A Concise History Of The Baptists
By G. H. Orchard



"I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy," &c.--Rev. 11:3,4.

1. Taking the general features of this prophecy, it appears to have had a more exact accomplishment in the Albigensian and Waldensian churches, than in any other statement of religious communities on record. This application to them of the terms, the two candlesticks and two witnesses, appears more reasonable than any other exposition given. It is rather remarkable that these two churches took for their emblem a candlestick and seven stars, surrounded with a motto of "the light shining in darkness." [Note from Way of Life Literature: The symbolic application of Revelation 11:3,4 to the Waldensian communities can only be a very secondary application of the passage, at best. The true interpretation is the literal one that views the witnesses as men who will live and witness in Jerusalem and perform miracles during the Great Tribulation described in Revelation 4-18.]

2. It has been asserted with considerable grounds of probability, that the gospel was preached in Gaul (France) by the great apostle of the Gentiles: but we have no records that mention, with certainty, the establishment of Christianity n Transalpine Gaul, before the second century. Pothinus, or Photinus, a man of exemplary piety and zeal, set out from Asia, and labored in the Christian cause with success among the Gauls; that from his efforts churches were established at Lyons and Vienne, of which Photinus himself was the first pastor. Irenaeus is supposed to have visited Lyons about A.D. 158, and succeeded to the pastorate of that church after Photinus’s death. While Irenaeus held this situation, the churches experienced a severe persecution, under the emperor Marcus Aurelius, of which Irenaeus gave some particulars to the churches of Asia. He asserts, that the heathens were very bitter against the followers of the Redeemer. The vilest calumnies were propagated against them, consequently they were prohibited appearing in any house except their own; they were forbidden to appear in the baths, in the markets, or in any public places. The first attack came from the populace by means of shouts, blows, dragging their bodies, plundering their goods, with all the indignities and indecencies that might be expected from a fierce and outrageous multitude. Many were hurried to the magistrates--others were led to martyrdom. Some professors, at the beginning of the trial, lapsed into idolatry, which occasioned the brethren the keenest sorrow, they knowing the serious consequences of apostacy under such circumstances. Most of those who fainted under the commencement of this fiery trial were brought to repent, and were restored. A woman named Biblis, under torture, said, in answer to her accusers, "How could they (Christians) devour infants, which were not suffered to eat the blood of brutes." [See above Sect. 2, ~ 2, 4] Their sufferings are detailed in most histories. This state of things lasted eighteen years, during which period apologies were written for the suffering churches and presented to the emperor, which in some instances were found to moderate the prejudices of their enemies.

While other nations were adoring trees, fountains, and other ridiculous objects, the inhabitants of Gaul were most of them Christians, and diverse churches existed in the second century in Narbonne, Gaul. [Mezeray’s Fr. Hist., p. 4, fol.] Simondi says that "Toulouse had scarcely ever been free of this heresy from its first foundation, which the fathers transmitted to their children from generation to generation, almost from the origin of Christianity."’ [History of the Crusades, p. 6]

3. The city of Lyons was again visited with the vengeance of the emperor. Severus, in 202, treated the Christians of this city with the greatest cruelty. Such was the excess of his barbarity, that the rivers were colored with human blood, and the public places of the city were filled with the dead bodies of professors. It is recorded of this church, that since its formation it has been watered with the blood of twenty thousand martyrs. [Collier’s Gr. Hist. Dict. Art. Lyons] These severities led Christians to reside on the borders of kingdoms and in the recesses of mountains; and it is probable the Pyrenees and Alps afforded some of those persecuted people an asylum from local irritation. It is more than probable that Piedmont afforded shelter to some of these Lyonese, since it is recorded that Christians in the valleys during the second century did profess and practise the baptising of believers which accords with the views of Irenaeus and others recorded during the early ages. [See above, Sect. 2, ~ 4]

4. Novatian, whose labors were attended with so much success in Italy and in the East, is said to have influenced some churches in France. "About the year 250," says Mezeray, "divers holy men came from Rome as preachers, who planted churches in several parts, as at Thoulouse, Tours, and other places." [French Hist., p. 4] Faustus, bishop of Lyons, with several other French bishops, says

Milner, wrote to Stephen, bishop of Rome (254), concerning the views and practice advocated by these Novatianists, who again wrote to Cyprian, of Carthage. This bishop replied to Stephen, supporting strongly the cause of the church against schismatics. Marcian, pastor of Arelate, united himself to the Novatianists. [Hist. of the Ch. C. 3, ch. 13] Though the gospel had an early footing in Gaul, it appears to have partaken of the early corruptions, which were evidently checked by Novatian and his adherents, which becomes clear from the anger and reproach apparent among Cyprian, and his ambitious brethren.

