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King Francis I., successor to Louis XII., understanding that the • Parliament of Provence laid heavy impositions upon the Waldenses at Merindol, Cabriers, and other neighbouring places, had a desire to inform himself about the faith, life, and manners of the said Waldenses. that purpose he commanded William de Bellay, Lord of Langeai, his lieutenant in Piedmont, to make diligent inquiry into that affair. Whereupon the said Lord sent into Provence two honest persons to inquire into the life and religion of the said Waldenses, and the proceedings of the Parliament against them. Those two deputies brought word back to the Lord of Langeai, that the greatest part of the inhabitants of Provence affirmed, that the said Waldenses were a laborious people, and that about two hundred years ago they came from Piedmont to dwell in Provence; and that betaking themselves to husbandry and feeding of cattle, they made many villages, destroyed by the wars, and other desert and uncultivated places, very fertile by their industry, and that by the informations given them in the said country of Provence, they had learned that the said inhabitants of Merindol, were a very peaceable people, loved by their neighbours, and men of good behaviour and of a godly conversation, careful in keeping their promises, punctual in paying their debts, without suffering themselves to be sued; a charitable people, not permitting any amongst them to fall into want; and that they were liberal to strangers and poor passengers, according to their ability. That the inhabitants of Provence affirmed that those of Merindol were distinguished from those
ex earum usu et squalore tanta graveolentia contracta, ut e longinquo nares feriant, vixque ab advenis ferri possint.
"His opibus beati æquali omnium paupertate nullos mendicos habent, et seipsis contenti raras amicitias nullas cum aliis adfinitates colunt. In tanta tenuitate imo et pædore degentibus, quod et horrida ac deformi specie præ se ferunt, est quod mireris, quod non incultis omnino moribus sunt; nam nemo apud eos nescit literas, et scribere commode sciunt. Linguam Gallicam callent, quatenus "BIBLIA INTELLIGERE et PSALMOS CANERE POSSINT. Nec quemquam temere inter eos puerum reperias, qui interrogatus fidei, quam profitentur, non expedite memoriter rationem reddat, quod illis cum CÆTERIS CONVALLENSIBUS commune est. Tributum religiose pendunt, idque secundum Dei cultum in ipsorum fidei confessione præcipuum est. Quod si bellis civilibus prohibeantur, illud nihilominus coactum seponunt, et cum per pacem licet, coactoribus regiis studiose exsolvi curant.”—Thuani Hist., Lib. 27, p. 16.
The translation of the essential part of Du Thou's testimony follows. It perfectly sustains the declaration of Louis XII., that the Waldenses, me et cætero populo meu catholico meliores viri sunt; are better men then myself and the rest of my people.”
“Of all those valleys the most rugged and wild is that of Fraissiniere, and on account of its sterile and untilled soil, its inhabitants are most needy. Their covering is of sheepskins salted and dried, with the wool not scoured, and with them both men and women are clothed.
The women have a linen covering for the head; otherwise they ase not linen, either for clothing, or for beds; for, almost clad, they take their sleep on straw, and covered with the skins of sheep. They dwell in seven villages, and their houses are constructed of flint stones;
In those places they and their cattle are housed; but often, when there is danger from their persecutors, they conceal themselves and their flocks in caves.
* Employed in raising cattle, they live on milk
and venison, and are excellent marksmen in killing goats and bears.
"Blessed with this wealth, the equal poverty of all, they have no beggars; and contented with themselves, they cultivate little friendship and no affinity with others. But notwithstanding they live in such poverty and filth, which they exhibit in its most disgusting shape, it is marvellous that they are not uncultivated in their manners; for no one among them is ignorant of letters, and they all can write fairly. They are well taught in the French language; so that they can UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE, AND SING THE PSALMS. Nor can any boy be found at random among them, who being asked of the faith which they profess, will not promptly give you an intelligible account, which is common to all the other VALLENSES. They religiously pay their tribute, which, after their service to God, is a chief article in their confession of faith.”
of the country, in that they could not endure to blaspheme, or name the devil, or swear at all, unless in the making some solemn contracts, or in judgment. They were also known by this, that when they came
any company where they talked lasciviously or blasphemously, to the dishonour of God, they straightway withdrew from such company.
Thus many enemies of the Waldenses have spoken honourably of them, inforced thereunto by the power of the truth.'.
Testimony concerning the Waldenses by distinguished professors of the Reformed Churches.
THEODORE BEZA called the Waldenses, the offspring of the purest part of the Ancient Christian Church, because they have been miraculously preserved from the errors and ignorance which Satan hath hatched in these latter times.
Constans upon the Apocalypse, shows that the reformation of the western Church began in France by the means of Waldo, and that from this source it spread itself through the rest of Europe. ?
