SIX HUNDRED TO SEVEN HUNDRED A.D.
The Church of God Scattered Abroad
We shall now trace the general dispersion of the Church of God as she was scattered throughout the various countries of Europe and Asia, during the 1260 years of her wilderness experience. We find the identification of the true church, both by the name and doctrine, scattered from Palestine to Spain, and from the Piedmont valley of Italy to Scotland, Ireland and England.
As has already been shown that the people honoring the true faith, and bearing the Scriptural name, were called by the world, Waldenses, Vaudois, Henricians, Catharists, Puritans, Bougres, Paulicans, Publicans, Lombardists, Albigenses, and also other names from leading preachers among them, and from countries from which they would be expelled; but they disowned these names, calling themselves the Church of God.
The following extracts from numerous writers will further the facts that this work has set out to show, viz., that the true church, with the true name, and doctrine has been preserved by the power of heaven, and fed by our Lord in the wilderness as He said, for the prophetic period of 1260 years, given in Revelation 12 to 14.
"Indeed, from the borders of Spain, throughout the greatest part of the south of France, among and below the Alps, along the Rhine, and even to Bohemia, thousands of the disciples of Christ, as will hereafter be shown, were found, even in the very worst of times, preserving the faith in its purity, adhering to the simplicity of Christian worship, patiently bearing the cross after Christ, men distinguished by their fear of God and obedience to His will, and persecuted only for righteousness' sake," -- Jones' Church History, p. 187.
In Hugh Smith's history of the seventh century, we find the statement on page 191, as follows: "Missionaries from Britain, Scotland, and Ireland traveled into Germany with the design of propagating or preserving Christianity."
This historian further says, on page 201, "The year 692 Justinian II, called the sixth general council to convene at Constantinople, as an imperial order from Rome." He says, "This council among various regulations of discipline was so favorable to the marriages of the clergy as to decree that the separation of those of clerical order, who were already married, from their wives was contrary to the command of Christ. It condemned the Saturdays."
We note that in this century there were so many Christians observing Saturday Sabbath that this council also found it necessary to legislate against it.
The true Church of God is further identified at this time by the following: "The Paulicians were undoubtedly the most numerous sect of this century (600 to 700 A.D.). According to the opinion of some celebrated writers this sect was thus named from their attachments of its professors to the Apostle Paul. The names of the apostolic churches were applied to their congregations. The teachers were distinguished by their Scriptural names, by their zeal and knowledge, and by the austerity and simplicity of their lives. They were, however, soon involved in the horrors of persecution. Under the reign of Theodore, one hundred thousand were extirpated." -- Hugh Smith's Church History, pp. 216, 207.
He says further that they "spread westward, and disseminated a secret through powerful discontent among the pious against the church of Rome, and settled in Bulgaria, Italy, and in the southern provinces of France among the Albigeois." These Christians were called after their settlements. These names by which they are commonly known, however, are only terms applied to them by the world, for the Albigenses were the same sect as the Waldenses, who were known among themselves by the Bible name, the "Church of God."
In the seventh century the true Christians were compelled to continue their flight from country to country, fleeing from before the persecutions of the rising papal power.
In the end of the preceding century, Pope Gregory had operated upon society to the detriment of the true people of God. This pope wrote to two African bishops, requiring them to exert themselves in every possible way to suppress their opponents, who dared to differ with them. In the beginning of the seventh century, it is presumed, these people "of whom the world was not worthy," emigrated into Spain and Italy, from the Asiatic countries, and mingled with the pagans in the interior, and worshiped the Redeemer as opportunities afforded. "From their conduct in assembling in caves and dens of mountains to worship, they obtained the name Montenses, i.e., mountaineers." -- Orchard, History of the Baptists, pp. 101, 102.
"The Nonconformists continued to be dispersed all over the empire, and had trusted to Providence for liberty to worship. Their history is large, and has proved difficult to many. Their clergy were always troublesome, but never attempted their conversion. Some emperors had been indifferent to them, others had cherished them, others had persecuted them." -- Idem, p. 126.
