WERE THE WALDENSES BAPTISTS OR PEDO-BAPTISTS?
The following article by John L. Waller is from The Western Baptist Review, Vol. IV. No. 5, Frankfort, Ky., January, 1849—
Even during the worlds midnight, when the dark cloud of papal superstition was spread in blackness over the moral sky of the civilized nations, here and there a star was seen, bright, beautiful and peculiar, pouring celestial splendor upon the surrounding gloom. When Popery was the worlds despot-when, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, the Man of Sin had ascended to the throne of universal dominion—when Rome, under the Pontiffs more than under the Caesars, was the mistress of the world—when the Pope had successfully maintained his right to dispose of sceptres and croziers, kingdoms and continents, according to his sovereign and arbitrary pleasure-when the kings and the chief captains of earth were his sycophants and serving men—even then there were multitudes of the meek and humble followers of our Savior who defied his power and refused to acknowledge his supremacy. And in this, history is the verification of prophecy. The same inspired seer that foretells the rise and reign of the Roman Anti-Christ, also predicts the persecutions and privations of those who, during the night of his dominion, should suffer for the witness of Jesus and the word of God. The church of God, though cast down, was never destroyed. The gates of hell never prevailed against it. God reserved myriads to himself who would not bow the knee to the Pope of Rome—who would not become his slaves and receive his mark upon their foreheads and in their hands. The papal church reeled intoxicated with their blood, but she never subdued them. They were horribly persecuted, and driven into the caves and dens of the earth, but they were never conquered. In the recesses of the wilderness and in the clefts of the mountains, they worshipped God in spirit and in truth, uncontaminated by surrounding corruptions and unterrified by the frowns of power.
Eminent among these witnesses for the truth in times of general apostasy, stand the Waldenses. They first appear prominent in history in the twelfth century. Long before that, no doubt, in the valleys of the Alps, they had maintained the true religion, having retreated from the corruptions and persecutions of the Romish church. They had remained there in comparative quietude, perhaps esteemed too insignificant for molestation, until in the century named the papal hierarchy was startled at the wide prevalence and popularity of their doctrine, and hence felt it necessary to employ all the infernal machinery of persecution for their destruction. Their missionaries had gone into all the world, and then, in almost all the countries of Europe, as if by one consent, there started up simultaneously, great numbers of individuals who denounced the supremacy of the Pope, condemned the corruptions and venality of the priesthood, and boldly proclaimed that the church of Rome was the "whore of Babylon" predicted in the Apocalypse—they declared that Christ was the only head of the church, and that the Bible was the only infallible rule of faith and practice. These confessors obtained different names-from their localities, from their principal men, from some circumstances in their manner or some peculiarity in their doctrine, and from the wit and malice of their enemies. The most common names, however, by which they were called, were those of Waldenses and Albigenses—the former derived from the valleys of the Alps, and the other from the town of Albi, two places where for a long time their doctrine most flourished.
But these names are used with great latitude by historians. The papal writers from the twelfth to the sixteenth century—to the Reformation—often include under these names, and sometimes under one of them, all the dissenters from the church of Rome, however different and distinct in sentiment and practice; as they now call all denominations Protestants who do not admit the infallibility of their church. This fact must be kept prominently in view by all who would draw the proper distinctions among those who, in that age, in divers countries and for different causes, were marshaled in battle array against the papal dominion. Some were opposed merely to the supremacy of the Pope, others sought simply to reform the manners of the clergy. Here was a party that rejected the mummeries of the mass, or laughed at the folly of transubstantiation; and there was a party that abhorred the adoration of images, repudiated the intercession of saints and angels, refused homage to dead mens bones, contemned penances and pilgrimages, and despised and ridiculed all the absurd superstitions and absurd practices under which the duped and deluded millions were crushed by a designing priesthood. Such persons were Reformers. They esteemed the church of Rome to be the church of Christ in a state of apostasy. They wished to purge her of pollution, and restore her to primitive purity and excellence. But Popery will not be reformed. The constituents of its being are impurity and sin. Hence its Reformers were denounced as heretics, fit only for chains and death; and hence, to call down upon them general odium, and to excuse and justify their persecution, they were denominated Waldenses and Albigenses-a people who, it was notorious, declared the Pope to be the "son of perdition," and his church "the whore of Babylon." The true Waldenses and Albigenses were no Reformers of the Papism. They disclaimed all connection and kindredship with the church of Rome-denounced her ministers and ordinances as those of darkness; and roundly asserted that the church of Christ was never included within her precincts or befouled with her abominations.
Nor must these names be taken in too contracted a sense. The title of the edition of Perrins History before us is calculated to mislead- "History of the Ancient Christians inhabiting the Valleys of Alps." This would seem to imply that the true Waldenses and Albigenses were confined to the Valleys of the Alps-that their doctrines were held and taught by a people of a particular district. But Perrin had no such contracted view of the matter. It will be quite apparent to every critical reader of his work, that he supposed these names belonged to a religious persuasion, and not to a carnal lineage of men-to those who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. He quotes Reinerius as saying "That sect is universal, for there is scarcely any country where it hath not taken footing." [To prevent circumlocation merely, we shall call the inhabitants of Piedmont since the Reformation and especially since the great persecution near the close of the seventeenth century, Vaudois, in contradistinction to the Waldenses and Albigenses previous to that time.] Outside of the Alpine Valleys, the most illustrious champions of Waldensian doctrine flourished. Beyond these borders, the bloody crusades against the Albigenses were chiefly waged. There most of their martyrs fell. In almost every country of Europe, Perrin shows the existence of the Waldenses, and records their devotion to the truth. Hence, while we should be careful, on the one hand, to guard against giving a too general application to this name; we should also be careful, on the other, not to limit it too much. The people justly entitled to this name are to be ascertained by the advocacy of certain sentiments, during a certain period of time; and no matter in what country you find them or what language they speak, if during that time, you discover them maintaining these sentiments, you have a right to call them the Waldenses. Such is the course of Perrin, and such is the course of all who have written any tolerable history of these witnesses of the truth during the dark ages.
We have intimated that it was important to consider the time when these names were applied. Are the doctrines and practices of the old Waldenses still maintained on the principal theaters of their former testimony and sufferings? Or were their churches all broken up, and their pastors all slain? And are those churches and pastors now claiming to be their descendants walking in the paths consecrated by their footprints? These are questions of great importance in the investigation of the subjects now before us; and to which we shall call attention in another part of this article. We will now detain, however, to remark, that nothing can be logically inferred in relation to the old Waldenses from the doctrines and practices of the Vaudois [quoted by Jones, p. 324] (for so we shall call the present inhabitants of the valleys of Piedmont protesting against the papism) unless it can be shown clearly that they teach and practice as did their fathers. The mere fact that they are the descendants of the Waldenses, and that they now dwell in the valleys where those ancient confessors dwelt, proves nothing whatever. We cannot argue from what the Vaudois now are to what the Waldenses were before the Lutheran Reformation. This is always an unsafe, sophistical and dangerous method of arriving at the truth in such matters. Religion, pure and undefiled, is not inherited by children from their parents. Fathers cannot devise it to their sons; and one generation is not invariably followed by another like unto it in all moral and religious aspects. What monstrous absurdities have been ascribed to the apostles, by those who have sought to learn their teachings and usages from the crude and visionary systems and customs of the fathers of the second and third centuries. Who could have gone to Corinth, or Thessalonica, or Rome, three centuries after the death of the Apostles, and found there the doctrines and ordinances proclaimed and practiced by them? What would be thought of the candor of the individual who should insist that the present churches and ministers of Geneva were fair examples of the churches and ministers there in the days of John Calvin? And how immense and dreary the distance in a doctrinal aspect, between Protestant Germany in our days, and the days when Luther and his coadjutors unfurled the banner of revelation against the traditions and superstitions of the papal hierarchy! Whatever, therefore, may now be the teachings and customs of the Vaudois, proves nothing abstractly respecting the Waldenses. Descent by blood and occupancy of the same country, can never establish identity of doctrine. This is confirmed by all history and observation. The world abounds with too many instances of instability in religious matters, to warrant the conclusion that the deflection of the Vaudois from any particular custom or tenet of their ancestors according to the flesh, must be considered a departure from a general rule. But more of this anon.
That the Waldenses were evangelical in doctrine and pure in their manner of life, is not only affirmed by the Protestant world, but has been conceded by many of their opponents and persecutors. On these points, the volumes before us utter one voice. But touching their church government, and especially their views on the propriety of infant baptism; some discussion exists; and the works upon our table defend each a different theory. Mr. Sims, the editor of Peyran, insists that they were Episcopalians, with their three orders in the ministry-prelates, priests and deacons, deriving ordination from the Apostles by succession-with their forms of prayer, and all the other peculiarities of the Church of England. While Dr. Baird, the editor of Perrin, and Dr. Miller, who writes the Recommendatory Letter, most solemnly affirm that they were Presbyterians, having sessions, presbyteries and synods, and rejecting with solemn disgust the distinguishing features of English and Episcopacy. With this controversy we have no disposition to interfere, so long as confined to the Vaudois, or the present inhabitants of the valleys of Piedmont. Mr. Sims and Dr. Baird profess to speak that they do know and to testify that which they have seen. They have traveled among them-"have seen and therefore ought to know!" That one or the other of the reverend gentlemen is involved in a mistake, we are very certain, but which of the twain, we will not undertake to determine. It is a matter of perfect indifference to us. But we affirm most emphatically that both are wrong so far as they intended their remarks to bear upon the customs of the Waldenses. We have no mention in book, by friend or foe, that there were any individuals burdened with prelatical dignity among these ancient confessors; nor have we ever seen or heard of any minute of the proceedings of any Waldensian or Albigensian synod or general assembly; nor is there any mention of such convocation in all their history. These gentlemen then can only speak in reference to the Vaudois. Truth—the records of history may sustain the one or the other thus far; but certainly no farther. But our investigations should be confined to the times anterior to Luther and Calvin—to the Waldenses standing up for the truth against the world in error; and then we maintain that all the ingenuity of Mr. Sims and of Dr. Baird will be inadequate to discover the first trace of the peculiarities of either Episcopalianism or Presbyterianism. Indeed, AEncas Sylvius says, "They reject all the titles of prelates, as pope, bishop, etc. They condemn all ecclesiastical offices, and the privileges and immunities of the church, and all persons and things belonging to it, such as councils and synods, parochial rights, etc." [Peyran, p. 479.] Strange Episcopalians and Presbyterians, truly!
But these points will incidentally come up in our other investigations. The main question at issue between our historians is, whether the Waldenses were Pedo-baptists or Baptists. The editors of Peyran and Perrin affirm that they baptized infants: this Mr. Jones denies, and maintains that they were Baptists. This point is an important one, in our estimation, mainly because it has elicited much discussion. As Baptists, we have nothing to gain or loose by the adjustment of the question either way. We are no successionists. Our churches, ordinances and ministry are all derived, as we believe, directly from the Scriptures; and hence, had there been no Baptist churches previous to those now in being, it would not at all affect our notions of ecclesiastical existence. Hence our remarks on this much controverted point, will be prompted solely by a disposition to vindicate the truth of history, and not to subserve any denominational interest, or to justify any denominational peculiarity.
WERE THE WALDENSES PEDO-BAPTISTS?
