THERE were protestants before Protestantism, reformers before the Reformation—not only individual protestants, as we have already seen, but protestant bodies. The corruption of the primitive churches and the development of Roman Catholicism was a logical process that extended over a period of centuries. As the church diverged more and more widely from the faith once delivered to the saints, as the papacy gradually extended its power over all Europe, except where the Greek Church successfully resisted its claims, it was inevitable that this tyranny should, from time to time, provoke revolts; that against this apostasy there should be periodic reactions toward a purer faith. From the beginning of the twelfth century these uprisings within the church became more numerous, until the various protests combined their forces, in large part unconsciously, to form the movement since known as the Reformation. It is a curious fact that each of these revolts against the corrupt doctrine and life of the church had an independent origin within the church itself. There may have been, there doubtless was, some connection between these various revolts, some connection also between them and the earlier heresies and schisms, so called, in the church. Though one may feel morally certain of this fact, actual proof of it is not possible; all trace of the connection has disappeared, and there is little reason to hope that proofs will ever be recovered.
But if we may not trace, by unbroken historical descent, a line of sects protesting against the corruptions and usurpations of the Roman Catholic Church, and so establish the antiquity of any one modern Protestant denomination, it still remains an unquestioned historic fact that these successive revolts constituted a gradual and effective preparation for the general movement known as the Reformation, and for the rise of modern evangelical bodies. So convinced arc some modern investigators (not Baptists) of the substantial identity of these various attempts at a reformation, from the twelfth century onward, that the” treat these attempts as one continuous movement. Dr. Ludwig Keller, formerly State archivist at Münster, gives to the various phases of this revolt against Rome, the title of “The Old Evangelical Party,” and asserts its substantial unity and identity for several centuries before the Lutheran Reformation. By ingenious conjecture, rather than by valid historic proofs, he makes out a plau5lble case, which further research may, perhaps, fully confirm. An identity of spirit, a substantial unanimity of teaching, he has shown, and this is a fact of great significance.
The earliest of these protests that took definite form grew out of the work of Peter of Bruys. Not much is known of the life of this teacher. It is said by some that, like Arnold of Brescia, he was a pupil of Abelard, but this is doubtful, lie is found preaching in Southern France soon after the beginning of the twelfth century, where he labored for twenty years, and he was burned as a heretic in the year II26. His doctrines are known to us chiefly through his bitter enemy and persecutor, Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Clugny, who wrote a book against the heresy of the Petrobrusians. With due allowance for the mistakes honestly made by this prelate, we may deduce approximately the teachings of this body. We find their fundamental principle to be the rejection of tradition and an appeal to Scripture as the sole authority in religion. The abbot complains in his treatise that these heretics will not yield to tradition or the authority of the church, but demand Scripture proof for everything; because it would have been easy for him to confute them by quoting any quantity of passages from the Fathers, only these obstinate heretics would have none of the Fathers.
In the preface to his treatise, the abbot sums up the errors of the Petrobrusians under five heads, which he then proceeds to answer at length. The first error is their denial “that children, before the age of understanding, can be saved by the baptism of Christ, or that another's faith avails those who cannot exercise faith since, according to them [the Petrobrusians] not another’s, but one’s own faith, together with baptism, saves, as the Lord says, ‘He who will believe and be baptized shall be saved, but he who will not believe shall be condemned.’” “Infants, though baptized by you [Romanists], because by reason of age they nevertheless cannot believe, are by no means saved; [that is to say, are not saved by baptism; this is evidently what the Petrobrusians taught, not a denial of the salvation of infants; to a Romanist, denial of baptism was a denial of salvation, but not so to the Petrobrusians] ; hence it is idle and vain at that time to wet men with water, by which ye may wash away the filth of the body after the manner of men, but ye can by no means cleanse the soul from sin. But we wait for the proper time, and after a man is prepared to know his God and believe in him, we do not (as you accuse us) rebaptize him, but we baptize him who can be said never to have been baptized—washed with the baptism by which sins are washed away."