In 430, the BURGUNDIANS, a people of Germany, who had received the Christian faith, came into, and obtained a settlement at, Vienne and Lyons, [Mezeray’s Hist. Fr., p. 8] but their influence on these interests is not recorded, though their views of baptism will be given in the German section. The soundness of the Novatian creed was allowed at Rome, and the same was seen in the council of Arles, and at Lyons, where, from their views on predestination, they appear to have been distinguished. [Id., p. 19]

5. The south of France is separated from the north of Spain by the Pyrenean mountains, which extend from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic: that is above two hundred miles, and in breadth, in several places, more than a hundred. The surface is, as may be supposed, most wonderfully diversified. Hills rise upon hills, mountains over mountains, some bare of verdure, others covered with forests of huge cork-trees, oak, beech, chestnut, and evergreens. Nature, in all her original wildness and beauty, is here seen undisturbed, and giving forth in profusion all those productions which can gratify the eye, regale the sense, and satisfy alike the peasant and the prince. Numerous flocks of sheep and goats enliven the hills, while the herdsmen and manufacturers of wool inhabit the valleys; and corn and wine, flax and oil, hang on the slopes. When travelers of taste pass over some parts of the Pyrenees, they are in raptures, and are at a loss for words to express what they behold. To these mountains, in all periods, the sons of freedom fled. Here the Celts found shelter. Here the Goths realized a refuge when the Saracens overran Spain. On the south side of these mountains was Spain, and particularly the province of Catelonia, which was inhabited by those persons who originated the Waldenses. Persons holding sentiments in accordance with the true Waldenses were very numerous in Spain;* they were thousands, and tens of thou sands. [Rob. Res., p. 299] On the north of these mountains was France, particularly Gascony and Languedoc, which two provinces became inhabited by persons of a corresponding character with those of Spain. "At an early period," Dr. Allix says, "the churches of the north of Spain were always united with those of the south of France." [Albig. Ch., ch. 11, p. 109] The religious views of these people are now known by the term Albigenses, from their residing at or near Albi, a city about forty-two miles north-cast of Toulouse. These people were considered a rough, uncultivated, and unpolite people by the historians and writers of their day.

[* The early state of the Spanish churches is unknown; nor do we know whether Paul paid his promised visit to the Christians in this kingdom. In the third century, several denominations of Christians prevailed in Spain. In the fourth century, the Donatists visited it; and the Hieracites, with the Manicheans, were there. There is no regular history of Spain till 324, at which time the Roman church had no influence over others; the primitive discipline was maintained, and the independency of the churches not greatly interrupted. These churches were united by the tie of charity to the churches in Gascony, in France. Their mode of administering baptism, in A.D. 409, was by dipping; nor does it appear that they baptized any but believers. Rob. Res. 197. In the sixth century, the subject of single and trine immersion was agitated, which, in 617, was adjusted among the Catholics, by Pope Gregory declaring trine immersion not essential to salvation. During this century, besides Jews and Catholics, there were abounding in Spain Manicheans, Priscillianists, Acephali (Paulicians), Sebellians, with others, all termed heretics by Catholics. All these Christians administered baptism by immersion, single or trine; and all baptized those who offered themselves for their respective communions. Id. p. 213. There is no trace of minor nor infant baptism till 517, and in 572, the charges for baptizing infants were so excessive, that many infants were lost, which frightened timorous mothers into compliance; and thus the rite and the trade of infant salvation went still together. While these practices were found in the church, persons holding believers’ baptism were spread all over Spain; but one class, from inhabiting Catalonia, at the foot of the mountains, was called Navarri i.e., inhabitants of valleys; these, at after periods, left Spain for France and other provinces, and were called Vaudois in France and Piedmont. Rob. Res., ch. 9, 10. M’Crie’s Reform. in Spain.]