This is the first question claiming our attention. Mr. Sims affirms they were. "The genuine Waldenses," says he, "of Piedmont, etc., always practiced the rite of infant baptism" [Perrin, p. 2]. But Dr. Miller is very positive. He says: "Contrary to the assertions of some, it is perfectly plain, from their Confession of Faith, that they practiced infant baptism, and that they baptized by sprinkling or affusion" [Perrin, p. 5]. Again he remarks: "Our anti-pedo-baptist brethren also lay claim to the Waldenses as the advocates of their creed, both as to the subjects and mode of baptism. The most cursory perusal of the ensuing volume will convince every impartial reader that there is no foundation whatever for this claim" [Ib. p. 28]. Of course, if it is "perfectly plain" that the Waldenses baptized their infants, we shall be able to see it; and if "the most cursory perusal" of Perrins history will "convince every impartial reader," it is not too much to hope that even Baptist readers may be convinced by a careful and critical reading of the same volume. Let us see.
Jean Paul Perrin was a Pedo-baptist—a French Presbyterian—who flourished about the beginning of the seventeenth century. He was anxious to make it appear that the Waldenses were Pedo-baptists and Presbyterians. He admits that they were charged with being opposed to infant baptism; that this accusation was brought against them at the very beginning of their career, and was reiterated all the time of their persecutions. He denies its truth, and pronounces the charge a calumny. He remarks:
"The fourth calumny was concerning baptism, which it is said they denied to infants. From this imputation they quit themselves as follows: Neither is the time or place appointed for those who must be baptized; but charity, and the edification of the Church and Congregation, ought to be the rule in this matter;—yet, notwithstanding, we bring our children to be baptized; which they ought to do to whom they are nearest related; as are their parents, or those whom God hath inspired with such a charity" [Ut Supra].
If the charge that the Waldenses denied infant baptism be a "calumny," it was one of the full six hundred years standing when Perrin wrote his history; and during that time was repeated and published in every generation, as we shall show hereafter. Why then did not our author show from some accredited document that it was untrue? He quotes here from a work called the "Spiritual Almanac," of very questionable authority, to say the best of it-of which no one knows either the date or author! There are abundance of their writings put forth when they were persecuted in consequence of this charge—writings of undoubted antiquity and genuineness—which do not deny this charge, as will be fully shown in due time. These are the documents that should be appealed to. If the charge was false and injurious, in these documents it would have been so declared. But they contain no denial and make no complaint of misrepresentation on this point. Besides, this "Spiritual Almanac" is no ecclesiastical document. It bears the name of no author, and is without date. Who the writer or writers were, and by what right he or they spoke in the name of the Waldenses, Perrin has not told us, nor does any one know. The denial, therefore, was wholly unauthorized so far as any evidence in the case appears. And our historian felt that his proof was insufficient, and hence sets up another distinct defense in the very next paragraph. He there says:
"True it is, that being for some hundreds of years constrained to suffer their children to be baptized by the Romish priests, they deferred the doing of it as long as possible, because they detested the human inventions annexed to the institution of that holy sacrament, which they looked upon as pollutions of it. Their pastors, whom they called Barbs, being often in travels abroad for the service of their churches, they could not have baptism administered to their children by their own ministry. They therefore sometimes kept them long without baptism, upon which delay the priests charged them with that reproach. To which not only their adversaries have given credit, but many of those also who have approved of their lives and faith in all other points" [Perrin, p. 3].
These are Baptist facts and Pedo-baptist reasons. The facts are, that for "some hundreds of years," the children of the Waldenses were not baptized, either by the Romish priests or their own Barbs or pastors: and by consequence, as their infants were not baptized, the Papists and many Pedo-baptist Protestants, ("who have approved of their lives and faith in all other respects,") have supposed them to be Baptists. Those, we say, are the facts as stated by our author. They were too stubborn to be removed by the "Spiritual Almanac." Whatever they might be in theory, it was too palpable to deny that for "some hundreds of years" they were Baptists in practice—their infants were not baptized either by priests or barbs. Our author, we repeat, felt that here was a knot that an Almanac without a known author or date could not enable him to untie. Hence he was constrained to cut it by offering the singular and startling reason, that they would not let the priests baptize them, and that their own ministers being from home "some hundreds of years," could not of course baptize them!! If it is sinful to doubt the reason here assigned, the Lord help our unbelief! Besides, how did Perrin know that this was their reason for neglecting infant baptism? He refers to no authority. He quotes no book or record of any kind. By what light he was guided to this conclusion, he gives no intimation. He was evidently in great difficulty. He felt that the quotation of so doubtful a document as the "Spiritual Almanac" did not move, nor meet even, the fact well known to Papists and Protestants, that for "some hundreds of years," the Waldenses did not practice infant baptism. This was too notorious to be denied. Hence his desperate effort to explain it away. Hence the monstrous supposition that during some hundreds of years they were without ministers to attend to the administration of the ordinances! Now this may be proof "perfectly plain" to Dr. Millers eyes, that the Waldenses were Pedo-baptists; but if so, we insist that it is equally plain, that he has more respect for Perrins logic than for Perrins facts.
We do not mean to impeach Perrin or to endeavor to discredit his history. When he wrote, the Baptists were under the ban of every state in Christendom, and abhorred and anathematized by the Papal and Protestant churches. Then it was esteemed to be doing God service to put them to death. Perrin was, therefore, anxious to remove this reproach from the Waldenses. He felt, no doubt, that it would be a benefit conferred upon the cause of religion in general if this injurious impression could be effaced. And then who would attempt to vindicate the cause of a people every where pursued and persecuted? Who would stand up on the side of the Baptists, oppressed and trodden upon by the iron heel of church and state? And perhaps too, like the great mass of his contemporaries, he could not see how pure Christianity and the baptism of only believers, could be associated. He might have supposed that it would shock the common sense of the men of his generation, to affirm, in one breath, that the Waldenses were holy and orthodox; and then to announce in the very next, that they were Baptists. In fine, it must have been in. some such way—either misled by a mistaken benevolence or blinded by prejudice—that he failed to draw correct conclusions from premises which he admitted and from facts which he could not deny.
Some discrepancies between Jones and Perrin, in their histories of the Waldenses, have been pointed out by the Pedo-baptists, and the former has been severely denounced, criticized and censured in consequence. Dr. Miller, in a note to his "Recommendatory Letter" of Perrin, says: "William Jones, an eminent Baptist, in his History of the Waldenses, has so mutilated and perverted the plainest documents of those pious witnesses of the truth, in order to make them speak the language of anti-pedobaptists, as to place his character as an honest historian in a most undesirable position" [Perrin, p. 36]. It is a matter seriously to be regretted that the venerable doctor did not esteem it worth while to mention a few examples of the mutilations and perversions, or at least the "documents" alluded to.
His charge is most emphatically denied. We challenge the production of a solitary instance to justify this unmeasured condemnation. The only instance of perversion and mutilation that the most diligent have been able to allege, was of Perrin, but not of any Waldensian document. Revelation N.L. Rice, in his Debate with Revelation A. Campbell in Lexington, charged Jones with a most "glaring falsification of history;" and we step aside to notice and refute this charge because it has been often used to the prejudice of truth, and because it is the only one which has ever been adduced calculated in the least to sustain the remarks of Dr. Miller just quoted. The case is this. Perrin says:
"King Louis XII of France, having received information from the enemies of the Waldenses dwelling in Provence, of several heinous crimes which they fathered upon them, sent to the place Adam Fumee, master of requests, and a Sarbonist doctor, called Parui, who was his confessor, to make inquiry into the matter. They visited all their parishes and temples, and neither found there any images, or sign of the ornaments belonging to the mass, or ceremonies of the Romish church; much less could they discover any of those crimes which they were charged. But rather that they kept the Sabbath duly, caused their children to be baptized according to the primitive church, taught them the articles of the Christian faith, and The commandments of God. The king having heard the report of said commissioners, said, with an oath, that they were better men then himself or his people" [Jones, p. 348].
Jones narrates the same circumstance, substantially as Perrin, except in reference to infant baptism, He represents the report of the messengers as of the following effect:
"They kept the Sabbath-day, observed the ordinance of baptism, according to the primitive church, instructed their children in the articles of the Christian faith, and the commandments of God" [Debate, p. 405].
Upon this discrepancy, Mr. Rice, in his Lexington Debate, says: "Here Mr. Jones, when he came to infant baptism, wholly omitted it; and instead of saying, as did the author he quoted- causing their children to be baptized,—he says, observe the ordinance of baptism according to the primitive church!! Thus the Waldenses were proved to be anti-Pedo-baptists, by concealing their testimony. A more glaring falsification of history I never saw!" [As quoted in Pope and McGuires Debate, p. 209.]
Mr. Rice was not remarkable for scrupulous accuracy in his statement of facts in this Debate. Nor are his feelings, at any time, characterized by leniency towards persons whose religious sentiments come in contact with his own. But we must pardon the grossness of the assault upon Mr. Jones, by remembering that it was made in the hurry and excitement of an oral discussion. Mr. Jones does not quote Perrin, as charged by Mr. Rice. The authority referred to by Perrin for the anecdote is, "Vesembecius Oration respecting the Waldenses." Jones refers to the same authority, Vesembecius Oration on the Waldenses, in Perrin, ch. 5." He does not say, "as quoted by Perrin." He evidently looks beyond Perrin, and draws his authority from the same source. To impeach Jones, therefore, and to discredit him as a historian, appeal must be made to the original authority—the authority upon which he and Perrin both rely—to the Oration of Vesembecius. This Mr. Rice did not do. He has consequently made his charge at random, and affirmed concerning that of which he knew nothing. Had he gone to the proper source for information, he would have found that Jones was right and Perrin wrong. The language of Vesembecius is:
"Illi ad regein referunt, illis in locis homines baptizari, articulos fidei et decalogurn doceri, dominicos dies religiose coli, Dei verbum exponi, veneficia et stupra apud eos nulla esse. Ceterum se in ipsorum templis neque imagines, neque ornamento missae ulla reperisse. His auditis, rex, jurejurando addito; me, inquit, et cetcro populo meo Catholico meliores illi viri sunt." That is:-"They report to the king, that the men were baptized, the articles of faith and the ten commandments were taught, the Lords day observed, the word of God preached, and no show of wickedness of fornication to be perceived amongst them; but that they found not any images in their churches, nor ornaments belonging to the mass. The king hearing this, said, and he bound it with an oath, They are better men than myself and the rest of my Catholic people" [Perrin, pp. 83,84].
The charge against Jones falls to the earth! He has perverted no documents nor falsified any history. The report to the king was, that "homines," men, adults, and not infants, were baptized. Jones account of the matter is amply sustained by the original authority. The blows at his reputation recoil. We trust that Mr. Rice and Dr. Miller will reconsider their statements, and retract their charges against Mr. Jones; as it is thus proved that he was right and Perrin wrong.