The second error charged was that these heretics said, “Edifices for temples and churches should not be erected; that those erected should be pulled down; that places sacred to prayer are unnecessary for Christians, since equally in the inn and the church, in forum or temple, before the altar or stable, if God is invoked he hears and answers those who deserve it.” Again, they are quoted as saying, “It is superfluous to build temples, since the church of God does not consist in a multitude of stones joined together, but in the unity of the believers assembled.”
The third shocking error enumerated by the abbot is that the Petrobrusians “command the sacred crosses to be broken in pieces and burned, because that form or instrument by which Christ was so dreadfully tortured, so cruelly slain, is not worthy of any adoration, or veneration or supplication, but for the avenging of his torments and death it should be treated with unseemly dishonor, cut in pieces with swords, burnt in fire.”
The fourth error, according to the same authority, was that the Petrobrusians denied sacramental grace, especially the doctrine of transubstantiation, the keystone of the sacramental system: “They deny, not only the truth of the body and blood of the Lord, daily and constantly offered in the church through the sacrament, but dedare that it is nothing at all, and ought not to be offered to God.” They say, “Oh, peoplc, do not believe the bishops, priests, or clergy who seduce you; who, as in many things, so in the office of the altar, deceive you when they falsely profess to make the body of Christ, and give it to you for the salvation of your souls. They clearly lie. For the body of Christ was made only once by Christ himself in the supper before his passion, and once for all at this time only was given to his disciples. Hence it is neither made by any one nor given to any one.” These words convey an utter absurdity, that Christ, while still in the flesh, made and gave his body to his disciples; but the absurdity is doubtless one of the abbot’s blunders. What is certain is the repudiation by the Petrobrusians of the sacrifice of the mass.
The fifth error is that “they deride sacrifices, prayers, alms, and other good works by the faithful living for the faithful dead, and say that these things cannot aid any of the dead even in the least.” Again: “The good deeds of the living cannot profit the dead, because translated from this life their merits cannot be increased or diminished, for beyond this life there is no longer place for merits, only for retribution. Nor can a dead man hope from anybody that which while alive in the world he did not obtain. Therefore those things are vain that are done by the living for the dead, because since they are mortal they passed by death over the way for all flesh to the state of the future world, and took with them all their merit, to which nothing can be added.”
From these statements of Peter the Venerable it is plain that the Petrohrusians held that a true church is composed only of believers; that faith should precede baptism, and therefore the baptism of infants is a meaningless ceremony. They held these things because they found them taught in the Scriptures, and rejected the authority of the church and of the Fathers to impose terms of salvation on them beyond those imposed by Christ and the apostles. Their apparent denial of the salvation of infants is probably a misconception of the abbot’s, as was also his attributing to them the notion that man may merit the favor of God by good works in this life. The good Peter was so fully imbued with Catholic ideas that he was incapable of comprehending fully the teachings of the Petrobrusians, though he seems to have tried to do it.
What shall we say to the opposition of the Petrobrusians to church buildings, crosses, the singing of hymns—which the abbot mentions in the body of his treatise—and the like? This merely: they had become so accustomed to the misuse of these things, to seeing them the concomitants of an idolatrous worship, that they became unwise, extreme, fanatical, in their opposition to them. It was a quite natural result of the vigor of their reaction from the false teaching and false practice that they found in the Catholic churches of their day.
It is evident that the “ errors of the Petrobrusians were what Baptists have always maintained to be the fundamental truths of the Scriptures. Any body of Christians that holds to the supremacy of the Scriptures, a Church of the regenerate only, and believers’ baptism, is fundamentally one with the Baptist churches of to-day, whatever else it may add to or omit from its statement of beliefs. Contemporary records have been sought in vain to establish any essential doctrine taught by this condemned sect that is inconsistent either with the teaching of Scripture or with the beliefs avowed in recent times by Baptists. With regard to the act of baptism contemporary record says nothing. There was no reason why it should, unless there was some peculiarity in the administration of baptism among the Petrobrusians. It cannot be positively affirmed that they were exclusively immersionists; but if they were, the fact would call for no special mention by contemporary writers, since immersion was still the common practice of the church in the twelfth century.
