with that of their enemies. Let the reader consider, whether we have not here the flock of Christ among wolves. " If a man," says he, " love those, who desire to love God and Jesus Christ; if he will neither curse, nor swear, nor act deceitfully, nor live in lewdness and injustice, nor avenge himself of his enemies, they presently say, the man is a vaudes; he deserves to be punished: and iniquitous methods are then used to rob him of the fruits of his lawful industry. Such an one, however, consoles himself with the hope of eternal salvation." He represents their enemies as supposing themselves to be good men and true christians; and exposes their folly in placing their hopes on a deathbed repentance, the priestly absolution, and masses.
He roundly condemns the whole system of antichrist, which prevailed in his time, particularly the fatal doctrine of priestly absolution. He describes the true practical principles of christian godliness, and declares, that no other divine revelation is to be expected. He speaks with equal simplicity and strength of the last judgment, and of the everlasting punishments of the wicked; " from which," says he, " may God deliver us, if it be his blessed will, and give us to hear what he shall say to his elect, Come hither, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world, where you shall have true pleasure, riches and honour. May it please the Lord, who formed the world, that we may be of the number of his elect, to dwell in his court forever. Praised be God. Amen."
Such was the provision of divine grace, to take out of a corrupt and idolatrous world of nominal christians, a people formed for himself, who should show forth his praise, and who should provoke the rest of mankind by the light of true humility, and holiness; a people, singularly separate from their neighbours in spirit, manners, and discipline; rude indeed, and illiterate, and not only discountenanced, but even condemned by the few real good men, who adhered altogether to the Romish church: condemned because continually misrepresented. Nor do I know a more striking proof of that great truth of the divine word, that, in the worst of times, the church shall exist, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.