Chapter 16


 Rome Continues to Harass the Church

  The Church of God continued to grow in numbers and prestige in various nations, but among the various peoples was known by its distinctive name separating it from other peoples. Jones quotes the Roman churchman Everiinus, as saying, "Those of them who have returned to our church tell us that they had great numbers of their persuasion scattered almost everywhere." -- Jones Church History, pp. 210, 211.

In the preceding century, we have noted how the pontiffs were troubled with the true believers, known as Waldenses, Albigenses, etc. In some countries these followers of the Lamb were called "Paulicians" and "Puritans." The Paulicians emigrated "from Bulgaria, who, after leaving their native land," Orchard says, "spread themselves throughout various provinces. Many of them, while doing good to others, and propagating the gospel, were put to death with the most unrelenting cruelty. Their accessions from different sources made the Puritan or Paterine churches very considerable, and to their enemies very formidable, even before the name of Waldo of Lyons was known. Besides these foreign accessions, some books had been written and circulated by the Puritans while several reformers appeared in different kingdoms, all advocating the same doctrines and practice; so that the clergy and pontiff were aroused to vigorous opposition." -- Orchard's Baptist History, pp. 153, 154.

Although the severe persecutions were raised against them in various countries controlled by the Roman pontiff, these people continued as a distinct people, and known as "Puritans" even until after their settlements in America.

"In the Thirteenth Century, in the year 1215, the Pope Innocent III, of bloody celebrity held a council at the Lateran and announced anathemas against heretics of every description. By his power over the ruling prince, Frederick II, Honorius extended his sanguinary measures to the kingdom of Italy, and the people of God began to flee, and, according to Mosheim, they passed out of Italy, and spread like an inundation throughout the European provinces, but Germany in particular afforded an asylum where they were called Gazari instead of Cathari (Puritans)." -- Mosheim, Ecc. Hist., v. 2, pp. 426, 430, and Orchard, Bap. Hist., p. 155.

In 1227 a new army was raised in France against Jews and heretics, personally enumerating as heretics Ramond, the Count of Foix, and Viscount of Beziers. They first attacked the castle of Becede, in Lauraquais. The Archbishop of Narbonne, with the Bishop of Toulouse, hastened to aid in the siege. Part of the besieged made their escape, the rest were either knocked on the head or put to the sword. It is said the Bishop of Toulouse saved several from the violence of the soldiers, that he might be gratified in seeing them perish in the flames." -- Idem, p. 221.

Frederick II, emperor of the Romans, from Padua, in the year 1224, promulgated four edicts against the heretics, saying "We condemn to perpetual infamy, withdraw our protection from, and put under our ban, the Puritans, Paterines, Leonists, Arnoldists, Josephines, Albigenses, Waldenses, etc., and all other heretics, of both sexes, and of whatever name." -- Jones' Church History, p. 270.

Frederick, in his proclamation against the heretics, uses the term "The Church of God." This is found in the book entitled, Holy Roman Empire, in the Public Library of London.

"The council of Toulouse established the inquisition to complete the work of heresy; and in the year 1229, first forbade the use of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue." -- Orchard, Hist. Of Bap., p. 224.

It is to be also wondered at that God never overlooks these acts against His people, for in this same city of Toulouse it is said was formed the first society in France for circulating the Bible in the vernacular tongue. -- Idem, p. 224, note.

By fire, by sword, by prison, and every imaginable form of persecution and death, the Roman apostates sought to destroy the people of God; but the more she persecuted, the more she slew, the greater the church, and the stronger became her people, until Rome at last threw all her strength against the unyielding people of the most High. Rome's endeavors to stamp out the truth, and the constancy of the saints of this age is ably summed up by the able historian Wylie in these words:

"Rome saw that she was making no progress in the extermination of a heresy which had found a seat amid these hills, as firm as it was ancient. The numbers of the Waldenses were not thinned; their constancy was not shaken, they still refused to enter the Roman church, and they met all the edicts and inquisitors, all the torturings and burnings of their great persecutor, with a resistance as unyielding as that offered by their rocks to the tempests and hail and snow which the whirlwinds of winter hurled against them." -- Wylie, History of the Waldenses, p. 31.

