That the doctrine of the Albigenses was propagated in Spain, and that it continued there till the Reformation.
WHATEVER persecutions have been exercised against the Albigenses by their enemies, yet we are not to think that they were ever utterly destroyed. We find that this persecution continued in a manner without interruption, until the time of the Reformation. Frison, a Divine of Paris, in the Life of Spondanus, Bishop of Pamiers, reports, that that Bishop found a Church of them in the Pyrenaean mountains, where they had found a safe retreat from the violence of their persecutors, and where they lived apart by themselves.
We find the same thing also in Spain, where they spread themselves in great numbers. I grant indeed that there they were very cruelly persecuted under the reign of Alphonso, whose edicts against them and the Waldenses are still to be seen: but their calamities were doubled upon them after the Inquisition was set up, which was not long before the middle of the thirteenth century. But with all this it was thought necessary to employ the pen against them, as well as fire and other torments. This appears from the writings of Lucas Tudensis, who wrote under Gregory IX. and under his successor, and who jumbles and confounds them with other heretics and with the Manichees, to countenance the method of the Inquisition, and to authorize their bloody executions. It appears from the writings of this Lucas Tudensis, that they disputed vigorously against most of those articles which we find fault with in the Church of Rome; and that to convince them, they were obliged to use other methods than those of disputing, that is, direct violence, which indeed they employed in very good earnest; and we perceive by Emericus’s book, entitled, The Directory of the Inquisitors, that they spared neither craft nor cruelty to surprise them, and bring them to destruction.
Rainaldus tells us, that in the year 1344, one John du Moulin, Inquisitor of the province of Tholouse, prosecuting the Waldenses violently that were settled there, they retired from thence, some into Bearn, and others into Arragon, where they were persecuted at the solicitation of this Inquisitor, who made the Bishop of Pampelona take up arms to suppress them. But yet after all this, we find that the Albigenses were preserved there, and gave no small trouble to the Inquisitors. We have an illustrious testimony hereof in the work of a Friar Inquisitor, of the order of Cordeliers, who wrote in the year 1461 his Fortalitium Fidei. In the 11th book, which he entitles, De Bello Haereticorum, he sets down these heresies, which he afterwards refutes.
The third heresy is that which some enemies of Christianity do profess, who pretend, that confession has no virtue of its own to procure the remission of his sins to any man. This they prove after this following manner:
First, They say it is clear, that when God pardons sin, he doth it not with any respect to the merit of any man, but of mere grace; whence it follows evidently, that the remission of sins cannot be attributed to a man’s confessing of them; for if it were so, we must own that the remission is no longer of free-gift, but that it is a recompense given by God to the merit of him that confesseth.
Secondly, They say, if it be confession that procures a man the pardon of his sins, what will become of that passage in the third chapter of the Epistle to Titus, where it is expressly declared, that God hath saved us of his mercy, and not according to the works of righteousness that we have done? Or how shall we explain that in the ninth of the Romans, that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy We know, that the first grace that God works in us is the remission of sins: now if this grace be absolutely the effect of the mercy of God, it cannot be the effect of confession, which by consequence is not necessary to salvation.
And having thus endeavored to defend their opinion by reason, they endeavor also to back it by the authority of the Fathers, and quote St. Ambrose, who saith upon Luke, St. Peter wept, because his sorrow was so great, that it did not permit him to speak; we find that he wept, but not that he said any thing; I read his tears, but I find nothing of his confession.
The fourth heresy is of those who acknowledge that we ought to confess, but add, that we are not to confess to man. What need is there, say they, to confess to a man, now under the covenant of grace, seeing that even under the law it was sufficient to confess to God by a single act of contrition? They allege also the authority of St. Chrysostom, who saith, upon the Epistle to the Hebrews, It is not said, that you need publish what your sins are to the world, neither need you accuse yourself before all mankind; you are only enjoined to practise the exhortation of David in the 136th Psalm, That you spread all the parts of, your life in the presence of God, that you confess to him who is your true Judge, and that you rather express your. repentance by the secret groans of your conscience, than by the abundance of words: this is the true way to obtain grace from Heaven. They make use also of another passage of the same Father, were he saith, If thou desirest to have thy sins blotted out, confess them; but if thou beest ashamed to discover them to any body, repeat them every day in the secret of thine heart: it is not necessary to tell them to men; they might, it may be, afterwards reproach thee with them; but declare them rather to God, who only can give thee such a remedy as thou wantest: and though thou shouldest not confess them to him, yet he still sees thee, he was present, and looked upon thee whilst thou didst commit them. From all which he concludes, that we ought to confess our sins only to God. And this detestable heresy, which is practiced in secret assemblies, hath already infected a great number of people.
