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BEDFORD, NEW YORK,
PRESIDENT OF THE WESTCHESTER BIBLE SOCIETY:
A WALDENSIAN HUGUENOT,
WHO ESTEEMS IT
BOTH A PRIVILEGE AND A DUTY
TO GIVE HIS NAME AND HIS EFFORTS
TO THE MAINTENANCE OF PROTESTANTISM.
As “ the goodly fellowship of the Prophets,” and o the glorious company of the Apostles," both have passed away from the church militant to the rest that remaineth to the people of God”—and as, according to our poet's characteristic definition
A Christian is the highest style of man.” I know not a more honourable privilege, than to be numbered, even in our comparatively pacific times and country, among the descendants of “ the noble army of Martyrs,” in the anterior ages of the suffering persecuted Churches, during that direful period when“ all the world wondered after the Beast,” to whom “ the Dragon gave his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Of that exemplary and numerous “Household of Faith,” you are a member. You have your noble ancestry and their Christian kindred among the Huguenots, those Confessors and Martyrs who were expatriated by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes--and those proscribed Christians, “ of whom the world was not worthy,” require not any other terrestrial title to their enumeration in the catalogue of the “ Two Witnesses."
The volume which I now present to you does not record the diabolical transactions of that long protrusted hail storm and pestilence, during the prevalence of which, the élite of France, hundreds of thousands of the Lord's disciples, were tortured to death for his sake; and an equal multitude more either fled or were driven from their Gallic habitations into every other country where their gracious Master provided them a refuge ;-but this History of the Waldenses, the Albigenses, and the Vaudois, comprises the narrative of the similar Papal atrocities by which those elder brethren of the Huguenots, the Christians of the Alpine valleys, were desolated and slaughtered.
In this connection, our national American annals, at the most interesting period of the early existence of our Federal Republic, furnish a remarkable and impressive commentary of the promise which was included in the mes
sage of the man of God to Eli the high priest. “ Now the Lord saith, them who honour me I will honour." In the history of South Carolina, Ramsay thus narrates :-“ Three of the nine Presidents of the old Congress who conducted the United States through the revolutionary war, were descendants of French Protestant Refugees, who had migrated to America in consequence of the revocation of the edict of Nantes-Henry Laurens, of South Carolina, -John Jay, of New York—and Elias BOUDINOT of New Jersey.” Thus is most emphatically verified the unerring testimony of the Psalmista' s. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, and that walketh in his ways. The children of thy servants, O my God, shall continue, and be established before thee-for the generation of the upright shall be blessed.”
“ The holy Church throughout all the world,” and every Waldensian both in America and Europe who evangelically fraternizes with you in the maintenance of Protestantism,” exults in the certainty that the dawn of that longanticipated and intensely desired morning will speedily appear; when “the angel shall come down from heaven, with great power, and the earth shall be lightened with his glory.” Revelations xviii. 1–8. Then shall the angel cry “mightily with a strong voice, BabyLON THE GREAT IS FALLEN, 18 FALLEN !!—and “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye”—
The cross-capp'd towers, the gorgeous Vatican,
“Leave not a wreck behind.” That you will be on earth to join the voice of the great multitude,” who, on beholding that most sublime and joyous catastrophe, will resound“ Alleluia! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth”-does not accord with my prophetic chronology; but that in the general assembly and church of the first-born who came out of great tribulation, and who washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” we may hear of that glorious emancipation of “the whole world that lieth in wickedness," is the sincere prayer
When the proposition was originally made to republish the authentic standard volume concerning the Waldenses, and the Albigenses, by Jean Paul Perrin, and the Vaudois, by Dr. Bray; it was not contemplated to change or enlarge it. But upon the perusal of his pages, it was perceived that additions, the result of later researches, could be supplied, which would both illustrate the narrative, and render it better adapted to the present exigencies of the Christian churches. Hence, it was determined to issue the work by Dr. Bray entire and to select and condense from modern authors, and insert those facts anu arguments which might add force to the testimony and demonstration to the truth; and to embody those extracts in an appendix to each of the separate parts of the history. The chief design in this respect has been this to combine within the limits prescribed for the work, the largest quantum possible of the correlate information which every valuable author, who could be searched, can contribute to the development of the Christian character of the ever-living “Witnesses,” who during nearly twelve hundred years have been prophesying, “ clothed in sackcloth;” but “ standing before the God of the earth,” with unshaken firmness, and with changeless brilliancy; and who “overcame the Accuser of the brethren by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives to the death."
