Concerning the government of the Churches of the Waldenses, and of the succession of their Ministers.
IF we had a well continued history of the Churches of the Valleys, it would be easy for us to make it appear,
1. That they have always exactly preserved amongst them a church government, in the same manner as it was established in the midst of the eleventh century, after their separation from the Church of Rome, which happened in the time of Wido, Archbishop of Milan, in the year of our Lord 1059, and that they distinguished their Clergy into three orders, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.
2. That their Ministers exercised these holy functions, extraordinarily to the edification of their people.
3. That it is not true, that they gave leave to laymen to preach or administer the sacraments. But we own it to be a difficult thing to set down the succession of their Pastors, and to specify them by name, the persecutions they continually lay under having destroyed almost all their ancient records; in the mean time there are still some testimonies of their adversaries remaining, which evidently prove the first article.
First, Bernard, Abbot of Foncaud, in his treatise against the sect of the Waldenses and Arians, chap. 6, accuseth only some of the Waldenses of having no Pastors; which shows, that the body of that Church had a fixed ministry before the end of the twelfth century; and whereas elsewhere he chargeth them with usurping the Church ministry, it is either a very false accusation, or which only respected some of Peter Waldo’s disciples, who, being dispersed by the persecution, thought themselves in that state to have right to preach, and to oppose the errors of the Church of Rome.
Secondly, Raynerus, who lived in 1250, doth acknowledge, that they had their Bishops in Lombardy, cap. 5. Lombardiam intrantes, visitant Episcopos suos;
“When they come into Lombardy they visit their Bishops.” Matthew Paris, ad ann. 1243, speaks of a Bishop of the Paterines in Cremona, who was deposed by them for fornication. Pilickdorph, whom the Bishop of Meaux quotes, shows, that they did not approve of a layman’s celebrating the Eucharist, chap. 1. which sufficiently proves, that they made a signal difference between the Clergy and the people; and that it is absolutely false, that they were only a company of laymen, who took to themselves the power of preaching and administering the sacraments, though nothing be more obvious in the writings of their adversaries than this charge.
If we east our eyes upon the colonies they have sent to several places, we shall find the same discipline in use amongst them. Thus we see that in the kingdom of Naples they had a superior, who conferred Orders in the city of Aquila. We find the same thing in Bohemia, in the Confession of Faith they presented to Uladislaus, p. 836. Ordinandi majoribus aut minoribus ordinibus, promovendi vita virtuosa, in Christif de, etc. The same is observed in an ancient abridgment of the opinions of the Waldenses, recorded by Wolfius, Lect. Memor. ad ann. 1160. p. 380: “They absolutely deny the Popes primacy over all Churches, and more especially his power over all policies, that is, his power of both swords; neither do they hold, that any other orders ought to be retained in the Church, but those of Priests, Deacons, and Bishops.”
Guido Carmelita attributes to them the same discipline, according to the report of Alphonsus a Castro, lib. 11. p. 337. And we find the same in Claudius Seysselius adversus Errores Waldensium, fol. 10 “Those whom they judge to be the best amongst them, they appoint to be their Priests, to whom, upon all occasions, they have recourse, as to the vicars and successors of the Apostles.”
We find their close adhering to this ancient constitution, from the history of Commenius, who was the only survivor of all the Bishops that escaped from the Bohemian persecution, in the history he has published concerning them, taken out of the Annals of that country, which he had saved from the fire, and which he carefully preserved at Amsterdam: in p. 70, and the pages following, he tells us, that the believers of Bohemia and Moravia, who had separated themselves from the communion of the Papists and Calixtines, having created three Pastors from amongst themselves, found themselves greatly perplexed about their ordination; but having understood that there were Waldenses dwelling in the confines of Moravia and Austria, to the end they might fully satisfy the scruples, as well of their own consciences as of others, as well for that time as for all time to come, they resolved to send Michael Zambergius, one of their Pastors, (who formerly had received his orders from the Bishop of Rome himself,) with two others, to find out these Waldenses, and to give them an account of what passed amongst them; but above all, to ask counsel of them, concerning what they had to do in the matter they were scrupulous about: that they met with one Stephen, a Waldensian Bishop, who sent for another, and some Ministers, in the presence of whom he made it appear to these deputies of Moravia and Bohemia, that his doctrine, as well as that of all other Waldenses, was the same that was in the time of Constantine: that the said Bishop explained to them their several articles, and related to them the horrible persecutions which his fellow-brethren had endured in Italy and in France; and that finally the said Stephen, with the other forementioned, conferred the vocation and ordination upon the said three Pastors that were sent to them by the imposition of hands, with power and authority to create others, as there should be occasion: that from that time those of Bohemia and Moravia desired to unite themselves into one body with the same Waldenses; whence it came to pass, that they themselves were afterwards called Waldenses. And, page 75, he further confirms, that the Churches of Bohemia and Moravia did never deny, but that they had received the authority of laying on of hands, and external succession, from the Waldenses.
