WHILE Constantine's purchased
converts, and the superficial-minded multitude followed the popular
church, there were many honest, Godfearing Christians, who resented this
sinful compromise with paganism; and, when they saw that all their
protests were useless, they withdrew to places where they could more
freely follow their conscience and bring up their children away from the
contamination of the fallen church, which they looked upon as the
"Babylon" of Revelation 17. Several hundred Sabbathkeeping
Christian churches were established in southern India, and some were
found even in China. Likewise the original Celtic Church in England,
Scotland, and Ireland kept the seventh-day Sabbath. St. Patrick, Columba,
and the churches they established kept the seventh day.
The majority of these original
Christians settled, however, in the Alps, a place naturally suited for
their protection, being situated where Switzerland, France, and Italy
join. They could, therefore, more easily get protection in one or
another of these countries, as it would be harder for the Papacy to get
joint action of all these countries in case of persecution. Then, too,
these mountains were so steep and high, the valleys so narrow, and the
passes into them so difficult, that it would seem as though God had
prepared this hiding place for His true church and truth during the Dark
Ages. William Jones says:
"Angrogna, Pramol, and S.
Martino are strongly fortified by nature on account of their many
difficult passes and bulwarks of rocks and mountains; as if the
all-wise Creator, says Sir Samuel Morland, had, from the beginning,
designed that place as a cabinet, wherein to put some inestimable
jewel, or in which to reserve many thousand souls, which should not
bow the knee before Baal."–"History of the Christian
Church," Vol. I, p. 356, third ed. London:1818.
Sophia V. Bompiani, in "A
Short History of the Italian Waldenses" (New York:1897), quotes
from several unquestionable authorities to show that the Waldenses,
after having withdrawn to the Alps because of persecution, fully
separated from the Roman church under the work of Vigilantius Leo, the
Leonist of Lyons, who vigorously protested against the many false
doctrines and practices that had been adopted by the Church. Jerome (A.
D. 403-406) wrote a very cutting book against him in which he says:
"'That monster called
Vigilantius . . . has escaped to the region where King Coffins
reigned, between the Alps and the waves of the Adriatic. From thence
he has cried out against me, and, ah, wickedness! there he has found
bishops who share his crime.'" Sophia V. Bompiani then remarks:
"This region, where King Cottius reigned, once a part of
Cisalpine Gaul, is the precise country of the Waldenses. Here Leo, or
Vigilantius, retired for safety from persecution, among a people
already established there of his own way of thinking, who received him
as a brother, and who thenceforth for several centuries were sometimes
called by his name [Leonists]. Here, shut up in the Alpine valleys,
they handed down through the generations the doctrines and practices
of the primitive church, while the inhabitants of the plains of Italy
were daily sinking more and more into the apostasy foretold by the
Apostles"–"A Short History of the Italian Waldenses,"
pp. 8, 9. "The ancient emblem of the Waldensian church is a
candlestick with the motto, Lux lucet in tenebris ['The light shineth
in darkness']. A candlestick in the oriental imagery of the Bible is a
church, and this church had power from God to prophesy in sackcloth
and ashes twelve hundred and sixty days or symbolic years"–Id.,
Dr. W. S. Gilly, an English
clergyman, after much research, wrote a book entitled: "Vigilantius
and His Times," giving the same information. Roman Catholic writers
try to evade the apostolic origin of the Waldenses, so as to make it
appear that the Roman is the only apostolic church, and that all others
are later novelties. And for this reason they try to make out that the
Waldenses originated with Peter Waldo of the twelfth century.
Dr. Peter Allix
"Some Protestants, on this
occasion, have fallen into the snare that was set for them. . . It is
absolutely false, that these Churches were ever founded by Peter Waldo
.... It is a pure forgery."–"Ancient Church of
Piedmont," pp. 192. Oxford:1821.
"It is not true, that Waldo
gave this name to the inhabitants of the valleys; they were called
Waldenses, or Vaudes, before his time, from the valleys in which they
dwelt"–Id., p. 182. On the other hand, he "was called
Valdus, or Waldo, because he received his religious notions from the
inhabitants of the valleys"–"History of the Christian
Church," William Jones, Vol. II, p. 2. See also Sir Samuel
Morland's "History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of
Piedmont," pp. 29, 30.
