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to join any of our Churches, you can be admitted among us by immersion.” (6)
In the FOURTH CENTURY the DONATISTS seceded from the Old Churches of Africa on account of corrupt practices. The superior abilities and virtues of Donatas gave great support to his party; (c)
they spread themselves throughout all the provinces of Africa;" (d) “ they maintained that the Church ought to be made up of just and holy men.” (e) “With this view they admitted none to fellowship without a personal profession of faith and holiness, and therein they baptized.” (f) “ They re-immersed all persons coming from other communities. (9)
The FOURTH CENTURY. THE BAPTISTS IN THE East were called Euchites-Novatians-Manicheans-Donatists-Antemenites - Bu gariens — Phrygians — Galatians - Philippoplitans and Armenians. This large body of dissenters were resident in the Eastern Empire from the fourth to the thirteenth century. They baptized all that joined their societies on personal profession of their faith; and if they had been baptized before, they re-immersed them.
THE SEVENTH CENTURY. THE PAULICIANS IN AMENIA: This body of Baptists became very numerous in the East. One Hundred Thousand of them were martyred by Theodora. They confined their baptism and communion to the faithful.” (h) “ They rejected Infant Baptism.” (8) “They propagated their sentiments in Italy and beyond the Alps.” (j)
BAPTISTS IN BRITAIN. Christianity was professed generally in Britain at the time of Constantine. (k) The churches were independent of each other. (1) They did not baptize infants, (m) though the natives did. (n) They immersed believers in fountains, rivers, and the sea. (o) They held no communion with the hierarchy. (p)
THE EIGHTH CENTURY. THE PATERINES IN ITALY. This Christian people filled Italy. (9) They immersed penitents; and re-immersed all those who had been baptized in other communities. (r)
THE NINTH CENTURY. THE VAUDOIS. This people, under various denominational terms, filled Spain and the south of France. They amounted to thousands and tens of thousands in the neighbourhood of the Pyrenees.(s) The communities immersed all upon a profession of faith, and re-immersed those who joined them from other communities. (1)
(6) Robinson.-M. (c) Gibbons. (d) Mosheim-Jones. (e) Dupin. (f) Robinson. (9) Mosheim-Long-Claude-Lardner. (h) Gibbon-Milner. (i) Mosheim. (j) Gibbon. (k) Gildas B. (1) Bishop Burgess. (m) Encyclopedia Metropolitana. (n) Davis - Henry's Hist. (6) Bede's-Fox. (p) Hume-Milton. (9) Robinson. (r) Allix-Mezeray-Dupin—Gibbon. (8) Robinson. (1) Robinson-Allix.
TAE ELEVENTH CENTURY. THE ALBIGENSES. This Christian society was known in the south of France for ages. They admitted (that is, the immersed, see Mezeray) to the Lord's supper after fasting and prayer. (u)
It is most deeply interesting to trace the existence of evangelical truth in the early records of the history of the Christian Churches. Amongst the most distinguished for purity of doctrine and practice, THE WALDENSES stand forth pre-eminently as noble confessors of the truth. Let an examination be made of their character : Shobert supplies a beautiful portraiture of these early Christians:
“ A Christian community, whose origin is based in the obscurity of the early ages, WHOSE DOCTRINES APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN TRANSMITTED THEM FROM THE PRIMITIVE APOSTLES, and to have been preserved untainted from the successive corruptions engrafted on the mild precepts of the gospel by the Church of Rome-A COMMUNITY WHICH, CONSEQUENTLY, NEVER NEEDED REFORMATION—is a phenomenon that must excite peculiar interest in the mind of the philosopher, as well as the religious reader. Such a phenomenon is presented by the Vandois, or Waldenses — the very purity of whose doctrines has gained them a place in the calendar of Popish persecutions."*
In the TWELFTH CENTURY it appears the Petro Brussians withdrew themselves (about 1100) from the communion of the Church of Rome, which was then very corrupt. THEY DID RECKON INFANT BAPTISM AS ONE OF THE CORRUPTIONS OF THAT CHURCH, AND ACCORDINGLY RENOUNCED IT, AND PRACTICED ONLY ADULT BAPTISM.