The said Commenius, who published the Discipline of the Churches of Bohemia in 1644, gives us this account of the matter in the preface to his book:
“It is evident from history, godly reader, that the Bohemian nation, after that they above two hundred years ago had been happily enlightened with the light of the Gospel, by the ministry of John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, were by the deceit of Satan again enticed to the obedience of the apostate see, (only reserving to themselves the cup, and some other superficials,) viz. in the Council of Basil, ann. 1433. The city Tabor only, grieving to see the lighted candle thus hid under a bushel, opposed themselves, for many years, defending the purity of their doctrine, and their constancy in the faith, with their swords, till at last they also were partly circumvented by fraud, and partly oppressed by violence. Whereupon all those who were yet left of Huss’s followers, being inflamed with a divine zeal, took courage, and separating themselves from the Calixtines, or pretended Hussites, in the year 1457, they happily set up distinct meetings in several places, supported only by the Divine assistance, as also a distinct consistory; for a little before those times, some part of the Waldenses being driven out of France, came and settled themselves in the confines of Austria, with one or two of their Bishops, to whom these Bohemians sent deputies, who declared to them their intention, desiring their counsel, and a Christian union with them: the Waldenses on the other hand commending their purpose, advised them, that if they desired to have those assemblies that embraced the pure doctrine of the Gospel to be preserved from being dissipated, they ought to take care never to want faithful pastors.
“Wherefore that they ought not to expect till some who had their ordination from Rome, should by their love to truth be brought over to them, who might ordain pastors for them, but rather ordain them themselves, as occasion should offer. And forasmuch as the said Waldenses declared that they had lawful Bishops amongst them, and a lawful and uninterrupted succession from the Apostles themselves; they very solemnly created three of our Ministers Bishops, conferring upon them the power of ordaining Ministers, though they did not think fit to take upon them the name of Bishops, because of the Antichristian abuse of that name, contenting themselves with the name of Elders. As to their union with the Waldenses, before it could be brought about, the good Waldenses were again dissipated, their Bishop, Stephen, being burnt at Vienna.”
The Bishop of Meaux touches upon this history, and supposeth to have found in it an occasion of triumph, as believing that it clearly proves, that the Waldenses had no ministry at all, because they were forced to take their ordination from the Church of Rome. He observes, that they sent those whom they designed to be Priests, to Popish Bishops, to receive their ordination from them. But this indeed proves just the contrary to what he pretends.
1. It appears from hence, that they made a great distinction between the Ministers of the Gospel and the rest of the people.
2. That they did not make use of the title of necessity, but in such circumstances as made out a real necessity.
3. That though they highly declaimed against the Church of Rome and its ministry, yet they nevertheless acknowledged, that the episcopal ministry in her was lawful, if separated only from the corruptions wherewith it was stained.
However, this action, which seems so irregular, is no stranger than that of the ancient believers of Lombardy, in the time of Gregory I. who finding themselves deprived of Ministers, by reason of the Arian persecution, which had scattered them, betook themselves to the Arian Priests to have their children baptized, though in other places the validity of the Arian ministry was so little owned, that they rebaptized the children who had been baptized by them.