The history of Perrin was originally written in the French language, and strong suspicions have been expressed respecting the fidelity of the English translation. We are not of those who entertain such suspicions. As we have already remarked, Perrin no doubt thought it would subserve the interests of religion to remove from the Waldenses the reproach of their being Baptists; and in his zeal to accomplish this, he was betrayed into inaccuracy of reasoning as well as of statement, as we have already proved beyond all question. And here is another instance of the same sort; and we refer to it because it has often been quoted to prove that the Waldenses were Pedo-baptists. Perrin says:
"The president with his assessor took their journey to Perouse, and caused public proclamation to be made in the name of the king, that every one of the inhabitants should go to mass upon pain of death. Afterwards they came to Pignerol, where they summoned several to appear before them. Among others, there appeared a poor simple laboring man, whom the president ordered to have baptism again administered to his child, who had been lately baptized by the Waldensian minister, near Angrogne. The poor man desired so much respite as to offer up his prayers to God, before he answered him. Which, with some laughter, being granted, he fell down upon his knees before all the standers by, and having concluded his prayer, he said to the president, that he would cause his child to be re-baptized, provided he would oblige himself by a bond, signed with his own hand, to discharge and clean him of the sin that he should commit in so doing, and suffer himself the punishment and condemnation, which God would one day inflict upon him for it, taking this iniquity upon him and his. Which the president understanding, commanded him to depart out of his presence, without pressing him any further" [Letter of Ecclampadius, Jones, p. 445].
Our author does not tell us to whom he is indebted for this anecdote. It strikes us as extremely improbable. The Papists are not wont to administer baptism anew, no matter how heretical the minister by whose hands it is given. They not only recognize the baptism of heretics, but have authorized, in cases of necessity, the rite to be administered by a midwife, a degraded priest, a Jew or Turk. They have ever esteemed anabaptism a damnable heresy. Could this president, then, demand the re-baptism of the Waldensian infant, without incurring the anathemas of his church? Did he not know, that by so doing he was walking in the paths of heresy, and setting at nought the canons of councils and the decisions of the fathers? If such a thing did occur, it is without parallel in papal history—it is a single and solitary instance of anabaptism being urged by any Romish dignitary. But we suspect that he simply demanded the child to be baptized. Instances of this sort abound in the conduct of both Papists and Protestants toward the Baptists. They are of very recent occurrence in Europe. On this supposition, the conduct of the peasant and the president was natural and consistent. The president wished the salvation of the infant, and hence demanded its baptism for the regeneration of its soul and the purgation of its original sin. These the doctrine of his church led him to believe would ensue. The peasant, on the other hand, being a Baptist, and esteeming such an act as unauthorized by the Scriptures, as worshipping the host or bowing before an image, would not give his consent in the matter. He acted as full many a Baptist, in ancient and in modern times, has acted. Papists have made such requisitions of Baptists, but never of Pedo-baptists, so far as any other recorded fact bears testimony. The severe anathemas of Rome against the Novatians, Donatists, and even the Waldenses, for anabaptism, make it very questionable that the event narrated above ever transpired—that any minister of papal vengeance ever so glaringly and wantonly outraged the doctrines of his church. The incident, however, is of no intrinsic importance, as doubtless at the time of its reputed occurrence, 1555, Presbyterianism had found its way into some places, where the Waldensian doctrines and practices had prevailed; and this thing happened, according to our author, in a district adjacent to Geneva. We have alluded to the matter simply to show the bias of our authors mind-as an instance where a story, bearing a strong impress of the apocryphal, is gravely narrated to prove that the Waldenses were Pedo-baptists.
Sims, Perrin and others have pointed with great confidence to the creed drawn up and adopted at Angrogne, September 12, 1535, in which the baptism of infants is set forth. But this creed is so unlike any document of the sort preceding it, put forth by any portion of the Waldenses, that an explanation of the circumstances in which it originated is necessary to its proper interpretation. The persecutions of the Waldenses had been unusually severe in parts of Piedmont and in the adjoining portions of France. Not only the Inquisition, but large armies had been active in their suppression. Their churches were broken up and their ministers put to death. Hunted like wild beasts, their prominent men nearly all destroyed, the poor Waldenses of these regions were almost sunk into despair. Persecution caused them to dissemble and conceal their faith. They attended the Romish masses, and in other respects conformed outwardly to the mummeries of papal superstition [Perrin, p. 80]. But they could not be at ease while thus to escape the displeasure of men, they brought upon themselves the displeasure of God. They had heard much respecting the boldness of the Reformers in Germany and Switzerland; and in their distress, they determined to seek their counsel and advice. Accordingly they sent two of their ministers, George Morel and Peter Masson, to confer with Ecolampadius and Bucer, and others of the Reformers. [Jones, p. 446.]
Masson, returning home, was taken and put to death by the Papists. [Foxs Acts and Monuments, Vol. 2, p. 1-6.]
Morel returned in safety with the letters and papers, assembled his brethren, and reported. Fox says, that Morel "declared to his brethren all the points of his commission; and opened unto them, how many and great errors they were in, into which their old ministers, whom they called barbs, that is to say, uncles, had brought them, leading them from the right way of true religion" [Murdocks Mosheim, vol. 3, p. 184, note 57]. Thus it is evident that Morel had learned something new of the Reformers, differing from the doctrine of the Waldensian fathers, and which he proposed to introduce into the creed of the brethren in his region.
And so Dr. Murdock, the translator of Mosheim, in a note upon that author, represents the case. He says:
"In their council in Angrogne, A.D. 1532, , they adopted a short confession of faith, professedly embracing the doctrine they had firmly believed for four hundred years, yet manifestly a departure in some particulars from the principles stated by their deputies to Ecolampadius; and conformed to the new views he had communicated to them, especially in relation to free-will, grace, predestination, and several points of practical religion" [Ib. 470].
And Mosheim, speaking of the Waldenses of that time, says: "The descendants of the Waldenses who lived shut up in the valleys of Piedmont, were led by their proximity to the French and Genevans to embrace their doctrines and worship" [Perrin, p. 81].
But the very face of the creed puts its paternity above all dispute. We will quote a few articles:
"II. All that have been, or shall be saved, were elected by God before all worlds." "III. They who are saved cannot miss of salvation." "IV. Whosoever maintaineth free-will, wholly denieth predestination." "XVII. As to the sacraments, it hath been determined by the holy scriptures, that we have but two sacramental signs or symbols, which Christ Jesus hath left unto us: the one is baptism, the other the eucharist or Lords Supper, which we receive to demonstrate our perseverance in the faith, according to the promise we made in our baptism in our infancy; as also in remembrance of that great benefit which Jesus Christ hath conferred upon us, when he laid down his life for our redemption, cleansing us with his most precious blood" [p. 481].
Can any one be so blind as not to perceive in these articles, the handiwork of the Reformers? Who can fail to recognize one or more of the phrases and tenets peculiar to that age, and unknown to the Waldenses? The baptismal article, especially, partakes largely of "the new views" learned in Germany. The expression "the promise we made in our baptism in our infancy," can only have meaning by admitting allusion to be made to godfathers and godmothers—to sponsorial promises; and yet Dr. Baird, Dr. Miller, and all Presbyterians vehemently insist that the Waldenses never tolerated such sponsion! Dr. Gill maintains that the article must not be understood in a literal sense. The true rendering is, "The promise we made in baptism, being little children," So by Sims in Peyran. [Divine Right of Infant Baptism, pp. 37, 38.] "This phrase, being little children," says Dr. Gill, "as I think, means their being little children in knowledge and experience, when they were baptized; since they speak of receiving the eucharist, to show their perseverance in the faith they then had promised to persevere in: besides, if this be understood of them as infants in a literal sense, what promise were they capable of making when such? Should it be said, that they promised by their sureties, it should be observed that the Waldenses did not admit of godfathers and godmothers in baptism; this is one of the abuses their ancient barbs complained of in baptism, as administered by the Papists" [Eccl. History, vol. 3, p. 184].
Let the matter of this creed be viewed from whatever point it may, it can never prove that the Waldenses were Pedo-baptists. It is too modern to enter into the merits of the discussion now in progress. It was got up and adopted by a few of the Waldenses only; and these few confess that they had lapsed from the stern faith of their ancestors. They admit too, that they had learned many new things of the Reformers, under whose advice and instruction they acted; and by whom they had been taught to reject much of the teaching and many of the practices of their barbs. We may reasonably suppose, that their rejection of infant baptism was one of the "many and great errors" in which the Reformers believed them to be involved-one of the paths "leading them from the right way of true religion," into which "their old ministers" had directed them. The Reformers were the bitter enemies and persecutors of the Baptists. They pursued them with as unrelenting and as merciless severity as ever did the Papists. They would not of course countenance these deputies from the Waldenses until they gave up their opposition to infant baptism. The fact, then, that no creed of the Waldenses, that no book or document of theirs, makes the slightest commendatory allusion to infant baptism, until at this time, in this creed, drawn up and adopted at the suggestion of the enemies and persecutors of the Baptists, by an assembly who reproach their fathers and their old ministers with "many and great errors"-these things, we say, furnish to our mind strong presumptive proof that infant baptism was then first introduced among any who could pretend at all to belong to the Waldenses proper.
And here appropriately we may notice the fact, so often and so triumphantly referred to—by Dr. Miller, Mr. Sims, and others—that the Waldenses readily united with the Reformed churches, and received ministers from them. This is true of the Waldenses in Piedmont, and we have shown above how this, in part, was brought about-by leading the Waldenses to reject the practices of their fathers. In their persecuted and depressed condition, they sought and obtained the sympathy of their neighbors in Switzerland; and as they had considerably fallen from their former boldness and purity of faith and practice, they were readily induced, in order to secure the favor and fellowship of their new acquaintances, to conform to such customs and opinions as they might dictate. Mosheim says, "They retained not a few of their ancient rules of discipline, so late as they year 1630. But in this year, the greatest part of the Waldenses [in Piedmont] were swept off by pestilence; and their new teachers, whom they obtained from France, [Geneva], regulated all their affairs according to the pattern of the French Reformed [Presbyterian]Church" [Perrin, p. 231].
Thus it is plain how the inhabitants of Piedmont became Presbyterians—just as the inhabitants of Geneva and other places became so—by the influence of John Calvin and co-laborers. Until they came under the influence of the Reformers, we find no traces of infant baptism among the pure Waldenses. Not a line of theirs, prior to the Reformation, has been adduced by any one of the authors before us—Perrin, Peyran, and their editors—to show that the Waldenses were Pedo-baptists—not a line or syllable. That some of them since should embrace that practice, we have shown to be natural enough, and we have fully explained the means by which they were induced to adopt a custom unknown to their "old ministers" and churches.
True, Perrin or his editors have introduced into the volume before us, mixed with the ancient writings of the Waldenses, certain extracts from the "Spiritual Alamanc," and which is done, too, without informing the reader of the source from which they were derived! Of course, this was done to serve a purpose, whether honorable or not, the reader must determine. It looks very much like a pious fraud! It is certainly calculated to impose a falsehood, as the extracts stand among Waldensian writings confessedly of great antiquity, without the slightest intimation that these are quotations from the "Spiritual Alamanc," a work of doubtful date and certainly of no authority! This fraud may be found on pp. 230-232. It is strange, after such a flourish against Mr. Jones integrity in the beginning of this volume, that an act of such doubtful morality, to say the least, should be perpetrated before the volume was half completed! But no one can see motes in others eyes so clearly and so readily as those who have beams in their own! In one of the extracts from this "Spiritual Almanac," is the following language, so often quoted by Pedo-baptist controversialists:
"And whereas baptism is administered in a full congregation of the faithful, it is to the end, that he that is received into the church, should be reputed and held of all, for a Christian brother, and that all the congregation might pray for him that he may be a Christian in heart, as he is outwardly esteemed to be a Christian. And for this cause it is, that we present our children in baptism, which they ought to do, to whom the children are nearest, as their parents, and they to whom God hath given this charity."