Our great concern has been by the most sedulous exploration to obtain all the elucidations which could be discovered, and especially from the Waldensians themselves and their church records and other documents, of the prominent facts in the eventful annals of those Christians who, from the early ages of the church of God, have resided among the European Alps, and which constitute the most interesting portions of ancierit ecclesiastical history.
In reviewing their social organization, two characters impress us with great interest—the antiquity of their origin, and the uniformity of their faith. Without controversy their churches can be traced in an uninterrupted succession during a thousand years; and that they existed in their evangelical doctrines, spiritual worship, fraternal communion, and abhorrence of antichristian superstitions, for nearly two centuries previous, is fact attested even by their most infuriated persecutors. One of the remarkable circumstances of modern times is this—that although those followers of Jesus were shut up among the small and most inaccessible valleys of the highest mountains, almost “alike unknowing and unknown,” and not only accounted but persecuted as monsters in human appearance, whom all
potentates, secular and ecclesiastical, combined to reproach and destroy, yet their virtues could not be concealed, and their churches could not be exterminated.
This point is lucidly exhibited in a note by Mr. Allport, appended to Davenant's Exposition of Paul's Epistle to the Colossians, chap. i. 9. The text contained this remark-"While we live here, we are as children who are not yet arrived at maturity; whence the Holy Scriptures excite all to a constant advance in every gift of divine grace—to the increase of faith, of hope, of love, and of knowledge. Nazianzen says, ' A Christian either advances or falls back; he cannot remain in the same state.' Bernard
says, 'He is by no means good who does not wish to be better; and where you begin to be unwilling to become better, there you leave off to be good.”” To which reference to Bernard, Mr. AllPORT subjoins, “This renowned Romanist, Bernard, enraged against the uncorrupted Christians of Cologne, who had settled there from among the persecuted Albigenses to the great annoyance of the Papists, when he described those followers of Arnold of Brescia, said, “If you ask me of their faith, nothing can be more Christian. If you observe their conversation, nothing can be more blameless. The sincerity of their language they prove by the consistency of their deeds. In testimony of his faith, you may see a man of this order frequent the church, honor its elders, offer his gifts, confess his sin, and partake of the communion, and what can be more expressive of the Christian ? In life and manners also, he circumvents no man, defrauds no man, and does violence to no man. His fasts are frequent, his bread is not that of idleness, and his labour procures him his support. Such is the testimony of an opponent to the Protestants of Piedmont. The foregoing passage, if no other could be procured, would of itself alone be sufficient to crush the foul slanders which even at this day, continue to be discharged by the ignorant and malevolent against a most exemplary and brutally persecuted Christian community; but calumny naturally follows persecution."*
In our own times, those descendants of the primitive Dissenters from Rome have become the subject of a theological controversy which combines some most important principles connected with the churches of Christ. They differ not in any essential characteristic from the genuine disciples of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, for “in faith, in hope, in charity,” the Waldenses wherever scattered and the sincere Protestants are one. Their grand distinction is this—the Waldensian Churches never belonged to Rome. They never submitted to the Papal jurisdiction, and they never assented to its Christian pretensions—having ever denied their usurpations, and denounced their profession of the Gospel as undisguised hypocrisy.
* We add Bernard's own Latin, extracted from his Sermo LXV.
Cantic. : “Si fidem interroges, nihil Christianius; si conversationem, nihil irreprehensibilius ; et quæ loquitur factis probat. Jam quod ad vitam et mores spectat, neminem concutit, neminem circumvenit, neminem supergreditur. Pallent insuper ore jejuniis; panem non comedit otiosus; operatur manibus, unde vitam sustenatt. Ubi jam vulpes ? Mulieres relictis viris, et item viri dismissis uxoribus, ad istos se conferunt. Clerici et sacerdotes, populis ecclesiisque relictis, intonsi et barbati, apud eos, inter textores et textrices, pla rumque inventi sunt.” It is extraordinary that a canonized and worshipped Saint should have emitted such edifying contradictions.