There were other preachers of a pure gospel, nearly contemporary with Peter of Bruys and more or less closely connected with him. Like him they came forth from the Roman Church. The monastery of Clugny, in Burgundy, was the most famous cloister of medieval times. Founded early in the tenth century, it enforced the rule of Benedict with rigor, and was famous for the piety and scholarship of its abbots and monks. At the beginning of the twelfth century its discipline had been greatly relaxed, and its internal management had become scandalous. Chastity, sobriety, and piety were unmeaning words; they represented nothing in the life of the inmates. Later, under the rule of Peter the Venerable, the discipline was reformed and the ancient glories of the cloister were more than equaled.
At a time when things were at their worst, a monk named henry became an inmate of Clugny. His birthplace and date of birth are not certainly known; both Switzerland and Italy are given for the former, and of the latter all that can be said is that he was probably born toward the close of the eleventh century. We know that he was a man of earnest soul, to whom religion was not a mere mockery, and that he was so disgusted with the immoral lives of the Clugny monks that he could no longer stay there. Renouncing his cowl and the cloister life, he began to preach the gospel from place to place. He never ceased to denounce the monks, and they, in turn, followed him with calumnies. Even the saintly Bernard speaks of Henry’s shameless mode of life, but gives no proofs; and his letter is so tinged with bitterness as to make his charges of rio weight.
Henry is a somewhat vague figure. We can only catch glimpses of him going up and down France, like a flaming fire, rousing the people to detestation of the monks, and to some degree of the secular clergy also. He is described as a man of imposing appearance, whose fiery eye, thundering voice, and great knowledge of the Scriptures made him a preacher who swayed at will the multitudes that listened to him. He does not appear to have been a heretic, at least in the earlier part of his career, but a would-be reformer. In III6 he created a great commotion in the diocese of Mans, denouncing the corruption of the clergy and preaching the truths of Scripture until the bishop drove him away. Soon aftcr this he met Peter of Bruys and accompanied him in his labors. It does not appear that at this time he avowed sympathy with the doctrines of Peter, for when he was arrested in 1134 by the bishop of Aries and brought before the Council of Pisa he was not condemned, as an adherent of Peter would certainly have been, but soon after released. No doubt he was considered indiscreet in the things he had been saying about the clergy, but evidently no ground was then discovered for treating him as a heretic.
After this he repaired to Southern France, and continued his preaching. From this time there is good reason to suppose that he adopted, in part at least, the opinions of Peter of Bruys, especially the denial that infants arc scripturally baptized. One of Bernard’s letters seems to be conclusive on this point. Writing to the Count of Toulouse, to warn him against this ravening wolf masquerading in sheep’s clothing, he thus bears testimony to the extent of Henry’s influence and speaks of his teachings:
The churches are without congregations, congregations without priests, priests without their due reverence, and, worst of all, Christians without Christ. Churches are regarded as synagogues, the sanctuary of God is said to have no sanctity, the sacraments are not thought to be sacred, feast days are deprived of their wonted solemnities. Men are dying in their sins, souls are being dragged everywhere before the dread Tribunal, neither being reconciled by repentance nor fortified by Holy Communion. The way of Christ is shut to the children of Christians, and they are not allowed to enter the way of salvation, although the Saviour lovingly calls on their behalf, “Stiffer little children to come unto me.” Does God, then, who, as he has multiplied his mercy, has saved both man and beast, debar innocent little children from this his so great mercy? Why, I ask, why does he begrudge to little ones their Infant Saviour, who was born for them? This envy is of the devil. By this envy death entered into the whole world. Or does he suppose that little children have no need of a Saviour, because they are children?
