THESE are the remarks I thought fit to make upon the history of the Churches of the Albigenses. I suppose the reader will own that I have deduced their succession from the Apostles, and their independence on the see of Rome with care enough, though the barbarity of the enemies of the truth has done its utmost endeavors to abolish all the monuments, which these illustrious witnesses of it had left in these dioceses.
Neither do I believe, that the Bishop of Meaux will have any pretense for the future, to accuse them of Manicheism, nor to reproach the Protestants, that they can find no other predecessors in antiquity, but a parcel of men whose doctrine and lives were equally execrable. Nothing but a spirit animated with such a rage and fury as produced those crusades, can obstinately maintain such horrid calumnies, after all that we have here alleged for their justification.
I might perhaps have been more particular in the accounts which I have given of the bad construction the Inquisitors have put upon their belief: but besides that I have sufficiently discovered the injustice of these ministers of hell; who is there amongst the Protestants, nay, amongst the very Papists themselves, that is not fully convinced of the iniquity and profound malice of these hearts of tigers; who, under the name of defenders of the Christian faith, have racked their brains to blacken the most innocent lives of the most religious Christians; and who have made it their diversion to exterminate them by the most dismal torments?
The Bishop of Meaux may write as long as he pleases to maintain these diabolical calumnies: I am persuaded, that if any equitable members of his communion will take the pains to compare the carriage of the heathens towards the primitive Christians, with the behavior of his Church under Innocent III. and Gregory IX. against the Albigenses; and the patience of the Albigenses, slandered and persecuted by the Church of Rome, with the condition of the primitive Church, persecuted and slandered by the heathens, they will find it as difficult to look upon the Church of Rome as the daughter of the primitive Church, as it will be easy for them to acknowledge the Albigenses as the genuine offspring of those primitive Christians.
I did not think it necessary for my design, to tie myself step by step to every particular, which I might justly have found fault with in the book where the Bishop of Meaux handles the History of the Albigenses: it is an endless labor to trace a man that follows false guides, and who hath nothing new besides the art and turn of expression: and because the naked truth hath always the better of works of this nature, it is sufficient to set it in a clear light, for the extinguishing that false lustre which men bestow upon lies, by ornaments put upon them only to hide their deformity. And it is my hope after all, that as God hath illustriously displayed the care of his providence, in raising the Church of Piedmont from those ruins under which the spirit of persecution thought for ever to have buried it; so he will be pleased to vouchsafe the same protection to those desolate flocks, whom the violence of the Romish party hath constrained to dissemble their faith, by making a show of embracing the Roman religion, to avoid the extremities of their persecution.
One would think that that God, who hath wrought so many wonders for their preservation, so many ages together; and who even then, when they seemed reduced to nothing by the bloody vigilance of the Inquisitors, who age after age have gleaned this field, after the barbarous rage of the crusades was over, should be unwilling to suffer this oppressed light to be wholly extinguished, but that he will make these his witnesses rise from their graves, now after the Church of Rome has signalized her joy for their death and destruction.
God of his great mercy be pleased to restore to these afflicted flocks the same joy and the same comfort which their ancestors felt at the time of the Reformation, when they gave such public evidence of their zeal, and entered by crowds into the bosom of the reformed Church, whose principles they had maintained so many ages before the Reformation; and to open the eyes of their persecutors, giving them grace to acknowledge, that they fight against God, whilst they strive to force menís consciences, and to engage the people to own that religion as divine, which is only the product of human policy, the very sink of the corruptions of these last times, and the offspring of the spirit of error.