Bullinger speaks thus of the Waldenses: For four hundred years and more, in France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Bohemia, and other countries throughout the world, the Waldenses have made profession of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and have in several writings, and continual preachings, accused the pope as the true Antichrist, of whom the Apostle John foretold, and that therefore we ought to flee from him. These people, having undergone divers and cruel torments, have constantly and openly given testimony to their faith by glorious martyrdoms, and still do the same to this day. They could never be extirpated, although it had been often attempted by the most potent kings and princes, instigated by the pope. God frustrated those endeavours. 3
Luther confessed, that he hated the Waldenses, as persons consigned over to perdition, until having understood the piety of their faith by their confessions and writings, he perceived that those good men had been greatly wronged whom the pope had condemned as heretics, being rat worthy of the praise due to holy martyrs. Among the said Waldenses, he had found one thing worthy of admiration, and to be taken notice of as miraculous and unheard of in the popish Church; that the said Waldenses, having forsaken all human doctrines, did meditate with all their power in the law of the Lord day and night; ihat they were very expert in the Scriptures, and well versed in them. On the contrary, those who are called our masters in the papacy, did so despise the holy writings, in the title of which notwithstanding they gloried, that there were amongst them they who had not so much as seen the Bible.
Moreover, having read the confession of the Waldenses, he said that
gave thanks to God for the great light which he had bestowed upon them, rejoicing with them, that all cause of suspicion being removed from among them, and the reformed, which made them be suspected by each other of heresy, they were however so nearly united as to have been brought together into one sheepfold under the only pastor and bishop of our souls, who is blessed for ever.' (Ecolampadius wrote to the Waldenses of Provence the following letin the year
1530. “ We have learnt with great satisfaction, by your faithful pastor George Morel, the nature of your faith and religion, and in what terms you declare it. Therefore we thank our most merciful Father, who hath called you to so great a light in this age, even amidst the obscure clouds of ignorance which have spread themselves throughout the world, and notwithstanding the
extravagant power of Antichrist. And therefore we acknowledge that Christ is in you; for which cause we love you like brethren, and would to God we were able to make you sensible in effect, of that which we shall be ready to do for you, although it were to be done with the utmost difficulty. Finally, we desire that what we write may not be looked upon as if through pride we assumed any superiority to ourselves, but out of that brotherly love and charity we bear towards you. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath imparted to you an excellent know ledge of his truth, more than to many other people, and hath blessed
you with a spiritual benediction. So that if you persist in his grace, he hath much greater treasures with which he will enrich
you perfect, according to your advancement in the measure of the inheritance of Christ.”
This letter is thus subscribed; “Ecolampadius prays to the Holy Ghost, for the grace of God the Father, through his Son Jesus Christ, to the well-beloved brethren in Christ, called Waldenses.5
Martin Bucer wrote to them, at the same time, the following epistle.
“ Blessed be the Lord God the Father, who hath preserved you to this present time in so great a knowledge of his truth; and hath now excited you to search after it, and made you capable thereof. Now the nature of true faith is this: That as soon as it discovers in part, some glimpse of the divine light, it diligently keeps that which God hath already given. We have Paul for an example, who, throughout all his epistles, manifests his care to promote the glory of God. And surely if we pray heartily that the name of God may be glorified, and that his kingdom may come, we shall never endeavour anything with so much diligence, as the establishment of the truth where it is not, and the advancement thereof where it is already planted. This one thing chiefly troubles us, that we cannot answer you so fully as we could have desired. 6
Monsieur de Vignaux, who was pastor of the Waldenses in the valleys of Piedmont, hath written a treatise of their life, manners, and religion, to whom he gives this testimony: That they were men of a holy life and conversation, excellent conduct, and great enemies to vice; but especially their barbs, for so they called their pastors
. Speaking of those of his time, he saith, “ We live in peace and concord with one another in those valleys of Piedmont, have commerce and contract among ourselves, having never mixed ourselves with those of the Church of Rome, by marrying
4 Vesembecius, Oration concerning
the Waldenses. 5 George Morel, conference with Ecolampadius. 6 Book on the Persecutions of the Waldenses.
our sons to their daughters, nor our daughters to their sons.
Yet they are so pleased with our manners and customs, that the papist lords and others had rather take men and maid servants from amongst us, than from among those of their own religion; and come from afar to seek nurses amongst us for their little children, finding, as they say, more fidelity in ours than in their own."
As to the doctrine for which the Waldenses have been persecuted, they affirmed, that we must believe the Holy Scriptures only in that which concerns our salvation, without any dependance upon men. The Scriptures contain all things necessary to our salvation; and nothing else ought to be received, except that which God hath commanded us.
There is but one only Mediator, and that, therefore, we must not invocate the saints.
That there is no purgatory, but that all who are justified by Christ go to life eternal.