It does not seem open to reasonable doubt, therefore, that Henry of Lausanne, like Peter of Bruys and the Waldenses, taught that only believers should be baptized, and that the baptism of unconscious babes is a travesty upon the baptism of the New Testament.
The end of Henry is sad. He was again arrested and arraigned before the Synod of Rheims in II48, by which body he was condemned to perpetual imprisonment. It is not definitely known whether he was convicted of heresy, probably not, or immediate death would have been his portion. It is possible that under torture some kind of retraction was wrung from him; and when a heretic thus confessed, the church would sometimes mercifully (?) spare his life and let him drag out a miserable existence in her dungeons. Nothing more is known of his fate. From the oubliettes of the church none ever returned, and the day of their death was never known. We may hope, in the absence of all information, that Henry of Lausanne continued to the last the faithful confessor of the truth he had preached. He left behind him numerous followers, who took the name of Henricians and were little other than Petrobrusians under a different name. Like the Petrobrusians, they seem to have been absorbed into the body known as Waldenses, and do not long maintain a separate name and existence.
In the latter part of the twelfth century Southern France was the scene of a still more energetic reaction from the Church of Rome, which is remarkable in that it was not at first a reform movement, and was not hostile to the church until driven by it into hostility. The new party was called Poor Men of Lyons, Leonists, and Waldenses, the last being perhaps their best-known name. The origin alike of name and party is obscure, but both seem to have originated with a citizen of Lyons named Peter Waldo, or, more properly, Valdez (Latin, Valdesius). This name probably indicates the place of his birth—in the Canton of Vaud perhaps; and as Peter of the Valley he was distinguished from the numerous other Peters of his day. We first gain sight of him about the year II50 when, already past middle life, he was a rich merchant of Lyons, who had not been over-particular, it is said, about the means by which he had acquired his fortune. One day a friend fell dead at his side. Waldo said to himself: If death had stricken me, what would have become of my soul? Other circumstances increased his burden of mind, until he sought a master of theology for the consolation that he was unable to find in the round of fasts and penances prescribed by the church. The theologian talked learnedly, and the more he talked the greater became Waldo’s perplexity. Finally he asked, “Of all the roads that lead to heaven, which is the surest? I desire to follow the perfect way.” “Ah I” answered the theologian, “that being the case, here is Christ’s precept: ‘ If thou wilt be perfect, go sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come take up thy cross and follow me.' "
Waldo returned home pondering these words. Had he been a learned theologian he would at once have understood that the words were not to be understood literally, but contained some mystical or allegorical meaning; he was a plain man and knew no better than to obey. First of all, he told his resolution to his wife. She being of a worldly turn, and by no means alarmed about her soul’s salvation, was much vexed. At length Waldo said to her, “ I am possessed of personal property and real estate, take your choice.” The real estate was of no small value: including houses, meadows, vineyards, woods, bake-houses, and mills, the rents of which brought in a goodly income. The wife’s choice was quickly made; she chose the real estate, leaving to Waldo the business and ready money. Closing out his business, Waldo devoted a portion of his money to providing a dowry for his daughters; and with other sums he made reparation to such as he had treated unjustly in business.
Considerable money yet remained to him, and he devoted it to the relief of the poor in Lyons, where a famine was then raging. He had been a man of business, and his charity was managed in a business-like way. He planned a distribution of bread, meat, and other provisions, three times a week, beginning at Pentecost and continuing until mid-August. Thus he did until his money was exhausted, and he was fain to ask food of a friend for himself. Ills wife heard of this and was very angry. She appealed to the archbishop, and besought Waldo himself in these words: “Husband, listen; if any one is to redeem his soul by the alms he gives you, is it not best that it should be your wife rather than such as are not of our household?” The archbishop delivered a homily on his extravagance and formally forbade him, when he was in the city, ever to take food anywhere but at his wife’s table.