Henri Arnaud, a leading pastor
among the Waldenses, says:
Their proper name, Vallenses, is
derived from the Latin word vallis, and not,
as has been insinuated, from Valdo, a merchant of
Lyons"–"The Glorious Recovery by the Vaudois," Henri
Arnaud, p. xiii. London:1827. The Roman Inquisitor, Reinerus Sacho,
writing about 1230 A. D., says:
"The heresy of the Vaudois,
or poor people of Lyons, is of great antiquity. Among all sects that
either are, or have been, there is none more dangerous to the Church,
than that of the Leonists, and that for three reasons; the first is,
because it is the sect of the longest standing of any; for some say
that it has been continued down ever since the time of Pope Sylvester;
and others, ever since that of the apostles. The second is, because it
is the most general of all sects; for scarcely is there any country to
be found where this sect hath not spread itself. And the third,
because it has the greatest appearance of piety; because, in the sight
of all, these men are just and honest in their transactions, believe
of God what ought to be believed, receive all the articles of the
Apostles' Creed, and only profess to hate the Church of
Rome"–Quoted on page 22 of William Stephen Gilly's
"Excursion,'' fourth edition. London:1827.
Now it must be clear as the
noonday sun, that Reinerus would not have written as he did, if the
Waldenses had originated with Peter Waldo, only seventy-five years
before; nor could Waldo's followers have multiplied and spread over the
whole world in so short a time, under great persecution, and with so
slow means of travel.
Henri Arnaud, a Waldensian
pastor, says of their origin:
"Neither has their church
been ever reformed, whence arises its title of Evangelic. The Vaudois
are, in fact, descended from those refugees from Italy who, after St.
Paul had there preached the gospel, abandoned their beautiful country
and fled, like the woman mentioned in the Apocalypse, to these wild
mountains, where they have to this day handed down the gospel from
father to son in the same purity and simplicity as it was preached by
St. Paul"–"The Glorious Recovery by the Vaudois," p.
xiv of preface by the Author, translated by Acland. London:1827.
The Waldensian Faith
The Waldenses took the Bible as
their only rule of faith, abhorred the idolatry of the papal church, and
rejected their traditions, holidays, and even
Sunday, but kept the seventh-day
Sabbath, and used the apostolic mode of baptism. (See "Ancient
Churches of Piedmont," by P. Allix, pp. 152-260.) Their old
catechism shows that they believed in justification by faith in the
grace of Christ alone, and that obedience to the Ten Commandments was
the sure fruit of living faith:
"Q.–By what means do we
hope for grace?
A.–By the Mediator Jesus Christ ....
"Q.–What is a living
A.–That which worketh by charity.
Q.–What is a dead faith?
A.–According to St. James, that faith which is without works, is
"Q.–By what means canst
thou know that thou believest in God?
A.–By this, because I know that I have given myself to the
observation of the commandments of God.
Q.–How many commandments of God
A.–Ten, as it appeareth in Exodus and Deuteronomy ....
Q.–Upon what do all these
commandments depend? A.–Upon the two great commandments, that is to
say: Thou shalt love God above all things, and thy neighbor as
thyself"–"Waldenses," Perrin, Part III, Book I, pp.
1-10. (1624 A.D.) "The Glorious Recovery by the Vaudois,"
Henri Arnaud, pp. xcvi, xcvii, cv. London:1827.
Dr. Peter Allix quotes the
following from a Roman Catholic author:
"'They say that blessed Pope
Sylvester was the Antichrist, of whom mention is made in the Epistles
of St. Paul, as being the son of perdition, who extols himself above
everything that is called God; for, from that time, they say, the
Church perished.' . . .
"He lays it down also as one
of their opinions; 'That the Law of Moses is to be kept according to
the letter, and that the keeping .of the Sabbath, circumcision, and
other legal observances, ought to take place"–"Ancient
Churches of Piedmont,'' p. 169 (page 154, edition of 1690).
