Some Remarks Upon the Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont
and of the Albigenses
by Peter Allix D.D
Originally published in 1690 and 1692. Revised in 1821. Edited 1989, 2005.
Some Remarks Upon the Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont
Some Remarks Upon the Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of the Albigenses
I edited a scanned version of Allix’s two books, and worked hard to eliminate as many scanner errors as possible.
Richard C. Nickels
We wish to express our gratitude to Leon McBeth and Carl R. Wrotenbery with the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX,; also Richard C. Weeks and David A. West, Sr., with Baptist Heritage Publications, Watertown, WI, for their valuable contribution to this reprint. Having made a diligent search, both at home and abroad, for copies of the original works which we could secure and use for reprinting purposes, we soon learned of their scarcity and value. Turning our attention to various libraries and historian friends, we were able to obtain on a loan basis one book from each of the above mentioned sources. We also wish to express our appreciation to James R. Lynch with the American Baptist Historical Society, Rochester, N.Y., and R.L. Crawford, Hayward, CA, for their interest and guidance in the reprinting of these books.
After careful examination and comparison of Allix’s original works, Churches of Piedmont and Churches of the Albigenses published in 1690 and 1692 respectively, with new editions published in 1821, we chose to reprint from the 1821 new editions. The new editions were printed in more legible modern English type. The original books each contained an ERRATA and or a CORRIGENDA listing many corrections which the reader was to make allowances for. The new editions are a verbatim copy, but incorporating all of the corrections in the new typeset. The pages in the new editions have the original page numbers included in the margins. Letter perfect quotations from the Latin and other writings are retained in the latter editions.
Peter Allix was born in France in 1641 and died in London in 1717. Though he was not a Baptist, he was a learned scholar and historian of the Church of England. He penned over twenty-five published works from 1672 to 1711, including the two histories on the Churches of Piedmont and of the Albigenses. These two works are widely accepted and treasured by Baptists. Many later historians include David Benedict, Adam Blair, Joseph Bingham, William Jarrell, William Jones, John Lawrence Mosheim, G. H. Orchard, and Robert Robinson.
As we approach the 300th anniversary of the original publication, may we be able to glean from these pages those records which surely attest to the trials and persecutions of our forebears; and let us receive renewed strength to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3.
Church History Research and Archives
January 7, 1989
May it please your Majesty,
IF your Majesty, following the example of your glorious ancestors, did not think it an honor to maintain the Reformed Religion, I should never have undertaken to present your Majesty with a treatise of this nature. This defense of the ancient Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont, is a kind of apology for the Reformation brought about in the century last past, in which those heroes of your name had so great a part. The Reformation, rightly considered, consists only in the rejecting of what for many ages has been superadded to the Christian religion. The conduct of the ancient Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont has served for a model to our Reformers, and has justified their undertaking, seeing they have always preserved amongst them the sacred truths of the Christian religion committed to them, as they had received them from the disciples of the Apostles, and rejected the corruptions thereof, according as by degrees they broke forth in the west. This hath been the only thing that hath made them the object of the hatred of the Church of Rome, and hath drawn upon them, for so many ages, such prodigious floods of persecution. It is very true, that the wretched remains of these ancient Churches appear too contemptible to attract the eyes of the Princes of the earth towards them; their present desolation seeming so universal, that the world looks upon them no otherwise than irrecoverably lost, and finally destroyed. But all Europe knows, that your Majesty does not judge of things according to the corrupt maxims of the world, but the true light of the Gospel, which informs us, that outward prosperity is not entailed on the true Church; that Jesus Christ owns those only for his disciples, who take up their cross, and follow him; that he knows how to frustrate the hopes of their persecutors, by miraculously supporting and continuing his Church, whilst they suppose themselves to have finally triumphed over it. This is that your Majesty gave a high proof of, when, from your Royal Throne, you were pleased to cast an eye on the miserable estate of that little flock of dispersed Christians, in affording them an happy retreat in your dominions, as to the ancient professors of pure Christianity, and the faithful witnesses of those saving truths which all Protestants do profess.
