Concerning the state of the Church of Rome at the time the separation of the Paterines or Waldenses; together with the accusations charged upon them by the said Church, and the idea they had conceived of her.
THE account I have but now given from Raynerius and other authors, who have made a catalogue of the errors of the Waldenses, is abundantly sufficient to refute the vain pretense of the Bishop of Meaux, who supposeth that the Waldenses were only schismatics. But forasmuch as it is not unlikely but the Papists will disown the Bishop in this particular, as well as they do in so many others, it is but natural to endeavor to obviate the objections they may frame against the Churches of Piedmont.
1. They will probably allege, that the Patetines never accused the Church of Rome of so great a number of errors as the Waldenses do.
2. They may say, that the Waldenses. were really guilty of a multitude of errors and heresies, which the authors that I have cited after Raynerius do unanimously charge them with.
3. They may probably take notice, that the Waldenses had an article in their belief, whereof we find no mention made in the reasons alleged by the Patetines in justification of their separating from the Church of Rome, viz. that the Waldenses declared the Pope to be antichrist, and the Church of Rome the whore of Babylon, spoken of in the Revelation, which does not appear to have been any part of the Paterines belief.
It will be an easy matter to satisfy any reasonable person about the first of these objections: and to this purpose it will be of importance to consider, what was the state of the Romish Church at the time when a part of the diocese of Milan, with diverse Bishops at the head of them, were obliged to separate themselves from it. There is a foolish persuasion entertained by the generality of those of the Romish communion, that their Church has ever continued in the same state; whence they naturally infer, as the Bishop of Meaux does, that since the Paterines or Waldenses did not at first reject all those doctrines of the Church of Rome, which in their later Confessions they have condemned; it may well be supposed they owned and professed the same with that Church. How gross a delusion this is, will be easily made out by manifesting that the Church of Rome, ever since the time of this separation, has declined from bad to worse, and that the reason why the Waldenses did not at first oppose all those doctrines which we at this day reject, was because they were not as yet hatched, a great part of them being beholden to the subtilty of the School men for their original, who were not in being at the time of their separation; or because the said doctrines were not looked upon by the Church of Rome to be essential, as necessarily to require the profession or practice of them from those of her communion.
The state of the Church of Rome, with reference to her faith concerning the articles about which we contest with her at this day, will appear from the following particulars.
1. She did not impose a necessity of equalizing the authority of the Apocrypha with the canonical books of Scripture. This incontestably appears from the testimony of all her own authors that have been since the eleventh century, to the Council of Trent, which first imposed it. Accordingly we find the same distinction we make of apocryphal and canonical books, in the writings of Radulphus Giselbertus, Rupertus, Honorius Augustod. Peter, Abbot of Clugny, against the Petrobus. Hugo de Saneto Vietore, Richardus de Saneto Vietore, Petrus Comestor, Cardinal Hugo, Nicolaus de Lyra, Brito the Franciscan, Thomas Aquinas, Joannes Semeca, Ocham, Hervmus, St. Antoninus, Tostatus, Dionysius the Carthusian, Cardinal Ximenes, Cardinal Cajetan, Josse Clithou, and in the writings of all those who placed the Prologus Galeatus of St. Jerome before the Bible, though in divers copies the word Hagiographi was not instead of Apocryphi, which word St. Jerome had attributed to authors whose authority we reject, as some Papists have observed in their editions.
The Church of Rome did not believe that tradition was a sufficient ground to build articles of faith on, though the second Council of Nice supposed it was only to maintain the worship of idols, as appears from the account Thomas Aquinas has given us.
At that time indeed all the faith necessary to be believed by a Christian was reduced to the Apostles’ Creed; Leo X. being the first who determined that the Popes had power to make new articles of faith, as well as a new rule of manners. In bulla Exurge.
The reading of the Scripture was not forbid to laymen until the year 1200. Innocent III. Epist. ad Metenses.