In regard to the accusation that
the Waldenses practiced circumcision, Mr. Benedict truthfully says:
"The account of their
practicing circumcision is undoubtedly a slanderous story, forged by
their enemies, and probably arose in this way, because they observed
the seventh day they were called, by way of derision, Jews, as the
Sabbatarians are frequently at this day, and if they were Jews, it
followed, of course, that they either did, or ought to, circumcise
their followers."– ''General History of the Baptist
Denomination," Vol. II, p. 414, edition of 1813.
That this was exactly the way
this slander was fastened on Sabbath-keepers, we can see from the
"Epistle" written against them by Pope Gregory I (A. D.
590-604), in which he says:
"It has come to my ears that
certain men of perverse spirit have sown among you some things that
are wrong and opposed to the holy faith, so as to forbid any work
being done on the Sabbath day .... "For, if any one says that
this about the Sabbath is to be kept, he must needs say that carnal
sacrifices are to be offered, he must say, too, that the commandment
about the circumcision of the body is still to be retained."–
"Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers" (Second Series), Vol. XIII,
Book 13, epist. 1, p. 92. New York:1898.
Going back to Judaism was
considered by the Roman Catholic Church as one of the most serious
heresies, punishable with death. And any one at all familiar with the
tactics of Romanists knows that it has been a practice, only too common
among them, to blacken the character of those whom they would destroy,
so as to justify their destruction. Dr. Peter Allix says: "It is no
great sin with the Church of Rome to spread lies concerning those that
are enemies of the faith .... There is nothing more common with the
Romish party, than to make use of the most horrid calumnies to blacken
and expose those who have renounced her communion .... Calumny is a
trade the Romish party is perfectly well versed in"–"Ancient
Church of Piedmont," pp. 224, 225. (Pages 205, 206 in edition of
1690.) William Jones says:
"Louis XII King of France,
being informed by the enemies of the Waldenses, inhabiting a part of
the province of Province, that several heinous crimes were laid to
their account, sent the Master of Requests, and a certain doctor of
the Sorbonne, who was confessor to his majesty, to make inquiry into
this matter. On their return, they reported that they had visited all
the parishes where they dwelt, had inspected their places of worship,
but that they had found there no images, nor signs of the ornaments
belonging to the mass, nor any of the ceremonies of the Romish church;
much less could they discover any traces of those crimes with which
they were charged. On the contrary, 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. The King having heard the report of his
commissioners, said with an oath that they were better men than
himself or his people"–"History of the Christian
Church," Vol. 2, pp. 71, 72, third edition. London:1818.
Names Of The Waldenses
John P. Perrin of Lyons writes of
how the Waldenses went under different names, either from the territory
in which they lived, or from the name of the missionary they had sent to
that country. He says:
"First therefore they called
them . . . Waldenses; of the countries of Albi, Albigeois [Albigenses]
.... "And from one of the disciples of Waldo, called Ioseph
[Joseph], who preached in Dauphiney in the diocesse of Dye, they were
called Iosephists [Josephites] .... "Of one of their pastors who
preached in Albegeois, named Arnold Hot, they were called Arnoldists
.... "And because they observed no other day of rest but the
Sabbath dayes, they called them Insabathas, as much as to say, as they
observed no Sabbath. "And because they were alwayes exposed to
continuall sufferings, from the Latin word Pati, which signifieth to
suffer, they called them Patareniens. "And for as much as like
poore passengers, they wandered from one place to another, they were
called Passagenes,"–"Luther's Fore-Runners,"
(original spelling) pp. 7, 8. London:1624.
This author quotes the following
from the Waldensian faith:
"That we are to worship one
only God, who is able to help us, and not the Saints departed; that we
ought to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that there was no necessity of
observing other feasts"–Id, p. 38.
Goldastus, a learned German
historian (A. D. 1576-1635) says of them:
They were called "Insabbatati,
not because they were circumcised, but because they kept the Jewish
Sabbath." "Circumcisi forsan illi fuerint, qui aliis
Insabbatati, non quod circumciderentur, inquit Calvinista [Goldastus]
sed quod in Sabbato judaizarent'–Robert Robinson, in
"Ecclesiastical. Researches," chap, 10, p. 303. (Quoted in
"History of the Sabbath," J. N. Andrews, p. 412, ed.
