committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

 

Chapter 11

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 people."

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 religion.

"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.

 
 
The Reformed Reader Home Page 


Copyright 1999, The Reformed Reader, All Rights Reserved