Neither do I believe that the Bishop has cause to reproach this poor people for their carriage in this behalf, till after he shall have persuaded those of his communion to abolish the custom they have at Rome, to permit the Greeks, whom they have seduced, and bred up in their seminaries, to receive their ordination from Greek Bishops, though they account those Bishops both schismatics and heretics, and get themselves ordained by them, with design to oppose with all their might the Greek Churches, from whence they receive their Orders by the laying on of hands.
Lastly, This Order has continued until the year 1655, as we may see by the example of Leger, who was Moderator of the Churches of the Valleys twelve years. It appears from the. history of Leger, that the Moderator, who was during life, had power to call synods, and to preside in them, and to celebrate the function of laying on of hands, p. 208. And lastly, we may see a proof of what I say, in the Churches of Bohemia and Moravia, who are a colony of the ancient Waldenses. See the account Commenius gives us in the year 1660, at which time he was one of their Bishops, in his preface to the book of the Discipline of Fratres Bohemi; and see p. 167 and 168 of Leger.
As for the manner of their discharging the function of the ministry, we can sufficiently lustily them if the testimony of their greatest enemies is worthy of any consideration.
Here is the testimony that Peter Damiani gives to the Clergy of the diocese of Turin, when he writes to Cunibert, Archbishop of Turin. He owns, that this Clergy was honest enough, and that they were sufficiently brought up in learning; that when they met with him, they seemed to be an angelic chorus, a choir of angels; and that they shined as a conspicuous senate of their Church. All that obliges him to change this good opinion is only that he was told those Clergymen were married. One cannot enough admire the fury with which he aggravates this pretended crime, neither the care he takes to bear them down with the authority of some Councils; yet after all, he is forced to confess, they defended themselves by the authority of the holy Scripture, and they opposed Councils to Councils, whose authority he could not elude, but by declaring that he acknowledged none for Councils, but those which agreed to the decrees of the Roman Pontiffs. It is an easy matter to reflect upon the vehement accusations they constantly offered, since that time, against the Romish Clergy, with respect to several notorious crimes, in which they lived publicly, being authorized in them by the public custom, or the canons of this communion. Indeed they meet with many proofs of it in the writings of their adversaries, who never were more weak than when they undertake to repulse those reproaches offered to them with so much confidence by the Paterines or Waldenses. But one may be satisfied with the testimony Seisselius, one of the last of their adversaries, gives to them a little before the Reformation.
“They say,” saith Seisselius, fol. 14, “that we of the Roman Church open and point out a way to all manner of dissoluteness and lust; they received the order of priesthood against their wills, and opposing themselves against it; whereas we either buy our priesthood with money, or obtain it by force, or by the favor of some temporal prince, and other sinister ways, and for no other end but to satisfy our lusts, to enrich our relations, and to acquire worldly pomp and glory. Moreover, they spent their whole lives in manifold watchings, fastings, and travels, being neither aftrighted with labors or dangers, that so they might point out the way of salvation to the flock committed to them; whereas we spend all our time in idleness, lusts, and other earthly, yea, wicked and ungodly things. They wholly despising gold and silver, as they had freely received, did in like manner administer the divine grace to others; whereas we set all holy things, yea, the very treasures of God’s Church, to sale. And in a word, (that I may not insist on all the particulars which, with a most most profligate confidence, they upbraid us with,) we confound all things, both human and divine; insomuch, as that this Church of Rome cannot be called the spouse of Christ, but rather that whore, and open prostitute, whom Isaiah, Jeremy, Ezekiel, and John in the Revelation, have set forth in her colors.”
This without doubt will be sufficient to prove, that as they have preserved the faith that was committed to them; so have they been as careful to preserve entire amongst them the ancient discipline of the Church, which was in use in those times, which did most closely adhere to the observation of the Canons. But I will go further yet, and evidence,
1. That they derived this their ministry from the ancient Church of Italy.
2. That they never passed for laymen upon any better ground than that of some ridiculous prejudices, the falseness of which the Church of Rome doth at present acknowledge.
Whence it will follow, in the third place, that nothing can be more false than what is pretended, viz. that they had no kind of lawful ministry amongst them, but that laymen took upon them the power of preaching, of ordaining Ministers, and administering the sacraments.