David Benedict, M. A.,
"Robinson gives an account
of some of the Waldenses of the Alps, who were called Sabbati,
Sabbatati, Insabbatati, but more frequently Inzabbatati. 'One says
they were so named from the Hebrew word Sabbath, because they kept the
Saturday for the Lord's day. Another
says they were so called because they rejected all the
festivals"– "General History of the Baptist
Denomination," Vol. II, p. 413. Boston:1813.
Dr. J. L. Mosheim says:
"Pasaginians . . . had the
utmost aversion to the dominion and discipline of the church of Rome;
. . . and celebrated the Jewish Sabbath"–"Ecclesiastical
History" (two-volume edition), Cent. 12, Part 2, Chap. 5, Sec.
14, Vol. I, p. 333. New York:Harper and Brothers, 1871.
The papal author, Bonacursus,
wrote the following against the "Pasagini":
"Not a few, but many know
what are the errors of those who are called Pasagini .... First, they
teach that we should obey the law of Moses according to the
letter–the Sabbath, and circumcision, and the legal precepts still
being in force .... Furthermore, to increase their error, they condemn
and reject all the church Fathers, and the whole Roman Church"–
"D'Achery, Spicilegium I, f. 211-214; Muratory, Antiq. med. aevi.
5, f. 152, Hahn, 3, 209. Quoted in "History of the Sabbath,"
J. N. Andrews, pp. 547, 548. 1912.
The Roman Catholic Church has
always had a special enmity toward the Bible Sabbath and
Sabbath-keepers. Mr. Benedict says:
"It was the settled policy
of Rome to obliterate every vestige of opposition to her doctrines and
decrees, everything heretical, whether persons or writings, by which
the faithful would be liable to be contaminated and led astray. In
conformity to this, their fixed determination, all books and records
of their opposers were hunted up, and committed to the
flames."– "History of the Baptist Denomination.," p.
Dr. De Sanctis, who for years was
a Catholic official at Rome, and at one time Censor of the Inquisition,
but who later became a Protestant, reports in his book a conversation of
a Waldensian scholar as he pointed to the ruins of the Palatine Hill at
"'See,' said the Waldensian,
'a beautiful monument of ecclesiastical antiquity. These rough
materials are the ruins of the two great Palatine libraries, one Greek
and the other Latin, where the precious manuscripts of our ancestors
were collected, and which Pope Gregory I, called the Great, caused to
be burned.'"–"Popery, Puseyism:Jesuitism," De Sanctis,
Eternity alone will reveal how
many precious manuscripts have been destroyed by Rome in its effort to
blot out all traces of apostolic Christianity.
We have now seen that the ancient
apostolic church, scattered by persecution, and often in hiding, went
under various names. Being peaceful, virtuous, and industrious citizens,
they were tolerated, or even shielded, by princes who understood their
value to the country, while the Catholic Church hunted them down like
wild beasts. After the Waldenses and Albigenses had lived quietly in
France for many years, Pope Innocent III wrote the following instruction
to his bishops:
"Therefore by this present
apostolical writing we give you a strict command that, by whatever
means you can, you destroy all these heresies and expel from your
diocese all who are polluted with them. You shall exercise the rigor
of the ecclesiastical power against them and all those who have made
themselves suspected by associating with them. They may not appeal
from your judgments, and if necessary, you may cause the princes and
people to suppress them with the sword"–"A Source Book for
Medierval History," Oliver J. Thatcher and E. H. McNeal, p. 210.
New York:Charles Scibner's Sons, 1905.
Philippus van Limborch, Professor
of Divinity at Amsterdam, speaking of the way the liberty of the people
was suppressed after 1050, says:
"In the following ages the affairs
of the church were so managed under the government of the Popes, and all
persons so strictly curbed by the severity of the laws, that they durst
not even so much as whisper against the received opinions of the church.