These look like Presbyterian, but not like Waldensian practices. The whole clause taken together, would seem to teach that infants were presented in baptism that they should be reputed and held by all as Christian brethren! The reason and the rite are alike absurd.
But the argument most relied on to prove that the Waldenses were Pedo-baptists is derived from the practice of the Vaudois, or the Protestant churches now in Piedmont. This is often repeated in great triumph; and very recently we saw it stated in the newspapers, that Dr. Sawtell had made quite a display of this matter in Indianapolis! We have already exposed, in part, this miserable refuge. Admitting that it proved any thing, it could only establish what was the custom of the Waldenses who formerly dwelt in Piedmont. It could not go further. But the great majority of the Waldenses dwelt in other countries. They were to be found almost in every state and kingdom of Europe. What then can the Vaudois custom prove in relation to these? Besides, the old Waldensian churches were utterly broken up in Piedmont in 1686. Not a vestige of them was left. They and their friends were put to death, or else driven into exile. True, several years after, a company of some eight hundred armed men returned, and by force of arms established themselves upon their farms and in their villages again. These or their descendants embraced Presbyterianism, and to a considerable extent maintain that form of worship to this day.
Before any thing respecting the Waldenses can be concluded from the Vaudois, it must be shown that the latter maintain the doctrines and conform to the customs of the former. It is the sublimity of nonsense to infer, from the simple fact that the Vaudois are the descendants of the Waldenses according to the flesh and because they dwell in Piedmont, that therefore they hold the sentiments and customs of the Waldenses! But it is unnecessary to expose this absurdity further. To mention it is to call upon it universal contempt.
WERE THE WALDENSES BAPTISTS OR PEDO-BAPTISTS?
The following article by John L. Waller is from The Western Baptist Review, Vol. IV, No. 7, Frankfort, KY, March 1849 —
The Waldenses were not Pedo-baptists. The proofs relied upon to show that they were, we have examined, and have demonstrated their utter insufficiency for the purpose. Not a solitary fact or document to sustain that position, can be adduced until the Reformation, when some of the Waldenses were led to adopt a new creed, acknowledged by them to differ materially from the teachings of their fathers. The authority relied upon by our opponents to prove Waldensian Pedo-baptism is all of modern date and of doubtful importance. The long period of darkness preceding the era of Luther and Calvin, when the Waldenses stood alone as the witnesses of the truth against the world "wondering after the beast," furnishes not a particle of evidence that they were the advocates of infant baptism. No creed, nor record, nor documents of theirs, of any kind or description, ever has or ever can be adduced to prove that they then lent the least countenance to that rite. During that time, they opposed error and vindicated the truth; but certain it is that infant baptism is not one of the things they defended. At least, if they did, it is not in proof.
THE WALDENSES WERE BAPTISTS
This proposition it will now be our business to prove. We demand the most rigid scrutiny of our facts and conclusions. As heretofore intimated, our object is to arrive at the truth of the matter: we have no denominational principle or practice involved in the adjustment of this much mooted question. If they were not Baptists, it would furnish no reason and present no motive why we should not be so. Then let the truth appear and justice be done.
It is admitted on all hands, that their enemies charged them with denying baptism to infants. This was one of the charges brought in justification of the cruel persecutions which every where they had to endure. This is admitted by Perrin (as before noticed) and by all their historians. That they were often slandered and misrepresented by their enemies, is freely conceded. But it is easy to detect those slanders and misrepresentations.
The false accusations brought against them by one class of their enemies, are denied and refuted by another class. Besides, the creeds and other writing of the Waldenses, in defense and explanation of their practices and principles, sufficiently meet and repel the injurious imputations which malice invented for their destruction. But if the charge of infant baptism was a calumny, it was one constantly and universally persisted in by their enemies for centuries; and one which the Waldenses, nor any portion of them, until after the Reformation and after their own acknowledged deflection from the doctrine of the their fathers, ever denied. Though condemned and put to death on account of it, they never alleged that the charge was false. On the contrary, they silently and with resignation endured cruel mockings and persecutions on the charge of being Baptists, leaving no intimation that the accusations was untrue. That this is a fair representation of the case, we will now proceed to demonstrate.
As early as the forepart of the eleventh century, a people conceded to be the Waldenses, or at least their predecessors, living in Italy, the South of France, and other parts of Europe, were reputed to deny infant baptism. About A.D. 1025, one GUNDULPHUS and his followers appeared in Italy, and their sentiments spread rapidly in many countries, and created much sensation. Gerard, bishop of Cambray an Arras, who had examined the sentiments of these persons, reports that they taught as follows respecting infant baptism:
"Because to an infant that neither wills nor runs, that knows nothing of faith, is ignorant of its own salvation and welfare, in whom there can be no desire of regeneration or confession; the will, faith and confession of another seem not in the least to appertain" [Gills Divine Right of Infant Baptism, etc., p. 29].
This is the testimony of an enemy; but why should it be thought, therefore, unworthy of credit? It bears no marks of distortion. It is plain, simple, and specific in its details; and is precisely what thousands have held and taught for centuries, and what the Baptists every where maintain to be the clear and indisputable doctrines of the New Testament. Besides, there is no record existing which furnishes the slightest intimation that the above is a misrepresentation. But let us hear them speak for themselves. Dr. Allix, speaking of them, says:
"They are charged with abhorring baptism, i.e. the Catholic baptism. These disciples said in reply, The law and discipline we have received of our Master will not appear contrary either to the gospel decrees or apostolical institutions, if carefully looked into. This discipline consists in leaving the world, in bridling carnal concupiscence, in providing a livelihood by the labor of our hands, in hurting nobody, and affording charity to all, etc. This is the sum of our justification, to which the use of baptism can superadd nothing. But if any say that some sacrament lies hid in baptism, the force of it is taken off the three causes [among the Papists]. 1st. Because the reprobate life of ministers can afford no saving remedy to the persons baptized. 2ndly. Because whatever sins are renounced at the font, are afterwards taken up again in life and practice. 3rdly. Because a strange will, a strange faith, and strange confession do not seem to belong to a little child, who neither wills nor runs, who knoweth nothing of faith, and is altogether ignorant of his own good and salvation, in whom there can be no desire of regeneration,. and from whom no confession of faith can be expected" [Quoted in Hintons History of Baptism, p. 287].
The charge, then, that Gundulphus and followers denied infant baptism is no "calumny." It is clear that on this point they were BAPTISTS. This is as well established an any other fact in their history. They flourished five hundred years before the Reformation. The most judicious historians recognize them as the same people afterwards denominated the Waldenses. They were the same uncompromising opponents of the corruptions and usurpations of the Romish hierarchy, the same meek and faithful advocates of a pure faith and a pure church-they lived and preached in the same country as those afterwards denominated Waldenses. That they were Baptists, even Dr. Mosheim was compelled to confess. He says, "They rejected baptism as a rite of no use as regards salvation; and especially the baptism of infants" [Eccl. Hist., Vol. 1, p. 204]. This is precisely the ground maintained by the Baptists now-constituting their distinguishing peculiarity.
About the year 1040, a people called PATERINES began to attract great attention in the regions about Milam, in the places rendered subsequently so famous by the testimony and sufferings of the Waldenses. They denied and prohibited the baptism of infants, say their opponents—"Damnat et prohibet de baptismo puerorum et parvulorum." "Concerning penances, oaths, excommunication, etc., they condemn the whole, as the Catholics maintained them: and the signs and miracles of the Catholic church, they say, are all a diable, from the devil—Among other things they said, that a child had no desire to be baptized, and was incapable of making any confession of faith, and that the willingness of and professing of another could be of no service to him" [Jones, 288; Benedicts Hist. of the Baptists, p. 65.] Dr. Allix regards these as the same denomination of Christians afterwards known as Waldenses. If they were not Baptists, WHAT WERE THEY? There is no proof extant that they ever baptized an infant, or that they ever lent the least countenance to such a rite. It appears in proof only, that they vehemently testified against pedo-baptism. If this be a calumny, it cannot be shown to be such. If it is a stain upon their Christian reputation, it must remain there forever. It cannot be washed out. But why should it be considered a calumny? It is charged to be such only by those who desire it to be so. The charge has no foundation but in fancy. Because the Pedo-baptists want them to be in favor of their views, they have imagined that all history has borne false witness respecting their sentiments and practices!
Towards the close of this century [c. A.D. 1075], Deodwinus, bishop of Leige, writing to the king of France, says:
"There is a report come out of France, and which goes through all Germany, that these two [BRUNO and BERENGARIUS] do maintain that the Lords body [the host] is not the body, but a shadow and figure of the Lords body; and they do disannul lawful marriage, [deny that marriage is a sacrament]; and as far as in them lies, overthrow the baptism of infants" [Quoted by Gill, ut supra, p. 28.]
Bellarmine says: "The Berengarians admitted only adults to baptism, which error the Anabaptists embraced" [quoted by Benedict, p. 52].
Twisks Chronicle of the eleventh century says: "It appears that in this age, the baptism of believers was asserted and practiced by the Waldenses and Albigenses."
The Waldenses were often called after the names of their distinguished men. Hence, in many places, they were denominated Berengarians, after Berengarius, archdeacon of Angers, who embraced and advocated their sentiments. And all the evidence extant shows that in this century, there were, in Italy, and in other places, afterwards rendered illustrious by the sufferings of the Waldenses, multitudes of individuals who protested against the abominations of Popery and of infant baptism. These persons, as before stated, are usually and almost universally considered by the best informed Protestant historians to be those who, in subsequent centuries, have attracted so much attention under the names of Waldenses and Albigenses.
But, as intimated in a former number, we wish to call attention more especially to the twelfth century, where some begin the history of the Waldenses; and where especially Perrin and those who follow him, present them first prominently to the observation of their readers. It was in that age, that the name by which they are now most generally known was first applied to these faithful and true witnesses. A.D. 1110, PETER DE BRUIS, whom Perrin reckons among the Waldensian barbs["Next followed Peter Bruis, from whom many gave them [the Waldenses] the name of Petrobrusians," p. 46], arose in the South of France, labored zealously and successfully in calling the minds of the people of the consideration of pure and undefiled religion. Great multitudes were led by him to renounce the mummeries of papism and embrace the plain and simple doctrines and practices of the New Testament. All concur in the admission that Peter was a Baptist. He taught, according to Mosheim, "That persons ought not to be baptized, until they come to the use of reason." [Mosheim, vol. 2, p. 267].
And respecting HENRY [A.D. 1150], believed by many to be a disciple of Peter de Bruis, the same historian testifies, "We only know, that he too disapproved of infant baptism, inveighed severely against the corrupt morals of the clergy, despised the festal days and the religious ceremonies, and held clandestine assemblies" [Mosheim, Ib.].