I say therefore, that these Churches had their ministry from the ancient Churches of the diocese of Italy. To make out this, we need only examine the cause of the separation which the Popes were the occasion of in this diocese, and the manner by which it was effected. It was a very ancient custom for the Clergy to give some money for their ordinations; the Popes had for a long time paid a certain sum of money for their installment; and the eastern Patriarchs in like manner; a custom confirmed by the Novel 123. of Justinian, cap. 1. This custom reached all the Bishops and Priests, yea, the very meanest Clerks, who were obliged to pay a certain sum of money to the Bishop that had ordained them, for inserting their ordination in the registers of the: Church; as may be seen in the same Novel, chap. 3. In process of time, when benefices were conferred separate from ordination, the Bishops and laymen that bestowed them introduced the custom of receiving considerable presents from those whom they named to those benefices. The Popes, whose aim was to get all benefices out of the hands of the lay-men, laid hold on this favorable occasion to execute their design. The pretense was very specious: they decried this custom for a real simony; yea, they pushed the matter yet further, by defining it to be an heresy, and maintaining that such ordinations were null and void. This is the notion Petrus Damianus, Legate of Nicolaus II. gave publicly of this matter in the diocese of Italy, by reordaining, as if they had not been ordained at all, those who confessed themselves to have been ordained and admitted to their benefices after this manner: yea, matters were carried to that height, that they who were of the Pope’s party trampled under their feet the sacraments that were administered by these simoniacs, to show their zeal for the Pope’s definitions.
This is the first heresy the Popes formed by their definitions. The second heresy the Popes made bore the name of Nicolaitans: this heresy consisted in owning that the Ministers of the Church might be married, and that the celibacy which the Popes at that time endeavored to impose upon Ministers was unjust and tyrannical, directly opposite to the doctrine of the Gospel, and to the use of antiquity; notwithstanding that nothing could be more impure than the celibacy of Ecclesiastics was at that time, insomuch that Petrus Damianus himself, who was one of the great promoters of it, by the authority of Pope Leo IX. was obliged to write a thundering treatise against the sodomy of Ecclesiastics, which then reigned in Italy, as it does still to this day. But notwithstanding all this, the Popes prevailed so against the western Churches, as to this point, that in the end they in a manner wholly carried it. The Clergy who refused to renounce their wives were driven from their benefices; and because they could not wholly obtain their aim by temporal authority, they employed their pretended spiritual one, by darting out excommunication upon excommunication against all married Ministers, and forbidding the people to own their ministry, and declaring the sacraments administered by them to be null and void, and in making them to be looked upon as mere laymen, notwithstanding they had the ordinary vocation that was then to be had. We may easily imagine how many scruples these excommunications raised, which all of them returned upon the Popes themselves. This we may gather from an answer writ by St. Bruno, Bishop of Ast, which we find at the end of the Life of Leo IX. writ by St. Bruno. The difficulty was this:
“We have already told you, (saith he,) that even from the time of Leo, the Church was so corrupted, that scarcely was any one to be found, who was not either guilty of simony himself, or ordained by those that were so. Wherefore also at this day some are found, who, arguing falsely, and not well understanding the dispensation of the Church, contend, that from that very time the true priesthood has failed in the Church. For, say they, if all were such, that is, either guilty of simony, or ordained by those who were so, you who are now, whence came you, and by whom were you ordained? You must needs derive it from them, for there was no other way; and if so, then they who have ordained us must have received their ordination from them who were either simoniacs themselves, or ordained by such.
This is the question to which we must endeavor to give an answer. And how does he answer this difficulty?
1. He supposeth that the simoniacs no more than other heretics were able to confer the Holy Ghost; and that therefore those who were baptized by them must again pass under the imposition of hands, as if they had been baptized by Arians.
2. He maintains, that the sacraments conferred by simoniacs are null and void, and embraceth the opinion of those who in Gregory VII.’s time obstinately maintained this doctrine, in the case of simoniacs and married Priests.
3. He asserts, that there were always some or other that were not guilty of simony, though perhaps it was not known.
Maurus Marehisio, Dean of Mont Cassin, makes this observation upon the foregoing passage of St. Bruno, in the last page of his second tome, Number 12.
