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AN EXPOSITION OF THE APOCALYPSE
"The Earth Again Runs to the Woman's Help"
The most furious and desperate of rebels," says Gibbon, "are the sectaries of a religion long persecuted, and at length provoked. In a holy cause they are no longer susceptible of fear or remorse; the justice of their arms hardens them against the feelings of humanity; and they revenge their father's wrongs on the children of their tyrants." Such were the Circumcellions of Africa, the peasants of Paphlagonia, and such in the ninth century were the popular sympathizers with the Paulicians of Armenia and the adjacent provinces.
History styles these sympathizers Paulicians; but history is written by men who are ignorant of the principles of the doctrine of Christ, and are the enemies of "the remnants of the woman's seed, who keep the commandments of the Deity, and hold the testimony of Jesus the anointed." These are neither fanatics, nor furious and desperate rebels; neither are they hardened against the feelings of humanity, nor do they seek to avenge themselves; for this they are strictly forbidden to do by Him who says, "vengeance is mine; I will repay". The furious and desperate fanatics, steeled against the Divine law and the feelings of humanity, are the serpents, the generation of vipers, in place or power, "the spirituals of the wickedness in the heavenlies," who counsel and execute the sanguinary ferocity of the Dragon and the Beast. Providence has graciously and mercifully arranged that these insatiable shedders of the blood of His saints shall be fiercely antagonized by the indignant hatred of tyranny, and the love of civil and religious liberty, common to the Scripturally enlightened of mankind; for men may have light enough to discern the folly, and hypocrisy, and diabolism, incorporated in Church and State, and yet be very far from an intelligent belief of "the truth as it is in Jesus" by which alone they can be saved.
Of this earthly class were the "Paulicians," so called, who revolted and warred against the Constantinopolitan Catholic Dragon, A.D. 845-880. They were the militant Paulicians of the pike and gun, stirred up to deeds of blood and valor by the cruel torments of the clergy, in defense of the spiritual and real disciples of the apostle Paul, whose only fight was "the good fight of faith." This thirty-five years of Paulician warfare with the Dragon was "the earth running with help to the woman, and opening her mouth to swallow up the flood cast out of the Dragon's Mouth." They were first awakened to inflict death upon a governor and a bishop, who lent themselves to execute the imperial mandate for the conversion and destruction of "heretics." A more dangerous and consuming flame was kindled by Theodora's persecution, and the revolt of Carbeas, a valiant sympathizer, who commanded the imperial guards of the General of the East. His father had been skinned alive by the Catholic Inquisitors. This horrible cruelty determined him to abandon the service of the Dragon. Five thousand sympathizers joined him in renouncing their allegiance to anti-christian Rome, and in forming an alliance against her with the Saracen "Commander of the Faithful." "During more than thirty years," says Gibbon, "Asia was afflicted by the calamities of foreign and domestic war; in their hostile inroads the disciples of St. Paul were joined with those of Mohammed; and the peaceful christians, the aged parent and tender virgin (the besotted catholics) who were delivered into barbarous servitude, might justly accuse the intolerant spirit of their sovereign. So urgent was the mischief, so intolerable the shame, that Michael was compelled to march in person against the Paulicians: he was defeated under the walls of Samosata: and the Roman emperor fled before the heretics whom his mother Theodora had condemned to the flames." The valor and ambition of Chrysocheir, successor to Carbeas, embraced a wider circle of rapine and revenge. In alliance with his faithful anti-catholic Moslems, he boldly penetrated into the heart of Asia Minor. These were the times of the Moslem Woe, in which the catholics were "tormented with the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man." "The men who had the seal of Deity in their foreheads," the Paulicians, were "not hurt" by it; but, as we see, were defended by the Moslem Locusts, who, as the sword of Deity, avenged them upon "the shaven crowns" whose skulls they cleft without mercy. "In those days they sought death (or the political extinction of the State, which would relieve them of those tormenting inroads), but they found it not; and they desired to die, but the death fled from them" (Apoc. 9:4-6). The Dragon legions were repeatedly overthrown, and his edicts of persecution were responded to by the pillage of Nice and Nicomedia, of Ancyra, and Ephesus, whose cathedral was turned into a stable for mules and horses; and the Paulician sympathizers vied with the Saracens in evincing their contempt and abhorrence of the idols and relics of catholic superstition.