These two bold and zealous ministers were the champions of the Waldensian denomination during the first half of the twelfth century. Their great success alarmed the Papists and aroused them to persecution. In the year 1119, the Council of Toulouse put forth the following sentence against them and their brethren:
"Moreover, we exclude as heretics from the church of God, and we condemn those who, under the semblance of religion, deny the sacrament of the Lords body [transubstantiation], the baptism of children, the priesthood and other ecclesiastical orders, and the bond of legitimate marriage, [or marriage as a sacrament]; and we order that they be delivered Over the secular power. We also bind in the same chain of damnation, their defenders, until they repent" [Gieslers Text Book of Eccl. Hist., Vol. 2, p. 371].
Twenty years afterwards, Giesler tells us, the same decree was again fulminated by the second Lateran Council. [Ut supra.] DR. WALL evidently felt the force of this decree, which wrung from him the following remarks: "The Lateran Council under Innocent II, A.D. 1139, did condemn Peter Bruis, and Arnold of Brescia, who seems to have been a follower of Bruis, for rejecting infants baptism." [Hist, of Infant Baptism, Vol. 2, p. 265.]
Peter, Abbot of Clugny, who wrote against the Waldenses, then generally denominated Petrobrusians, says:
"The first capital error of the heretics is, that they contend that infants are not baptized or saved by the faith of another; but ought to be baptized and saved by their own faith; or that baptism without their own faith does not save; and that those that are baptized, in infancy, should be baptized again; nor are they then re-baptized, but rather rightly baptized" [Gill, ut supra, p. 26].
A little before the year 1140, EVERVINUS, of Stanfield, diocese of Cologne, Germany, in a letter addressed to Saint Bernard, says:
"There have lately been some heretics discovered among us near Cologne, of whom some have with satisfaction returned to the bosom of the church. * * * Their heresy is this: - * * * They do not hold the baptism of infants, alleging that passage of the gospel, He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved. They place no confidence in the intercession of the saints; and all things observed in the church which have not been established by Christ himself or his apostles, they call superstitious. * * * I must inform you also, that those of them that have returned to our church, tell us, that they had great numbers of their persuasion scattered every where, and that amongst them were a great many of our clergy and monks. And as for those who were burnt, they, in the defense they made for themselves, told us, that this heresy has been concealed from the time of the martyrs; and that it had existed in Greece and other countries" [Jones, pp. 276,278].
Speaking of the same denomination of people, ST. BERNARD says: "If you ask them of their faith, nothing can be more Christian; and if you observe their conservation, nothing can be more blameless; and what they speak, they confirm by their deeds. You may see a man for the testimony of his faith, frequent the church, make his confession, receive the sacrament. What more like a Christian? As to life and manners, he circumvents no man, and does violence to no man. He fasts much, and eats not the bread of idleness; but works with his hands for a support. The whole body indeed are rustic and illiterate; and all whom I have known of this sect are very ignorant" [Dr. Gill, ut supra].
And writing to the Earl of St. Giles, A.D. 1147, the same worthy, complaining of the influence of these heretics, observes:
"The churches are without people, the people without priests, the priests without honor, and Christians without Christ. Meeting houses are no longer conceived holy, nor the sacraments sacred. Men die in their sins, their souls carried to that terrible judicature, alas! neither reconciled by penance, nor strengthened by the holy communion. The infants of Christians are hindered from the life of Christ, the grace of baptism being denied them; nor are they suffered to come to their salvation [baptism], though our Savior compassionately cry out, "Suffer little children to come unto me."
Let us pause here, at the middle of the twelfth century, and survey the grounds already passed over. It is admitted, then, on all hands, that during this time, the enemies of the Waldenses charged that they were Baptists. So Perrin, and Sims, and Miller, and Baird all admit. The charge was preferred by deacons, presbyters, prelates and popes. It was asserted in decrees of councils, and recorded in the minutes of the proceedings of courts and inquisitions. It was proclaimed in sermons and published in histories. Was the charge true or false? That is the question. If not true, are there any means by which we can demonstrate its falsehood? Did the Waldenses of that age deny it? It was one of the chief reasons assigned for the cruel and unrelenting persecutions with which they were every where pursued: and if they ever denied the charge of ever complained that in this respect they were falsely accused, that denial and complaint have been buried amid the rubbish of departed ages. They do not exist, or at least, have never been found or heard of. The first denial ever made was since the Waldensian denomination had passed away, more than five hundred years after the commencement of the persecutions against them for their alleged repudiation of infant baptism; and by persons who had no authority whatever to sustain the denial. So much for this point. The charge of their enemies that they were Baptists was never disproved by any evidence worthy of the slightest credit.
The Waldenses themselves never denied the charge. Their own writings and creeds very clearly show, that so far from disclaiming their hostility to infant baptism, they openly avowed it; or declared doctrines which necessarily subvert the "main pillar of Popery."
There is a work of theirs, in verse, called the "NOBLE LESSON," which is supposed to have been written in the beginning of the twelfth century [A.D. 1100]. It was held in great esteem by them. We extract the following passages from it:
"He [Jesus] himself was baptized, that he might give salvation to us. And he commanded the apostles to baptize the nations. For then began the renewal. * * * * * And he called the apostles, and commanded them to go throughout the world, to make disciples of all nations: To preach to Jews and Greeks, and every human being. * * * * * And they proclaimed without fear the doctrine of Christ; preaching to Jews and Greeks, and working many miracles. And they baptized believers in the name of Jesus Christ. Then there became a people of new converts. And they were called Christians because they trusted in Christ."
These are all the allusions made to the ordinance of baptism in the "Noble Lesson." Let is be remembered, that this was written just about the time the sword of persecution was unsheathed against them because of their alleged denial of infant baptism. If the charge was false, here was an occasion and an opportunity presented for denying and disproving it. But they attempt nothing of the sort. On the contrary, they clearly teach that Jesus Christ sent out his apostles to "make disciples;" and that the apostles, in the execution of the commission, "baptized the believers in the name of Jesus Christ, then there became a people of new converts." This is Baptist language and Baptist doctrine. No other people would have thus met the charge of rejecting infant baptism. To their enemies, gnashing upon them with their teeth for denying baptism to children, they fearlessly proclaim the commission of Christ and the practice of the apostles for the baptism of believers only. If they were Pedo-baptists, their conduct is wholly inexplicable; if not utterly unjustifiable for not repelling a gross and injurious calumny. But on the supposition that they were Baptists, the mystery is at once made clear, and all is consistent and right.
There is a "CATECHISM" of theirs too, supposed to be of the same date—certainly written under the same circumstances and during the persecutions for the same charge. We make the following quotations:
Minister. What is that which thou believest concerning the holy church?
Answer. * * * The church as it is considered according to the truth of the ministry, is the company of the ministers of Christ, together with the people committed to their charge, using the ministry by faith, hope and charity.
Minister. Whereby dost thou know the church of Christ?
Answer. By the ministers lawfully called, and by the people participating in the truth of the ministry.
Minister. By what marks knowest thou the ministers?
Answer. By the true sense of faith, by sound doctrine, by a life of good example, by the preaching of the gospel, and due administrations of the sacraments.
Minister. By what mark knowest thou false ministers?
Answer. By their fruits, by their blindness, by their evil works, by their perverse doctrine, and by their undue administration of the sacraments. * * *
Minister. By what marks is an undue administration of the sacraments known?
Answer. When the priests not knowing the intentions of Christ in the sacrament, say that the grace and truth are included in the external ceremonies, and persuade men to the participation of the sacrament without the truth and without faith. But the Lord chargeth them that are his, to take heed to such false prophets, saying, Beware of the Pharisees, that is, the leaven of their doctrine. Again, Believe them not, neither go after them. And David hates the church of congregation of such persons, saying, I hate the congregation of evil men. And the Lord commands to come out from the midst of such people;-Numbers, 6:16, "Depart from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in their sins." And the apostle, 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness and unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness, and what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you." Again, 2 Thessalonians 3:12, "Now we command you, brethren, that you withdraw yourself from every brother that walketh disorderly." Again, Revelation 18:4, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
Minister. By what marks are those people known who are not in truth within the church?
Answer. By public sins and erroneous faith; for we ought to fly such persons, lest we be defiled by them.
Minister. By what way oughtest thou to communicate with the holy church?
Answer. I ought to communicate with the church in regard to its substance, by faith and charity, as also by deserving the commandments, and by a final persevering in well doing.
Minister. How many things are there which are ministerial?
Answer. Two, the word and the sacraments.
Minister. How many sacraments are there?
Answer. Two: namely, Baptism and the Lords Supper" [Perrin, pp. 216, 216].
What is taught in the above, but that principle, which Dr. Mosheim says, "lay at the foundation and was the source of all that was new and singular in the religion of the Baptists;" viz: "That the kingdom which Christ set up on the earth or the visible church is an assembly of holy persons; and ought therefore to be entirely free not only from ungodly persons and sinners, but from all institutions of human device against ungodliness." This is no Pedo-baptist principle. Presbyterians would have said, that the visible church was composed of believers and "their offspring." the nature of infant baptism is to bring the unconverted and unbelieving within the pales of the church of Christ. The Waldenses, then, in their Catechism, strike at the root of infant baptism and assert the great principle of all Baptist peculiarity. And this they do, too, in the face of danger and death. What motives, other than those inimical to the baptism of infants, could have prompted them to pursue such a course under such circumstances? -to strike at the very foundation of the Pedo-baptist edifice, if they did not wish to see that superstructure left without one stone upon another?
Vignaux, in his Memorials of the Waldenses, as cited by Perrin, confirms the opinion that they maintained that the visible church of Christ was composed of believers only. One fundamental doctrine of theirs, as enumerated by him, was this:
"Those who hear the word of God and have a right knowledge of it, are the true church, to whom Jesus Christ hath committed the keys to let in his sheep and drive out the wolves."
"This," says Vignaux, "is the doctrine of the Waldenses, which the enemies of truth have impugned, and for which they have in those days persecuted them, as the said enemies themselves testify" [Perrin, p. 40].
In THEIR CREEDS too, they were equally bold and explicit. In one put forth A.D. 1120, they say:
"12. We consider the sacraments as signs of holy things, or as the visible emblems of invisible blessings. We regard it as proper and even necessary that believers use these symbols or visible forms when it can be done. Notwithstanding which, we maintain that believers may be saved without these signs, when they have neither place nor opportunity of observing them.
"13. We acknowledge no sacraments (as of divine appointment) but baptism and the Lords Supper" [Jones, p. 333; Perrin 52].
This was put forth the next year after the bloody canon of the Council of Toulouse, (already quoted), denouncing the Waldenses and delivering them over to the secular power for punishment, because, among other things, they denied infant baptism. It was evidently written and published to rescue their doctrines from the misrepresentations of their enemies, and to justify themselves before angels and men for choosing to die rather than renounce their sentiments. Can credulity itself suppose it possible, that Pedo-baptists falsely charged with denying their darling dogma, and ready to be offered on account of this false accusation, would solemnly publish a creed setting forth the baptism of believers in the most emphatic language, and wholly omitting the most remote allusion to the baptism of infants? To suppose this, is to charge them with failing to bear testimony to the whole truth—with proving recreant to principles lying at the very foundation of the church of the Redeemer. But their whole history shows that they were incapable of dissimulation or concealment. No danger nor any torture could make them deny or dissemble the doctrines which they believed inculcated in the Sacred Scriptures.