6. In the language of councils at this period, Christians are denominated, either from their opinions, heretics, or with a view to their discipline, schismatics; but there was one article of discipline in which they all agreed, and from which they were frequently named, that was BAPTISM. They held the Catholic community, not to be a church of Christ; they therefore re-baptized such as had been baptized in that community, before they admitted them to their fellowship. For this conduct they were called Ana-baptists. These Baptists in France and Spain called themselves Christians; and censured the fraud of those who imposed on the world, by being called Catholics. They quoted abundance of Scripture to prove a New Testament church consisted only of virtuous persons, born of water and the Holy Spirit; they separated from the Catholics, on account of the impurity of their church; they took the New Testament for the rule of their faith and practice. "The Albigenses admitted the catechumi," says Dr. Allix, "after an exact instruction, and prepared them for receiving baptism by long-continued fasts, which the church observed with them." [Rem. on Ch. Pied., ch. 2, p. 7] Thus these Christians baptized Pagans and Jews, they re-immersed all Catholics; and they baptized none without a personal profession of faith. [Robinson’s Eccles. Res., p. 246]

In a council held at Lerida, 524, it was decreed, that such as had fallen into the prevarication of Ana-baptism, as the Novatianists, with others, if they should return to the Catholic church, should be received, provided they had been baptized in the name of the Trinity. Dissidents made no such distinctions; they immersed converts, and re-baptized others.

We have here stated the views and practices of the early Baptists, and are compelled to consider the inhabitants of the foot of the Pyrenees, whether living on the Spanish side or in the French provinces, as one and the same class of people, Vaudois, who could shift to either kingdom, as circumstances of oppression or liberty occurred in the respective kingdoms.

7. At how early a period the opinions of the Bulgarians, Paulicians, or Bogomilans, were propagated beyond the Alps, is uncertain to us, though the period of awful ignorance in the Catholic church, during the seventh century, would suggest the time.* Neither have we any means of ascertaining, whether the old Puritan churches originated the name of Albigenses, or that a church of dissidents was formed at Albi, by emigrants from Bulgaria or Italy. Mosheim says, they received their teachers, or the conformation of their officers to eldership, from the churches in Italy. [Mosh. Hist., v. ii., p. 224, note] In 714, the Moors entered Spain, and conquered that kingdom. [Ockley’s Hist. and Conq. of the Saracens] Their conquest is said to have been rather favorable to liberty, and even religious freedom could be procured for a small sum, yet these Baptists disdained to purchase a native right, consequently they fled to the mountains which separate Catalonia from Narbonensian Gaul. [Jones’s Eccl. Lect., v. ii., p. 409]

[* The state of the Catholic clergy in France at this period was awful; Mezeray says, most of them pursued a military life;---clergy kept concubines, and deacons, four or five at a time. Ignorance alarmingly prevailed. Bishops were enjoined to learn and understand the Lord’s prayer. The bishops could not be prevailed on to exhort the people. Women gave blessings to the people with the sign of the cross; and conferred on virgins sacerdotal authority. Even a woman, named Joan filled the office of pontiff. Fr. Hist., p. 112, 115, 138. "The genuine religion of Jesus was unknown in this century to clergy and laity, excepting a few of its doctrines contained in the creed." The offices of religion devolved on boys. Mezeray’s Ib. Mosh. Hist., v. ii., p. 167, 421, and v. iii., p. 132, and v. i., p. 503. Rob. Res., p. 258.]

France was alike subject to those marauders from 721 to 732, with the rest of the western empire. At the latter date, Charles Martel was successful in recovering his kingdom from the usurpers: and this military chieftain took the treasuries of the church, with which he rewarded his soldiers. [Mezeray’s Fr. Hist., p. 82] To what extent the Puritan churches realized injury from the barbarians, we do not know; though it is evident the mountains afforded an asylum to many Christians while they governed those kingdoms: and when tranquility was restored, the Spanish refugees emigrated and settled in the French provinces, near the foot of the Pyrenees. Near the middle of the eighth century, many thousands of these people, with their wives, children, and servants, of whose views and practice in religion we have spoken, emigrated over the Pyrenees, from the Spanish to the French foot of the mountains. [Gibbon’s Ro. Hist., c. 52, and Rob. Res., p. 242]