"The preceding sections will have enabled the reader to form a tolerably correct judgment concerning the religious principles and general character of that denomination of Christians called Catharists, Paterines, Albigenses, or Waldenses. And I shall now proceed to a more detailed account of their history subsequent to the times of Peter Waldo, and especially of the dreadful persecutions and complicated sufferings which came upon them in consequence of their adherence to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.'" -- Jones' Church History, p. 266.


The Persecutions of the Waldenses

  "The external history of this people is little else than a series of persecution, and it is to be regretted, that while we have large and distinct details of the cruelties they endured, 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. That which raged against them in the former part of the thirteenth century, was an assemblage of everything cruel, perfidious, indecent, and detestable. This was a time when the princes of the earth, as well as the meanest persons, were generally enslaved to the popedom, and were easily led to persecute the children of God with the most savage barbarity. In 1179, some, under various pretexts of their having embraced heretical sentiments, were examined by the bishops and condemned. They were accused of having received only the New Testament, and rejecting the Old, except in the testimonies quoted by our Lord and the apostles. This charge is, however, confuted by the whole tenor of their authentic writings. They were also accused of asserting the Manichean doctrine of two independent principles; . . . and of many other things, and all with an evident design to persecute them to death; because they stood opposed to the errors and abominations of the church of Rome.

"Rainerious, who was a bigoted papist, owns, that the Waldenses were the most formidable enemies of the church of Rome, because,' saith he, they have a great appearance of godliness; because they live righteously before men, believe rightly in 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.'

"But it was reserved to Innocent the Third, than whom no pope possessed more ambition, to institute the inquisition; and the Waldenses were the first objects to 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 in Jesus Christ for salvation, and renounced all the vain hopes of self-righteousness, idolatry and superstition. Whoever has attended closely to the subject of the epistles to the Colossians and Galatians, and has penetrated into the meaning of the epistle, sees the great duty of HOLDING THE HEAD, and 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 human works and devices of whatever kind. Such a person sees what true Protestantism is, contrasted with genuine popery; and, of course, he is convicted, 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 Jesus Christ, through faith alone, and not by our own works or deservings. Hence the very foundation of false religion is overthrown; hence troubled consciences obtain solid peace, and faith, working by love, leads men into the very spirit of Christianity, while it comforts their hearts, and establishes 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. The church and the world were then seen engaged in contest. Innocent first tried the methods of argument and persecutions. He sent bishops and monks, who preached in those places, where the Waldensian doctrine flourished. Their success was very inconsiderable. In the neighborhood of Narbonne two monks were employed, Peter de Chateauneuf, and Dominic. The former of these was murdered, probably by Raymond, Count of Toulouse, because he had refused to remove the excommunication, which he had denounced against that prince. Though there appears no evidence that Raymond either understood or felt the vital influence of the Protestant doctrines, yet he strongly protected his Waldensian subjects. He witnessed the purity of their lives and manners, and he 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. He was incensed at the wickedness practiced on his subjects, and indignant at his own unmerited disgrace; but his conduct in this instance was unjustifiable. The event was disastrous. Innocent obtained what he wished, a decent pretense for his horrible and most iniquitous persecution; and thousands of the sincerely pious were unrighteously calumniated as accessory to crime.

"The insidious customs of the inquisition are well known. From the year 1206, when it was first established, to the year 1228, the havoc made among helpless Christians was so great, that certain French bishops, in the last mentioned year, desired the monks of the inquisition to defer a little their work of imprisonment, till the Pope should be 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 it is, that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, that in the year 1539 there were in Europe above eight hundred thousands who professed the religion of the Waldenses.

"When the Waldenses knew 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 defense 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 religion to be truly Scriptural, in an open conference, provided it 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 at some place, to which all parties might have free and safe access; and 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 confuted.