This creed is clearly a Baptist creed. The Waldenses sacredly preserved it through all the dark night of their persecutions. They never recanted it. During the four hundred years preceding the Reformation, in the valleys and fastnesses of the Alps and the Pyrenees, and in almost all the countries of Europe, the churches of these persecuted followers of the Savior sacredly cherished and firmly maintained the principles of this creed. During all that time they published nothing in contradiction of its principles or having the slightest appearance of recantation. They let it remain before the world as the symbol of their faith. It comes to us hallowed by the approval and sealed by the blood of that great multitude of martyrs who died for the witness of Jesus and the word of God during the worlds midnight.
The charge, then, that the Waldenses denied infant baptism, is no calumny. It was preferred against them by their enemies, it is true; but it was never denied by themselves. Drawn before councils, and courts, and kings, and charged with this as an offense worthy of death and of bonds, they enter no plea of not guilty; but affirm, in justification of themselves, that Jesus commanded the apostles to baptize disciples, and that the apostles did as they were commanded: - they declared the visible church of Christ to be composed of believers, and that its ordinances belonged only to such. These facts incontestibly prove the Waldenses not to be Pedo-baptists, but Baptists. The charges against them respecting heresy in doctrine and immorality in practice are amply met and refuted by the creeds and other writings of the Waldenses. It is strange, for any other reason than that they were Baptists, that this respecting their denial of infant baptism should remain without the slightest intimation of its untruth.
Certain it is, that this interpretation of their creeds and their conduct is not peculiar to the Baptists. Many who would have been glad to establish their friendship for pedo-baptism, have been constrained to admit that they utterly rejected it. This will appear before we are done. We resume our quotations:
Aeneas SYLVIUS, afterwards Pope Pius II [1458-1464], described the doctrines of the Waldensians in his History of Bohemia, chap. 35. He had traveled among the Waldensians and sent a firsthand report to a Cardinal about them. He also cited the treatise of the inquisitor Raynerus who wrote against the Waldensians in the year 1250. Sylvius says of them: "As to the second part of their errors, they condemn all the sacraments of the Church. Concerning the sacrament of Baptism, they say, that the Catechism signifies nothing; that the ABSOLUTION PRONOUNCED OVER INFANTS AVAILS THEM NOTHING; that the godfathers and godmothers do not understand what they answer the Priest " [Some Remarks upon the Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont, Peter Allix, 1690, chapter 22, "Concerning the belief and conduct of the Waldenses in Bohemia"].
But this representation of their abhorrence of the only manner of baptizing infants then existing in Europe, so far as history, or tradition even, gives any testimony, is excelled by their own strong language. In THEIR WORK ON ANTI-CHRIST, dated 1220, the Waldenses say:
"The third work of Anti-christ consists in this, that he attributes the regeneration of the Holy Spirit unto the dead outward work, baptizing children in that faith, and teaching that thereby baptism and regeneration must be had, and therein he confers and bestows orders and other sacraments, and groundeth therein all his Christianity, which is against the Holy Spirit" [Perrin, p. 245].
This very clearly ascribes to Anti-christ all the infant baptism practiced at that time. Then the baptism of an adult was of rare occurrence. It was the exception to a general, almost universal rule. Ages before, enactments of state sternly required all parents to bring their children to the laver of regeneration. To refuse and postpone was to jeopardize property, liberty and even life. The reason of the law was, that without baptism, infants of the most tender age were liable to everlasting destruction from the presence of God and the glory of his power. Hence, to meet the requisition of faith which the Scriptures clearly demand of all candidates for baptism, clerical ingenuity devised a faith by proxy; and parents as sponsors, or else godfathers and godmother, were appointed to answer and make confession instead of the infant; and upon a profession of faith thus made by its sureties, the infant was regarded as believing, and solemnly baptized for regeneration and salvation, and thus became entitled to all the privileges of members of the church of the Redeemer. If there was any other infant baptism in the ages of which we now write, all contemporary testimony is wholly silent in relation to it. It has passed away, and left no traces of its existence. The Waldenses, therefore, in denouncing this as the work and device of Anti-christ, denounced all the infant baptism then known in Europe-then known in the world! There was at that age no baptism of infants without sponsion—none except for regeneration and salvation—and thus all Christianity was grounded in it: and the Waldenses, in rejecting this as the special work of the peculiar enemy of Christ, declared, in no doubtful terms, that they were BAPTISTS. But we return once more to our quotations, in further proof of the position in hand.
Twisks Chronicle (already quoted) says: "We conjecture from writers, that the Waldenses and Albigenses brethren existed at and immediately after this date, [A.D. 1100]; they were opposed to papistic errors and infant baptism" [Benedicts History of the Baptists, p. 74].
Bishop Usher, on the authority of Kovedens Annals, states, that in the year 1176, the Boni homines of Toulouse, (a name given to the Waldenses), were summoned before a meeting of bishops, abbots, etc., and required to recant their errors by subscribing to a creed drawn up for the purpose. In the creed was the following article: "We believe also that no person is saved but he that is baptized: and that infants are saved by baptism." Being urged to subscribe and swear to this creed, they positively and perseveringly refused. [Walls Hist. of Infant Baptism, Vol. 2, p. 243.]
Eckbertus Schonaugiensis wrote in A.D. 1160 a treatise against the Waldenses. He labors to distort their doctrines, and often presents his own mad conclusions of what they teach, as the doctrines which they really maintained. Like his brethren now in relation to Protestants, he endeavored to magnify the differences of sentiment which he alleged existed against them. He says:
"Of baptism they speak variously, that baptism does no good to infants, because they cannot of themselves desire it, and because they cannot profess any faith. But there is another thing which they more generally hold concerning that point, though more secretly, viz: that no water baptism at all does any good for salvation: and therefore such as come over to their sect they re-baptize by a private way, which they call baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire" [Wall, ut supra, p. 250].
What he represents as their public doctrine is all right enough, and sustained by their own writings and creeds. He could not venture to misrepresent these. They were open to the inspection of the world-to be seen and read of all men. Hence he has to pretend to a knowledge of their secret doctrines and practices; and here he lets loose his fancy and his falsehoods. We should not expect to find much truth in an enemy speaking of things secret in relation to those he wishes to bring under the odium and persecution of the multitude: but even the most reckless opponent will not readily hazard a palpable misrepresentation, not to say a glaring falsehood, in relation to the customs and opinions of a denomination which he knows and admits are as well understood by the public as by himself. Hence, then, we can readily believe what Eckburtus says in relation to the Waldenses denying infant baptism; for there he speaks of what is generally known; while we disbelieve what he says respecting their baptizing with the Holy Spirit and fire, because he confesses that they did not do these things publicly. In fact, he pretends to have learned the matter "from one who had been at their secret meetings." But who this individual was, what his calling or what his character for truth, he gives no information. The whole is clearly a calumny, unsupported by any respectable and known witness. And thus it is easy to separate truth from falsehood, in the statements of the enemies of the Waldenses. In the first ages of the gospel dispensation, similar charges were preferred against the Christians, in relation to secret meetings, by their pagan persecutors.
The enemies of the Waldenses attempted to refute, by argument, the objections brought against infant baptism. We will give a specimen from Petrus Cluniacensis. He says:
"If baptism given in infancy be null and void, AS THEY PRETEND, then all the world has been blind hitherto, and by baptizing infants for above a thousand years, has given but a mock baptism, and made but fantastical Christians. * * * And whereas all France, Spain, Germany, Italy, and all Europe, has had never a person now for three hundred or almost five hundred years baptized otherwise than in infancy, it has never a Christian in it!" [Wall, ut supra, p. 259].
Even to Dr. Wall, this furnishes conclusive proof, that the Waldenses here alluded to by Peter of Clugny were Baptist—utterly rejecting baptism of infants.
The Waldenses were sometimes called Cathari, or Puritans, because they taught that the church should be kept pure—separate from the world—and composed only of regenerated persons. Says Dr. Wall:
"At the year 1192, one Alanus reckoning up the opinions of the Cathari, says, some of them held baptism of no use to infants; and others of them to no persons at all" [Ib., p. 262].
Perhaps Alanus puts his own construction of their sentiments, for the sentiments of the Cathari. True, it was common in those days, to reproach the Waldenses with all the errors of every party opposed to the papism; and hence, perhaps, Alanus may have meant to affirm, in this loose and reproachful way, that the Manicheans were also Cathari, or Waldenses. "Several councils and decretals made about this time," says Dr. Wall, "do establish the doctrine of baptism both in general, and also particularly that of infants, in opposition, as it seems, to some that denied all baptism, and to others that denied that of infants. As for example, the Lateran Council under Pope Innocent II, anno 1215, cap. 1. The sacrament of baptism performed in water with invocation of the Trinity is profitable to salvation, both to adult persons and also to infants, by whomsoever it is rightly administered in the form of the church. And the said pope has in his decretals a letter in answer to a letter from the bishop of Aries in Provence, which had represented to him, that some heretics there had taught that it was to no purpose to baptize children, since they could have no forgiveness of sins thereby, as having no faith, charity, etc." [Hist. of Pedo Bapt., ut supra, 265]..
The Book of Sentences of the inquisition of Toulouse informs us, that the Waldenses hold, "that baptism by water administered by the church is of no use to children, because the children, so far from giving assent to it, cried at it."
Reinerius Saccho, a Roman Catholic inquisitor who had spent 17 years with the Waldensians before becoming their persecutor, testified in the year 1254 as follows: "Secondly, they condemn all the Sacraments of the Church; in that first place, as to baptism, they say that the Catechism is nothing—also that the ablution which is given to infants profits nothing" (Reinerius, Of the Sects of Modern Heretics, 1254, cited by S.R. Maitland, History of the Albigenses and Waldenses, 1832).
Ermengaudi [A.D. 1387], a great man in the [Catholic] church and one of the great rulers of his age, who flourished about the close of the twelfth century, charges the Waldenses with denying infant baptism. He says:
"These heretics say, moreover, that this sacrament [baptism] can be of no use to any but to those who seek it with their own mouth and heart. Hence drawing this erroneous conclusion, that baptism can be of no use to children."
Izarn, a Dominican and Troubadour, who flourished in the thirteenth century, says:
"They admitted another baptism to what the church did—that is, believers baptism" [Benedicts Hist. of the Baptists, p. 68].
Favin, the historian says, "The Albigois do esteem the baptism of infants superstitious" [Ib. 68].
Leger observes of John Chassagnien, (a Frenchman and a Papist who wrote a history of the Albigenses, published in the sixteenth century), "This author proves that many Albigenses, though they have never rejected the sacrament [of baptism], nor said that it was useless, have nevertheless maintained that it was not necessary to little children until they were of age to believe; and that it is written, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. In which they have followed Tertullian, who is of this opinion, that baptism may by postponed in the case of infants until they shall be larger, and shall have sense and intelligence" [quoted by Sims, in Peyran, p. 476].
"One of the most recent and celebrated works in Ecclesiastical History which has appeared on the continent of Europe," says Mr. Hague, "is by M. DE POTTER, who, in a compendious account of these people, says, They called the Pope Anti-christ, opposed the payment of tythes, abolished the distinctions in the priesthood, denied the authority of councils, rejected all the ceremonies of baptism except simple ablution, and laying great stress on the truth that in infancy there can be no actual conversion to the Christian faith, they therefore baptized anew all those who left the Romish church, wishing to embrace their doctrines" [William Hague, Historical Discourse of Revelation, p. 72].