This was a righteous retribution encouraging to behold. Truly, as Gibbon remarks, "it is not unpleasing to observe the triumph of rebellion over the same despotism which has disdained the prayers of an in-jured people." The dragon was reduced to sue for peace, to offer ransom for catholic captives, and to request, in the language of moderation and charity, that Chrysocheir would spare his fellow-christians, and content himself with a royal donation of gold and silver and silk garments. "If the emperor," replied the Paulician defender, "be desirous of peace, let him abdicate the East, and reign without molestation in the West. If he refuse, the servants of the Lord will precipitate him from his throne." But the time for the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire had not yet arrived. The emperor Basil the Macedonian accepted Chrysocheir's' defiance, and led his army into "the land of heresy," which he wasted with fire and sword.
With the death of Chrysocheir the power of the Paulicians' defenders declined. About the middle of the eighth century, Constantine Copronymus had transplanted many of the Paulicians from the Euphrates to Constantinople and Thrace; and by this emigration their doctrine was introduced and diffused in Europe. The Paulicians of Thrace struck their roots deeply into this foreign soil, where they resisted the storms of persecution, maintained a secret correspondence with their Armenian brethren, and gave aid and comfort to their preachers, who labored, not without success, among the Bulgarians. They were restored and multiplied by a more powerful colony of Paulicians transpiated A. D. 970, by John Zimisces, from Armenia to Thrace. Their exile to this country was softened by a free toleration. They held the city of Philippopolis, and the keys of Thrace; the catholics were their subjects; they occupied a line of villages and castles in Macedonia and Epirus; "and many native Bulgarians," says Gibbon, "were associated to the communion of arms and heresy." As long as these Thraco-Bulgarian Circumcel lions "the Earth," were awed by power and treated with moderation, they were distinguished in the Dragon armies as volunteers; and the courage of these "dogs ever greedy of war and thirsty of human blood," is noticed with astonishment, and almost with, reproach, by the pusillanimous Greeks. The same spirit rendered them arrogant and contumacious; they were easily provoked by caprice or injury; and their privileges were often violated by the faithless bigotry of the Dragon- government and clergy. The emperor Alexius Comnenus undertook to proselyte them to the reigning superstition. Those of their leaders who were contumacious were secured in a dungeon, or banished; but their lives were spared by the prudence, rather than the mercy, of the emperor, at whose command a poor and solitary heretic was burnt alive before the cathedral of St. Sophia.
But the proud hope of eradicating the faith and testimony of the remnant was speedily overturned by "the invincible zeal of the Paulicians," who ceased to dissemble, or refused to obey. After the death of Alexius, they soon resumed their civil and religious laws. In the beginning of the thirteenth century their head-quarters were on the confines of Bulgaria, Croatia, and Dalmatia, with which filial relations were maintained by the Paulician congregations of France and Italy. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries they found great favor and success in these countries, which Gibbon says, "must be imputed to the strong, though secret, discontent which armed the most pious christians (catholics) against the Church of Rome," now in the seventh century of its legal supremacy over all the spiritual affairs of the Great Roman Eagle. "Her avarice," he continues, "was oppressive, her .despotism odious; less degenerate, perhaps, than the Greeks in the worship of saints and images, her innovations were more rapid and scandalous: she had rigorously defined and imposed the doctrine of transubstantiation; the lives of the Latin clergy were more corrupt, and the eastern bishops might pass for the successors of the apostles, if they were compared with the lordly prelates, who wielded by turns the crosier, the scripture, and the sword."
