Page images

“When the army of Louis XIV. invaded Sardinia, Victor Amadeus was advised to rely upon the loyalty of the Waldenses, and take refuge in Rora. He remained concealed in security for two weeks in the house of a Vaudois peasant named Durand, until Prince Eugene recaptured Turin.

“ The late king of Sardinia gave this testimony of the modern Vaudois, in 1821, to Count Crotti, Governor of Pignerol :—I know that I am beloved by the Vaudois. I carried on war in their valleys. I lived among them for some time with delight. Their attachment to me I know. Now I am gratified to learn from you, that in these recent circumstances, they have not falsified their character.'*

“ Thus the Vaudois have maintained willing submission to their temporal sovereign in secular affairs, while they disavowed the arbitrary impositions of the Roman Pontiff in matters of religion. Even in the earlier ages, they asserted in that wise distinction, those standard principles which are now acknowledged to be of pre-eminent value and authority in all enlightened countries-the exercise of supremacy on the part of rulers, with religious toleration , and of subordination on the part of citizens, without a surrender of the rights of conscience.

Hence the ensuing valuable history will be very acceptable to all American citizens, and especially to every Christian, because, from its authentic documents, it is manifest, that during the protracted continuance of the feudal tyranny and the ecclesiastical despotism throughout the ten kingdoms of the Roman empire, the Christians who resided in the valleys of Piedmont and their immediate vicinity, were the only people who either understood or enjoyed the privileges of civil and religious freedom. In truth, the Waldenses, when divine Providence did not mysteriously permit their ruthless persecutors to ravage their country, exemplified, as the cardinal principles o their social organization in civic affairs, the self-evident truths upon which the primitive Puritans of New England established their commonwealth, and which, in the Declaration of the Fourth day of July, 1776, became the chief corner-stone of the American Federal Republic.

devoir je ferais le mien, et aussi long tems que j'aurai un morceau de pain, vous en aurez votre part."

* Je sais que je suis aimé des Vaudois. J'ai fait la guerre dans ces vallées. J'ai demeuré quelque tems au milieu d'eux avec plaisir. Leur attachement m'etoit connu. Maintenant je suis charmé d'apprendre par vous, que dans ces dernieres circonstances, ils n'ay ent point dementi leur caractère.” Nevertheless, against those most exemplary and inoffensive Christians, the present king of Sardinia, at the instigation of the Jesuits, has lately commenced another deadly persecution, which already has again been counteracted by the interpo:i.ion of their brethren of the various Reformed Churches in Europe.





This History of right belongs to you; because the most populous Churches of the Waldenses are within the limits of your government, and because they never had respite to breathe with liberty, until about forty years ago, you defended them against the outrages of their enemies. God out of his goodness comforted them, and they found safe-guard in your protection, and both within and without the realm, your name was to them a strong bulwark.

Moreover the records of the sufferings which in ages past their forefathers experienced, were the holy bounty which


obtained at the capture of Ambrun; when you reduced that city to obedience. The Archbishops of that city, during four hundred years, carefully kept secret the inquisitorial processes and proceedings against the Churches of the Waldenses, the discovery of which has brought upon their persecutors perpetual shame and disgrace. On the contrary, the piety and discretion of

your followers is eternized; who obtained and preserved the bag which contained the narrative of those processes; notwithstanding the fire which the enemies of the truth had kindled by the Archbishop's command, on purpose to destroy those records, and to hinder your faithful servant from entering the tower in which they were kept.

Mr. Vulcon, counsellor in the parliament at Grenoble, recovered those documents and delivered them into our hands; having been satisfied for his portion of the spoil

[blocks in formation]

with that bag alone, the contents of which indict the Devil himself with all his adherents, and which were providentially preserved for the good and edification of the Church of God.

Having therefore resolved to publish this history under the credit and sanction of your name, I have only restored it to its first and rightful owner; and now return it to its preserver, dedicating the entire structure to him, who has furnished all its most solid materials; and who himself has both known and seen more of the Waldenses, than I have described concerning them. Herein especially doth the hand of God appear, when persons of the same name and in the same province have differed so much in their designs—for Arroas de Bonne, above three hundred years ago, persecuted in Dauphiny, the ancestors of those Christians whom you have restored. Thus doth the eternal God know how and when, as he pleases, to produce from one and the same stem the light of his mercy, whence nothing but darkness before sprung. Many happy years may you continue in the same purpose and intention of loving and preserving the Churches for which Christ died; and may you also devote the residue of your days to his glory, and the edification of the flocks for which he hath shed his precious blood! On this depends all your glory; and thence that your comfort may proceed, I heartily pray with the same affection, which binds me ever to be,

Your very humble Servant,


Nyons in Dauphiny,

January 1, 1618.


The Church of God is of more value, even as it subsists in this world, than the world itself. It is the purchase of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was crucified for it; and there is no good thing without it worthy of our esteem. But as our Redeemer invites us to enter and dwell there in for our salvation, so Satan endeavours to make men wander out of it to their damnation. He blindfolds them, that they may take that for the Church, which only bears the name of it; and keeping them in error, and seducing them by worldly splendor, makes them to despise the true Church, principally, because it is subject to persecution in the world, wherein those who do not honour the master cannot love the servants. Insomuch, that acknowledging no other Church besides that which hath for many ages triumphed in the blood of the martyrs whom it hath slain, they importunately demand, in what then was the Catholic Church if that be not it, which hath so long and so peaceably enjoyed the title thereof? Where was it concealed, say they, during the ages past? and so they press us at least to show them some one in the whole course of so many years, who believed that which in our time hath been extolled under the name of the Reformation.

This History of the Christians, called Albigenses and Waldenses, will give satisfaction in this matter to those who read it without prejudice; for therein it appears, that for several hundred years past, there have been, especially in Europe, a great number of persons, in divers

kingdoms and countries, who have professed a religion altogether conformable to the word of God, and the doctrine which hath been received in the reformed Churches; having mourned under the darkness of Antichrist, where they shined like precious stones in a dunghill, and were fragrant, like the rose among thorns. In the world, they were accounted as vagabonds; but God did there look upon

them as his children. He gave them eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand his truth. And as he hath made way for his judgments, in giving up to a spirit of delusion those who had rejected his word; so also hath he made way for his mercy, in withdrawing -the residue from the temples polluted with idolatry, causing the sacred and internal ministry of his Holy Spirit to operate in them, by making them temples to himself, and preserving them from the infection of the external ministry polluted with a multitude of human inventions.

The writings of the Waldenses and Albigenses, which have been almost miraculously preserved even unto this present time, and which are contained in this history, show the purity of their religion, and justify them against the imputations of their enemies. By them it will appear, that their faith was founded upon the Apostles' creed, retaining that also of Athanasius. For the rule of their obedience they had the law of the Lord, and for the substance of their devotions, the Lord's prayer. They kept the Sacraments instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, in the same purity wherein he at first did institute them. Moreover, they lived under a good and holy discipline, ordering their manners according to the same word which was the rule of their faith. Yet we shall make it appear, that notwithstanding all those things, without which no one can be a true Christian, they have been cruelly condemned to death, banished, pillaged, burned, anathematized, and persecuted with force of arms.

Without reason then is it demanded, where the Church

« PreviousContinue »