THIRTEEN HUNDRED TO FOURTEEN HUNDRED A.D.
The Lollards and Other Protestants
"A bold and intrepid teacher was raised up among the Boghards, or Picards, in 1315, in the person of Walter Lollard, who became an eminent barb or pastor among them, and from whom the Waldenses were called Lollards . . . Moreland asserts he was in great reputation with the Waldenses, for having conveyed their doctrines into England, where they prevailed over the kingdom . . . . Walter was in unity of views in doctrine and practice with the Waldenses . . . . In 1320, Walter Lollard was apprehended and burnt . . . . His death was highly detrimental to their affairs, but did not, however, ruin their cause; for it appears they were supported by men of rank and great learning, and continued their societies in many provinces of Germany." -- Orchard, Bap. Hist., pp. 332, 333.
From Germany came the Sabbath-keeping brethren who founded the Ephreta, Pa., colony, and to our time the truth of the commandments of God has been kept before the world by the descendants of these worthy children of God.
"About 1330 the people of God in Germany were grievously harassed and oppressed by an inquisitor named Eachard, a Jacobin monk. After inflicting cruelties for some time upon these people, he was induced to investigate the causes and reasons of the separation from the church of Rome." "The force of truth ultimately prevailed over all his prejudices. His own conscience attested that many of the errors and corruptions which they charged on that apostate church really existed; and finding himself unable to disprove the articles of their faith by the Word of God, he confessed that truth had overcome him, gave glory to God, entered into the communion of the Waldensian churches, which he had been engaged in persecuting even to death. The news of his conversion aroused the ire of the inquisitors. Emissaries were dispatched in pursuit of him; he was at length apprehended and conveyed to Heidelberg, where he was committed to the flames." -- Idem, pp. 333, 334.
In spite of the fact that Rome was ruthlessly on the trail of every leader among the churches during this century, the truth continued to prevail regardless of sword, fire, or dungeon. True children of the Lamb were found throughout Europe, and especially numerous in France, Italy, Germany and Bohemia.
According to the work of Benedict, there were 80,000 heretics in Bohemia, who were called Waldenses, in the year 1315.
In the New Schaff Herzog Religious Encyclopaedia, article Waldenses, page 243, it says they were determined to celebrate the Lord's Supper yearly, and that in France it had been the custom of these people to celebrate it yearly from an early time. This work says further, "In Germany as well as in France, the Waldenses celebrated the Lord's Supper yearly, between the years of thirteen and fourteen hundred. In the Cottain Alps, on the other hand, as well as in Provence, Apulia, Calabria, and middle Italy, this independent celebration of the Lord's Supper continued much longer than in France."
We have already noted that Benedict (History of Baptists, p. 308) speaks of separate and distinct societies of Sabbath-keeping Lollards as early as A.D. 1389.
"The Waldenses taught that the Roman church departed from its former sanctity and purity in the time of Constantine the Great: they therefore refused to submit to the usurped authority of its pontiff. They said that the prelates and doctors ought to imitate the poverty of the apostles, and earn their bread by the labor of their hands. They contended that the office of teaching, confirming, and admonishing the brethren, belonged in some measure to all Christians. Their discipline was extremely strict and austere, for they interpreted Christ's discourse on the mount according to the literal sense of the words, and they condemned war, lawsuits, the acquisition of riches, capital punishments, oaths, and (even) self-defense." -- Jones' Church History, page 266.
Although this century witnesses much persecution against the true children of God from the Roman apostates, yet God protected them and preserved them, and permitted them to hold fast the truth which had been preserved by their forefathers in the faith down through the Dark Ages. It was to these worthy brethren who, in an age of darkness, carried the Scriptural truths down to the reformers of the succeeding centuries, that we owe our sincere thanks for the truth thus preserved for us.
Continue with Chapter 18.
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