Under the Constantinopolitan standard, the Paulicians were often transported to the Greek provinces of Italy and Sicily: in peace and war they and their sympathizers of "the earth," who were confounded with them under the same name, freely conversed with strangers and natives, and their views were silently propagated in Rome, Milan, and the newly-arisen Ten-Horn kingdoms of the Beast beyond the Alps. It was soon discovered, that many thousand catholics of every rank, and of either sex, had embraced the "heresy" of Paul; and the flames that consumed twelve cathedral priests of Orleans was the first act and signal of persecution in the West. "They spared their branches," says Gibbon, "over the face of Europe." United in common hatred of idolatry and Rome; they were connected by an ecclesiastical organization of over-seers and presbyteries, usually styled elders and pastors. The French called them "Bulgarians" by way of reproach, meaning thereby "unnatural sinners". Their catholic enemies also falsely styled them Manichaeans, and charged them with contempt of the Old Testament, and the denial of the body of Christ, either on the cross or in the bread and wine. They repudiated the catholic dogmas connected with the cross and eucharist; but they took both bread and wine, discerning by "the testimony of the anointed Jesus which they held," the representation therein of his broken body and blood, shed for remission of the sins of the many (Matt. 26:28). "A confession of simple worship and blameless manners," says Gibbon, "is extorted from their enemies; and so high was their standard of perfection, that the increasing congregations were divided into two classes of disciples, of those, who practised, and those who aspired. It was in the country of the Albigeois, in the southern provinces of France, that the Paulicians were most deeply implanted; and the same vicissitudes of massacre and uprising of "the Earth" which had been displayed in the neighborhood of the Euphrates, were repeated in the thirteenth century on the banks of the Rhone. The laws of the Constantinopolitan Dragon and Serpent were revived by Frederick the Second, the reigning emperor of the Two-Horned Beast of the Earth, which "spake as a Dragon" (Apoc. 13:11). The barons and cities of Languedoc were "the earth that ran with help for the Woman: and Pope Innocent the Third surpassed the sanguinary and murderous renown of the ferocious Theodora. It was in cruelty alone that her soldiers could equal the Crusaders; and the cruelty of her priests was far excelled by the founders of the Inquisition. The visible assemblies of the Albigensian Paulicians were extirpated with fire and sword; and "the bleeding remnant" escaped by flight, concealment, or conformity to the hated superstition of the destroyer. But the invincible spirit which they had kindled still lived and breathed in the western world. A latent succession was preserved of "the disciples of St. Paul," who protested against the tyranny of Rome, and embraced the Bible as the rule of faith.
Thus, I have briefly tracked "the remnants of the woman's seed," under the names of Novatians, Donatists, Aerians, Paulicians and Albigenses, through a long and sanguinary period of sack-cloth-witnessing of a thousand years, against the Apostasy as by law established in "the two Wings of the Great Eagle." In this weary and heart-rending journey, we have visited the Roman Africa, Armenia, Asia Minor, Thrace, Bulgaria, and working our way up the Danube, crossed the Alps into Italy and France. But how changed is the constitution of "the Great Eagle" at the close of this Millennium of Blood! When the remnants of the Woman's seed began their anti-catholic witnessing in the African Wing, the great eagle was subject only to "the Dragon the old Serpent," enthroned in Constantinople. Then there was no Pope of Rome; no Ten-Horned Beast of the Sea; no Two-Horned Beast of the Earth; nor any Image of the Beast. Then, the simple inquiry was, "Who is like the Dragon? who is able to make war with him?" for in those days they all "worshipped the Dragon," in all the length and breadth of the Roman world. But now, in the twelfth century, we stand in the Alpine regions of France and Italy as witnesses "before the god of the earth" (Apoc. 11:4); a god unknown to the Dragon in the epoch of the woman's flight, A.D. 315-345, and his pagan predecessors, in whose times he was but the simple OVERSEER of an ecclesia in Rome. But, ere this century, he had long become a god by the grace and power of the Dragon, who had bestowed upon him "his power, and his throne, and great authority" (Apoc. 13:2). And besides this, in surveying the subjacent landscape from the Alpine heights, we see the Beast of the Earth and the Beast of the Sea intensely catholic and hostile to "the commandments of the Deity and the testimony of the anointed Jesus". Whence came these dominions? They are the results of the outpouring of the Divine wrath upon the Dragon, in retribution of his catholic worship of daimonia and idols, and of the murders, sorceries, fornications and thefts of his clergy (Apoc. 9:20,21); in other words, they are the results of the sounding of the wind-trumpets in answer to the prayers of "the remnants of the woman's seed," which, as "much incense," ascended, through their Golden Intercessor, before the throne (Apoc. 8:3,4).
But, while we have been making this millennial tour through the Wings of the Great Eagle, has it been all peace and spiritual tranquillity in the interior regions? No; from time to time, reformers started up amidst the catholics themselves; and, as pioneers, prepared the ground for more advanced believers to cultivate and sow with the incorruptible seed. Of these pioneers was Claude, Catholic bishop of Turin, ap-pointed to that See by Charlemagne. He was in high repute for his knowledge of the Scriptures and his first-rate talents as a preacher; in consequence of which, says the Abbe Eleury, "the French monarch being apprised of the deplorable state of darkness in which a great part of Italy was involved in reference to the doctrines of the gospel, and anxious to provide the churches of Piedmont with a teacher who might counteract the growing rage for image-worship, appointed Claude to the See of Turin, about A.D. 817." Though he died the catholic bishop of Turin, he is regarded as the spiritual father of the "meek confessors of Piedmont," who seceded from the catholic church, and became for many centuries a remnant of the woman's seed. Claude continued his zealous anti-Romish labors until A.D. 839, by which time the valleys of Piedmont were filled with his disciples; and, says Jones, "While a night of awful darkness sat brooding on almost every other part of Europe, the inhabitants of Piedmont preserved the gospel among them in its native simplicity, and rejoiced in the healing beams of the Sun of righteousness".
