THE Church of God is of more value, even as it subsists in this world, than the world itself. It is the purchase of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was crucified for it; and there is no good thing without it worthy of our esteem.
But as our Redeemer invites us to enter and dwell there in for our salvation, so Satan endeavors to make men wander out of it to their damnation. He blindfolds them, that: they may take that for the Church, which only bears the name of it; and keeping them in error, and seducing them by worldly splendor, makes them to despise the true Church, principally, because it is subject to persecution in the world, wherein those who do not honor the master cannot love the servants: Insomuch, that acknowledging no other Church besides that which hath for many ages triumphed in the blood of the martyrs whom it hath slain, they importunately demand, in what then was the Catholic Church if that be not it, which hath so long and so peaceably enjoyed the title thereof?
Where was it concealed, say they, during the ages past? and so they press us at least to show them some one in the whole course of so many years, who believed that which in our time hath been extolled under the name of the Reformation.
This History of the Christians, called Albigenses and Waldenses, will give satisfaction in this matter to those who read it without prejudice; for therein it appears, that for several hundred years past, there have been, especially in Europe, a great number of persons, in divers kingdoms and countries, who have professed a religion altogether conformable to the word of God, and the doctrine which hath been received in the reformed Churches; having mourned under the darkness of Antichrist, where they shined like precious stones in a dunghill, and were fragrant, like the rose among thorns. In the world, they were accounted as vagabonds; but God did there look upon them as his children. He gave them eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand his truth. And as he hath made way for his judgments, in giving up to a spirit of delusion those who had rejected his word; so also hath he made way for his mercy, in withdrawing the residue from the temples polluted with idolatry, causing the sacred and internal ministry of his Holy Spirit to operate in them, by making them temples to himself, and preserving them from the infection of the external ministry polluted with a multitude of human inventions.
The writings of the Waldenses and Albigenses, which have been almost miraculously preserved even unto this present time, and which are contained in this history, show the purity of their religion, and justify them against the imputations, of their enemies. By them it will appear, that their faith was founded upon the Apostles creed, retaining that also of Athanasius. For the rule of their obedience they had the law of the Lord, and for the substance of their devotions, the Lords prayer. They kept the Sacraments instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, in the same purity wherein he at first did institute them. Moreover, they lived under a good and holy discipline, ordering their manners according to the same word which was the rule of their faith. Yet we shall make it appear, that notwithstanding all those things, without which no one can be a true Christian, they have been cruelly condemned to death, banished, pillaged, burned, anathematized, and persecuted with force of arms.
Without reason then is it demanded, where the Church was in the ages past? For it appears that they, whom the popes in almost countless numbers have put to death for righteousness sake, were the Church; although they were contrary to the Church of Rome, and to the popes, in that alone wherein they were contrary to the Church of God.
Now seeing the first point of the truth which those faithful martyrs have maintained, is concerning God, who is without beginning and without end, and without whose command there is nothing true, nor available; it follows, that human inventions must of necessity give place when God. speaketh, truth being more ancient than lies. It must also be acknowledged, that in the former ages, those who, believed in one God, through Jesus Christ, have been the true members of the Church, making the Catholic Church, in whatsoever part of the earth they were placed; and it appears from the doctrine and confession of the faithful, whereof much is spoken in this History, that they put their Trust in the living God alone; and expected life and salvation from no other than the Son of God.
If then for those things they have been slaughtered, what injury is done to those, who render themselves guilty of the same sins, by the bloody desires which they have to banish such out of the world, whose mouths they cannot stop with reason if seeming to seek the Church in ages past, they are sent to the faithful, whom such as themselves have put to death? Ought they not rather to thank God with us, that the endeavors of Satan have been in vain, since the Church of God, in the person of his servants, remains victorious by Faith, and triumphant by Martyrdom?
The notion of which we have not formed in this History according to the cruelty of the punishments, but according to the righteousness and goodness of the cause.
It will contribute much to the glory of God, to follow this blood by the track, collecting together the certain proofs of the faith and constancy of thousands of witnesses, who have sealed the truth with the loss of their lives; for there is no kingdom, state, principality, nor almost city, town, or village in Europe, wherein this innocent blood of Christians hath not been shed.
In this holy occupation we need not doubt the venom of wicked tongues, the scoffs of Atheists, nor the ridicule of profane persons. A stomach illaffected, loveth nothing but what is contrary to it; neither can the wicked esteem anything, but what is agreeable to their vicious palate. If the malicious torrents of the impious could have put a stop to the service which we owe to God and his Churches, we should have given over this history before we had written three lines of it, for it hath been cavilled at by many upon the first notice of it. What then will they not now do, when they shall see that which they thought we could never truly maintain?
Doubtless, passion will extort from malicious souls the suggestions of the malignant; in counterchange for which I will pray to the Lord for those that revile us, that he would make them to know his truth; and that he would grant unto us whom he hath lodged in his house, after the conflicts of this life, the portion which he hath reserved for us in Heaven, through his well-beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ;to whom be praise, honor, glory and power, for ever and ever. Amen.
JOHN PAUL PERRIN.
CATALOGUE OF THE AUTHORS CITED IN THIS HISTORY ADVERSARIES OF THE WALDENSES
Albert de Capitaneis, Archdeacon of Cremona, in his History of the Waldenses. Alphonsus de Castro. Baronius, in his Annals. Bellarmin. Bernard. Bernard de Girard, of Haillan. Bodin. Carpentras, in his Boniour. Claudius Rubis, History of Lyons. Claudius Seissel. Council of Lateran. Council of Lyons. Council of Montpelier. Council of Thoulouse. Council of Vaur. Council of Vienna. Constitutions of Frederick Barbarossa Emperor. Constitutions of King Roger. Constitutions of Pope Alexander III. Constitutions of Pope Alexander IV. Constitutions of Pope Clement IV. Constitutions of Pope Gregory IX. Constitutions of Pope Honorius. Constitutions of Pope Innocent III. Dubravius. Eccius. Gaspard Bruschius. Godofredus Monachus. Gualters, a Jesuit Monk. Guicciardin. Guido de Perpignan. History of Languedoc. Hosius. Jaques de Riberia. John Bale. John le Maire. Krantzius. Letters of Pope John XXII. Lindanus. Louis XII. of France. Martyrology. Matthew Paris. Memorials of Rostain, Archbishop of Ambrun. Noguieres. Paul Languis. Paulus Aemylius. Peres Library. Peter, Monk of Sernay. Platina. Reinerius. Sea of Histories. Ύ Sigonius. Simon DeVoion. Statutes of Louis IX. of France. Statutes of Remond, last Earl of Thoulouse. Thuanus, or Du Thou. Treasury of the Histories of France. Uvier, John. Vesembecius. Walden, Thomas.
PROFESSORS OF THE REFORMATION
Aldegonde. Beza. Bullinger. Camerarius, Joachim. Camerarius, Louis. Catalogue of the Witnesses of the Truth. Chassagnon. Constans upon the Revelation. History of the Churches of France. History of the Martyrs of our Times. History of the State of the Church. Holagary, in his history of Foix. Inventory of Serres. Lavater. Luther. Memorial of George Morel. Memorial of Hannibal Olivier. Memorial of Vignaux. Papoliniere. Review of the Council of Trent. Rudiger Esrom. Vignier, in his Historical Library. Viret.