What marks of your charity and compassion have they not received? And of what efficacy hath not this great example of your Majesty been, to oblige your subjects to give them fresh instances of their brotherly love and affection towards them? Thus, Great Sir, whilst you make good the character of a Prince, who draws the eyes of all the world upon him, by the greatness of his exploits, by the steadiness of his conduct, and by the moderation of his government, you, at the same time, bear the impress of a Prince truly Christian, full of zeal for the interests of his Savior, and of compassion for those who suffer for the sake of his Gospel. This being a truth so generally owned, I have taken the boldness to lay at your Majesty’s feet, and publish under your august name, the defense of these illustrious confessors of the truth, whom their enemies have endeavored to bear down with their calumnies, after having borne them down with the violence of their horrid and bloody persecutions. God hath so miraculously raised your Majesty for the rescuing of the Protestant religion from the destruction ready prepared for it, and which had been infallible, without the vigilance and heroical courage of your Majesty; that those who suffer for it, suppose they may have leave thus to address your Majesty, whilst they comfort themselves in their sufferings, with the prospect of that powerful safeguard and support God hath provided for his poor distressed and afflicted Church, in the person of your Majesty, as an evident mark of his favor and protection. May the great God, who has so tenderly preserved your Majesty against all the attempts and machinations of your enemies, and hitherto has made you triumph with so much glory over them, continue to pour forth on your Majesty the choicest of his blessings and favors, crown with a glorious success the great undertakings of your Majesty for the good of your subjects, for the advantage of Europe, and for the comfort of all those who profess the truth; are the ardent prayers constantly presented to God by him who is, with a most profound respect,
Most humble and obedient
Subject and servant,
THE Bishop of Meaux has lately published a treatise, entitled, The History of the Variations of Protestants. He had formed the draft of it some years ago, to engage the French court to recall the Edict of Nantes, without any scruple or hesitation. The pretense seemed very plausible: the Clergy, who were both party and judge against the Protestants, were to declare, that forasmuch as the French Protestants had changed their belief, the court was no longer obliged to the observation of an edict which Henry IV. had granted to their ancestors, who were of other principles. But this edict being recalled before the Bishop’s work was finished, and the French court, which is not guilty of being over scrupulous, not thinking itself to stand in need of so vain a pretense, the Bishop was fain to employ his work to another use. His design therefore in the present publishing thereof is to deceive those, who by ways of violence have been made to enter into the bosom of the Romish Church, and whom the same violence keeps there, against the sense of their conscience.
This Prelate had before endeavored, in his Exposition of the Roman Faith, where he employs his utmost artifice to sweeten, disguise, and dissemble the matters and difficulties in controversy, to abuse the Protestants, in order to make them more easily digest the Roman religion, than they are apt to do when they view it in its natural colors. And now in this his History of their Variations, he endeavors to represent to them the belief of the Reformers, and most illustrious Protestant Doctors, in the strangest colors imaginable; that those whom the dragoons have converted to the Roman faith might look upon the force that has been made use of to drive them from so detestable a communion as a saving and charitable violence. It is always the same spirit of falsification and juggling that animates and guides him.
In this his last design, it had been natural for him, had his intention been right, to have endeavored to make out, that the Protestants, or their teachers, were divided in their belief of the articles of the Creed; about the object of prayer, and the necessity thereof; about the necessity of obedience to the commands of God, as well as the extent of that obedience; and about the doctrine and number of the sacraments: for in these points it is that the Protestants make the essence of their religion to consist. Now it is well known, that in all these they do agree: the questions that are ventilated among them being, like those questions that remained among the primitive Christians, upon several points of divinity; and some of them being no other than mere controversies, about which the Protestants have learnt to divide themselves in imitation of the Schools of the Romish Divines. But had the Bishop followed this method, he would have failed of his end; wherefore he thought it sufficient for his purpose slightly to touch the matters in controversy, and to put into good French whatsoever he could rake together from the writings of those of his communion, to expose the first Reformers, and to make the Reformation odious.
It would be an affront put upon the age we live in, to imagine that this thick laying on of paint should be capable to impose upon any that have never so little judgment left. The Bishop may please to flatter himself with the success of his first work, the Exposition of the Romish Faith: but I believe him too sincere not to own, that he has made no impression upon the spirit of any Protestants, save such only who were ready to embrace the first pretences that were offered, to rid themselves of a religion that exposed them to so many miseries; or the profession whereof hindered their settlement in the world. Those who have been forced to become Papists against their consciences have found by experience, that it was not sufficient for them to subscribe the Exposition of the Bishop of Meaux: No: their persecutors were not at all minded to make them of his religion; but they were fain to swallow whole and entire the Profession of Faith drawn up by Pius IV.
And we may assure the Bishop, that the same will be the lot of this present work, which he has entitled, The History of the Variations of the Protestants in Matters of Faith. For let us suppose that this Prelate has very well proved what he pretends to make out, what will follow from hence, but only this; that the Reformers were not infallible; that they did not at first reject all that deserved to be censured as Popery; that some difficulties have been met with in the hypothesis of those who were not happy enough to refine and clear such corrupt matters; in a word, that they did not at first discover all that was to be known and believed as to several points of divinity, and that they were fain to take a great deal of pains in the discovery of that truth which the Roman Church had taken so much pains to obscure and confound? We will suppose a Protestant casuist at this time to write about matters of conscience, and, for want of examining with sufficient care the decisions of licentious casuists, to follow some of them, being seduced by the false principles of these Roman casuists, which the Bishop of Meaux condemns; will it follow, that an hundred and fifty years after this some other Bishop of Meaux will have right to propose, under the title of Protestant Variations, the mistaken opinion of this casuist, though afterwards his party, perceiving the delusion, have declared against his opinion?