In the tenth century, that is, from A.D. 900 to A.D. 1000, there were thirty occupants of "St. Peter's Chair." When describing this period Mosheim says: "The history of the Roman pontiffs who lived in this century, is the history of so many monsters and not of men, and exhibits a horrible series of the most flagitious, tremendous and complicated crimes, as all writers, even those of the Romish communion, unanimously confess". In this dismal period, the clergy was, for the most part, composed of a most worthless set of men, shamefully illiterate and stupid; ignorant, more especially in religious matters; equally enslaved to sensuality and superstition, and capable of the most abominable and flagitious deeds.
To stem this torrent of corruption, there appeared in the south of France, in the province of Languedoc and Provence, one Peter de Bruys, about A.D. 1110. He was the founder of the petrobrusians(*). His labors were successful. He taught that "the ordinance of baptism should be administered only to adults; that it was a piece of idle superstition to build and dedicate churches to the service of God, who, in worship, has peculiar respect to the state of the heart, and who cannot be worshipped with temples made with hands; that crucifixes are objects of superstition, and ought to be destroyed; that in the Lord's Supper the real body and blood of Christ were not partaken by the communicants, but only represented in the way of symbol or figure; and, lastly, that the oblatons, prayers and good works of the living, can in no way be beneficial to the dead".
A few years after the decease of Peter de Bruys, an Italian by birth, generally styled Henry of Toulouse, arose to bear witness against the corruptions of the time. He declaimed with fervid vehemence against the vices of the clergy and the superstitions they invented. He rejected the baptism of infants; treated the festivals and ceremonies of the catholic church with the utmost contempt, and held clandestine assemblies, in which he explained and inculcated the doctrine he set forth.
Contemporary with Henry, and eight years his survivor, was Arnold of Brescia, who from A.D. 1147 to 1155, bearded the papal lion in his den. He was inferior to Peter de Bruys and Henry, neither in fortitude nor zeal, while in learning and talent he excelled them both. The zeal of this daring reformer was first directed against the wealth and luxury of the Romish clergy. He charged upon them most of the corruptions that disgraced religion, and called upon them to renounce their usurped possessions, and to lead a frugal and abstemious life on the voluntary contributions of the people. The inhabitants of Brescia revered him as the apostle of religious liberty, and rose in rebellion against their accredited bishop. Driven by persecution from place to place, he determined on the desperate experiment of fixing the standard of revolt in the very heart of Rome.
He was the Garibaldi of the twelfth century. For a time he found protectors among the nobility and gentry. He harangued the populace with his usual fervor, and inspired them with such a regard for their civil and ecclesiastical rights, that a complete revolution was effected in the city. The papal Pontifex Maximus struggled in vain against this invasion of his power, and at last sunk under the pressure of calamity. His successors, Celestine and Lucius, were unable to check the popular frenzy. The leaders of the insurrection waited upon Licius, demanded the restitution of the civil rights which had been usurped from the people, and insisted that he and the clergy should trust only for their stipends to the pious offerings of the faithful, as at the beginning. The pope survived this astounding demand only a few days, when he was succeeded by Eugenius III., who, dreading the mutinous spirit of the inhabitants, withdrew from Rome, and was "consecrated" in a neighboring fortress.
Arnold, who had withdrawn from Rome during this extraordinary insurrection, hearing of the escape of the newly-elected pope, repaired once more to the city, and animated with fresh vigor the energies of the populace. He called to their remembrance the achievements of their ancestors, and painted in the strongest colors the sufferings which sprung from ecclesiastical tyranny. He charged them never to admit the pontiff within their walls till they had prescribed the limits of his spiritual jurisdiction, and fixed the civil government in their own hands. The passions of the populace were aroused by these harangues; and, headed by the disaffected nobles, they attacked the cardinals and other ecclesiastics, set fire to the palaces, and compelled the inhabitants to swear allegiance to the new constitution.