“You proceed (saith he) to the second reason of the deficiency of the book, which we endeavour to defend, which is concerning the sacraments administered by simoniacs and heretics, a which the author maintains to be null and void, and therefore determines, that they are not to be looked upon as good and valid, but ought to be repeated. The author indeed confesseth, that some sacraments of simoniacs and heretics are valid, and need not to be repeated, to wit, those which with a good intent are received from the hand of an unknown simoniac or heretic.”
By which means he obviates the calumnies of some, who, from this position, that the sacraments of simoniacs are void, would prove, that the priesthood had failed in the Church ever since the time of Leo IX. because, as he saith, in the life of the same Leo, where he mentions this calumny, that there was scarce one to be found in the Church who was not either a simoniac himself, or ordained by such as were: whence it followed, that if all simoniacal ordination was void, that there was not one true Bishop left in the Church that could confer good and valid Orders, nor any Priest that was duly and lawfully ordained: for they argued thus; If at the time of Leo IX. all were either simoniacs or ordained by such, whence then are you who now are? You must needs derive your ordination from these simoniacs; for there is no other way, for they who ordained you were ordained by them.
Now, to answer this objection, St. Bruno was unwilling to interrupt his narrative of the acts of Leo IX. but promised to do it in a treatise apart, which he accordingly made, and which we here endeavor to answer.
Towards the end of treatise he concludes, that these objectors were mistaken, because at that time there were many concealed simoniacs, of whom many received their ordination with a good intent, whose ordination consequently was not void, but valid. But he concludes the contrary, concerning orders conferred by a known simoniac; for those he maintains to be invalid, and that consequently they ought to be repeated. And such he supposeth that some (though not all the) ordinations then were. Now this, though it were written without all doubt by the author, out of his great zeal against the simoniacs, is not to be admitted, except only in that sense wherein most laws declare simoniacal ordinations to be invalid. Which the doctors expound concerning the nullity of ordination, as to the function and execution of those orders; or as far as they can be made void by the Church, by denying a lawful exercise of orders to a simoniac; or with respect to right or jurisdiction, if the same be necessary to any function; and that it doth appear, that the Church was simoniacally robbed of the same; or lastly, with respect to the obtaining of a benefice, which the Church refuseth to allow as valid, if the same be simoniacally procured. Suarez exactly clears all these points, lib. de Simon. cap. 97. num. 2; but that ordination, though simoniacally conferred, and the Sacrament, though simoniacally administered, in itself considered, is valid, is not at all to be doubted of, as being at large confirmed, not only by Suarez in the same place, num. 3. and 4. but also long since by Bernaldus Presbyter, in his letter to Bernard, the master of the schools at Constance, who was afterwards Monk of Corby in Saxony, and was of the same opinion we here set down: and the same was also the judgment of the famous Guido, (of whom Baronius makes mention ad ann. 1022,) according to the testimony of the same Bernaldus, commending on the other hand Petrus Damianus, who in his book, which he entitles Gratissimus, demonstrates, that ordination may be conveyed by simoniacs and heretics, as well as by others.
Thus we see what pains we must take to make the opinions of the Popish Divines to accord with those of our modern Schoolmen; and if one should endeavor to do it, yet will it be impossible to avoid the consequences of those opinions. And indeed it was only from the sequel of these opinions, which reigned above two hundred years, that the Pope’s creatures have pretended, that those who had been deposed in Italy by the unjust laws of Popes were become laics, incapable of administering the sacraments, or imposing of hands; all this so extravagantly, that if once we admit of these principles, it will follow, first, that all those who were ordained by simoniacs were never made Priests; and that those who were ordained by married persons did not receive any sacred Orders: the first of these puts the Church of Rome into a terrible condition; for we defy the most able of their doctors to make it appear that their Popes were not simoniacs; they who have had a like ordination for divers ages, and holding it only from the approbation of the Emperors, either of the east or west. The other is confounded by the confession of the whole Church of Rome, who owns the ministry of the Greek Church to be lawful, as well as of other eastern Churches, where we know that the Ministers have been married, and are so still.