The Bishop is very pleasant in forbidding the Protestants to make use of the way of recrimination against the Church of Rome, in this point of variation, though indeed one only instance of variation in faith, of fifty whereof we can convince them, be a sufficient conviction of a Church which pretends herself to be immoveable, because infallible. But being very sensible of the weakness of his cause in this point, he found he should be obliged, either to acknowledge that his Church is a false Church, and much more deserving that censure than the Protestant, as having been subject to a far greater number of variations in her belief; or else that he would be obliged to make use of the same answer we do, in renouncing the infallibility of his Church. But it is no matter of wonder, if by degrees only we come to the perfect knowledge of the truth.
Moreover, is it not a very pleasant method, to reduce the dispute to the examination of some preliminaries, whereas the ground itself has been disputed above these hundred and fifty years.
In a word, whatsoever the Reformers may have been, yet it is but just that the Church of Rome, being accused of heresy, idolatry, and tyranny, should clear herself of these accusations. Whatsoever may have been the carriage of Constantinus Copronymus, how can the manners of that emperor be concerned in the question, Whether the worshipping of images be contrary to the law of God? The reformation of Jehu, king of Israel, did it cease to be a reformation from Ahab’s idolatry, though he himself were a wicked person and an hypocrite, and though he did the thing but imperfectly?
In truth, the care the Bishop of Meaux has taken in his Preface and whole book, to represent to us the immutability of his Church, and her constancy in matters of faith and worship, has opened so fair a field to his antagonists, whom he attacks about the history of the Reformation in the several parts of Europe, and particularly in France, that he could not reasonably expect but to be opposed by them on all sides, with all the vigor imaginable. There are still some Lutherans, who have already made it appear, they are not at all afraid of the reproaches of a party, whose head that condemned them, Leo X. was an avowed atheist, and who looked upon the Gospel to be no better than a fable. There are French Protestants left still, whom Providence has delivered from the bloody hands of the Bishops of France, to maintain the interest of the Reformation; neither does England want able divines sufficient to repel all the Bishop of Meaux’s slanders. After all, I hope the Bishop will give us leave to examine a little the constancy of his Church, as to her faith and worship. In expectation therefore that the several authors, whom the Bishop of Meaux has been pleased to assault, will give him full satisfaction; which as it is no hard matter for them to do, so I question not but they will do it very suddenly: I thought I might take to task one of his books, viz. the XI. wherein he treats concerning the Albigenses and the Waldenses; and forasmuch as therein he has carried calumny to the highest degree imaginable, I thought it was my duty, in examining this part of his book, to give a scantling of his fair dealing, and the sincerity he employs in delivering the history of those two ancient Churches, to whom the reformed party are so much obliged.
I know well enough that the strength of our defense does not depend on the justifying of those Churches. Let the Albigenses have been Manichees, as the Bishop pretends to prove them; let the Waldenses have been only a company of schismatics, as the Bishop is pleased to call them; the grounds of the Reformation will remain just and firm for all that, if the foundation of our reasons holds good, and if the Church of Rome be guilty of the errors, idolatry, and tyranny, whereof we accuse her. But I conceived,
1. That it was well becoming a Christian to undertake the defense of innocence, oppressed and overborne by the blackest calumnies the Devil could ever invent.
2. That we should be ungrateful towards those whose sufferings for Christ have been so beneficial to his Church, should we not take care to justify their memory, when we see it so maliciously bespattered and torn.
3. That to justify the Waldenses and Albigenses is indeed to defend the Reformation and Reformers, they having so long before us, with an exemplary courage, endeavored to preserve the ancient Christian religion, which the Church of Rome all this while has endeavored to abolish, by substituting a bastard and supposititious Christianity instead thereof.
Whilst the Ministers of the Church of Rome think fit to follow his conduct, who was a liar and murderer from the beginning; innocence ought at least to have leave to defend herself against their calumnies, whilst she willingly resigns to God the vengeance of the injustice and violence of those who have oppressed her.
It is not my design here to write the whole history of the Waldenses and Albigenses; that has been done already in several parts, by four or five famous authors, whose books are in all hands; I mean Chassagnon, Perrin, the most learned Archbishop of Armagh, Giles Leger, and Morland. If any thing may be added to their writings, it is concerning the original of those Churches, their condition before the twelfth century, and their total ruin about two or three years ago.