The excesses of this ungovernable mob, "the Earth," stirred up all the wrath of "the successor of St. Peter;" who, placing himself at the head of his troops, marched against the city, into which he was admitted after making some trifling concessions. The friends of Arnold were nevertheless still numerous, and for ten or a dozen years they "shut the heaven," or continued to agitate the city. It was not till A.D. 1154, that anything like a settled peace was established. The presence of Arnold and his witnessing brethren in the very face, as it were of "the god of the earth" was the cause of all this tumult. For it was their mission to agitate the waters, and "to shut the heaven, that it rain not in their days of the prophecy; and to turn the waters into blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues as often as they willed" (Apoc. 11:6). But at this date, a riot having ensued, Adrian IV. placed the city under an interdict, and from Christmas to Easter deprived it of all catholic worship. This gave a sudden turn to the public mind. Arnold and his friends were expelled from the city, and fled for protection to the Viscount of Campania. Thither the vengeance of the pope pursued them, and he instigated Frederick Barbarossa to force Arnold from his asylum in his territories. Immediately after this he was seized by Cardinal Gerard and burned at the stake, in the midst of the fickle populace, who gazed with stupid indifference on the bold and valiant champion who had fallen in defence of their dearest rights, and whom they had regarded with the highest veneration.
"We may truly say," says Dr. Allix, "that scarcely any man was ever so torn and defamed on account of his doctrine as was this Arnold of Brescia. It was because, with all his power, he opposed the tyranny and usurpation which the popes began to establish over the temporal jurisdiction of the kings of the earth. He was the man who by his counsel renewed the design of re-establishing the authority of the Senate of Rome, and of compelling the pope not to meddle with anything but what con-cerned the government of the church, without invading the temporal jurisdiction; this was his crime, and this, indeed, is such a one as is unpardonable with the pope, if there be any such".
Though Arnold, like Garibaldi, was a zealous anti-papist, there is no proof of his belonging to "the Holy City;" but much presumptive evidence that he did not. He was a strenuous advocate of civil and religious liberty, and heretical according to the catholic standard of orthodoxy. But he might be all this, and yet not a christian of the New Testament type. However, he was enlightened enough to impugn the dogma of transubstantiation, and to deny that baptism should be administered to infants. And this alone in catholic judgment was sufficient ground for his condemnation.
The memory of Arnold was long and fondly cherished by his countrymen, and his tragical end occasioned murmurs both loud and deep. His murder was regarded as the act of the Bishop of Rome and his clergy. Arnold's friends, who were numerous, separated themselves from communion with the pope's church, and by the name of Arnoldists long continued to bear their testimony against its numerous abominations, as another of "the remnants of the woman's seed".
A multitude of converts in all the southern provinces of France, and the states of Italy, resulted from the able and faithful labors of these three men. When it became aware of it, the Court of Rome became alarmed, and resorted to torture and destruction for the suppression and extermination of them, as heretics that troubled the church, or "tormented them that dwelt upon the earth" (Apoc. 11:10). "It made war upon them," and ultimately "overcame them, and killed them" (v.7; 13:7); for what was deemed a good and sufficient reason, namely, their tormenting testimony, styled by the catholic destroyer, "HERESY." The following extract from Venema's Ecclesiastical History will serve to show in what their heresy consisted:
"The chief articles of their heresy," says he, "were the following:
That the Holy Scriptures were the only source of faith and religion, without regard to the authority of the fathers and tradition; and although they principally used the New Testament, yet, as Usher proves from Reinier and others, they regarded the Old also as canonical scripture. From their greater use of the New Testament, however, their adversaries took occasion to charge them with despising the Old.
They held the entire faith, according to all the articles of the apostles' creed.
They rejected all the external rites of the dominant church, except baptism and the Lord's Supper; such as temples, vestures, images, crosses, the religious worship of holy relics, and the remaining sacraments, confirmation, penance, holy orders, matrimony, and extreme unction; "these they considered as inventions of Satan and the flesh, and full of superstition.
They rejected purgatory, with masses and prayers for the dead, acknowledging only two terminations of the present state - heaven and hell; but in what sense of these terms, Venema says not.
They admitted no indulgences, nor confessions of sin, with any of their consequences, except mutual confessions of the faithful for instruction and consolation.
