A Brief Sketch of the Ancient Waldenses

The leading part of the notes (following) are extracts from the confessions of faith and other writings of the Waldenses, taken from Jones' church history. The first and second of these, appear to have been published about the year 1120 A. D., and the third in 1544 A. D.

"The Waldenses," says a late historian, "are, by all parties of protestants, considered to have been witnesses for the truth, through all the dark reign of superstition and error." And the Waldensian heresy, was, by the catholics, counted the oldest in the world, and the most formidable to the church of Rome. The papists accused the protestants of being a new sect; whose principles had no existence until the days of Luther. There was no alternative but to find a by-path through the land of the Waldenses. This circumstance induced many learned men of different communities, to investigate the history of this people, with more care and attention than it is any way likely they would otherwise have done. These researches have furnished us with important evidence, and it now appears plain, "that of all parties, the Baptists, have the best claim to the ancient Waldenses as their predecessors, as will be seen by the following extracts.

Luther, in 1533, published the confessions of the Waldenses, to which he wrote a preface. In this preface, he candidly acknowledges that "in the days of his popery, he hated the Waldenses, as persons who were consigned over to perdition. But having understood from their confessions and writings, the piety of their faith, he perceived that these good men had been greatly wronged. He adds "that among them, he found one thing worthy of admiration; that laying aside the doctrines of men, they meditated in the law of God, day and night - that they were well versed in the knowledge of the scriptures, and having read their confessions, he returned thanks to God, for the great light it had pleased him to bestow upon that people."

Theodore Beza says, "as for the Waldenses, I may be permitted to call them the very seed of the primitive and purer church. Time out of mind, they have opposed the abuses of the church of Rome. They still (1570) inhabit three countries at a great distance from each other, viz: Calabria, Bohemia, Piedmont, and the countries adjoining, where they dispersed themselves about two hundred and seventy years ago. As to their religion, they NEVER adhered to papal superstitions, for which reason they have been continually harassed by bishops and inquisitors, so that their continuance is evidently miraculous."

In 1530 Bullinger wrote as follows: "what shall we say, that for four hundred years and more in France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Bohemia and other countries throughout the world, the Waldenses, have sustained their profession of the gospel of Christ. In several of their writings as well as by continual preaching, they have accused the pope as the real Anti-Christ foretold by the Apostle John. They have constantly and openly given testimony to their faith by glorious martyrdoms, and still do so even to this day."

The great poet Milton, in a tract addressed to the British Parliament, says: "Those most ancient reformed churches, the Waldenses, if they continued not pure since the apostles' days, denied that tithes were to be given, or that they were ever given in the primitive church. Considering that the church of Christ was founded in poverty rather than revenues; stood purest, and prospered best without them, I persuade myself, that thence, the ancient Waldenses, whom I deservedly cite so often, held, that to endow churches is an evil thing."

Mosheim, speaking of Peter de Bruis, a celebrated Waldensian itinerant preacher, says: "It is certain, that one of his tenets was, that no persons whatever were to be baptized before they were come to the full use of their reason."

Dr. Wall, speaking of the Petrobrussians, whom he calls a sect of the Waldenses, says: "They did reckon infant baptism one of the corruptions of the church of Rome; and accordingly renounced it, and practiced only adult baptism."

Everninus says: "They do not believe infant baptism to be a duty, alleging that passage of the gospel, whosoever shall believe and be baptized shall be saved." Letter to St. Bernard, A. D. 1140.

Dr. Allix says: "Many of them were examined by Gerhard, bishop of Cambray and Arras, upon several heads, in the year A. D. 1025. Let things have been as they would, it is plain they were utterly against infant baptism."

"The true origin of that sect" says Mosheim, "which acquired the name of anabaptist, by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion; and derived the name of Mennonites from the famous man to whom they owe the greatest part of their present felicity, is hid in the remote depths of antiquity. Before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay concealed in almost all the countries of Europe, persons who had adhered tenaciously to the principles of the modern Dutch Baptists."

"To speak candidly, what I think," says Limborch, "of all the modern sects of Christians, the Dutch Baptists, most resemble both the Albigenses and the Waldenses."

Dr. Charles Buck says: "There were Baptists among the Albigenses, Waldenses and the followers of Wickliffe." (Note: Wickliffe was born in Yorkshire, England, 1324. The reformation commenced by Luther, at Wittemburg, Saxony, in 1517.

A history of the Dutch Baptists was published at Breda, in 1819, by Dr. Ypeij (professor of Theology at Gronigen) and Rev. J. J. Dermot, (Chaplain to the King of the Netherlands), both learned pedobaptists, in which they say, "We have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses, and who long in the history of the church, have received the honor of that origin. On this account, the Baptists may be considered the only christian community that has stood since the days of the apostles; and as a christian society, which has preserved pure, the doctrine of the gospel through all the ages. At the same time it goes to confute the erroneous notion of the catholics, that their communion is the most ancient."

- Albert Moore, from the Introduction of "Ancient Landmarks; Being an Abridgement of the Century, or Philadelphia Confession of Faith," Nashville, 1848.

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