In the meantime, Waldo had been studying the Scriptures. Finding the Latin hard to understand, he sought out two ecclesiastics who were willing to translate it into his vernacular, for a consideration. One wrote while the other dictated, and in this way they made a translation of the Gospels, selections from the Epistles, and a collection of maxims from the Fathers of the church. This translation Waldo read and studied until it was indelibly engraved on mind and heart, and flowed spontaneously from his lips. From meditating on it himself he began to repeat it to others. The wandering balladsinger was a popular institution in his time and country, and he had little difficulty in persuading people to listen to his stories from the Gospels, instead of a secular ballad. And so Waldo became a preacher of the gospel, little more than a reciter of its precepts at first, and with no intention of revolting against Rome, wishing only the privilege of telling to others the good news of salvation that had been so precious to his own troubled heart. Soon he gained disciples. These he taught assiduously, until they too could tell the simple gospel story, and as they gained skill he sent theni forth to the shops and market-places, to visit from house to house, and preach the truth. These preachers literally obeyed the instructions of Christ to the seventy; they went forth in voluntary poverty, anxious only to proclaim the kingdom of God, and accepting such hospitality as was voluntarily offered them.
Such a work as this could not go on long without the cognizance of Roman ecclesiastics. The preachers were becoming numerous and spreading apace. True, they did not oppose the church in any way; they were not known to teach any heresy; but the priesthood was jealous of these unauthorized preachers and demanded that they be silenced. Waldo was banished from the diocese of Archbishop Guichard, and in II77 he betook himself to Rome to appeal to the pope, Alexander III. But those were the days of triumphant clericalism, and Waldo’s appeal was fruitless. The pope received Waldo kindly, as a good son of the church; his vow of poverty was a thing that every ecclesiastic approved. It is even said that Alexander kissed Waldo’s cheek, as a sign of recognition of his holy repute. But in the matter of preaching, the pope stood firm; his answer was: “You shall not, under any circumstances, preach except at the express desire and under the authority of the clergy of your country “—the men who had already silenced and banished him.
This hard sentence was the parting of the ways to Waldo and his followers. Should they obey God or man? Should they choose church or Christ? They were not long in making choice, and in making it they became heretics, reformers, for they set themselves against the church that they might have liberty to follow Christ. In this treatment of Waldo, Rome showed herself less wise than afterward, when Francis of Assisi sought similar tolerance for his order of preachers. Had Pope Alexander III. been a little more astute there might have been a new order of lay preachers in the Roman Church, no sect of the Waldenses and, perhaps, no Lutheran Reformation.
But though the Waldenses now became schismatics, and were soon regarded as heretical, they did not cease to multiply. Persecution had no effect in checking their growth, at least for some time. This rapid growth of the body cannot be explained wholly by the general preparedness of the church for the preaching of a more spiritual faith; or, rather, that state of feeling itself requires explanation. In the scattered fragments of preceding sects, notably of the Petrobrusians, soil was found most favorable for the propagation of the teachings of Waldo. The Waldenses, in their earlier history, appear to he little else than Petrobrusians under a different name. For, though there is reason to suppose that Waldo himself owed nothing to Peter of Bruys, but arrived at the truth independently, he at once became the spkitual heir of his predecessor and namesake, and carried on the same work. The doctrines of the early Waldenses are substantially identical with those of the Petrobrusians, the persecutors of both being witnesses. For example, Roman writers before 1350 attribute the following errors to the Waldenses:
I. Regarding the Scriptures. Their enemies charge the Waldenses with holding these errors: “They assert that the doctrine of Christ and the apostles, without the decrees of the church, suffices for salvation. They know by heart the New Testament and most of the Old Testament in the vulgar tongue. They oppose the mystical sense in the Scriptures. They say holy Scripture has the same effect in the vulgar tongue as in the Latin. Everything preached which is not to be proved by the text of the Bible they hold to be fable.” “ They neither have nor receive the Old Testament, but the Gospels, that by them they may attack us and defend themselves; saying that when the gospel came all old things passed away.” But this, if true at all, is true only of some of the Waldenses, for nothing is better established than that they translated the whole Bible and received it all as authoritative.