The sixth heresy is of those who maintain that it is not necessary to confess to a Priest, when a man can confess himself to a layman.
The seventh heresy is, that we ought to obey none but God alone. This is the error of a certain arch-heretic, called Waldo, from whom the heretics that we now call Waldenses derive their name. This miserable wretch, without being sent from God, took upon him of his own head to form a new sect; and without the permission of any Bishop, without inspiration, without knowledge or learning, set up for a preacher; so that we may well say of him, as Alanus doth in his book against heretics, that he is a wise man without reason, a prophet without a vision, an apostle without being sent, and a doctor who never had instruction. See here how his followers undertake to defend his heresy.
“We see,” say they, “in the fifth chapter of the Acts, that St. Peter and St. John, speaking to the Scribes and Pharisees, tell them, Judge ye whether it be reasonable to obey you rather than God, and not to do what he commands us, because you forbid us?”
Moreover, these heretics maintain, “that if we obey a man when we ought not to obey him, we commit a sin, because then we do not obey God: Samuel,” say they, “saith to Saul, in the 15th of the First Book of Samuel, that disobedience (or rebellion) is as the sin of witchcraft.”
Now he that addicts himself to witchcraft, doth in a manner renounce God; but he that refuseth to obey a man, doth not therefore commit the sin of witchcraft, which sin is not committed but where a man refuseth to obey God. We ought therefore to obey God, and not man, because in disobeying man we are not guilty of that sin, but only when we disobey God.
The eighth heresy is what these same Waldenses profess, that supposing we ought to obey any man, it must be such a man as is not under sin himself, and that good Priests only have the power of binding and loosing. This also was one of the errors of John Havel, that is to say, Wicklef, an Englishman, who, amongst many others which he taught, maintained, that a temporal Lord, a Bishop, or Prelate, have no authority as long as they are under mortal sin. And he hath been followed by another fox, who asserted the same thing, John Huss, a Bohemian; and by another viper, Jerome of Prague, who were both of them condemned for heretics in the Council held at Constance in the year 1414, in the presence of Martin V. They say therefore that we ought to be obedient to good Prelates, that is to say, to those who are no less successors of the Apostles in their lives and conversation, than in their charge and function; but as for those whose life and conversation has nothing in it apostolical, they are hirelings, and no true shepherds: they endeavor to support this their error first, by the words of St. Austin, in his book of Baptism;
“That God pardons sins either immediately by himself, or by the members of his Dove, and that the saints can either absolve us of our sins or retain them.”
He saith also upon Exodus, speaking of the plate of gold, which was to be always upon the forehead of the High Priest: “This plate was the testimony of a good life, and that he only who hath the testimony of a good lift, not in a figure, but in truth and reality, can forgive sins.”
So likewise St. Gregory declares, “That they only in this world have the power of binding and loosing, so as the Apostles had, who retain their doctrine, and imitate their examples.”
And Origen, speaking of the power of St. Peter, saith, that the same is also granted to those who imitate him, because all those that follow the footsteps of St. Peter can also lawfully bind and loose. Lastly, It is said in Malachi, Chapter 2. I will curse your blessings; and in Ezekiel, Chapter 13. Wo to those that quicken the dead souls, and who declare those dead that do not die. If God, say the heretics, do curse the blessing of wicked Pastors, and declares that the souls which they pretend to quicken do not live; how can he communicate his grace through their channel?
The ninth heresy is professed by the same heretics, who maintain, that it is neither the office nor the order, but only the merit of a good life, which confers the power of binding and loosing, of consecrating and blessing; so that this is their conclusion: The merit of a good and holy life, say they, is of greater efficacy to confer upon any one the right of consecrating and blessing, of binding and loosing, than the order or office: and therefore they have not received any orders; yet they believe themselves to be just, and to have the merits of the Apostles, and so they take upon them to bless as the Priests do, and say, that they can consecrate, bind, and loose: because it is the merit, and not the office, that confers this power. And because they pretend to be the Apostles’ vicegerents, they say, that their merit gives them this charge. In this it is that they chiefly oppose the faith of the Church, and declare themselves to be heretics. But they endeavor to defend their heresy by the authority of Esicius, who saith, that the Priests do not bless by their own authority, but only because they represent Jesus Christ; and that it is because Christ is in them, that they can bestow their plenary benediction. And they say, moreover, that not only a Priest, but every one that hath Christ in himself, and represents him in his life, as Moses did, has the power of conferring blessings.