Besides this, so deep was the ignorance that had spread itself over the
world, that men, without the least regard to knowledge and learning,
received with a blind obedience every thing that the ecclesiastics
ordered them, however stupid and superstitious, without any examination;
and if any one dared in the least to contradict them, he was sure
immediately to be punished; whereby the most absurd opinions came to be
established by the violence of the Popes"–"History of the
Inquisition;'' p. 79. London:1816.
Ignorance and superstition
generated vice of the basest sort, and brought the Christian
world into the darkest of the Dark Ages, which made the Reformation of
the sixteenth century an absolute necessity. And, as "the darkest
hour of the night is just before dawn," so the twelfth to the
fifteenth centuries were the darkest in the Christian Era. For a time,
however, there were still a few lights shining on the religious horizon,
shedding their mild gospel light into the dense darkness. But when these
were extinguished, the darkness became well-nigh complete. 1. The Celtic
church of Scotland and Ireland had sent .their missionaries with an open
Bible into almost every country of Europe. The gospel lamp of Scotland
was extinguished in 1069; that of Ireland in 1172; that of the ancient
Albigenses in 1229; the Assyrian lamp of the East was extinguished at
Malabar, India, by the Inquisition in 1560; and the Waldensian lamp,
that had been shining the longest, and had sent its mild rays over
Europe for centuries, was extinguished in 1686. The history of these
evangelical churches during this dark period is very interesting and has
many valuable lessons for our day. The Waldenses and Albigenses we. re
quiet and industrious people, and followed the Bible standard of
morality, which actually caused their persecution.
"But their crowning offence
was their love and reverence for Scripture, and their burning zeal in
making converts. The Inquisitor of Passau informs us that they had
translations of the whole Bible in the vulgar tongue, which the Church
vainly sought to suppress, and which they studied with incredible
assiduity Many of them had the whole of the New Testament by heart
Surely if ever there was a God-fearing people it was these
unfortunates under the ban of Church and State .... The inquisitors .
. . [declare] that the sign of a Vaudois, deemed worthy of death, was
that he followed Christ and sought to obey the commandments of
God."–"History of the Inquisition of the Middle
Ages," H. C. Lea, Vol. I, pp. 86, 87. New York:Harper and
"In fact, amid the license
of the Middle Ages ascetic virtue was apt to be regarded as a sign of
heresy."–Id., p. 87.
On the other hand, the licentious
lives of the Catholic clergy placed insurmountable barriers for a
Waldensian ever to become a Catholic. When in 1204 Pope Innocent III
sent his commissioners to crush the peaceful Waldenses and Albigenses in
Southern France "with fire and sword," these monks returned to
the pope asking for help to reform the lives of the Catholic priests.
"The legates . . . appealed
to him for aid against prelates whom they had failed to coerce, and
whose infamy of life gave scandal to the faithful and an irresistible
argument to the heretic. Innocent curtly bade them attend to the
object of their mission and not allow themselves to be diverted by
less important matters"–Id., p. 129.
Professor Philippus van Limborch
"It was the entire study and
endeavour of the popes, to crush, in its infancy, every doctrine that
any way opposed their exorbitant power. In the year 1163, at the synod
of Tours, all the bishops and priests in the country of Tholouse, were
commanded to take care, and to forbid under the pain of
excommunication, every person from presuming to give reception, or the
least assistance to the followers of this heresy, which first began in
the country of Tholouse, whenever they shall be discovered. Neither
were they to have any dealings with them in buying or selling; that by
being thus deprived of the common assistances of life, they might be
compelled to repent of the evil of their way. Whosoever shall dare to
contravene this order, let them be excommunicated, as a partner with
them in their guilt. As many of them as can be found, let them be
imprisoned by the Catholic princes, and punished with the forfeiture
of all their substance.' "Some of the Waldenses, coming into the
neighbouring kingdom of Arragon, king Ildefonsus, in the year 1194,
put forth, against them, a very severe and bloody edict, by which 'he
banished them from his kingdom, and all his domimons, as enemies of
the cross of Christ, prophaners of the Christian religion, and public
enemies to himself and kingdom.' He adds: 'If any, from this day
forwards, shall presume to receive into their houses, the aforesaid
Waldenses and Inzabbatati, or other heretics, of whatsoever profession
they be, or to hear, in any place, their abominable preachings, or to
give them food, or to do them any kind office whatsoever; let him
know, that he shall incur the indignation of Almighty God and ours;
that he shall forfeit all his goods, without the benefit of appeal,
and be punished as though guilty of high
treason.'"–"History of the Inquisition,'' pp. 88, 89.
