Chapter 14


 Heresy and Truth

  "The persecutions of the Waldenses is a remarkable epoch on the annals of the Christian church. Wherever they went they sowed the seeds of Reformation. The countenance and blessing of the King of kings accompanied them. The Word of God grew and multiplied, not only in the places where Waldo himself had planted it, but in more distant regions." -- Jones' Church History, p. 235.

Concerning Biblias, a female martyr, during the persecution at Lyon and Vienne: "The fact was pressed upon her to acknowledge that the Christians ate their children. In her torture she recovered herself, it is said, and awoke as out of a sleep, and, in answer to their interrogations, thus remonstrated: `How can we eat infants -- we, to whom it is not lawful to eat the blood of beasts?'" -- Idem, p. 106.

John Milton, the famous poet as quoted in Jones' Church History, makes mention of Peter Giles, in his history of the Waldenses, and how the Waldensian ministers "learned trades which may be followed for their support, that they might preach the gospel, and not be a burden to the church," but "our ministers, " he says, "scorn to use a trade, and count it a reproach that tradesmen preach the gospel." Milton continues, as follows: "It were to be wished they were all tradesmen. They would not then for want of another trade make a trade of preaching and become the worst of all tradesmen."

"Mr. Robinson (the noted historian) has here given the very words of the inquisitor Reinerius, who describing the Waldenses, says, `It is also a common opinion among the Puritans (Cathari) that man sins grievously who [without purpose] kills any bird, from the least to the greatest, or a quadruped, from a weasel to an elephant.'" -- Footnote, page 288, Idem.

"They can say a great part of the Old and New Testaments by heart. They despise the decretals, and the sayings and expositions of holy men, and they only cleave to the text of Scripture." . . . "They say that the doctrine of Christ and his apostles is sufficient to salvation, without any church statutes and ordinances. That the traditions of the church are no better than the traditions of the Pharisees; and that greater stress is laid on the observation of human traditions than the keeping of the law of God. `Why do you transgress the law of God by your traditions?' They condemn all approved ecclesiastical customs which they do not read of in the gospel, as the observation of Candlemas, Palm Sunday, the reconciliation of penitents, the adoration of the cross, of Good Friday. They despise the feast of Easter and all other [Roman] festivals of Christ and the Saints, because of their being multiplied to that vast number, . . . and work upon holy days [of the Roman church] where they can do it without being taken notice of." . . . "They declare themselves to be the apostles' successors, to have apostolic authority, and the keys of binding and loosing. They hold the church of Rome to be the whore of Babylon, and that all who obey her are damned, especially the clergy that are subject to her since the time of Pope Sylvester." . . . "They hold that none of the ordinances of the church that have been introduced since Christ's ascension ought to be observed, being of no worth; the feasts, fasts, orders, blessings, offices of the church, and the like, they utterly reject." -- Eccl. Hist. of the Ancient Piedmont Church, pp. 216, and Lewis, Hist. S. and S., pp. 211, 212.

Regarding the Paulicians: "During a period of one hundred and fifty years, these Christian churches seem to have been almost incessantly subjected to persecution, which they supported with Christian meekness and patience; and if the acts of their martyrdom, their preaching, and their lives were distinctly recorded, I see no reason to doubt that we should find in them the genuine successors of the Christians of the first two centuries. And in this, as well as former instances the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. A succession of teachers and churches arose: and a person named Sergius, who had labored among them in the ministry of the gospel thirty-seven years, is acknowledged, even by their vilest calumnators, to have been a most exemplary Christian. The persecution had, however, some intermissions, until at length Theordora, the Greek empress, exerted herself against them beyond all her predecessors. She sent inquisitors throughout all Asia Minor in search of these sectaries, and is computed to have killed by the gibbet, by fire, and by the sword, a hundred thousand persons." -- Jones' Church History, p. 187, ed. 1837.

"Information of these things (the ministry of Waldo) was then conveyed to Pope Alexander III, who no sooner heard of such heretical proceedings than he anathematized the reformer and his adherents, commanding the archbishop to proceed against them with the utmost rigor. Waldo was now compelled to quit Lyons. His flock in a great measure followed their pastor; and hence a dispersion took place not unlike that which arose in the church of Jerusalem on the occasion of the death of Stephen. The effect is also similar. . . . His (Waldo's) principles took deep and lasting root, and produced a numerous harvest of disciples, who were denominated Leonists, Vaudois, Albigenses, or Waldenses, for the very same class of Christians is designated by these various appellations at different countries, or quarters of the same country, in which they appeared." -- Idem, p. 235.

The following facts are indisputable: "that the general body of the Albigenses received the doctrines of Peter Waldo, . . . and that the Waldenses and Albigenses were two branches of the same sect. . . ." -- Idem, p. 242.

Monsieur de Vignaux, forty years a Waldensian pastor, says, "We live in peace and harmony one with another, have intercourse and dealings chiefly among ourselves, have never mingled ourselves with members of the church of Rome, by marrying our sons to their daughters, nor our daughters to their sons."

He also states, "That the Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary to our salvation, and that we are called to believe only what they teach, without any regard to the authority of man -- that nothing ought to be received by us except what God hath commanded" -- that "there is only one mediator between God and man." -- Idem, pp. 764, 765.


Continue with Chapter 15.

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