That the doctrines maintained by the Waldenses had an extended diffusion, appears on the authority of Matthew Paris, who writes that the “ Berengarian, or Waldensian, heresy had, about the year 1180, generally infected all France, Italy, and England." Guitmond, a Popish writer of that time, also says, that “not only the weaker sort in the country villages, but the nobility and gentry in the chief towns and cities, were infected therewith; and, therefore, Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, who held this see both in the reigns of William the Conqueror and of his son William Rufus, wrote against them in the year 1087." The archbishop adds, from Poplinius' History of France, that the Waldenses of Aquitain did, about the year 1100, during the reigns of Henry I. and Stephen, kings of England, “spread themselves and their doctrines all over Europe," and mentions England in particular.
(u) Allix-Dupin. * Shobert's Persecutions of Popery, vol. i., p. 216. + D. Wall's History of
Archbishop Usher, from Thomas Walden, says, that "several Waldenses who came out of France were apprehended, and, by the king's command, were marked in the forehead with a key or hot iron;" which sect, says William of Newbury, in his History of England,
were called the Publicani, whose origin was from Gascoyne; and who, being as numerous as the sands of the sea, did sorely infest both France, Italy, Spain, and England.”
Rapin, in relating the transactions of the councils of Henry II., gives the following account of these people, on the authority of the above-mentioned historian : “Henry ordered a council to meet at Oxford, in 1166, to examine the tenets of certain heretics, called Publicani. Very probably they were disciples of the Waldenses, who began then to appear. When they were asked, in the council, who they were ? they answered they were Christians, and followers of the apostles. After that, being questioned upon the creed, their replies were very orthodox as to the trinity, and incarnation. But,” adds Rapin, “ if the historian is to be depended upon, they rejected baptism, the eucharist, marriage, and the communion of saints. They shewed a great deal of modesty and meekness in their whole behaviour. When threatened with death, in order to oblige them to renounce their tenets, they only said 'Blessed are they that suffer for righteousness' sake.""* They were, however, (on the testimony of Hume) “whipped, and were thrust out almost naked, the midst of winter, and perished through cold and hunger, not one daring, or being willing, to give them the least relief. They seem to have been THE FIRST that suffered for heresy in England.” Dr Vaughan,t in his life of Wyckliffe, gives a somewhat lengthened notice of these early sufferers for the truth. Referring to their doctrines, which they maintained before the council, he observes, “they had perhaps learned to discard the pernicious tenet of baptismal regeneration, or, it may be, withheld that ordinance entirely from infants.”I
Ivimey observes, “there is no difficulty in understanding what were their sentiments on these heretical points. When A MONK says they rejected the eucharist, it is to be understood that they rejected the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation ; when he says that they rejected marriage, he means that they denied it to be a sacrament, and maintained it to be a civil institution ; when he says that they rejected the communion of saints, nothing more is understood than that they refused to hold communion with the corrupt Church of Rome;
* History of England, vol. I. p. 350. + Vaughan's Life of Wyckliffe, vol. I. p. 191.
Dr. Vaughan's “Life of John de Wyckliffe” is considered the most interesting that has been published, as containing a more full account of the life and writings of that early reformer than has been given by his previous biographers. A cheap edition of the work would be a boon to the reading public.
and when he says they rejected baptism, what are we to understand, but that they rejected the baptism of infants? These were the errors for which they were branded with a hot iron on their foreheads, by those who had the mark of the beast both in their foreheads and in their hands."
Somewhat out of chronological order, a further reference may be made to the persecuted Waldenses. Who that is acquainted with the history of the Christian Church but must have been deeply affected in marking the simplicity, the purity, and great sufferings of the Protestant Christians in the valleys of Piedmont. The description given of the Hebrew worthies is highly illustrative of the suffering Waldenses, for they “had the trial of cruel mockings, and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonments; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were slain with the edge of the sword, were destitute, tormented, afflicted.” They wandered about the valleys, and were hunted like partridges upon the mountains, for the sake of their religious principles. Perrin, in his History of the Vandois, furnishes one of the Confessions of Faith of the Waldenses. This Confession was written in 1544, on the occasion of a threatened persecution, “The parliament of Aix, the chief of the province, had, in 1540, decreed that the Waldenses inhabiting the town of Merindole should all of them promiscuously be destroyed—that their houses should be pulled down and levelled with the ground—all the trees cut down, and the country adjacent converted into a desert.”