To destroy completely these
heretics Pope Innocent III sent Dominican inquisitors into France, and
also crusaders, promising "a plenary remission of all sins, to
those who took on them the crusade . . . against the Albigenses."
When Raymond VI, Earl of Tholouse, shielded these innocent people, who
were such an asset to his country, he was "deposed by the
Being frightened by the savage
crusaders Raymond submitted, and the papal legate had him publicly
whipped twice till "he was so grievously torn by the stripes"
that he had to leave the church by a back door. (Id., pp. 98, 100.) He
later appealed to Innocent III. "The pope, however, ceded the
estates of Raymond to Simon de Montfort," (1215) *13.
Thousands of God's people were tortured to death by the Inquisition,
buried alive, burned to death, or hacked to pieces by the crusaders.
While devastating the city of Biterre the soldiers asked the Catholic
leaders how they should know who were heretics; Arnold, Abbot of
Cisteaux, answered: "Slay them all, for the Lord knows who is
His."–Id., pp. 98, 101.
In 1216 to 1221 Raymond
reconquered his land, and after his death (1221) his son became Earl,
and "the Inquisition was banished from the country of Tholouse."
But Pope Honorius III "proclaimed an holy war, to be called the
'Penance war,' against the heretics," and "to subdue the Earl
of Tholouse, he sent letters to King Louis" of France to make war
on Raymond, which he did. But treachery, which has always been one of
the most successful weapons of the Papacy against God's people, had to
be resorted to here.
When the Pope's legate saw that
he could not take the city of Avignon by force, he
"scrupled not to adopt the
vilest treachery and to practice the basest hypocrisy.–He offered to
suspend hostilities, and to pave the way for peace, if the besieged
would admit a few priests, only to inquire concerning the faith of the
inhabitants; and those terms being agreed upon and sealed by mutual
oaths; the priests entered, but in direct violation of their solemn
engagement, brought the French army with them, who thus fraudulently
triumphed over the unsuspecting citizens; they plundered the city,
killed or bound in chains the inhabitants."–Id., pp. 104-106.
(This is in perfect harmony with
the Catholic teaching and practice, that they need not keep faith with a
heretic, as carried out in the case of John Huss. In spite of the
safe-conduct from the Emperor Sigismund, he was imprisoned, November 28,
1414, and burned July 6, 1415.)
Hunted Like Wild Beasts
The Earl of Tholouse was finally
forced to bow to Rome, and God's people were hunted as wild beasts
everywhere. Here are some of the laws of Louis IX, King of France, A. D.
"Canon 3–The lords of the
different districts shall have the villas, houses, and woods
diligently searched, and the hiding-places of the heretics destroyed.
Canon 4.– If any one allows a heretic to remain in his territory, he
loses his possession forever, and his body is in the hands of the
magistrates to receive due punishment. Canon 5– But also such are
liable to the law, whose territory has been made the frequent
hiding-place of heretics, not by his knowledge, but by his negligence.
Canon 6– The house in which a heretic is found, shall be torn down,
and the place or land be confiscated. Canon 14–Lay members are not
allowed to possess the books of either the Old or the New
Testament"–"Hefele's Councils," Vol. V, pp. 981, 982.
("History of the Sabbath," New, p. 558).
These laws were only echoes of
the "Bulls" of the popes. But while the Waldenses on the
French side of the Alps were being exterminated, the pope had a more
difficult task to destroy them in the Piedmont Alps. From Pope Lucius
III (A. D 1181-1185) to the Reformation in the sixteenth century the
persecution of the Waldenses was the subject of many papal
"anathemas." Army after army was sent against them, and all
manner of trickery was resorted to in order to destroy these honest,
plain, Christian people. In 1488 Albert Cataneo, the papal legate came
with an army into the midst of Val Louise. The inhabitants fled into a
cavern for shelter, and the soldiers started a fire at the mouth of the
cavern and smothered the entire population of 3,000, including 400
children. Then Cataneo entered the Piedmont side. Here the Waldenses
retreated to Pradel Tor, their "Shiloh of the Valleys."