2. Regarding baptism. “They say that a man is then truly for the first time baptized when he is brought into their heresy. But some say that baptism does not profit little children (parvulos), because they are never able actually to believe.” “One argument of their error is, that they say baptism does not profit little children to salvation, who have neither the motive nor the act of faith, because, as it is said in the latter part of Mark, ‘He who will not believe will be condemned.’” “Concerning baptism they say that the catechism is of no value. . . That the washing given to infants does not profit. . . That the sponsors do not understand what they answer to the priest. They do not regard compaternity.” i. e., the relation of sponsors.
3. Concerning the church. “They say that the Roman Church is not the church of Jesus Christ, but is a church of wicked ones, and it [that is, the true church] ceased to exist under Sylvester, when the poison of temporal things was infused into the church. . . All approved customs of the church of which they do not read in the Gospels they despise, as the feast of candles, of palms, the reconciliation of penitents, adoration of the cross, the feast of Easter, and they spurn the feasts of the saints on account of the multiplication of saints. And they say one day is just like another, therefore they secretly work on feast days.” “The Roman Church is the harlot of Babylon, and all who obey it are condemned. . . They affirmed that they alone were the church of Christ and the disciples of Christ. That they are the sucessors of the apostles and have apostolic authority.”
4. Concerning purgatory. “They say there is no purgatory, but all dying immediately go either to heaven or to hell. They assert that prayers offered by the church for the dead do not avail; for those in heaven do not need them, and those in hell are not at all assisted. They say that the saints in heaven do not hear the prayers of the faithful, nor the praises by which we honor them. They argue earnestly that since the bodies of the saints lie here dead, and their spirits are so far removed from us in heaven, they can by no means hear our prayers. They say also that the saints do not pray for us, and therefore we ought not to implore their prayers; because, absorbed in heavenly joy, they cannot take heed of us or care for anything else.” “Whenever any sinner repents, however great and many the sins he has committed, if he dies he immediately rises [i. e., to heaven]. . . They assert that there is no purgatorial fire except in the present, nor do the prayers of the church profit the dead nor does anything done for them.”
5. Regarding the Mass. “They do not believe it to be really the body and blood of Christ, but only bread blessed, which by a certain figure is said to be the body of Christ; as it is said, ‘ But the rock was Christ,’ and similar passages. But this blessing, some say, can only he performed by the good, but others say by all who know the words of consecration. . . They observe this in their conventicles, reciting those words of the Gospels at their table and participating together as in the supper of Christ.” “ Concerning the sacrament of the Eucharist they say that priests in mortal sin cannot make [the body of Christ]. They say that transubstantiation does not take place in the hands of the unworthy maker, but in the mouth of the worthy receiver, and can be made on a common table. . . Again they say that transubstantiation takes place by words in the vernacular. . . They say that the holy Scripture has the same effect in the vulgar tongue as in the Latin, whence they make [the body of Christ] in the vulgar tongue and give the sacraments. . . They say that the church singing is infernal clamor.”
It seems evident, by comparing these reports, that some of the Roman writers did not clearly comprehend the Waldensian doctrine; according to others, the Waldenses did not believe in transubstantiation at all, but they did believe that the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated in the vernacular. As for calling singing “infernal clamor,” the reference is evidently to the singing of the mass by the priests, and to the use of Latin hymns, not an objection to singing per se. That the latter cannot be meant is proved by the fact that the first literature of the Waldenses took the form of hymns.
Other less serious heresies are alleged: as that the followers of Waldo all preached without ordination; that they declared the pope to be the head of all errors; that confession was to be made to God alone; that they abhorred the sign of the cross. Also we find attributed to them certain tenets that were afterward characteristic of the Anabaptists; such as, “In no case, for any necessity or usefulness must one swear”; and “For no reason should one slay.”
