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Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1846, by GRIFFITH & Simon, in the clerk's office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
ANTERIOR TO THE REFORMATION.
By Jean Paul Perrin.
WITH ILLUSTRATIVE NOTES,
HISTORIANS AND THEOLOGIANS.
It has given me no small pleasure to learn that you are engaged in publishing an American edition of the Rev. Jean Paul PERRIN'S “ History of the Old Waldenses, anterior to the Reformation.” In the execution of this undertaking, you are undoubtedly rendering an important service to the cause of evangelical truth and order. It is indeed wonderful that a work so interesting, and so truly instructive and valuable, which has been more than two centuries before the public, and which was translated into the English language more than a hun
years ago, should never have been given from the press on this side of the Atlantic:—a work, too, so often inquired after, so frequently quoted, and deemed of such high authority in the department to which it belongs. I cannot help hoping and believing that your enterprize will be favorably received, and suitably rewarded. Such a work ought, undoubtedly, to be within the reach of all who are disposed to inquire what the Church of God has been in its best days since the Apostolic age.
The promise of the Saviour to his apostles was, that the gates of hell should never prevail against his church. This promise seems to secure to his people that there shall be, in all ages, and in the worst of times, a true and substantially pure Church; that is, that there shall always be a body of people, more or less numerous, who shall hold fast the doctrines and order of Christ's house, in some good degree, in conformity with the model of the primitive Church. Accordingly, it is not difficult to show that, ever since the rise of the Man of Sin,” there has been a succession of those whom the Scriptures style, “ Witnesses for God”_"Witnesses for the truth ;” who have kept alive “ the faith once delivered to the saints ;” and have, in some good degree of faithfulness, maintained the ordinances and discipline which the inspired apostles, in the Master's name, committed to the keeping of the Church.
Among these Witnesses, the first that we distinctly read of were the Paulicians. They rose about A. D. 660. A very interesting account of these pious people is given in Milner's Ecclesiastical History of the seventh century; and a still more extended and distinct account, in the Rev. Adam Blair's History of the Waldenses, Book I. chapter 1.
While the Paulicians were still maintaining their faithful testimony, the Waldenses arose ; or, rather more probably, these two denominations had a common origin, and a common faith. The name Waldenses, the most common and popular one of those humble and devoted people, was evidently derived not from Peter Waldo, but from the place of their abode. The following statement of the learned and ingenious Robert Robinson, a divine of Cambridge, in England, who died more than half a century ago, places the origin of this name in what I suppose to be the true light.
“ From the Latin, Vallis, came the English, valley ; the French and Spanish, valle ; the Italian, valdesi ; the Low Dutch, valleye ; the Provencal, vaux, vaudais ; the ecclesiastical Vallenses, Valdenses, Valdenses, and Waldenses. The words simply signify vallies,—the inhabitants of vallies, and no niore. It happened that the inhabitants of the Pyrenees did not profess the Catholic faith. It fell out also that the inhabitants of the vallies about the Alps did not embrace that faith. It happened, moreover, in the ninth century, that one Valdo, a friend and counsellor of Berengarius, and a man of eminence, who had many followers, did not approve of the Papal discipline and doctrine. And it came to pass, about an hundred and thirty years after, that a rich merchant of Lyons, who was called Valdus, because he received his religious opinions from the inhabitants of the vallies, openly disavowed the Roman religion, supported many to teach the doctrines believed in the vallies, and became the instrument of the conversion of great numbers. All these people were called WALDENSES."'*
The same people, that is, a people who substantially agreed in faith and practice, were called by different names derived from their places of residence; from the names of distinguished leaders; and from a variety of minor peculiarities :-as Albigenses, from their principal seat being in the neighborhood of Alby, in France; Bohemian Brethren, from their being found in large numbers, in Bohemia ; Cathari, or Puritans, from their opposition to the corruptions of the Papacy; Leonists, or Poor men of Lyons, from their chief residence in the city of Lyons ; Petrobrussians, Arnoldists, and Henricians, from the names of distinguished ministers and leaders; and a variety of other appellations, familiar to the students of ecclesiastical history. These names, however, will be found so fully enumerated and explained in the History itself, which I here recommend, that further remark upon them here is altogether unnecessary.
It would not be strictly accurate to say, that among the large body of churches bearing the general name of Waldenses, there were no diversities of opinion in regard to any points; still it may be said, with entire confidence and safety, that, on all leading points, there was a great uniformity of practice. Their own Confessions of Faith, drawn up and published at different times, nay the very accusations and calumnies of their enemies leave us at no loss in regard to this matter.
The following statement may be considered as a fair and impartial Synopsis of their religious principles and practices. These, indeed, may all be gathered from the pages of the ensuing history ; but it is judged best to exhibit a summary of them in this place, for the purpose of exciting the attention, and directing the inquiries of those who shall undertake to examine for themselves the numerous and diversified documents which are embraced in this volume. They zealously contended for the doctrine of the Trinity—the Divinity of
* ROBINSON's Ecclesiastical Researches, chapter x. p. 302, 303.