Some Remarks Upon the Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of the Albigenses
May It Please Your Majesty,
THIS defense of the Albigenses, the ancient and illustrious Confessors, who some ages ago enlightened the southern parts of France, is laid down at your Majesty’s feet for your protection, as well as their successors do now fly into your dominions for relief. That charity which moves your Majesty to protect them by your gracious favor, and support them by your royal bounty, makes me presume to offer this historical apology to your sacred Majesty.
Their faith was in most things the same with that which our Reformers taught in opposition to the Church of Rome; and after all the endeavors that have been used to blacken them by the most horrid calumnies, as well as to destroy them by the cruelest inquisitions and crusades, the innocency of their lives, and the exemplariness of their deaths, makes them to be justly gloried in as the true authors of the Reformation.
It was from them that this Church (now so happy in your Majesty) received the first beams of that heavenly light which it now enjoys, and which it of late maintained with such vast advantages, that it is deservedly esteemed the chief body, as well as the justest glory, of the whole Reformation. The persecutions of those earliest restorers of the doctrine of Jesus Christ drove them out of their country, and forced many to fly into this kingdom for shelter, who brought with them the first seeds of those truths which have since yielded so plentiful an increase. There is nothing in this history that will either strike or charm. Those true disciples of their crucified Master were considerable for nothing but the purity of their doctrine, the innocency of their lives, and the patience as well as the constancy of their sufferings. But the glories of this world which surround your Majesty do not darken or lessen in your esteem these distinguishing characters of the religion of Christ our Savior, and of those his suffering members, in whose afflictions you are pleased to take so great a share, that you do very much diminish their own sense of them, and make them so much the easier by those vast supports you give them.
May that God who has raised up your Majesty to support religion, and protect its confessors in their lowest circumstances, and who has so miraculously preserved and prospered the King and your Majesty in opposition to the enemies and persecutors of his truth, still pour down the richest of his blessings upon your Majesties; may you perfect what you have so gloriously begun; may you be long, great and happy here, and infinitely greater and happier for ever. These are the daily wishes and most earnest prayers of, May it please your Majesty, Your Majesty’s most dutiful, most faithful, and most obedient subject,
IT was no hard matter for us to justify the Waldenses from the accusation of schism, which the Bishop of Meaux thought fit to charge upon them; for, by shewing the antiquity, purity, and succession of those churches, I have made it appear, that what the Bishop calls schism, ought in justice to be looked upon as a vigorous opposition to the false worship and usurpations of the Romish faction; and by consequence, that there is no more reason to call the Waldenses schismatics, because of their refusing subjection to the Pope, and rejecting the errors of the Church of Rome, than there is to call the Church of England schismatical for the same reasons.
But it is so long since the heads of the Church of Rome have founded their design of an universal monarchy, and so have fitted their style to their pretensions, that it is now become a very familiar thing with them, to treat those as rebels and schismatics, who will not submit to their authority: so that we need not wonder, if they, who have espoused the interest of the Church of Rome, and who defend her against the Protestants, do boldly charge those with schism against whom they write, without giving themselves the trouble of proving their charge.
Nay, perhaps we are to think ourselves obliged to the Bishop of Meaux, who, raising himself a little above the common method of the Doctors of his own communion, has limited himself to accuse the Waldenses of schism only, whereas he might with as much reason have charged them with heresy, if he had followed the writers of controversy of his own party, or the legends of the saints of his communion. For it is certain, that the writers of controversy in the Church of Rome, and those who have writ the lives of those Inquisitors that have been canonized, have never looked upon the Waldenses as any other than Manichees; so thoroughly rooted is the spirit of calumny in the members of that Church: the character of father of lies being very necessary to support that of murderer honourably, whereof they have been in possession so very long.
I cannot tell whether the Bishop of Meaux has forgiven himself for his tenderness towards the Waldenses, whom he only treats as schismatics.