They held the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist only as signs, denying the corporeal presence of Christ in the eucharist, as we find in the book of this sect concerning Antichrist, and as Ebrard of Bethunia accuses them in his book against heresies.
They held only three ecclesiastical orders - bishops, priests or presbyters, and deacons - and that the remainder were human figments: that monasticism or monkery was a putrid carcass, and was the invention of men; and that the marriage of the clergy was lawful and necessary.
Finally, they asserted the Roman Church to be the Whore of Babylon; and denied obedience to the pope or bishops, and that the pope had any authority over other churches, or the power of either the civil or ecclesiastical sword".
Towards the end of the twelfth century heresy of this sort grew apace; for a new impulse was given to it by the labors of another enterprising witness against Rome, named PETER WALDO of Lyons. He was an opulent merchant, whose attention was drawn to the Holy Scriptures, which he was able to read for himself in the Latin Vulgate, the only edition of the Bible at that time in Europe. From the Scriptures alone he obtained the knowledge of the way of salvation; and being enlightened in this, he began to teach it to his neighbors. He felt the necessity of their having the word in their own tongue; he therefore, rendered the four testimonies for Jesus into French. This accomplished, he proceeded to expound their contents. Reinerius Saccho, a Romish Inquisitor, says of him, that "being somewhat learned, he taught the people the text of the New Testament in their mother tongue". "His kindness to the poor," says one of the Magdeburgh Centuriators, "being diffused, his love of teaching, and their love of learning, grew stronger and stronger, so that great crowds came to him, to whom he explained the scriptures. He was himself a man of learning; nor was he obliged to employ others to translate for him, as his enemies affirm." Be this as it may, the inhabitants of Europe were indebted to him for the first translation of the Bible into a modern tongue since the time that the Latin had ceased to be a living language - a gift of inestimable value to all who spoke French.
Animated with an enlightened zeal, he repudiated all the dogmas, rites, and ceremonies of human invention; and lifted up his voice like a trumpet against the arrogance of the pope arid the reigning vices of the clergy. In short, he seems to have taught the truth in its simplicity, while he exhibited in his own example its excellency, and labored most assiduously to demonstrate the difference between the teaching of the New Testament and that of the blasphemous clergy of the Latin church.
These proceedings of Waldo were reported to the Archbishop of Lyons, who became very indignant. He forbade Peter to teach any more on pain of excommunication, and of being proceeded against as a heretic. But Waldo belonging to a remnant of the woman's seed, was not to be silenced by archiepiscopal authority. He replied, that though a layman, he could not be silent in a matter which concerned his fellow-creatures. Attempts were presently made to apprehend him, but without success: so that he lived concealed in Lyons for a space of three whole years. At the end of these, pope Alexander III. hearing of his doings, anathematized both him and his adherents. The shepherd and his flock were therefore scattered abroad, and like the faithful in Jerusalem on the death of Stephen, "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). Waldo retired into Dauphine, where he preached with great success. Persecuted from place to place, he next retired into Picardy. Driven from thence, he proceeded into Germany, carrying along with him "the testimony of the anointed Jesus." He at length settled in Bohemia, about A.D. 1184, where he continued witnessing until death.
His followers were chiefly called "Leonists," after the city of Lyons, where he commenced his labors: they were also frequently designated "the Poor of Lyons". Numbers of his disciples fled for an asylum into the Valleys of Piedmont, taking with them the new translation of the Scriptures. In this country they mingled with the Paulicians and other witnesses against Romish superstition previously existing there, and were afterwards known by the name of "Waldenses," or Vaudois: they also diffused themselves over the South of France, where they became known as "Albigenses;" for it is the same class of witnesses styled by these different names, according to the different countries, or districts of the same country in which they appeared. In Alsace and along the Rhine, the doctrines of Waldo spread extensively. Persecution followed in their wake. Thirty-five citizens of Mentz were consumed to ashes by the papists in one fire in the city of Bingen, and eighteen in Mentz itself. The bishops of Mentz and Strasburgh breathed nothing but vengeance and slaughter against them; and at Strasburgh, where Waldo himself is said to have narrowly escaped, eight persons were committed to the flames. Multitudes died praising God, and in the confident hope of resurrection to eternal life. The blood of the witnesses became the seed of a new generation of faithful ones; and in Bulgaria, Croatia, Dalmatia, and Rungary, societies were established which flourished throughout the thirteenth century.