They receive and approve of two sacraments, baptism, and the communion of the Holy Supper.
They affirm that all masses are damnable, especially those that are said for the dead; and that, therefore, they ought to be abolished.
That all human traditions ought to be rejected, and not held necessary to salvation.
The singing and recital of the office, and fasts confined to certain days, superfluous holy days, the difference of meats, degrees and orders of priests, monks, and nuns, benedictions, and consecrations of creatures, vows, pilgrimages, and the whole confused and vast heap of ceremonies formerly invented, ought to be abolished.
They deny the supremacy of the pope, especially the power which he hath usurped over the civil government ; and admit of no other degrees, besides bishops, priests, and deacons.
The see of Rome is the true Babylon, and the pope is the original of all the evils in these days.
The marriage of priests is good and necessary.
Those who hear the word of God, and have a right knowledge of it, are the true Church, to whom Jesus Christ hath committed the keys to let in his sheep, and drive out the wolves.
This, says Vignaux, is the doctrine of the Waldenses, which the enemies of truth have impugned, and for which they have in those days persecuted them, as the said enemies themselves testify;?
Viret speaks of the Waldenses as follows :- The papists have very unjustly fathered great crimes on the ancient faithful, called the Waldenses, or poor people of Lyons; whereby they began to make known that the pope was Antichrist, and that his doctrine was only the traditions of men, contrary to the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Upon which they proceeded against them, as did the heathen of old against the ancient Christians, accusing them of killing their own children in their assemblies. 8
The author of the history of the Reformed Churches in France speaks of them thus :—The Waldenses, says he, time out of mind have opposed the abuses of the Roman Church, and have been persecuted after such a manner, not by the sword of the word of God, but by all kind of cruelty,
7 Vignaux, Memorials of the Waldenses, Folio 4.— Vignaux, History of the State of the Church, p. 337.
8 Viret, True and False Religion, liber iv., chapter xiii., p. 249.
together with a million of calumnies and false accusations, that they have been forced to disperse themselves wherever they could, wandering through the deserts like poor wild beasts: the Lord, nevertheless, having so preserved the residue of them, that notwithstanding the rage of all the world, they still inhabit in three countries at a great distance one from another ; in Calabria, Bohemia, Piedmont, and the neighbouring countries, where they dispersed themselves from the quarters of Provence, about two hundred and seventy years ago. And as to their religion, they never adhered to papal superstitions; for which reason they have been continually harassed by the bishops and inquisitors, abusing the arm of secular justice; so that it is an evident miracle that they have been able to continue.9
John Chassagnon writes as follows :—It hath been written of the Waldenses, saith he, that they have rejected all the traditions and ordinances of the Roman Church, as unprofitable and superstitious; and that they did not much esteem the whole body of the clergy and prelates.
For which reasons having been excommunicated and expelled the country, they dispersed themselves in divers places; as into Dauphiny, Provence, Languedoc, Piedmont, Calabria, Bohemia, England, and elsewhere. Some have writ, that a part of the Waldenses retired into Lombardy, where they multiplied, so that their doctrine spread itself through Italy, and came even into Sicily. Nevertheless in that great dispersion, they always maintained among them some union and fraternity, for the space of four hundred years, living in great simplicity, and the fear of God."
The author of the History of the State of the Church, page 336, writes thus concerning them :-After Waldo and his followers were banished from Lyons, a part of them retired into Lombardy, where they so increased, that their doctrine began to be displayed throughout Italy, and even entered Sicily: as appears by the patents of Frederic II. granted against them in his reign.i
Vesembecius says, that when the popes and their satellites saw that the Roman hierarchy was much damaged by means of the Waldenses, in that several princes had already undertaken their defence, among which were the King of Arragon, and the Count de Thoulouse, formerly powerful princes among the Gauls, they began to oppress them through very unjust occasions, and endeavoured to expose them to the hatred of the people, and especially of kings, that they might by that means entirely exterminate them. 12
Vignier says, that the Waldenses have suffered long and grievous peri secutions, and notwithstanding, nothing could hinder them from retaining always the doctrine which they had received from the Waldenses, handing it down to their posterity. 13
Holagaray affirms that the opinion of the Waldenses and Albigenses was contrary to all the maxims of the Bishop of Rome, which had been publicly preached, and commanded by his authority. He means those which were invented by him, and were contrary to the word of God. And testifies, that they had amongst them very understanding and learned men to support their faith against the monks. 14
9 Ecclesiastical History of the Reformed Churches of France, tom. 1, liber i., p. 35. 10 Chassagnon, History of the Albigeois, p. 25. n Vignaux, History of the State of the Church, p. 336. 12 Vesembecius, Oration concerning the Waldenses. 13 Vignier, Historica Bibliotheca, p. 130. 14 Holagaray, History of Foix, pp. 120, 121,