"This was perfectly equitable and judicious, and the bishop could not with decency refuse to accept the terms. The place of discussion agreed on was Montreal, near Carcassone, in the year 1206. The umpires on the one side were the bishops of Villencuse and Auxere; on the other R. de Bot, and Anthony Riviere.

"Several pastors were deputed to manage the debate for the Waldenses, of whom Arnold Hot was the principal. He arrived first at the time and place mentioned. A bishop named Dusus, 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 those propositions to the bishop, who required fifteen days to answer him, which were 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 entreating their patience, if he took a considerable time in answering so prolix a writing. Fair promises of a patient hearing were made to 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 bishop and monks would undertake to vindicate the mass and transubstantiation by the Word of God. What they said on the occasion we are not informed; but the cause of the abrupt conclusion of the conference showed which party had the advantage. While the two delegates were disputing with Arnold, 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 faggots, soon decided all controversies.

"Arnold and his assistants were, doubtless, of the number, 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 light, and would not come to it, lest their deeds should be reproved.'

"The recourse of the popish party to arms, in the room of sober argumentation, was to pour contempt on the Word of God, and to confess that its light was intolerably offensive to them. The approach of crusaders, who, in the manner related, put an end to the conference, was not an accident; for Innocent, who never intended to decide the controversy by argument, on occasion of the unhappy murder of the monk, before mentioned, had dispatched 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 indulgence 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,' etc.

"The tyrant proceeds in his bull: We exhort you, persecute them with a strong hand: deprive them of their lands, and put Roman Catholics in their room.' Such was the pope's method of punishing a whole people for a single murder committed by Raymond.

"The French barons, incited by the motives of avarice which Innocent suggested, undertook the whole work with vigor. The Waldensian Christians then had no other part to act, after having performed the duty of faithful subject and soldiers, but to suffer with patience the oppressions of Antichrist. Three hundred thousand men, induced by avarice and superstition, filled the country, for several years with carnage and confusion. The scenes of baseness, perfidity, barbarity, indecency and hypocrisy, over which Innocent presided, can scarcely be conceived. These were conducted, partly by his legates, and partly by the infamous earl Simon of Monfort.

"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 abbott undertook to preach to those who were found in the castle, and exhort them to acknowledge the pope. But they interrupted his discourse, declaring his labor was to no purpose. Earl Simon and the legate then caused a great fire to be kindled, and burned 140 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 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 Thermes, 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 30 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 that place. The inhabitants made their escape by night, and avoided the merciless hands of Simon.

"But the triumphing of the wicked is short: after he had been declared sovereign of Toulouse, which he had conquered, the general of the armies of the church, its son and its darling; after he has oppressed and tyrannized over the Waldenses by innumerable confiscations and exaction, he was slain in battle in the year 1218.

"Earl Raymond, died of sickness in the year 1222, in a state of peace and prosperity, after his victory over Simon. No man was ever treated with more injustice by the popedom. But nothing is known of his character for knowledge and piety. His persecutor, Innocent, died in 1216; and the famous Dominic in 1220.

"The Waldenses suffered sore and incessant persecutions from the church of Rome, in many different parts of Europe, till the time of the Reformation, and, in most instances, they endured them with admirable patience and constancy.

"Thus largely did the King of saints' provide for the instruction of his church, in the darkness of the middle ages. The Waldenses are indeed 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 by the power of the Holy Ghost, and expressed in the life, 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, which calls itself Christian, but which wants the spirit of Christ." -- Townsend's Abridgment, pp. 416-423.

The General State of the Roman Church in the Thirteenth Century

  "Though the narrative of the Waldesian transactions does not belong exclusively to the thirteenth century, it is, however, ascribed to it, because during this, the sect endured most cruel persecutions, and experienced many severe conflicts, which particularly excited the attention of all Europe.