It is not surprising that the great and rapid increase of the witnesses should stimulate the Court of Rome to great activity against them. Their testimony was tormenting; and it is not in human nature to endure torment without seeking relief. Rome had but one remedy, and that was persecution to the ruin of body and estate. Councils were held in continual succession, and persecuting edicts issued to check the growing evil, though with little or no effect.
The following is an extract from the fourth canon of the council of Tours, held A.D. 1163. Evidently referring to the Albigensian Remnant, it thus proceeds:
"In the country about Toulouse, there sprang up long ago a damnable heresy, which, by little and little, like a cancer, spreading itself to the neighboring places of Gascony, hath already infected many other provinces; which whilst, like a serpent, it hid itself in its own windings and twistings, crept on more secretly, and threatened more danger to the simple and unwary; wherefore we do command all bishops and priests dwelling in these parts, to keep a watchful eye upon these heretics; and under the pain of excommunication, to forbid all persons, as soon as these heretics are discovered, from presuming to afford them any abode in their country, or to lend them any assistance, or to entertain any commerce with them in buying or selling; that so at least, by the loss of the advantages of human society, they may be compelled to repent of the error of their life. And if any prince, making himself partaker of their iniquity, shall endeavor to oppose these decrees, let him be struck with the same anathema. And if they shall be seized by any catholic princes, and cast into prison, let them be punished with confiscation of all their goods. And because they frequently come together from divers parts into one hiding place, and because they have no other ground for their dwelling together save only their agreement and consent error - therefore we will that such their conventicles be both diligently searched after, and, when they are found, that they be examined according to canonical severity".
But, while power was on the side of the oppressor, the Deity had also given power to His witnesses (Apoc. 11:3). This made their sack-cloth witnessing singularly effective, as is very plain from the following extract of a letter from the Archbishop of Narbonne to Louis VII., king of France: "My Lord the King;" says he, "We are extremely pressed with many calamities; amongst which there is one that most of all affects us, which is, that the catholic faith is extremely shaken in this our diocese; and St. Peter's boat is so violently tossed by the waves that it is in great danger of sinking"!
The god of the Roman earth was exceedingly incensed at this stormy buffeting of his bark. In A.D .1181, Lucius,. the third pope of that name, fulminated his decree against them, in which he said, "We declare all Catharists, Paterines, and those who call themselves 'the Poor of Lyons,' etc., to lie under a perpetual anathema!" All who presume to buy and sell without authority from the Roman image (Apoc. 13:17) - all who held or taught opinions concerning baptism, the Lord's Supper, remission of sins, marriage, or any of the sacraments of the church, differing from what the holy church of Rome doth teach and observe - are to be judged heretics, and anathematized. The refusal to take an oath is to be deemed a proof of heresy, and treated accordingly; and all the afore-mentioned were to be delivered up to the secular power for punishment, and their goods confiscated to the use of the church. The clergy are enjoined to make vigilant search after all such heretics, and to call to their aid all earls, barons, governors, and consuls of cities, and other places, to execute the ecclesiastical and imperial statutes concerning these matters; and any city that refused to yield obedience to these "decretal constitutions" was to be excluded from all commerce with other cities, and deprived of the episcopal dignity.
These intolerant proceedings, directed chiefly against the witnessing remnants of the Woman's seed in the south of France, drove multitudes of them into and across the Pyrenees, into Spain; in consequence of which, Ildefonsus, king of Aragon, published an edict, A.D. 1194, charging and commanding all the "Waldenses, Insabbati, who are otherwise called 'the Poor of Lyons,' and all other heretics, who cannot be numbered, being excommunicated from the Holy Church, adversaries to the cross of Christ, violaters and corrupters of the Christian religion, to depart out of our kingdom, and all our dominions." Moreover, "whosoever from that day forward, should presume to receive the Waldenses, Insabbati, or any other heretics, of whatsoever profession, into their houses, or be present at their pernicious sermons, or afford them meat or any other favor, should incur the indignation of Almighty God, as well as that of his majesty - have his goods confiscated, without the remedy of an appeal; and be punished as if he were actually guilty of high treason!" Such was the state of matters at the end of the twelfth century; and it may serve to make the reader's mind more appreciative to the appalling scenes of slaughter and carnage inflicted upon the woman's seed in the war upon them by "the Beast that ascendeth out of the abyss" (Apoc. 11:7). See Vol.3, p.268-269; and ch. 13:21.