"We have authentic evidence in the writings of the Apostle Paul that he preached the gospel of Christ in Illyricum, and that Titus visited Dalmatia; hence the Bohemians infer that the gospel was preached in all the countries of Sclavonia in the first ages of Christianity. They say also that Jerome, who was a native of Stridon, a city of Dalmatia, translated the Scriptures into his native tongue (about 378), and that all the nations of Sclavonian extraction, the Poles, the Hungarians, the Russians, the Wallachians, the Bohemians, and the Vaudois, use this translation to this day." -- Idem, p. 230.
"Their enemies confirm their great antiquity. Reinerius Saccho, an inquisitor, and one of their most implacable enemies, who lived only eighty years after Waldo, admits that the Waldenses flourished five hundred years before that preacher (600 A.D.), Gretzer, the Jesuit, who also wrote against the Waldenses, and had examined the subject fully, not only admits their great antiquity, but declares his firm belief that the Toulousians and Albigenses . . . were no other than Waldenses.' In fact, their doctrine, discipline, government, manners, and even the errors with which they have been charged [by the Catholics], show that the Albigenses and Waldenses were distinct branches of the same sect, or that the former sprang from the latter." -- Dr. Rankin's History of France, vol. III, p. 198, 202; Jones' Church History, p. 233.
"The soil, touched by the plow of the Vaudois (Waldenses), seemed to feel a charm that made it open its bosom and yield a tenfold increase. The vine tended by Vaudois hands bore richer clusters, and strove in generous rivalry with the fig and the olive to outdo them in enriching with its produce the Vaudois board. And how delightful the quiet and order of their towns, and the air of happiness on the face of the people! And how sweet to listen to the bleating of the flocks on the hills, the lowing of the herds in the meadows, the song of the reaper and grape gatherer, and the merry voices of children at play around the hamlets and villages." -- Wylie, History of the Waldenses, p. 106.
In a confession of their faith, one of the members of the Waldenses stated their faith, "declaring that they proffered the doctrine contained in the Old and New Testaments and comprehended in the Apostles' Creed, and admitted the sacraments instituted by Christ, and the ten commandments, etc. . . . They said they had received this doctrine from their ancestors, and that if they were in any error they were ready to receive instruction from the word of God. . . ." -- Jones' Church History, p. 355, ed. 1837.
Theodore Beza, contemporary and colleague of Calvin, says, "As for the Waldenses, I may be permitted to call them the very seed of the primitive and purer Christian church." . . . "And as for their religion, they never adhered to papal superstitions. . . ." -- Idem, pp. 263, 264.
Reimer says, "The Waldenses were very ancient and date their belief and practice from 300 A.D., more ancient are they than Peter Waldo, the rich merchant of Lyons." -- Sismondi, History of the Crusades against Albigenses, London.
"In Languedoc, the Catholics affirmed that the origin of these heretics was recent and that they derived their name from Vaudois, or Waldenses, from Peter Waldo, one of their barbes, or preachers, whose immediate followers were called Waldenses. But this was rather the renovation of the name from a particular cause than its original. Accordingly it extended over that district only in France where Peter Waldo preached; for in other districts the people were branches of the same original sect, as in Dauphine, were from a noted preacher, called Josephists; in Languedoc they were called Henricians; and in other provinces, from Peter Bruys, were called Petrobrusians. Sometimes they received their name from their manners, as "Catharists" (Puritans), and, from the foreign country from whence it was presumed they had been expelled, they were called "Bulgarians," or Bougres. In Italy they were commonly called Fratricelle, that is, "man of the brotherhood," because they cultivated brotherly love among themselves, acknowledging one another as brethren in Christ. Sometimes they were denominated "Paulicians," and, by corruption of the word, "Paulicans," considering them as sprung from that ancient sect, which, in the seventh century, spread over Armenia and Thrace, and which, when persecuted by the Greek emperor, migrated into Europe, and mingled with the Waldenses in Piedmont. Sometimes they were named from the country or city in which they prevailed, as Lombardists, Toulousians, and Albigenses. These branches, however, sprang from one common stock, and were animated by the same religious and moral principles." -- Jones' Church History, p. 238.
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