Limborch, Professor of Divinity in the University of Amsterdam, in 1670, who wrote a history of the Inquisition, in comparing the Waldenses with the Christians of his own times, says: "To speak honestly what I think of all the modern sects of Christians, the Dutch Baptists most resemble both the Albigenses and Waldenses, but particularly the latter" [Benedict, p. 69].
Starck, court preacher of Darmstadt, in his history of baptism, says:
"If instead of looking only at particular confessions, we follow out their general mode of thinking, we find that they not only rejected infant baptism, but re-baptizing those who passed from the Catholic church to them, and that although the Anabaptists held a connection with Munzer, Storck, Grebel, Stubner and Keller, the WALDENSES WERE THEIR PREDECESSORS" [quoted by Hague, p. 82].
Venema, a celebrated Protestant divine and ecclesiastical historian, after assigning various reasons against considering the Mennonites as descended from the "madmen of Munster," proceeds to remark:
"The nearest origin of the Mennonites [Dutch Baptists], in my judgment, is better derived from the Waldenses, and also from that of the Anabaptists. The Mennonites desired to have the innocence and purity of the primitive church restored, and to carry on the Reformation further than Luther and Calvin intended. Certainly the Waldenses, if you except the origin of the flesh of Christ, held the principal articles of religion almost in common with the Mennonites" [Benedict, p. 189].
Robinson, in his Ecclesiastical Researches, quotes an old Italian historian, who, describing the Waldenses of the twelfth century, says:
"The liturgy they never read. They say no one should be compelled as to his faith—that there is no use of a catechumen state, and no profit in infant baptism. They severely denounce the whole body of the clergy on account of their idle course of life, and say they ought to labor with their own hands, as did the apostles" [Rob. Eccl. Res. p. 462].
Jacob Mehkning, quoted by Benedict out of the Dutch Martyrology, says:
"In giving an account of baptism for the 14th century, I have in my possession an ancient Confession of the Waldensic brethren in Bohemia, printed in German, in which they expressly declare that at the commencement of Christianity there were no infants baptized; that their progenitors had not practiced it, etc, as John Bohemius writes in the 2nd book von der Sitten der Voelker:—it was formerly the custom to dispense baptism to those only who received preparatory instruction in the faith, and underwent seven examinations, the weeks preceding Easter and Whitsunday; such were then baptized on confession of their faith; but after it was supposed that baptism was essential to salvation, it was ordained (by the Papists) that infants should be baptized, sponsors being allowed them, who were to make confession and renounce the devil in their stead" [Benedict, p. 140].
Mosheim, although a great enemy of the Baptists, was nevertheless compelled to admit, that their "true origin was hid in the depths of antiquity." He says, "The modern Mennonites [or Dutch Baptists] affirm, that their predecessors were the descendants of those Waldenses, who were opposed by the tyranny of the Papists; and that they were a most pure offspring, and most averse from any inclinations towards sedition, as well as from all fanatical views." And then remarks:
"I believe the Mennonites are not altogether in the wrong, when they boast of a descent from these Waldensians, Petrobrusians, and others, who are usually styled the witnesses from the truth before Luther. Prior to the age of Luther, there lay concealed in almost every country of Europe, but especially in Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland, and Germany, very many persons, in whose minds was deeply rooted that principle which the Waldensians, the Wickliffites, and the Hussites maintained, some more covertly and others more openly; namely, that the kingdom which Christ set up on the earth, or the visible church, is an assembly of holy persons; and ought therefore to be entirely free not only from ungodly persons and sinners, but from all institutions of human device against ungodliness. This principle lay at the foundation and was the source of all that was new and singular in the religion of the Mennonites; and the greater part of their singular opinions, as is well attested, were approved some centuries before Luthers time, by those who had such views of the nature of the church of Christ" [Eccl. Hist., Vol. 2, p. 200].
There was published at Breda, in 1819, an "Account of the Origin of the Dutch Baptists," by DR. YPEIJ, professor of theology at Groningen, and REV. J.J. DERMONT, chaplain to the king of the Netherlands. These gentlemen belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church; in other words, were Dutch Presbyterians. In this work, they say:
"The Mennonites were descended from the tolerably pure evangelical Waldenses, who were driven by persecution into various countries; and who, during the latter part of the twelfth century, fled into Flanders, and into the provinces of Holland and Zealand, where they lived simple and exemplary lives, in the villages as farmers, in the towns by trades, free from the charge of any gross immoralities, and possessing the most pure and simple principles, which they exemplified in a holy conversation. They were therefore in existence long before the Reformed Church of the Netherlands. There were then two sects among them: the one distinguished by the name of the perfect, (who held to a community of goods), and the other the imperfect. By far the greater part of the first sect, and the whole of the second, were certainly among the most pious Christians the church ever saw, and the worthiest citizens the state ever had. History removes every doubt on this subject.
"In the year 1536, their scattered community obtained a regular state of church order, separate from all Dutch and German Protestants, who at that time had not been formed into one body by any bonds of unity. This advantage was procured them by the sensible management of a Friezeland Protestant, Menno Simons, who had formerly been a popish priest. This learned, wise and prudent man was chosen by them as their leader, that they might by his personal efforts, in the eyes of all Christendom, be cleared from the blame which some of them had incurred. This object was accomplished accordingly: some of the perfectionists he reclaimed to order, and others he excluded. He purified also the religious doctrine of the Baptists.
"We have now seen that the Baptists who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses; and who have long in the history of the church, received the honor of that origin. On this account the Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the apostles, and as a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrines of the gospel through all ages. The perfectly correct external and internal economy of the Baptist denomination tends to confirm the truth, disputed by the Romish church, that the Reformation brought about in the sixteenth century was in the highest degree necessary; and at the same time goes to refute the erroneous notion of the Catholics, that their communion is the most ancient" [Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Art. Mennonites.]
Is it not strange, that so many writers, friends and foes, priests, polemics, and historians, through so many ages, should persist in charging the Waldenses with being opposed to infant baptism, if all that time they were not only in the constant practice, but were the bold defenders of that rite? And the marvel is not lessened, when it is remembered, that these charges were made without concert, in different ages and countries, under widely differing circumstances and for various purposes; and that the Waldenses themselves, in none of their confessions and publications, should ever deny them; but, on the contrary, should so state their doctrines as to lead the most candid of every persuasion to believe that they were Baptists. Indeed, no point in their history, and no tenet in their creed are more clear and palpable than that they denied infant baptism. If this is not established by the proof we have adduced, then no fact in history can be established. Says Robinson,
"Admist all the productions of early writers, friends and foes, confessors of the whole truth and opposers of it, annalists, historians, recorders, inquisitors, and others, with the labored researchers of Usher, Newton, Allix, Collier, Wall, Perrin, Leger, Moreland, Mosheim, Maclaine, Gilly, Sims, and others-all of the Pedo-baptist persuasion, with every advantage of learning on their side-who collated councils, canons, synods, conferences, chronicles, decrees, bulls, sermons, homilies, confessions, creeds, liturgies, etc., from the private creed of Irenaeus down to the rules of Augsburg—who examined documents at home, and explored the territories abroad—their united labors could never produce a single dated document or testimony of pedo-baptism among the Vaudois, separate from the Romish community, from Novatians rupture to the death of the execrable monster, Alexander VI, 1503."
We have seen, in a former number, that even Perrin was constrained to admit, that for several hundred years, infant baptism was not practiced among the Waldneses. He has been followed by others in this admission, as well as in the strange explanation he gives, formerly noticed. A. MELLIN, a teacher of the Calvinists, who flourished in Holland near two centuries ago, says:
"That the children of the Waldenses were often pretty old before they were baptized, was not a voluntary act, but owing to a want of teachers, for with them the harvest was plenty, but the laborers few, who could administer the sacraments, and especially baptism, which they held in great estimation; now, since their ministers were scattered to and fro by the violence of persecution, or otherwise traveled into other countries for the purpose of inculcating their doctrine, the parents were necessitated to defer the baptism of their children, and thus it happened that their children were often almost of age before they received baptism" [Benedict, p. 75].
B. Lydius, a countryman, contemporary and fellow Calvinist with Mellin, translated Perrin, and endeavored to make it appear, that the Waldenses "deferred by baptism of their infants, not in consequence of their doctrine, but as a matter of necessity, from a want of teachers" [Benedict, ut supra].
In the third part of the History of the Waldenses, by Perrin and others, we have the following language:
"Thus were some relics and remains of the churches of the poor Waldenses preserved in the more mountainous parts of the marquisite until the year 1633, but without pastors or spiritual food for their poor souls, excepting some few ministers, who were from time to time sent to them incognito from the valley of Lucerne, who is small and very private assemblies did instruct, comfort and encourage as much as possible, there poor faithful, and baptized their children. Yet could not this be done every where without expressing both the minister and all his auditors to inevitable ruin; insomuch, that in the year 1633, when they completed their destruction, several of their children were baptized in said valley of Lucerne, at 18 and 20 years of age" [Perrin, p. 326].
These are miserable subterfuges to get rid of a plain and undeniable fact, that the children of the Waldenses were NOT baptized. The last story quoted above, is not at all consistent. In the beginning we are told, that it was the marquisite of Saluces which was "without pastors or spiritual food;" and that Lucerne was so abundantly blessed in these respects, that it supplied the wants of the hungry souls of the marquisite: and yet in conclusion, it is gravely narrated, that Lucerne was so destitute of preachers the same year, that the children there were not baptized until 18 or 20 years of age! The year that Lucerne sent preachers to the marquisite, there were children in Lucerne not baptized until they become men and women, for the want of preachers! "The legs of the lame are not equal."
This story refutes itself. And this is not the most curious matter in this narrative. According to our author, infant baptism among the Waldenses extended to persons 18 and 20 years of age!! The whole story is utterly incredible; and shows to what desperate extremities individuals are reduced, who attempt to prove that these ancient confessors were Pedo-baptists. It was not of necessity, but through choice, that the Waldenses did not baptize their children. Although some of them, as shown in our first article upon this subject, had departed from the paths of their fathers, alleging that their "barbs had led them into many and great errors and from the right way of true religion," and hence were induced by the Reformers to embrace infant baptism; yet that party was small and did not increase much until the great massacre about a hundred years after. The great body of the Waldenses, to the last, remained true to the doctrines of their fathers. Accordingly, nine years after the publication of the Angrogne Confession, viz: 1544, the Waldenses, while threatened with utter destruction by their persecutors, to remove the prejudices against them and to prevent all misapprehensions of their sentiments, transmitted to the king of France a Confession of Faith, in the 7th article of which, they say:
"We believe that in the ordinance of baptism, the water is the visible and external sign which represents to us that which, by virtue of Gods invisible operation, is within us — viz: the renovation of our minds and the mortification of our members through Jesus Christ. And by this ordinance we are received into the holy congregation of Gods people, previously professing and declaring our faith and change of life" [Jones, p. 335].