To endeavour to appease the wrath of the French king, he was furnished with a copy of the Confession of Faith of the Waldensian Christians of Merindole, which is divided under the following heads :-*
OF GOD OF CHRIST-OF THE HOLY SPIRIT-OF THE CHURCH OF MINISTERS-OF KINGS, PRINCES, AND GOVERNORS-OF BAPTISM OF THE LORDS' SUPPER_OF MARRIAGE-OF GOOD WORKS-OF FALSE TEACHERS OF THE SCRIPTURES. I
The enunciation of these doctrines could not, however, excite his most Christian Catholic Majesty's clemency. The sentence which was uttered in 1540 was sent forth for execution in 1544. The petitioners and the Protestants of Merindole were given up to the butcheries of an infuriated popish soldiery, by whom the most atrocious crimes were perpetrated. Shobert thus graphically describes the murderous work of destruction and extirpation which took place :-" Women, children, and aged people sought to save themselves by flight from the general massacre ; houses, barns, and orchards were all consigned to the flames; not one of the inhabitants was spared ; almost all those who had fled were taken, and reserved for the dreadful punishment of the galleys. Not a vestige was left of the flourishing village of Merindole !"
* Ivimey's History of the Baptists, vol. i. p.
56. Perrin's Historie des Vandois, 1 Appendix A. The Confession is given at length.
It is not intended to go into a lengthened detail of such soul-harrowing persecutions, although there is some temptation to do so, in reference to the devoted and suffering inhabitants of the valleys of Piedmont. Upon the subject of BAPTISM it may be noticed that, from the Confession of Faith, it is clear that “FAITH AND CHANGE OF LIFE” MUST PRECEDE BAPTISM, AS INITIATORY TO BEING RECEIVED INTO THE HOLY CONGREGATION OF GOD'S PEOPLE.”
Various authorities maintain that THE WALDENSES were all Antipædobaptists.* The Picards, Paternes, Beghlards, or Lollards, and Waldenses, were all one and the same people.f
Jones, in presenting an epitome of the practice of the Waldenses, observes, “they brought up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; BUT THEY NEITHER SPRINKLED NOR IMMERSED THEM under the notion of administering Christian baptism;" they were, in a word, so many distinct churches of Anti-pædobaptists. I
All those who became eminent for the reformation of corruptions in the church, as Novation, Donatus, Constantius, Gundulph, Berenger, Peter de Brugs, Henry of Toulouse, Arnold, Waldo, and Lollard, advocated and practised the immersion of believers ; consequently they are all termed ANABAPTISTS by their contemporary opponents.
Their united efforts were so blessed that vast multitudes were converted, and their success “threatened the papacy with a fatal overthrow."'ll
The FOURTEENTH CENTURY is for ever memorable as being the period when light began to dawn upon this land. Wyckliffe, the morning star of the Reformation, emerged fronı papal darkness. It was an important era for the Christian churches. The doctrines of the Waldenses and Albigenses had taken fast root in France, Italy,
* Orchard's History.– Dupin. † Hallam's Middle Ages.-Sladen's Reformation.
1 An attempt has been made to shew their "afinity” to the present Episcopal Church, by the Rev. T. Gilby, in his narrative of an excursion to the mountains of Piedmont, in the year 1823. Mr. Jones, in his “ History of the Christian Church," (1 vol. xxiv. to 15) after giving at some length the peculiar doctrines and practices of the inhabitants of the valleys, thus concludes :
“Enough has surely been said to shew that the present race of Protestants in Piedmont bear little or no affinity to the ancient Waldenses, either in their doctrinal sentiments, their discipline and external order, or their religious practices; and it is an act of justice to the memory of that excellent people to rescue them from this unnatural alliance.”
$ History of Foreign Baptists. | Mosheim.