"It was then a time of immense ignorance and wickedness. True, the Aristotelean philosophy greatly prevailed; but it is by all means, enlightened beyond measure. The most learned doctors, with very few exceptions, were not, in their knowledge, many degrees above the most ignorant and vulgar. The herd of students foolishly employed themselves about the miserable transactions of Aristotle, to no purpose. Their ambition was to appear learned in the eyes of the senseless multitude. The Dominicans and Franciscans were almost the only orders which devoted themselves to study . . . . They had ample buildings and princely houses. They attended the deathbeds of the rich and great, and urged them to bequeath immense legacies to their own orders. These gained much ground, and till the time of the institution of the Jesuits were the pillars of the papacy. Persecution of heretics, so called, formed a great part of their employment. While the other orders had, by their immoralities reduced themselves to contempt; these two orders, having the semblance of worth, not the substance, revived the authority of the Romish church, supported and strengthened every reigning superstition, and by deep-laid plans of hypocrisy, induced numbers to enrich both the papacy and monastic establishments. These two orders, having obtained a decided ascendency in England, arrogated to themselves great power. The abject slavery and superstition, under which England then sunk, appears, from a commission which Innocent IV gave to John the Franciscan, in 1247, as follows: We charge you, that, if the major part of the English prelates should make answer, then, by ecclesiastical censures, to withdraw their appeals, any privilege or indulgence notwithstanding.'

"So shameless were the popes, at this time, in their exactions and so perfect was their dominion over mankind, that they grossly defrauded the Franciscans themselves, and were not afraid of the consequences. Men, who received not the testimony of Jesus Christ, and refused submission to his easy yoke, were induced to kiss the iron rod of the Italian tyrant.

"The greater part of Europe, had now forsaken the all-important article of justification by the merit of Jesus Christ alone through faith, and were entangled in the nets of pharisaical religion, and readily betook themselves to numberless superstitions, to give quiet and ease to their consciences. The Waldenses found peace and comfort, and the expectation of heaven through Jesus Christ alone by faith, and hence despised the whole popedom with all its appendages; while others, who trembled in conscience for their sins; and knew not the holy wisdom of resting in Christ alone for salvation, might well swell with indignation at the wickedness of the court of Rome, but durst not emancipate themselves from its bonds. The power of the Pope was then but a cement of wickedness which encouraged men with the hopes of heaven, while living in superstition and the indulgence of the greatest crimes.

"In 1234, Pope Gregory IX, desirous of increasing the credit of the popedom, by a bull directed to all Christendom, invited men to assume the cross, and to proceed to the Holy Land. In this he says, The service to which they are now invited is an EFFECTUAL ATONEMENT for the miscarriages of a negligent life. The HOLY WAR is a compendious method of discharging men from guilt, and restoring them to the Divine favor. Even if they die on their march, the intention will be taken for the deed, and many may in this way be crowned without fighting.'

"In this, Gregory, in effect, opposed the doctrine of the atonement of Christ, and in contempt of it, taught men to expect justification from God, on the merit of military service, rendered at the command of his [self-styled] Viceregent. In this way, the human mind was removed from faith in Christ, and men were taught to rely for pardon on the sovereign pontiff, and were led to imbibe the fatal doctrines that wickedness might be committed, with the flattering prospect of gaining the divine favor, without a reformation of heart and life.

"The same general ignorance and superstition, the same vices and immoralities, which predominated in the last century, abounded in this. Real Christians were to be found only among the Waldenses, or in those who worshiped God in obscurity. Various other sects arose, who were cruelly persecuted by the popes and emperors; but none appear to have professed the real doctrines, or were influenced by the real spirit of Jesus. Some of them, both in principles and practice, were the disgrace of human nature. But to detail the narratives of fanaticism, with which most ecclesiastical histories abound, is not the object of this work. The Church of God, considered as a society, seems then to have existed only among the Waldenses.

"There were numerous societies in this century, that suffered extremely by the iron hand of power. Among all these, the Waldenses, sometimes called Lollards, by the way of reproach, seem perfectly distinguished, by their solid piety, sound scriptural judgment, and practical godliness; and therefore they may justly be accounted to have suffered for righteousness' sake; while the rest, as far as certainty appears were martyrs of folly, turbulence, or impiety." -- Townsend's Abridgment, pp. 423-425, 428-429.


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