Cataneo ordered his soldiers into the dark, narrow chasm that formed the
only path to this citadel. The poor Waldenses were now bottled up, and
their enemies were proceeding towards them, sure of their prey, but God
heard earnest prayers:
"A white cloud, no bigger
than a man's hand, unobserved by the Piedmontese, but keenly watched
by the Vaudois, was seen to gather on the mountain's summit .... That
cloud grew rapidly bigger arid blacker. It began to descend It fell
right into the chasm in which was the Papal army In a moment the host
were in night; they . . . could neither advance nor retreat. [The
Waldenses] tore up huge stones and rocks, and sent them thundering
down into the ravine. The papal soldiers were crushed where they stood
.... Panic impelled them to flee, . . . they threw each other down in
the struggle; some were trodden to death; others were rolled over the
precipice, and crushed on the rocks below, or drowned in the torrent,
and so perished miserably"–"History of the Waldenses,"
J. A. Wylie, pp. 43, 49.
In 1544 the treacherous and heartless Catholic leader,
D'Oppede caused the terrible butchery of thousands of Waldenses. At
Cabrieres he wrote a note to the people, saying that if they would open
the gates of their city he would do them no harm. They, in good faith,
opened the gates, and D'Oppede cried out: "Kill
them all." Men, women, and children were massacred or burned alive.
In 1655 there was another massacre of Waldenses. After the Catholic
leaders had made several vain attempts to break into the fastnesses of
the mountains where the Waldenses lived, and were defeated, the Marquis
wrote the various Waldensian towns to entertain certain regiments of
soldiers to show their good faith. These Christian people, who always
had such sacred regard for their own word, never seemed to learn that it
is a fundamental Catholic doctrine, that Catholics need not, and should
not, keep faith with heretics, when the interest of the
"Church" is at stake. After they had sheltered the soldiers,
and fed them of their scanty store, a signal was given at 4 A. M., April
24, 1655, and the butchery began. "Little children, Leger says,
were torn from the arms of their mothers, dashed against the rocks, and
cast carelessly away. The sick or the aged, both men and women, were
either burned in their houses, or hacked in pieces; or mutilated, half
murdered, and flayed alive, they were exposed in a dying state to the
heat of the sun, or to flames, or to ferocious beasts"–
"Israel of the Alps," Dr. Alexis Muston, Vol. I, pp. 349, 350.
These people suffered tortures
too terrible to mention, which only devils in human form could have
invented. The towns in the beautiful valleys were left smoldering ruins.
A few people saved themselves by flight to the mountains.
In 1686 another terrible edict
was issued against them, and an army raised to exterminate them. And
again it was the same story of treachery. Gabriel of Savoy himself wrote
'Do not hesitate to lay down your
arms; and be assured that if you cast yourselves upon the clemency of
his royal highness, he will pardon you, and that neither your persons
nor those of your wives or children shall be
touched.'"–"Israel of the Alps," Alexis Muston, Vol.
I, p. 445.
The Waldenses accepted the
official document in good faith and opened their entrenchments. But the
Catholic officials, true to the nature of their church doctrines, rushed
in and butchered men, women, and children in cold blood. Unspeakable
tortures were inflicted on the innocent people, while a few escaped to
the mountains. All the towns of the valleys were smoldering and charred
ruins. Rome had at last quenched the ancient lamp. "The school of
the prophets in the Pta del Tor is razed. No smoke is seen rising from
cottage, and no psalm is heard ascending from dwelling or sanctuary, . .
. and no troop of worshipers, obedient to the summons of the Sabbath
bell, climbs the mountain paths"–"History of the Waldenses,"
Wylie, p. 173.
As these exiled Waldenses fled
from country to country, they were persecuted and harassed, but they
sowed the seeds of truth as they went. Let us now consider the
experiences of other branches of the apostolic church, that were
scattered by persecution and by early missionary endeavors to the
outskirts of civilization.