The tenth heresy is likewise taught by the same heretics, who maintain that the dispensations or indulgences which a Bishop grants at the consecration of a church, or upon any other occasion, are not of any value. Their reason is this; Suppose, say they, that a man be obliged to a penance of three years, at the consecration of a church, and one Bishop releases him of a third part of his penance; a second and third Bishop may do the like, and thus for three half-pence a man shall be released of this three years’ penance: and which is more, these sorts of dispensations are unjust, for there is no proportion between a half-penny or a crown, and one whole year’s penance.
The eleventh heresy is, that the prayers which are made for the dead, by those who are in any mortal sin, are unprofitable. For, say these heretics, how can these prayers do any service to the dead, since they can do none at all to those who make them? Can prayers, which are hurtful to them that make them, be of any advantage to the person for whom they are designed? Item, in 3 q. in gravioribus, it is said, When a judge is solicited for his favour to a malefactor, by any one that he hath no liking to, it serves only to incense him so much the more, and to make him pronounce a more severe sentence: so in like manner, if any man prays without devotion, it is the same thing as if he desired his own condemnation; for how can any man, whose very prayer is sin, obtain by that prayer any good thing for his neighbor? or how can he, whose prayer deserves nothing at the hand of God but punishment, pray profitably for another, seeing God saith to the sinner, Psalm 49. What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or why dost thou take my covenant into thy mouth? They call also reason to their assistance; When a Priest, say they, celebrates the Mass, he being in mortal sin, the action that he doth is evil, and deserves eternal punishment, and by consequence he cannot merit for another the pardon of his sins, because it is impossible to merit good and evil, reward and punishment, by the self-same action. They quote the canon law also, which forbids us to assist at the Mass of a Priest, who we are sure keeps a concubine. They prove likewise, by another authority, that men ought not to pray or sing Psalms in the Church, as long as they are under mortal sin.
The twelfth heresy is of those who deny purgatory, and who say, that it is a mere invention of the Church to make the people give alms and offerings, and to be at the charge of pompous funerals for the souls of the deceased, or other things of that nature.
I confess he does not mention the Albigenses by name, and that he confounds these pretended heresies of the Albigenses with others that are much more heinous, and some that were peculiar to some few Monks, and that he attributes some of them in particular to the Vaudois, as if they had been proper to them only.
But one may justly imagine that this Monk, who compiled this work from the writings of other Monks or Doctors of the Church of Rome, had his eye upon the Albigenses, because he acquaints us that he follows Alanus, and that he copies his arguments. Now we know that Alanus wrote against the Waldenses and Albigenses, as the manuscript titles of his books inform us, though, like the author of the Fortalitium Fidel, he confounds them in his treatise with the Arians, Manichees, and other pernicious heretics, to render the Waldenses and Albigenses suspected of defending all those heresies which he opposes.
It may be thought strange perhaps, that this Monk did not imitate Alanus, in attributing to the Albigenses the rejecting of transubstantiation, and the consequents thereof; but the wonder will cease, if we consider, that he designed hereby to deprive the Jews, against whom he disputes, of an advantage which they might reasonably draw from some Christians rejecting that opinion, though they owned Jesus Christ to be the Messiah, and the books of the New Testament to be of Divine authority at the same time; and therefore he rather chose to refute the arguments against transubstantiation, as coming from the mouths of the Jews, than as objections made by the Albigenses.
And indeed, except the tenth argument of the Jews against transubstantiation, which supposes the Christians who teach this doctrine to be no better than brute beasts, as not having sense enough to know that Jesus Christ, being a Jew by birth, could not, by the circumstances of his institution of the Eucharist, intend any thing but a figurative meaning, as opposed to a real, and that his Apostles, being Jews likewise, could not form any other meaning in all this ceremony, but such as was figurative; there is scarce any other which this Monk hath not borrowed from the disputes which the Albigenses and Vaudois have held with those of the Romish party.
We cannot but look upon Petrus Oxoniensis, a Doctor of Salamanca in the year 1479, as a disciple of the Albigenses in divers points, especially those nine conclusions which this author was forced to retract by Sixtus IVth’s order, who authorized the Archbishop of Toledo to condemn them. Any man that reads these nine propositions which Caranza sets down, would think that it was only these opinions that offended the Archbishop of Toledo; but if we will but read the bull of Sixtus IV. which has been published by Alphonsus a Castro, we shall find that this Doctor opposed many other points of Popery. The Pope’s words, which are very remarkable, are these: Et alias propositiones, quas propter earum enormitatem, ut illi qui de eis notitiam habent obliviscantur earum, et qui de eis notitiam non habent, ex praesentibus, non instruantur in eis, silentio praetermittendas duximus.
“And there are other propositions which are of so foul a nature, that we think it convenient to pass them over in silence, that so those who know them may forget them, and those that do not know them, may not be instructed in them by these our letters.”