It is for those that live in the neighborhood of Piedmont, and who have received into their bosom the miserable remains of those so pure and so ancient Churches, to preserve the memory of so dreadful a desolation. I hope also that their piety and zeal will prompt them to search with all the exactness possible, for what may serve to continue the sequel of the history of the Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont, since the time where Morland and Leger end their works. I am persuaded also, that those who have undertaken to write an account of the ruin of the Churches of France, will not forget to set down the particulars of that persecution, which has destroyed the flourishing flocks of the province of Languedoc, a country where the Reformation met with so easy a reception at first, because of the remainders of the doctrine of the Albigenses, who had dwelt there for so long a time.
What I undertake in these my reflections is only this; to set down the true antiquity of both these Churches, who were so famous in the thirteenth century, because of the opposition they made against the corruptions which the Romish Church had introduced in matters of faith, worship, and the government of the Church. And as they then maintained, that they derived their original from the Apostles, so I hope to make out, that in so doing they advanced nothing which is not exactly conformable to the history of the ages past, from the time of the Apostles to the thirteenth century. This is that I shall endeavor, by making out the succession of these Churches, as well with respect to their doctrine and worship, as with respect to their ministry.
As this design will engage me in the discussion of a great number of authors, who have lived from the time of the Apostles to the said thirteenth century, so it will be difficult to give so smooth a form to these observations, as might be expected in a continued history. In this case it is unavoidable, but the discourse will prove here and there dry and rugged, what pains soever may be taken to the contrary. But to make amends for this, we may promise, that the judicious reader, who is only in quest of truth, will find abundantly wherewith to satisfy himself, by examining the matters of fact set down in these observations.
I shall treat of the history of each of these Churches in particular, and observe much the same method in the one as the other; and am not without hope, that the remarks I shall make will serve to confound the injustice of those, who, though they know that what the Protestants believe and practice is truly apostolical, cease not to wrangle and prevaricate, upon pretense that we cannot show them any Church before the Reformation, or at least before the twelfth century, which has absolutely defended the same opinions as we do. This also will be of use to strengthen the faith of Protestants, who will perceive from thence, that God, according to his promise, hath never left himself without witness, as having preserved in the bosom of these two Churches most illustrious professors of the Christian religion, which they held in the same purity with which their predecessors had received this precious pledge from the hand of those apostolical men, who at first planted these Churches among the Alps and Pyrenaean mountains, that they might be exposed to the view of four or five kingdoms all at once. I begin with the Churches of Italy.
CHAPTER 1 Concerning the first rise and original of the Churches of Italy
CHAPTER 2 The state of the Christian religion in the diocese of Italy, until the end of the fourth century
CHAPTER 3 Opinions of authors of the diocese of Italy, in the fourth century concerning matters of faith and worship
CHAPTER 4 Concerning the faith of the Churches of the diocese of Italy during the fifth century
CHAPTER 5 Opinions of the Churches of Italy during the sixth century
CHAPTER 6 Opinions of the diocese of Italy during the seventh century
CHAPTER 7 Some reflections upon the Liturgy of this diocese, called the Ambrosian Liturgy
CHAPTER 8 Opinions of the Churches of Italy during the eighth century
CHAPTER 9 Opinions of the Churches of Italy, during the ninth century
CHAPTER 10 The faith of the Churches of Italy in the tenth century
CHAPTER 11 An inquiry into the opinions of Gundulphus and his followers, before the year
CHAPTER 12 Reflections upon some practices of the Churches of the diocese of Italy
CHAPTER 13 That the diocese of Italy was an independent diocese, till after the midst of the eleventh century
CHAPTER 14 Concerning the separation of the Churches of the diocese of Italy from the Church of Rome; and of the faith of the Paterines
CHAPTER 15 Concerning the belief of the Manichees; of their rise in Italy, their growth, and their establishment
CHAPTER 16 Concerning the Cathari spoken of by Evervinus and St. Bernard, and their distinction from the Paterines
CHAPTER 17 A Continuation of the History of the Cathari in Italy, as elsewhere, and their distinction from the Paterines
CHAPTER 18 That the Paterines and Subalpini were not Manichees, as is evident from their writings, and from their opinions in the twelfth century
CHAPTER 19 That the Churches of Italy were not founded by Peter Waldo
CHAPTER 20 Whether the Waldenses were at first only schismatics
CHAPTER 21 Concerning the state of the Church of Rome at the time of the separation of the Paterines or Waldenses; together with the accusations charged upon them by the said Church, and the idea they had conceived of her
CHAPTER 22 Concerning the belief and conduct of the Waldenses in Bohemia
CHAPTER 23 Some instances of the arguments which the Waldenses of Bohemia waged in their disputes with the Church of Rome
CHAPTER 24 Concerning the government of the Churches of the Waldenses, and of the succession of their Ministers
CHAPTER 25 Concerning the persecutions which the Waldenses have suffered since the eleventh century
CHAPTER 26 An instance of the calumnies of some Inquisitors
CHAPTER 27 That the Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont have constantly persevered in the same faith, until the time of the Reformation
CHAPTER 28 Containing the conclusion of this Treatise