in the distinction which he would set up, he is not borne out by the evidence of antiquity. Let the creed of the Vallenses have been what it may, at all events it was the SAME as the creed of the Albigenses. Hence, if the latter were Manichèans, so likewise were the former: and, if the former were not Manichèans (which the Bishop admits), so neither were the latter.

The IDENTITY of the tenets of these two ancient communities is established, if I mistake not, on the fullest testimony.

When the Albigenses, in the thirteenth century, were partly extirpated and partly driven out of the south of France by the crusade of de Montfort and the operations of the Inquisition, the chief part of the fugitives emigrated to the valleys of Piedmont, where by the Vallenses they were cordially received as brethren and, henceforth, the two hitherto distinct Churches became inseparably united, the name of the Vaudois swallowing up the now obsolete name of the Albigeois.

I am inclined to deem this single fact more than a counterpoise for all the Bishop's very ingenious attempts to confound the genuine Albigenses with those Manichèans, to whom, through popish malevolence, the name of Albigenses may have been most improperly applied. The expelled Albigenses were received, AS BRETHREN, by the Vallenses, who are described as having already flourished in their native valleys from a period far beyond the memory

of man': and, henceforth, the two previously distinct Churches became UNited. But, in the very nature and necessity of things, such a circumstance could never have happened, if the Albigenses were Manichèans, while the more orthodox Vallenses (as we are assured by the Bishop of Meaux) utterly abhorred Manichèism. Both ALIKE must clearly have been either friendly or hostile to the Manichèan system: for, otherwise, the Albigenses could never have been received as brethren by the Vallenses, nor could an union of the two Churches have been forthwith effected without the intervention of a single recorded doctrinal impediment.

Such is the necessary inference from this remarkable fact and it is expressly corroborated by the unexceptionable contemporary evidence of Pope Innocent the third.

In the year 1198, this Pontiff addressed a letter to the Bishops of southern France and northern Spain where the persecuted and maligned Albigenses had many followers: and, in this letter, he declares, that the Vallenses and the Albigenses were equally heretics, because they maintained the very same doctrinal system'.

The testimony of Pope Innocent fully accounts

'A tanto tempore quod non est memoria hominum-a tanto tempore cujus initii memoria hominum non existit, fuerunt et de præsenti sunt hæretici. Script. Inquis. de Vald. ex M.S. cod. G. Cantab.


Epist. Innoc. III. cited by Allix on the Church of Piedm. chap. xx. p. 203. Oxon.

for our fact: the speculation of the Bishop of Meaux is plainly irreconcileable with it. Manichèans, or not Manichèans, the Vallenses and the Albigenses AGREED in doctrine. Their tenets were IDENTICAL.

Each Church, or neither Church, was tainted with Manichèism.

What, then, really were the joint tenets of the Vallenses and the Albigenses? We cannot prosecute this inquiry in a better mode, than by successively hearing their own several declarations and the admissions of their very enemies themselves.

(1.) Let us begin with the Church of the Vallenses, which the Bishop of Meaux acknowledges to have been free from all taint of Manichèism.

There was lately extant, in the public library of the University of Cambridge, a manuscript Work of the old Vallensic Church entitled The Noble Lesson1.

This Work purports to have been composed some time toward the latter end of the twelfth century: for it states, that, in the day of its author, eleven centuries had elapsed, since St. John wrote the text which declares us to be in the last times.

'The Manuscript, containing La Nobla Leyçon, has been stolen since the time of Dr. Allix: but, fortunately, the composition itself had been already copied into various histories of the Vallenses.


* 1 John ii. 18. John wrote his first Epistle some time toward the latter end of the first century. Consequently, eleven hundred years, reckoned from that epoch, will bring us to about the year 1170 or 1180, for the date of the Noble Lesson. This

Consequently, it sets forth the received doctrine of the Vallensic Church, as it stood in the latter part of the twelfth century; that is to say, about the year 1170 or 1180. Now, throughout the whole of this curious Work, not a trace of Manichèism can be found. On the contrary, the doctrines, avowed in it, are the precise doctrines of the protestant Churches, taken immediately from the Bible, and uncorrupted by the vain traditions and unauthorised glosses of innovating Popery.

An exactly similar account of the Vallensic doctrines is given, from an ancient manuscript, by the Centuriators of Magdeburg.

arrangement ascribes the Work to the precise period, during which Peter Valdo flourished: and I cannot help strongly suspecting, that that venerable man was himself the author of it. In a passage already alluded to, though the remark is couched in general terms, there seems to be no obscure reference to the particular fact of its supposed author having acquired the name of Valdo as a term of reproach.

If a man loves those who desire to love God and Jesus Christ; if he will neither curse, nor swear, nor lye, nor whore, nor kill, nor deceive his neighbour, nor avenge himself on his enemies: they presently say, that he is A VAUDES, and that he deserves to be punished; while, by lies and forgery, means are found to deprive him of what he has got by his lawful industry. In the mean time, such an one comforts himself in the hope and expectation of eternal salvation.

Such is precisely the language, which would naturally be used by the opulent merchant of Lyons, the locuples civis Lugdunensis (as Thuanus speaks); who, according to the testimony of the contemporary Inquisitor Guido of Perpignan, forsook all his goods for the sake of the Gospel, and who himself was contemptuously denominated le Vaudès or le Valdo.

In articles of faith, the authority of Holy Scripture is highest; and, for that reason, it is the rule of judging: so that, whatsoever agreeth not with the word of God, is deservedly to be rejected and avoided. The decrees of Fathers and Councils are so far to be approved, as they agree with the word of God. The reading and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures is free and necessary for all men, the laity as well as the clergy: yea, and the writings of the prophets and apostles are to be read, rather than the comments of men1. The sacraments of the Church of Christ

[ocr errors]

Enlightened by the perusal of Holy Scripture, and clearly perceiving that the Bible and the Church of Rome were utterly at variance, Peter of Lyons, as Thuanus remarks, was anxious that the people should have the writings of the prophets and the apostles in their own tongue.

Is totum se evangelicæ professioni devoverat, et prophetarum atque apostolorum scripta populari lingua vertenda curaverat. Thuan. Hist. lib. vi. § 16.

This attempt to circulate the Bible in the vulgar tongue seems to have produced the fourteenth canon of the Council of Thoulouse, in the year 1229; which canon strictly inhibits the laity from possessing or reading the Scriptures.

Prohibemus etiam, ne libros veteris testamenti aut novi laici permittantur habere: nisi forte psalterium, vel breviarium pro divinis officiis, aut horas beatæ Mariæ, aliquis ex devotione habere velit. Labb. Concil. vol. x. par 1. p. 430.

I need scarcely remark, that the Church of Rome is still equally characterised by a politic jealousy of, and a bitter hostility to, that most irreconcileable enemy of Popery, the Bible. The word of God is against Rome: and, therefore, on the strictest principles of reciprocity, Rome is against the word of God.

« VorigeDoorgaan »