Councils were not believed to be infallible, though the Popes presided in them. The history of the ages succeeding the tenth century are filled with examples that put this out of doubt. To this purpose the reader may consult the treatise concerning the Unity of the Church, written by Venericus, Bishop of Verceil, the works of Ocham upon the deposition of the Emperor Lewis of Bavaria, of Peter d’Ailly, Aeneas Sylvius, and of many others; which will fully convince him of the truth I assert. It was not believed that the Christians did merit any thing by their good works, but persons on their death-beds were obliged formally to profess the contrary, in their last or death-bed confessions, as appears by the form prescribed to that purpose by Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Indulgences, which came into request some time after the separation of the diocese of Milan, were looked upon only as pious frauds. This was the notion Petrus Cantor gave of them; and it is apparent, that till the fourteenth century, that which at present is owned to be the ground of them, was rejected. Jubilees were never heard of until the time of Pope Boniface VIII. that is to say, in the year 1300.
It was not believed, that notwithstanding preceding contrition, absolution was necessarily required, to obtain remission of sins; but on the contrary, that contrition for sin was sufficient to restore the sinner to a state of grace.
It was not believed, that St. James, in the fifth chapter of his Epistle, speaks of auricular confession; neither indeed was there any use of confession, except in public penances, which by little and little began to wear out of use after the twelfth century. And the necessity of confessing once a year was not imposed till the year 1215, by Pope Innocent III. Neither was the necessity of the Priest’s intention believed at that time, as appears from the writings of Adelman of Brixia against Berengarius, as well as by those of Petrus Damianus and many others. It was not believed that marriage was forbid to Priests, otherwise than only by human constitutions; as may be seen in the common canon law of Gratian.
The sacrament of the Eucharist was not believed to be .an object of adoration. We find nothing of it in all Berengarius’s disputation: we read also, that Henry II. King of England, adored the cross on his death-bed, and that he received the Eucharist with reverence, but not a word of his worshipping of it. And indeed the decree whereby its adoration was enjoined, is of no longer standing than the thirteenth century. And even to this day the Deacon communicates standing, according to the ancient custom of the Greek and Latin Churches.
It was not believed, that the end and aim of the real presence was to offer up Jesus Christ in sacrifice to God, for the sins of the living and dead: Lombard, and the greatest part of the old Schoolmen, owning it to be no more than a commemoration.
At that time there were but very few Churches where they began to communicate under one kind only, viz. that of bread; neither was this castore authorized but by the Council of Constance in the year 1415, till which time almost all the reflections of Papists upon the two kinds are contrary to this abuse, which Henricus Gandavensis so highly exclaims against.
It is but since the tenth age that they began to place images on the altars, and indeed a good while after; and that in some Churches only. It is but since Lewis the IXth’s time that the consecration of images was brought in use, as may still be seen in the Pontifical. Gaufidus de Bello loco de vita Ludovic. IX. c. 36.
It is but since the tenth century, that the cross hath been set upon altars; and we find no instance to make us believe that the image of Jesus Christ was at that time fastened to it, as it is at this day. Thiers, c. 18.
The Office of the Virgin was not established in the western Church till the year 1195, by Pope Urban II. at Clermont, in a council assembled there by him, as having been till then the effect only of a private or particular superstition.
Before the twelfth century, very few foundations of dirges or masses for the dead were heard of; but since that time the Mendicant Friars have brought into vogue the Office for the Dead, vowed masses, and dirges or masses for the deceased, and have multiplied them to that excess, that it is impossible for them to satisfy the obligations they take upon them of saying so many masses.
For the multiplication of new festivals of the saints we are beholden to the fifteenth century, as may be seen in Clamengis, lib. De novis Festivitat. non instituendis.
The confraternities are but a very late invention, as M. Thiers owns, p. 33. of his Dissertation concerning the quire of churches.
These are the articles that were either wholly unknown, or not yet received in the Church of Rome; whence it is evident, that the Paterines or Waldenses could not at first oppose them, and that it is no matter of wonder that they never set themselves against them, but as from time to time they were admitted of by the Church of Rome, whose corruptions increased daily; which they take notice of in their last confessions of faith. The great controversies therefore at that time were these:
1. Whether the ministry of the Church of Rome was a lawful ministry, forasmuch as simony was the principal means of obtaining any ecclesiastical dignities in the western Church.