However, thus much is evident,
1. That after the separation of the diocese of Italy, the Bishops, which Rome called heretics, because of their pretended simony, and their being married, continued still in the exercise of their functions, without troubling themselves about the Papal definitions or excommunications.
2. That the reunion of the diocese of Italy with the Pope, about the year 1134, was at the best but very imperfect; they of Milan being very wavering, as may be seen from the 131st epistle of St. Bernard, who was the promoter of that reunion, in order to advance the interest of the Emperor Lotharius against Conrad, and those who took part with Conrad against Lotharius, and who continued in their aversion to the other Papal errors.
3. That these ecclesiastics and people of Italy being thus reduced to a contemptible condition, by reason of their small number, in comparison of the body of the diocese, continued in that separated state, exercising their ministry as formerly they did.
4. That they who had embraced the Papal party looked upon them only as mere laics, who had no authority either to preach the Gospel or administer the sacraments.
5. That after once this charge had been advanced against them, the same was obstinately carried on and continued, upon very ridiculous prejudices, which have been for a long time maintained by the greatest of the Schoolmen; as Morinus proves in his treatise of Ordinations, though at length they have: thought fit to quit them.
6. That this charge was fortified by the joining of some of Waldo’s disciples with the Churches of Italy, as I have made it appear by the treatise of Bernard, Abbot of Foncaud.
I would conclude this chapter, if I were not aware only of two or three objections that may be made against what I have here alleged; and I think myself bound to prevent them, because they seem to carry some weight along with them.
The first is, that the Bishops of Italy, which by the court of Rome were called schismatics, for their adhering to the interest of the Archbishops of Milan, were so far from espousing the opinions of Berengarius, that the Council of Brixia, which deposed Gregory VII. in the year 1080, mentions this for one of the crimes whereof he was accused; that he was of Berengarius’s opinion, as appears from the writings of Cardinal Benno against Gregory VII. and of Conradus Urspergensis.
The second is, that the question of schism being terminated at Milan, by the mediation of St. Bernard in 1134, we do not find that the Bishops of Italy, or of Lombardy in particular, did continue separate from the communion of Rome, it being on the contrary very probable, that they were all of them again reconciled to the same; so that none of them joined with the Patetines, or with those to whom that name was given in the diocese of Italy.
It will be an easy matter to satisfy these objections. As for the first, I own that the Council of Brixia accused Gregory VII. of Berengarianism; but I deny that those of the diocese of Italy constituted the body of that council; the greatest part of those who assisted at it were Germans, who made it their business to follow the footsteps of the Synod of nineteen Bishops, which was held at Mentz the year before upon the same account: neither can it be looked upon as a strange thing, that their business being to depose Gregory VII. who was the great enemy of the diocese of Italy, they should all of them equally concur, without opposition, to have him deposed, for several crimes mentioned in their .judgment passed upon him; though some Italians might at the same time believe, that he was unjustly accused of heresy, for embracing the sentiments of Berengarius, from which, as I have elsewhere made out from his commentary upon St. Matthew, he did not seem to be very averse. Neither is the second difficulty any better grounded. I know well, that after that reunion, the Popes endeavored to their utmost to engage the Bishops of Italy to be of their party, as well as those of Milan, and other lords of the country, who began to disown the power of the Emperors. But they who are versed in the history of those times may easily observe, that the council which condemned Berengarius had beets very probably on purpose convened at Verceil, in the diocese of Italy, because there were many Bishops in that country of Berengarius’s opinion; Sigebert having taken notice that there were many that pleaded for him, though the overswaying number of his adversaries carried it at last.