In the face of all but unanimous testimony of Roman authorities, it has been denied that the early Waldenses rejected infant baptism. Stress is laid on the fact that in the earliest of their literature that has come down to us the Waldensians are Pedobaptists, or at least do not oppose infant baptism. It is also an unquestioned fact that the later Waldensians—those who found a refuge in the valleys of Savoy after the crusade of Simon de Ivlontfort in Southern France—are found to be Pedobaptists at the earliest authentic period of their history. But all this is not necessarily inconsistent with the accounts of the sect as given us by contemporary Romanists. Nearly three hundred years elapsed between the crusade and the Reformation, and during these centuries the escaped Waldenses dwelt among the high valleys of Eastern France and Savoy, isolated and forgotten. Great ignorance came upon them, as is testified by the literature that has survived, and in time they so far forgot the doctrines of their forefathers that many of the writers saw but little difference between themselves and the Romanists. Some of the old spirit remained, however, so that when in I532 a Pedobaptist creed was adopted at the Synod of Angrogne, under the guidance of the Swiss reformers, Farel and CEcolampadius, a large minority refused to be bound by this new creed, declaring it to be a reversal of their previous beliefs. That they were correct in this interpretation is the verdict of modern scholars who have thoroughly investigated the earlier Waldensian history.
The balance of evidence is therefore clearly in favor of the conclusion that the early followers of Waldo taught and practised the baptism of believers only. Dr. Keller, the latest and most candid investigator of the subject, holds this view: “Very many Waldenses considered, as we know accurately, the baptism on [profession of] faith to be that form which is conformable with the words and example of Christ. They held this to be the sign of the covenant of a good conscience with God, and it was certain to them that it had value only as such.” This belief would logically exclude infant baptism, and accordingly Dr. Keller tells us, “ Mostly they let their children be baptized [by Romish priests?], yet with the reservation that this ceremony was null and void.” Maintaining these views, they were the spiritual ancestors of the Anabaptist churches that sprang up all over continental Europe in the early years of the Reformation.
The history of the Waldenses is a tale of bitter and almost continuous persecution. Waldo himself is said to have died in or about the year I2I7, but if he lived so long he must have seen his followers everywhere proscribed, yet everywhere increasing. In II83, at the Council of Verone, Pope Lucian III. issued a decree of perpetual anathema against various heretics, including the Poor Men of Lyons. Innocent III., wiser than other popes, attempted to win back the Waldenses. One Durand, who had been, or pretended to have been, a Waldensian preacher, was persuaded at the Disputation of Pâmiers (in the territory of Toulouse) to submit to the church. He and certain others submitted a confession of their faith to the pope, who approved it and authorized them to form a religious order of Catholic poor. The Roman ecclesiastics, in spite of Innocent’s repeated admonitions to them, never took kindly to this order, and this reaction did not have the effect anticipated. Innocent himself seems to have at length abandoned hope of reclaiming the Waldenses, and at the Fourth Lateran Council, of I2I5, their final condemnation was pronounced. In order to prevent the spread of this and other heresies, the Synod of Toulouse (I229) forbade laymen to read vernacular translations of the Bible, and the Synod of Tarracona (I234) even extended this prohibition to the clergy also.
It does not concern our present purpose to narrate at more length the story of the cruel oppressions to which the Waldenses were thenceforth subjected. Suffice it to say that, except among the valleys of the Alps they were eventually exterminated or driven to a secret life. But in the Alps and Northern Italy they have survived until the present day, and in many parts of Europe they leavened the Roman Church so as effectually to prepare the way for the later Reformation. And it is a curious and instructive fact that the Anabaptist churches of the Reformation period were most numerous precisely where the Waldenscs of a century or two previous had most flourished, and where their identity as Waldenses had been lost. That there was an intimate relation between the two movements, few doubt who have studied this period and its literature. The torch of truth was handed on from generation to generation, and though it often smoldered and was even apparently extinguished, it needed but a breath to blaze up again and give light to all mankind.
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