2. Whether it was necessary to be subject to the Pope, in order to be a member of the true Church; which the Popes absolutely pretended, having to that end invaded the authority of almost all Metropolitans, that naturally were autocephali, that is, subject to no Church-authority above themselves out of their diocese.
3. Whether the Popes had power to annul the ministry of the married Clergy.
4. Whether the worshipping of the saints, relics, images, and of the cross, were lawful.
5. Whether the belief of the Popes concerning the carnal presence of the body of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist was a belief founded upon holy Scripture.
6. Whether the belief of the absolute necessity of Baptism was lawful.
7. Whether the doctrine of purgatory was evangelical.
8. Whether prayers for the dead were a religious performance. Now, if we will take the pains to examine a little the questions that were agitated between the Waldenses and the Church of Rome, we shall find them to be the very same with those I have just now mentioned; except only, as I have before observed, that the said questions were afterwards multiplied proportionably to the increase of the Romish corruptions. As to what concerns the calumnies wherewith some have endeavored to disfigure them, and to make them the horror and detestation of people, we may truly aver, that in this particular the Church of Rome has only consulted her passion and hatred, without the least regard had to truth, or their innocence.
The learned Usher, and diverse others have placed the innocence of the Waldenses in so clear a light, as to all the matters whereof they are accused, that I should abuse the patience of my reader, by endeavoring anew to make their apology. It shall suffice therefore to observe first, that the Doctors of the Romish Church have maliciously affected to fasten upon the Waldenses the belief of the Manichees, under pretense that the Manichees also opposed some of the Romish practices, as well as the Waldenses. Secondly, that to this purpose they have attributed to the Manichees several doctrines of the Waldenses, which do not in the least partake with Manicheism. This a judicious reader may easily perceive, by comparing the catalogue of the errors of the new Manichees, drawn up by Emericus, which I have set down in chapter 15 with their opinions, as they are reported to us by St. Epiphanius, St. Austin, Theodoret, and by Peter of Sicily, in the ninth century.
I acknowledge, it may seem strange to some, to find the Waldenses so constantly charged with such gross calumnies; but here I must desire the reader to consider,
1. That it is no great sin with the Church of Rome to spread lies concerning those that are enemies of the faith.
2. That the Church of Rome has been always desirous of preserving the reputation of her ancient authors, as being some of their greatest saints, which would visibly have been diminished, if not quite lost, in case their successors should have owned the innocence of the Vaudois Churches. No, it is a far more easy and convenient way to assert, that the Waldenses have changed their belief, than to accuse their saints of having been most infamous calumniators.
3. That the greatest part of those authors who have writ concerning the heresies of the Waldenses or Vaudois, have only followed their first leaders, viz. Alanus and others, without troubling themselves to inquire into the truth of the matter: which is the very character of those sort of compilers.
4. That after the account Emericus has given us in his Directory of the Inquisitors, they of the Church of Rome were no longer at liberty to embrace a different representation of their belief from what he had already given; people generally being so far engaged in an high esteem for the Inquisition, and their exactness in all proceedings, that they would have looked upon it as a great crime to change their judgment in a matter they had allowed of and established: neither indeed could it be done, without incurring the danger of falling into their hands; for we may well suppose they would never suffer their credit and sincerity to be in the least questioned.