They may conclude the same from the printed account we have in the council, instead of the acts of the Roman Council, its 1079, under Gregory VII. against Berengarius. This account we have also in the Chronicle of Verdun, written by Hugo Flaviniacensis, which hath these words:
Omnibus igitur in Ecclesia servatoris congregatis, habitus est sermo de corpore et sanguine Domini nostri Jesu Christi, mullis hose, nonnuUis illa [prius] sentientibus. Maxima siquidem pars panera et vinurn per sacra orationis verba et sacerdotis consecrationera, Spiritu Sancto invisibiliter operante, converti substantialiter in corpus Dominicurn de Virgine nature, quod et in cruce pependit, et in sanguinem qui de ejus latere militis effusus est lacea, asserebat, [atque authoritatibus orthodoxorum patrum tam Graecorum quam Latinorum modis omnibus defendebat.] Quidam veto caecitate nimia et longa perculsi fguram tanturn substantiale illud corpus in dextera patris sedens esse, seque et alios decipientes quibusdam cavilliationibus conabantur adstruere. Verum ubi coepit res agi, prius etiam quam tertia die ventura fuerit in Synodo, defuit contra veritatern niti pars altera, nempe Spiritus Sancti ignise emolumenta palearum consurnens, et fulgore suo falsam lucem diverberando obtenebrans noctis callginem vertit in lucem.
This is the account of what was done in that council; and it appears from the MS. of the council which I have examined, that those who published it have altered it just as they pleased themselves.
Now, whatever pains they may have taken in this matter, yet it is manifest, first, that Berengarius was not the first author of this opinion in Italy, from whence the greatest part of those Bishops were summoned to the council by Gregory VII. Secondly, That this council was at first mightily divided, and that division lasted for two days, and was not taken up till the third day. Thirdly, That the word of long blindness, which the author of this account speaks of, could not be referred to the disciples of Berengarius, but to those who maintained the same doctrine with him in Italy, since the contrary doctrine being set forth by Paschasius Radbertus gave occasion to the division upon that matter, of which Joannes Scotus’s book, that was burnt in Vetceil, was an authentic testimony.
Moreover, they cannot be ignorant how that diocese was laid waste by the forces of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, which gave occasion to the Clergy to enjoy a greater liberty in their opinions, the four Anti-popes, who succeeded one another, troubling themselves about little else but who should have the mastery; and those who are looked upon as the true Popes being not in a condition to concern themselves with ought but what might be for their own defense against the Anti-popes, who were supported by that Emperor.
The third objection is this: that whatsoever has been said, we cannot point to those precisely who have succeeded to the Bishops, who separated themselves in this diocese of Italy from the communion with the Popes, since the year 1134, when the diocese of Milan was reconciled with them by the endeavors of St. Bernard.
But yet, as I remarked before, this is very clear, that there was nothing but an horrid disorder and confusion in that diocese, by the intrigues of the Popes, and by the resistance of the Emperors.
Whosoever will look only on the succession of the Bishops of Milan, in those times, will meet with so great uncertainty in their succession, many pretending to the same title, that there was nothing more common in that diocese, than questions upon elections of Bishops, or other clergymen.
Those who, as Ughellus, look upon the confirmation of the Pope as an essential thing to make an election lawful, are forced to look upon many of the Bishops of this diocese as intruders and schismatics, that gave occasion to the Popes to declare these ordinations null and void, and to deprive them of the name of Bishops, Priest, and Deacons.
As since that time those who favored the Popish interest declared war against those that were ordained against their consent, and had their ordination from those who were rejected by the Romish party as heretics and schismatics; we ought not to be surprised, if when Rome considered them as laymen, they on the contrary may pretend to have a: true ordination of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, though in the consequence of time they thought fit to conceal their titles, to avoid, as well as they could, the hatred and persecution which those titles brought upon them from the Church of Rome and her Inquisitors.
It is known to all the world how careful the abettors of the Roman party have been to destroy the last monument of those Churches which they reduced under their yoke. If we reflect upon England only, we shall have too sensible instances of this care.
St. Asaph was Bishop of the church called by his name, and St. Daniel was Bishop of Bangor; we know that these lived in the time of Austin the Monk, and they do not doubt that they were two of the seven that opposed his usurpation; Bede, Hist. Ecclesiastes 2:2. But from that time till the English Conquest, (which was above five hundred years after,)they cannot find the name of any one of their successors, nor any name of any one Churchman in that diocese. The Bishop of Bangor cannot name three of his predecessors in that time. But of this we find sufficient proof, that all the records of these churches were destroyed by the English at the time of that conquest; and we do not doubt that they took especial care to extinguish all the memory of these Bishops’ opposition to Popery, which we can plainly and certainly prove did not prevail in that country till the English Conquest.