For seeing one day informs another, and that thus men come to refine their notions to the utmost, who knows but the Bishop, who, when he writ his Book of Variations, had only obscurely hinted, that to accuse the Pope of being Antichrist was a character of Manicheism; who knows, I say, but that now he sees so clearly that the Waldenses have formally declared that the Pope is Antichrist, he will not anew make them Manichees once more, the better to accommodate himself with the maxims of his new system? If he should not do it himself, to avoid the shame of being guilty of a variation, at least it is very obvious to believe, that some of those who are engaged with him in the same cause will not fail of taking that course; and therefore I am glad I have prevented him, by showing that the Waldenses were no Manichees, though they took the Pope to be Antichrist.
Be it as it will, I hope it will not be harder for us to justify the Albigenses from the accusations brought against them by the Bishop of Meaux. He uses his utmost endeavors to maintain a most abominable calumny raised by his predecessors, and strives, by representing the Albigenses as a people who had revived the errors of the Manichees, to make them equally odious to those of the Church of Rome, and the Protestants of France, whom his violence, together with that of his colleagues, have forced to take upon them the external profession of Popery.
The Jews built the tombs of those prophets whom their fathers slew; process of time having cured them of their fury, that enraged their forefathers against the ambassadors of heaven. Those of the Church of Rome only know not what it is to disown the rage and slanders of their predecessors. She has accused the Albigenses of Manicheism, and has done it on purpose to inspire her votaries with a barbarous cruelty against a people who refused to bear the yoke of her tyranny: and it is to please her, that her ministers must still go on to tear the memory of those faithful servants of God, for the utter extirpation of whom she formerly armed the hands of all the furious zealots of her communion.
And as in handling the history of the Waldenses, I thought needful, for the satisfaction of the reader, to make some remarks on their original, their succession, their separation from the Church of Rome, and their ministry; so I intend now to follow the same method exactly in these observations on the history of the Albigenses; and I hope this will be equally useful, to shew what care God hath taken to preserve these other illustrious witnesses of his truth, notwithstanding all those corruptions that overspread the churches of the west.
I have set down the character of the Manichees, both ancient and modern, in my Remarks upon the History of the Churches of Piedmont, so fully, that it will not be necessary to repeat what I say there in this treatise.
1. Because it is certain, that it was rather humor in the Bishop of Meaux, that he did not accuse them of Manicheism, than any due regard to truth, the Waldenses having been as much accused of Manicheism as the Albigenses; neither are there any more solid proofs to convict the Albigenses of those errors, than the Waldenses.
2. Because this new hypothesis of the Bishop of Meaux, wherein he asserts, that to accuse the Pope of being Antichrist is a character of Manicheism, is so excessively ridiculous, that it is hard to guess, how even the Bishop himself could ever give entertainment to it.
It is a very surprising thing to see the Bishop maintain, in his new Commentary upon the Revelation, that the prophecies of St. John concerning Antichrist were actually accomplished above one thousand two hundred years since. Antichrist then must have made his escape in the crowd, without being at all perceived; for the greatest lights of the Church, and those who had their eyes most open to discover him, never perceived any thing of all this. Vega and Ribera, who have written on the Revelations with as much learning as the Bishop of Meaux, were never able to make any discovery in ancient history that could be applicable to the Apocalypse; and all the Romish writers of controversy must have been a company of asses, not to stumble upon so easy an answer, which would eternally have stopped the mouths of the Protestants in so ticklish and tender a point.
But it is no matter, since two Protestant authors, and those of the first rank too, Grotius and Hammond, have handed this notion to the Bishop: it being very probable, that the Bishop did for this reason hinder the Clergy from putting the works of Grotius in the catalogue of books, which they forbade a little before the revocation of the edict of Nantes: and he would have been as civil to Dr. Hammond too, if his Commentary upon the New Testament had been known to him any where else than in Pool’s Synopsis. And really these great men very well deserved that a particular regard should be had to them; their mistake in the point of Antichrist having proved as advantageous to the Church of Rome, as their learned works can be profitable to the Protestants.
But it is yet a more surprising thing to see the Bishop make this charge of the Albigenses against the Pope, a character of their being Manichees, which none that have ever writ against them before have taken the least notice of.