5. That there is nothing more common with the Romish party, than to make use of the most horrid calumnies to blacken and expose those who have renounced her communion. The Protestants in France were at first accused of committing the same impurities at their meetings, which the heathens objected to the primitive Christians, and the Papists since that to the Waldenses. And if we east an eye upon what Sigebert tells us concerning the Greeks of the eleventh century, we shall find that calumny is a trade the Romish party is perfectly well versed in. Leo IX. saith he, sent his Legates to Constantinople, to refute the heresies of the Greeks, who, like Simoniacs, sold the gift of God; like the Valesians, took their guests, and gelt them, and so promoted them to bishoprics; like the Arians, they rebaptized the Latins, that had already been baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity; in imitation of the Donatists, they boasted the orthodox Church to be only in Greece; like the Nicolaitans, they allowed marriage to Priests; like the Severians, they declared the Law of Moses to be accursed; like the Pneumatomachi, they cut off the belief of the Holy Ghost from the Creed; like the Nazarenes, they observed Judaism, forbidding little children, though at the point of death, to be baptized before the eighth day; and women in danger of life, by reason of their travail or courses, to communicate; or, if they were heathens, to be baptized: that they called the Latins Azymitae, and persecuting them, shut up their churches; that they sacrificed with leavened bread, and anathematized the Roman Church in her children, preferring the Constantinopolitan Church before her. But notwithstanding all this, if we will believe Leo Allatius, there was but a very little difference between the Roman and Greek Church at that time.
6. We are to take notice, that notwithstanding the fury and malice of the Romish party in wounding the reputation of the Vaudois, yet there have not been wanting some historians, in the bosom of that Church, who have been so generous as to own the truth. Paradin observes, in his Annals of Burgundy, that he had seen ancient histories that fully justified them from all the accusations laid to their charge, and made it appear, that their only crime was their declaiming against the profligate manners and conduct of the Roman Clergy. Thuanus has seconded him herein, as well as divers other authors of the Roman communion, who have wrote since the Reformation, and sufficiently acquitted them of all those horrid calumnies which for so long a time have been made use of to run them down.
I proceed now to the last article before mentioned, viz. the idea which the Vaudois had conceived of the Church of Rome: certainly it is a very surprising thing to see the Vaudois treating the Pope with the title of Antichrist, and of the Apocalyptical Beast, and the Church of Rome with that of the Great Whore, and Mystical Babylon. What ground had they to speak and write at this rate? for we find that this was the common style they made use of in their disputes with the Romish party. This is a matter well worth our consideration.
Emerick, in his Directory, attributes this opinion to those he calls the new Manichees: but to speak truth, he is wholly besides the matter, and either abuseth himself, or has a mind to deceive others; for it was the opinion of the Vaudois, and not of the Manichees: and they had the strongest motives so to do, that persons who made it their chief business to read the Scripture, could propose to themselves; motives, I say, which from time to time were fortified and confirmed by the continual increase of the corruptions of the Church of Rome.
1. There have not been wanting a great number, in the bosom of the Church of Rome, who conceived and publicly proposed this notion, since the time of Gregory VII. Wolffus has set down several of their writings on this subject, which it is not necessary to transcribe here.
2. We find that the Vaudois had with great exactness applied themselves to the study of the Revelation; and the treatise they have published about this matter, long time before the Reformation, sufficiently evidenceth that they had compared the characters St. John speaks of with those which they found in the Pope and his Church.
3. We find that in the said treatise they make a more particular reflection upon three things which stared in the eyes of all men since the twelfth century: the first was the idolatry of the Church of Rome; the other was the power the Popes had usurped over almost all the secular powers of Europe; and the third was the fury and violence of the persecution the Church of Rome employed to support her tyranny, her false doctrine and worship, and to crush whatsoever did in the least offer to oppose itself against her usurgation.
1. The idolatry of the Church of Rome, which had suffered a great shock at the Council of Franc-fort in 794, but notwithstanding that still increased every day, and more especially after that the darkness of the tenth century had forced piety to give way to idolatry and superstition. The violation of the second Commandment was very apparent, but could be no longer palliated or disguised after that some Popes in the twelfth century began to renew in their canonizations, which began about that time, the pattern of the Pagan apotheoses. This deification of men is so horrid an attempt against the Christian religion, that it may well be looked upon as the top and highest degree of idolatry.
