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but to which as we have shewn she is very inadequately entitled, BE ASCRIBED TO THE SUFFERING WALDENSES? It is presumed, that on the evidence comprised in this volume they may,—and without hesitation.
(1.) The foundation of the churches of Milan and Turin unquestionably took place, during or soon after the apostolic age. Baronius, upon doubtful authority, ascribes the introduction of the gospel into Milan to St. Barnabas; Damian to teachers sent from Rome; whilst Allix deems it. more probable, that as Polycarp bishop of Smyrna, the disciple of St. John, sent missionaries to Lyons, “ the same preachers who came from Greece, to plant the faith amongst the Gauls, did also cultivate the diocess of Milan, that belonged to Gallia Cisalpina." The same obscurity rests upon the subject as on that of the origin of the church of Rome, and St. Peter's residence in that city.
Even were it true that the teachers were sent by the church of Rome to Milan, the pope could not more lawfully exercise dominion over Milan and its dependent churches, than the bishop of Smyrna who succeeded Polycarp could over the churches established at Lyons and in Gaul. The Waldenses and their fellow-disciples who opposed the authority of the church of Rome in subsequent ages, could in fact refer to as real a succession of christian bishops, priests, and deacons, as other christian communities.* Many valuable names are no doubt irrecoverably lost; but though an impenetrable cloud has concealed individuals who may have shone with no common lustre in their prescribed orbits, and at the several periods in which they lived, the names of Pothinus, Irenæus, and Ambrose, still survive; and indeed so long a catalogue of witnessest against the growing innovations and encroachments of the church of Rome can be produced,a Claudius and an Agobard amongst others that we may without any extravaganceaffirm, that the ancient persecuted church of the Waldenses, preserving in its sequestered retreats the pure light of revelation, and diffusing that light amidst the darkness in which christendom was enveloped,-“ carries, (to borrow the words of a great author upon another subject) an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree, and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings, and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits, its monumental inscriptions, its records, evidences, and titles.” That the doctrines which the Waldenses taught were drawn from the
purest source—the writings of the apostlesand exhibited in just proportion as well as io their best practical results, we have the strongest confirmation in authentic documents of both ancient and modern date.*
(2.) Sanctity—a second mark-is what the Waldenses, no less than Roman catholics, profess to revere. The unspotted holiness of our Redeemer—the invisible head of his church, —they admit as other christians do. That it is the duty of the members of his mystical body to aspire to conformity to their head, by “ following after holiness,” they no less strenuously maintain. That the faith they contend for is not of a licentious tendency, but a faith productive of good works, is confirmed by their published documents. The same documents furnish proofs that they observe the sacraments which Christ has instituted in his church; and that they revere the laws that he has enjoined, whether they relate to personal or social duties ;-to industry, honesty, purity, or any other virtues,kindness towards equals and inferiors, or respect for superiors ;-submission to the magistrate, or allegiance to their prince.t
(3.) Writers hostile to the ancient Waldenses
pp. 142–146. 446—468. + pp. 41-47. 129–131. 297–307.
were compelled to acknowledge their superiority in the department of morals; but condemn them for a supposed violation of unity. The true nature of christian unity-to which the church of Rome, it has been seen, cannot establish her claim-has been accurately described by the moderator, and by protestant writers, in this volume; and the conduct of the Waldenses, in opposing the errors of the church of Rome, has been shewn to be perfectly consistent with a regard to the principle of unity, and communion with that catholic (or universal) church, of which the Waldensian community forms a constituent part.
The protest of the Waldenses against churches that fostered dangerous errors is justified, and the lawfulness of separation from such churches has been sanctioned, by the example of bishops whose memory is honoured by Roman catholics,-Cyprian and Athanasius.
In short, coinciding as the Waldenses do with the greater part of the ancient churches, and with the church of Rome also, in receiving the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian creeds, as standards of doctrine ; instructed by a lawful christian ministry, and adhering to the
pp. 231-242. 258271. 334-340. 347–350. + pp. 247-258. 272—277. 308–310.
two sacraments which have been enjoined by the divine legislator of the church ;* and cherishing a spirit of peace and love towards their fellow-christians of other religious communities,
- yet without conniving at gross errors;—the Waldenses, so far from despising, have given more than sufficient proofs of their wish to preserve, consistently with a paramount regard to revealed truth, that unity which the apostle has so beautifully defined in his epistle to the Ephesians,—“ The unity of the Spirit-.the
unity of faith.”+
(4.) Universality is too illustrious an attribute to be claimed by any particular church. That it forms an integral part of the great whole, is the highest privilege that the church of Rome can assert;—but the Waldensian community can assert the same. If the word catholic be taken in a subordinate, but important sense, as signifying that liberal and generous spirit which disposes christians, instead of confining religion within their own breasts,—or like the Jews within the limits of their own nation and territory,--to accede to their Saviour's command, and
propagate the gospel amongst all nations ;then indeed the Waldensian may be aptly styled a catholic church ;-for during those very ages
pp. 451. 452. 470-482,
+ Eph. iv. 3-16.