SEVEN HUNDRED TO EIGHT HUNDRED A. D.
A True Light Amidst Gross Darkness
Although it is commonly believed that the
Roman Catholic church held complete sway over the world through the dark ages,
yet it is a fact that never in any century did the apostate church hold sway
over the actions and consciences of all believers, but that there were always
men and women of the true faith, a remnant indeed, but a remnant, who never
acknowledged the popish religion.
Milner says: "The despotism of Antichrist was
then [786 A.D.] so far from being universal, that it was not owned throughout
Italy itself. In some parts of that country, as well as in England and France,
the purity of Christian worship was still maintained." -- Townsend's
Abridgment, p. 361.
Sacho admits that the Waldenses flourished at least
five hundred years before the time of Peter Waldo.
"The messengers of God who carried the
manuscripts from the churches of Judea to the churches of northern Italy and on,
brought to the forerunners of the Waldenses a Bible different from the Bible of
Roman Catholicism." -- Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, p. 31.
"The method which Allix has pursued in his
History of the Churches of Piedmont, is to show that in the ecclesiastical
history of every century, from the fourth, which he considers a period early
enough for the enquirer after apostolic purity of doctrine, there are clear
proofs that doctrines unlike those which the Roman church holds, and conformable
to the belief of the Waldensian and Reformed churches, were maintained by
theologians of the north of Italy down the period when the Waldenses first came
into notice. Consequently the opinions of the Waldenses were not new to Europe
in the eleventh or twelfth centuries, and there is nothing improbable in the
tradition, that the Subalpine Church persevered in its integrity in an
uninterrupted course from the first preaching of the Gospel in the
valleys." -- Gilly, Waldensian Researches, pp. 118, 119.
"The Waldenses were among the first of the
people of Europe to obtain before the Reformation, the possession of the Bible
in Manuscript of their native tongue. They had the truth unadulterated, and this
rendered them the special objects of hatred and persecutions. . . . Here for a
thousand years, witnesses for the truth maintained the ancient faith . . . in a
most wonderful manner it (the Word of Truth) was preserved through all ages of
darkness." -- Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, p. 42.
Grantz, in his history of the United Brethren,
speaks of them as follows, "These ancient Christians date their origin from
the beginning of the fourth century."
"Neither the prevailing corruptions of that
[the Roman] church, nor the arrogant claims of its successive popes, were
implicitly allowed by all the other bishops and churches, even in Italy
itself." -- Jones' Church History, p. 190.
Dr. Allix says, "We have found a body of men in
Italy before the year 1026, who believed contrary to the opinions of the church
of Rome, and who highly condemned their errors." -- Idem, p. 218.
"That the Waldensian faith and worship existed
many centuries before Protestantism arose is undeniable; the proofs and
monuments of this fact lie scattered over all Europe; but the antiquity of the
Waldenses is the antiquity of Protestantism. The Church of the Reformation was
in the loins of the Waldensian church ages before the birth of Luther; her first
cradle was placed amid these terrors and sublimities, those ice-clad peaks and
great bulwarks of rock. In their dispersions over so many lands over France, the
Low Countries, Germany, Poland, Bohemia, Moravia, England, Calabria, Naples, --
the Waldenses sowed the seeds of the great spiritual revival which, beginning
with the days of Wycliffe, and advancing in the times of Luther and Calvin,
awaits its full consummation in the ages to come." -- Wylie, History of the
Waldenses, pp. 24, 25.
Between the years of 700 and 800 A.D., Hugh Smith
says, in his history of the church, page 232, "Many British missionaries
crossed the ocean (the English Channel), and penetrated into the gloomy recesses
of the German forests for the instruction of the fierce and uncivilized
Charlemagne, emperor of Rome, called a council of
300 bishops, 794 A.D., to consider the subject of images in the churches, and
some other matters. The first teaching of transubstantiation appeared during
this century in the teaching of the Roman church, says Hugh Smith, page 222.
How Rome sought to extirpate the true faith by the
sword of the legions of Charlemagne, is told in the following extract from the
history of Orchard:
"In 789, Charles the Great resolved to subdue
the Saxons or destroy them, unless they accepted of life on the condition of
professing the Christian religion agreeably to the Roman ritual. On pain of
death the Saxons, with their infant offspring, were to receive baptism. Germany
in time was subdued, and religious liberty destroyed. The king took an oath of
fidelity of them and received pledges for the fulfillment of his stipulations.
In this way the religious privileges of these and other nations were infringed
on, and by these and similar means Christianity, under state patronage, made
rapid progress for ages, as detailed in the works of hierarchists. To make the
conversion of these people accord with the gospel record, apostles were sent to
them, but the Germans were exceedingly jealous of such commissioned ministers of
"These apostles of Rome preached
trine-immersion, but said nothing of infants. Success attended the imperial
commands; other kingdoms were visited in virtue of the same authority, and
converted from fear of the carnal weapon. The evidence of their complete
conversion was made apparent by their baptism. Wooden tubs and other uten-sils
were placed in the open air, and the new converts with their children were
immersed naked into the profession of Christianity. This indelicacy in the mode
originated with the advocates of minor baptism as already shown: it has never
been practiced in Baptist communities. This mandate of Charles is the first
legal authority for infant baptism, and we ask if the mental character must not
have been exceedingly low, to enforce such terms of denudation on the female
portion of candidates. We repudiate the charge, and leave the blot on those who
were guilty of the practice.
"The wilds and forests of Germany would prove
asylums to dissenters through the rise and assumption of the man of sin. That
Germany was inhabited by persons of this description is evident, and that such
persons must have been very active in disseminating the truth becomes plain,
since it is recorded that the Baptist itinerant preachers, could in their
travels, pass, during the ninth century through the whole German empire, and
lodge every night at the house of one of their friends. It is very probable
these traveling ministers were Paulicians or Paterines from Bulgaria or Italy.
They were termed by Catholics anabaptist preachers. Their sentiments of religion
are learned, and their views of the ordinances proved, from their confession of
faith, which asserts, `In the beginning of Christianity there was no baptizing
of children; and their forefathers practiced no such thing'; and, `We do from
our hearts acknowledge that baptism is a washing, which is performed with water,
and doth hold out the washing of the soul from sin.'" -- Orchard's Baptist
History, pp. 322, 323.
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