This is no Pedo-baptist Confession of Faith. It lays the axe at the root of infant baptism. Such people could not have their children baptized, without removing this solemn declaration of their faith. This, then, is the true reason that they were not baptized; and not that their ministers were never at home. And they remained true to this doctrine. Hence, in this very third part of the History of the Waldenses, and even before that wonderful baptism of infants 18 and 20 years of age, above alluded to, there is a Waldensian Confession of Faith, put forth in the year 1655. In that it is declared:
"That God has gathered together a church in this world for the salvation of mankind, but she has but one head and foundation, which is Jesus Christ; that this church is the company of the faithful, who being elected of God before the foundation of the world, and called by a holy vocation, are united together to follow the word of God, believing that which he teaches, and living in fear. —That he has instituted the sacrament of baptism for a testimony of our adoption, and that we are washed from our sins in the blood of Jesus Christ, and renewed in sanctity of life" [Perrin, p. 295].
The man must be blind, knowing nothing, who cannot perceive in this, a sufficient explanation of the conduct of the Waldenses in not baptizing their infants. And this creed was no novelty among them. In reference to it, Peyran says, "This our professed faith we have not received from Waldo of Lyons, nor from Luther, nor from Calvin; but we have inherited it from the earliest times from our forefathers, who had received it in like manner from their ancestors, as is evident from various confessions presented to our princes" [Peyran, p. 465].
The great body of them maintained their Baptist sentiments to the last. A few years after the promulgation of this creed, the last bloody crusade was commenced against them. They were massacred by thousands. Their mountains and valleys were stained with their blood. Neither age nor sex was any protection against the fury of their bigotted and blood-thirsty enemies. Their houses and fields were consumed by fire, their whole country made a desolation, and the people who escaped the sword were driven into exile. These poor, persecuted disciples, with their families and dependents, were kindly received in the several Protestant countries of Europe. The most of them settled down in those countries, and have in the lapse of years entirely lost their identity. Three years after this expulsion from their country, in 1689, some of them about Geneva resolved in return to the homes of their ancestors. They had for three years been under the government and ministry of the Presbyterians; and had fully embraced the doctrine and discipline of John Calvin. They had learned, too, that it was right to wield the sword temporal in defense of and in conjunction with the sword spiritual. 800 or 900 men, equipped with arms and ammunition, set out from Geneva to force their way back to their native valleys and mountains. M. Arnaud, a Presbyterian Minister, seems to have been their leader and commander. They marched as an army, and not as a church. Their historian says, that having crossed the lake of Geneva, they "divided their whole company into three bodies, viz: the van guard, corps de battaile, and a rear guard; according to the ordinary method of regular troops, which the Vaudois always observed in their marches" [Perrin, p. 402]. Nor was their mode of procedure characterized for the greatest lenity, although many allowances must be made from the fact, that they were urged on by the most powerful motives of self-preservation. Of their first days movements, we read: "The same knight who gave the alarm, advancing with his pistol in hand towards our people, M. Arnaud with the seur Turel and six fusileers, went after him; but he was so quick in turning tail, that he escaped by flight from a musket shot which was discharged at him." They ordered the inhabitants of a town to lay down their arms and grant them a passage, or else they would destroy them "with fire and sword." "After which they took for hostages the governor of Nernier, with Messrs. de Condrees and de Foray, gentlemen of the country."
They captured four gentlemen of Savoy, "and obliged them to alight from their horses and to march on foot as prisoners at the head of the troop." They took others the same day, and made them "serve as guides, threatening to hang them on the first tree if they did not acquit themselves faithfully." They made their prisoners write the following note to the towns through which they had to pass—it abounds with falsehoods:
"These gentlemen [Vaudois] arrived here to the number of 2000, they desired us to accompany them, that we might be able to give an account of their conduct; and we can assure you, that it is very orderly; they pay for whatever they take, and desire only free passage; therefore, we desire you not to ring the alarm-bell, nor to beat the drum, and to withdraw your people in case they are up in arms" [Ib., p. 403].
During the first day also, several peasants were shot, to prevent the news of their march spreading. At night, "they made the hostages write on another billet to the town of St. Soyre, through which they were to pass in a little time." At Marui, having "taken the brothers of Georges, they released the two hostages they had taken at Boerge," retaining, however, the other gentlemen as prisoners. And thus closed the first days journey of this church—"terrible as an army with banners!"
The second days journey was on the Sabbath. They resolved to force their way through the town of Chuse, and declared, if the people resisted, that their prisoners should be put to death. This induced one of the prisoners to write to the townsmen to make no resistance. As the bearers were carrying this letter, they met two "gentlemen of distinction coming out of the town to capitulate. They detained them; and at their request sent back the letter with a Vaudois officer: when that officer was in the town, they demanded their order, who boldly answered, it was at the point of his sword." They were suffered to pass through. "M. Arnaud perceiving that there were no guards at the gates, placed one at the gate through which they defiled that he might be so much the more secure of the inhabitants. As they were thus defiling, M. de la Rochette advanced to invite some of the officers to dine with him, from which they excused themselves; and having insensibly drawn him out of the town, they told him they expected five loads of wine, and five hundred weight of bread. He presently wrote a billet to his father, who immediately sent them a ton of wine, and as much bread as they needed. Several of them eat and drank, and others, seeing that it too much retarded their march, flung the ton into the river, to the great displeasure of others, who would have been glad to quench their thirst with it. — M. Arnaud paid five louis dors, [about 22 dollars!] with which the inhabitants seemed well pleased. — When they were about to march, M. de la Rochette and M. de Rides would have returned, under pretense of going to mass, but they carried them away" [Perrin, pp. 404,405].
Thus this army, for a church of Christ it was not, proceeded in their journey towards their country. Every days march was marked by violence, perfidy, and blood, of which the preceding examples afford but a specimen. Having arrived at their former homes, their cruelty and inhumanity were manifested in the most revolting manner. When they took any of the enemy, they put them to death. "They no sooner entered upon their own lands, but whoever fell into their hands, whether the popish peasants who had usurped their possessions, the soldiers or the militia of his royal highness who opposed them, or those revolters who, abjuring their religion, became persecutors, but they cut them in pieces, and some, as it may seem, even in cool blood" [p. 419]. They murdered women and children, and pillaged and destroyed all before them. [p. 420]. This was done, too, in the name of religion! They entered into a solemn league and covenant, as follows:
"God, by divine grace, having happily brought us back into the heritage of our fathers, to re-establish the pure service of our holy religion, by continuing and finishing the great enterprise which the great God of hosts has hitherto so divinely prospered; we the pastors, captains and other officers [strange church officers!] do swear and promise before the living God, as we would avoid the damnation of our souls, to keep union and order amongst ourselves; not to separate or disunite as long as it shall please God to preserve our lives; and though we should have the misfortune to see ourselves reduced to three or four, never to parley or treat with our enemies, either of France or Piedmont, without the concurrence of all our council of war: and to lay together the plunder which we have or shall take, to be used according as the need of our people and extraordinary occasions shall require. And we the soldiers do this day promise and swear before God, that we will be obedient to the orders of all our officers; and do with all our hearts swear fidelity to the last drop of our blood; that we will put the prisoners and the plunder into their hands, to dispose of them as they shall think fit. For better regulation, all officers and soldiers are forbidden, under great penalties, to rifle any of the dead, wounded or prisoners, during or after engagements, except those who shall be commissioned for that purpose. The officers are enjoined to take care that all the soldiers preserve their arms and ammunition, and especially to chastise most severely those among them who shall swear and blaspheme the holy name of God. And to the end that union, which is the very soul of our affairs, may always remain unshaken amongst us, the officers swear fidelity to the soldiers, and the soldiers to the officers, promising moreover all of them together unto our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to pluck, as much as it shall be possible for us, the rest of our brethren out of cruel Babylon, to re-establish and maintain his kingdom with them, even unto death, and faithfully to observe the present regulation all our life long" [Perrin, pp. 420,421].
But enough:—it is unnecessary to enter further into these details. This army was successful in re-capturing their country, and in being taken again into the favor of their prince. This army was the foundation of the present Vaudois church. Need we pause and mark the differences between it and the churches of the Waldenses? The battle array, the blood, perfidy and pillage which attended the return of these exiles to the homes of their fathers, unerringly stamp them, in spirit, temper and religion, another and a distinct people from those meek and humble disciples of the Savior, who "when reviled, reviled not again," and who bore with patience and resignation the cruel persecutions which they underwent for centuries. The Waldenses, it is notorious, were averse to bearing arms, and thought it sinful for a Christian to be a soldier. Their notions of oaths, too, would have forbidden their subscribing to the league and covenant just quoted. However, then, we may admire and approve of the patriotism of this Vaudois army; and however wonderful their courage and success; still we can never recognize them as the representatives of the Waldensian spirit and faith. They had learned their principles from other teachers than the "barbs;" their notions of establishing truth and suppressing error were never derived from Bruis or Waldo. They were evidently of Genevan origin. It was from thence they learned that religion was to be sustained by the sword. In short, these soldiers were led by a Presbyterian minister. They had adopted Presbyterian peculiarities. Henceforward a close and constant correspondence was kept up between them and the church of Geneva. To the Genevan Colleges they sent their young ministers for education. They adopted the liturgy of Calvin; and became, in many important particulars, wholly unlike their ancestors according to the flesh.
It is childish, then;—it is to set at defiance all history and to discard the plainest matters of fact, to urge that the Vaudois are in every thing the same people, religiously, that the Waldenses were. No man, having before him but the meager facts hastily collated above, can fail to perceive the points of difference, or to recognize the period of time when the Vaudois deflected from the customs of their fathers. The Scotch, under the lead of John Knox, might just as well be called the spiritual descendants of the Waldenses, as the Vaudois commanded by M. Arnaud. Because the Vaudois are Pedo-baptists, does not militate in the least against the position, that the Waldenses were Baptists.
But we cannot close this article, without noticing another remark of the venerable Dr. Miller. He says: "It is perfectly plain,—that they [the Waldenses] baptized by sprinkling or effusion" [Perrin, p. 3]. He quotes no authority for this statement: and we are quite sure, that neither in any writings of their own, or in those of their enemies, prior to the Reformation, exists there one line or syllable to sustain this assertion. The Episcopalian bishop of Kentucky has justly remarked, that "sprinkling is strictly of Genevan origin." Dr. Wall says, that the office or liturgy drawn by Calvin for the church of Geneva, is "the first in the world that prescribes affusion absolutely" [Hist. of Infant Baptism, Vol. 2, p. 400]. He tells us, that it was the Presbyterians who "reformed the font into a basin" [Ib. 403]. He declares, that "all those countries, in which the usurped power of the Pope is, or has formerly been owned, have left off dipping of children in the font: but that all other countries in the world (which had never regarded his authority) do still use it." Dr. Wall is high authority. He testifies that only those who once acknowledged the authority of the Pope of Rome, practice sprinkling or affusion. The Waldenses never acknowledged his authority, and consequently did not practice affusion or sprinkling. Dr. Wall sufficiently answers Dr. Miller.
Here we bring our remarks to a close. That the Waldenses were Baptists is evident from the declarations of priests, prelates, popes, and councils, their enemies and persecutors: from the creeds and other accredited documents of the Waldenses themselves: from the notorious fact, acknowledged by Perrin and all candid and well informed men, that for several hundred years before the Reformation their children were not baptized: and from the concessions of many of the best informed writers and historians among Protestant Pedo-baptists. Nothing in all history is better sustained. It is as certain that they were Baptist, as that there was such a people as the Waldenses who were persecuted during many ages, for the witness of Jesus and the word of God. DWC
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