Whatever the success may be of so groundless a charge, I shall make it appear, that the Bishop of Meaux could not accuse the Albigenses, without making great numbers of his best Catholics suspected, and abettors of the Manicheism of the Albigenses in this point.
I thought it was my duty to clear Wicklef and his disciples from the slanders cast upon them by the Bishop of Meaux: I know very well, that he has done nothing, but repeat the old calumnies wherewith the Papists formerly endeavored to blacken that great man, without taking the least notice of the apologies that have been made in his behalf. But either men must resolve never to write against these gentlemen, or be content to undergo the drudgery of repeating publicly those solid answers that have been returned to their accusations before; which the writers of the Romish party always think fit to dissemble.
I hope, however, that seeing the matter I undertake to treat of naturally engaged me to take notice of great numbers of matters of fact, which were necessary to be examined towards the clearing of this subject; and that the malice and cruelty of the enemies of these ancient Christians have robbed us of what might be most material for their justification; the reader will not expect I should put these remarks into any other form, than that in which I wrote my Remarks upon the Ecclesiastical History of the Churches of Piedmont. For I could neither write a continued history, nor dispense with the examination of several matters of fact, which could not be cleared so well as they ought, without some critical inquiries, that will be unpleasant to all those who search for any thing else but truth. I have confined myself here entirely to the inquiry after and illustration of that alone; and I am persuaded, that those who will take the pains to weigh what I have said in these following sheets with care, will be of the same opinion. And I heartily wish, that it may triumph over falsehood, and innocence prevail against all the assaults of obloquy and slander.
CHAPTER 1 Concerning the original of the Churches of Gallia Narbonensis and Aquitain
CHAPTER 2 The faith of the Church of the Gauls in the second century
CHAPTER 3 The faith of Gallia Aquitanica and Narbonensis in the fourth century
CHAPTER 4 An examination of the opinions of Vigilantius
CHAPTER 5 The state of the Churches of Aquitain and Narbon in the fifth century
CHAPTER 6 The state of these dioceses in the sixth century
CHAPTER 7 The state of the dioceses of Aquitain and Narbon in the seventh century
CHAPTER 8 The opinion of the Churches of Aquitain and Narbon in the eighth century
CHAPTER 9 The faith of the Churches of Aquitain and Narbon in the ninth century
CHAPTER 10 The state of these dioceses in the tenth century
CHAPTER 11 The beginning of the Manichees in Aquitain, and the state of those Churches as to religion in that age
CHAPTER 12 That these dioceses continued independent of the Popes, until the beginning of the twelfth century
CHAPTER 13 Of the opposition that was made by a part of these Churches to the attempts of the Popes, and of their separation from the communion of Rome, before Peter Waldo
CHAPTER 14 Of the opinions of Peter de Bruis and Henry, and their disciples, and whether they were Manichees or not
CHAPTER 15 That it doth not appear from the Conference of Alby, that the Albigenses were Manichees
CHAPTER 16 The Albigenses justified by a conference, whereof we have an account written by Bernard of Foncaud
CHAPTER 17 The calumnies raised against the Albigenses, refuted by the Conference at Montreal
CHAPTER 18 Reflections on the convictions of Manicheism, which were said to be proved upon the Albigenses
CHAPTER 19 Whether the Albigenses were Manichees, because they accused the Pope of being the Antichrist
CHAPTER 20 Of the morals of the Albigenses, and of their ecclesiastical government
CHAPTER 21 Concerning the persecutions which the Albigenses have suffered from the Pope and his party
CHAPTER 22 That the doctrine of the Albigenses spread itself in England, and continued there till the time of the Reformation The petition of the Lollards
CHAPTER 23 Of the doctrine of Wicklef and his disciples in England
CHAPTER 24 Of the calumnies that have been unjustly charged upon Wicklef by the Papists
CHAPTER 25 That the doctrine of the Albigenses was propagated in Spain, and that it continued there till the Reformation
EXTRACTS Of several trials of some pretended heretics in the diocese of Sarum. Taken out of an old Register