2. The method the Popes took to make themselves masters of all Europe, almost all the kings thereof subjecting their crowns to the Pontifical mitre. They who will take the pains to consult the Annals of Baronius about this point, will find, that scarcely was there so much as one state left in Europe, which had not declared itself the Pope’s vassal before the year 1200. He endeavors to confirm this truth by the public acts he produceth concerning the kingdom of Arragon, Portugal, Castile, and all Spain, as also of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and the other provinces of Italy, of Provence, Low Britany, and whole France, of Denmark, Saxony, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Museovia, England, and Ireland. Hereupon we may make this obvious and natural reflection: the Christians allege against the Jews a very convincing argument. It was foretold of old, that the Messiah was to convert the nations to the worship of the God of Israel: this being accordingly accomplished by Jesus Christ, it follows that he indeed is the Messiah, to whom this character is given by the ancient oracles; and by an argument a pari we infer thus: the kings that were to succeed to the ruins of the Roman empire have given their kingdoms to the Pope; wherefore the Pope must needs be he whom St. John has marked out to us by the beast, to whom the kings were to submit their authority. Now, as the Jews must make all Christians to renounce the God of Israel, whom they own and acknowledge, before they can suppose that the Messiah is to convert all the heathens, and be known to be the Messiah by this distinguishing character; in like manner must the Papists snatch out of the Pope’s hands all the kingdoms that he hath, and doth possess, at least, as lord paramount, in order to make way for the appearance of Antichrist, and for his being owned to be such.
3. The violence of the persecution she has managed throughout all the parts of Europe, and whereof the poor Vaudois always met with the greatest share. the Popes, who had enslaved to themselves all the western Churches, being masters of the temporal also, by the voluntary subjection of its emperors and princes, did no longer think of keeping any measures. The Bishops being almost generally subject to them, they made them decide in their synods whatsoever they pleased. The new laws they made were only the fruit of their humours and interest; and the princes being now become their vassals, were the ready executioners of the Papal violence and fury against those they had anathematized.
Now it is certain, first, that since the tenth century, wherein Arnulphus, Bishop of Orleans, called the Pope Antichrist, in a full Council at Rheims, nothing has been more ordinary than to give him this title. The Antipopes of the eleventh century very lavishly bestowed it upon one another. This example was followed in the twelfth century, and has never since been discontinued till the time of the Reformation; a vast number of writers having set themselves against the Pope and the Papacy, openly proclaiming him to be the Antichrist, and his Church the Great Whore, and Mystical Babylon. Baleus takes notice of a great number of these in his Centuries, with reference to England; and Wolffus hath instanced in many others belonging to the other parts of the western empire: more especially we ought to take notice of what Rupertus, Abbot of Tuits, tells us, in his Commentary upon the Apocalypse, that cruelty and persecution were one of the most express characters of Antichrist. See here what he writ at the beginning of the twelfth century, upon these words of the Apocalypse, find cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be put to death. Ira Christus non facit; neque Prophetce ejus, neque Apostoli docuerunt, neque reges Christiani jam facti hoc acceperunt, ut occiderent, et sanguine cumulandum existiment Christi servitium; vevus namque Deus non coacta sed spontanea servitia vult. Ergo et in hoc, in hoc maxime palam faciet sensum habentibus, fuod vere sit Antichristus, quod vere non Christus, sed secundum nomen suum Christo sit contrarius. Hic est Christus qui sanguinem suum fundit; hic est Antichristus qui sanguinem fundit alienum. In Apoc. lib. 3. cap. 13.
“Christ does not do so, neither did his Prophets or Apostles teach so, neither have the kings that are Christians received any such instructions to kill men, or to make them think that the worship of Christ is to be stained with blood; for the true God doth not desire any forced, but voluntary service. Wherefore by this mark especially will he make it evident to all that have any understanding, that indeed he is the Antichrist; that indeed he is not Christ, but, according to his name, opposite and contrary to Christ. He is Christ that sheds his own blood, he is Antichrist that sheds the blood of others.”
After all this, I leave it to any one to judge, whether it were an easy matter for the Patetines and Vaudois, being oppressed by the Pope and his instruments at the rate they were, not to form this idea of the Pope and his Church; and whether any can think it possible, they should not instruct their descendants to have that just horror for the Church of Rome, which has always hindered them from reuniting with her, notwithstanding all the ways of violence she has made use of to oblige them to it.