8. During the sovereignty of Charles the Great, the several kingdoms and provinces contiguous to France, were kept in agitation from his military enterprises. In his religious career, he brought into France from Rome, the Georgian liturgy, which was appointed to supersede the Gallican. This bold innovation caused some confusion in the kingdom. He resolved on subduing the Saxons, who were pagans, and inhabited a great part of Germany, but this he found impracticable. In the end, his imperial majesty proposed to the whole nation the dreadful alternative, either of being assassinated by the troops, or of accepting life on condition of professing themselves Christians, by being baptized, and the severe laws, yet stand in the capitularies of this monarch, by which they were obliged, on pain of death, to be baptized themselves, and of heavy fines, to baptize their children within the year of their birth. These people, with Frisians and Huns, were constrained to embrace the Christian religion. This was the first law in Europe for infant baptism, and it was consigned to the clergy to enforce, which they did by converting all the irrational part of kingdoms, to the profession of Christianity. The clergy dwelt largely on the ceremonies of baptism, particularly the necessity of trine immersion, [Rob. Hist. of Bap., p. 282, ch. 26] and the church was fully engaged in adjusting the internal divisions and appointing officers for this newly-acquired territory. Probably the devotion of Charlemagne and the clergy to Germany, allowed the unassuming Vaudois to realize some tranquility; we are unacquainted with the influence of this human injunction on the Dissenters in the south of France.

9. It is recorded of Hinchmar, Bishop of Laudan, in France, that he renounced infant baptism, and that his diocese were accused in the synod of Accinicus of not baptizing children.+ This minister comes in for his share of reproach from Catholics and Protestants, which is no obscure proof of his reforming measures disturbing the hirelings in office. The ensuing age has been fitly termed, by Baronius, a Catholic annalist, the iron, leaden, and obscure age; he says, "Christ was then, as it appears, in a very deep sleep; there were wanting disciples who, by their cries, might awaken him, being themselves all fast asleep." This is perfectly true of the Catholic community; but while this long night of silence and deep sleep, with awful darkness, brooded over every branch of that establishment, the BAPTISTS were not inactive. It was in the tenth century that the Paulicians emigrated from Bulgaria, and spread themselves abroad through every province of Europe. [Mosh. Hist., C. 10, pt. 2, ch. 5, ~ 2] When we consider their object in diffusing truths and holding up the lamp for others guidance, their self-denials and trials, we cannot withhold from them the praise due to their names. The boon such a people proved, to the nations sitting in darkness and death, will be made evident in the day of decision. They rest from their labors, and their works will follow them. Many of the Bulgarian Baptists lived single, and adopted an itinerant life, purposely to serve the cause of their Redeemer. "It was in the country of the Albigeois, in the southern provinces of France," remarks Gibbon, [Ro. Hist., oh. 54] "where the Paulicians mostly took root. These people were known by different names in various provinces. [Mosh. Hist., v. ii., p. 224, Chamb. Dict. Art. Paul. and Albig.]

[+ "Baptism remained in the Catholic church," says Mezeray, (Fr. Hist., p. 117, xxiii. king,) "the same, and was performed by dipping or plunging, not by throwing or sprinkling." Stephen, the pontiff, 754, gave his opinion, that if children were sickly, pouring should in such cases of necessity be valid baptism; but ordinarily, it was administered by three dippings. "Immersion was first left off in France," says Dr. Wail, (Hist. Inf. Bap., pt. 2, p. 220,) "and there, the Anti-paedobaptists are traced." Pouring, aspersion, lustrations, and sprinklings, were customs among the heathen, before Christ or Moses, Potter’s Antiq. of Gr., v. ii. p. 284, &c. Dr. Wall’s Hist. Inf. Bap. pt. 1, p. 501. These lustrations, holy water, and sprinklings, were by the Catholics borrowed from the heathens, as is fully shown in Dr. Middleton’s letter from Rome, pref. xv. and pp. 136--143, and Rob. Hist. of Bap. pp. 421,458.]

10. The French Paulicians or Albigenses, were plainly of the same order in church affairs, as the Bulgarians. They had no bishops [see above, ch. 5, sec. 5, ~ 7]; the candidates were prepared for baptism by instruction and stated fasts. [Dr. Allix’s Rem. Ch. Pied. ch. 2, p. 7, and ch. 12, pp. 103-4] They viewed baptism as adding nothing to justification, and affording no benefit to children. [Id. ch. 11, p. 95. Dr. Jortin’s Rem. on Ecc. Hist., vol. v., p. 226; Ency. Brit. Art. Albig.] They received members into their churches after baptism, by prayer, with imposition of hands and the kiss of charity. [Jones’s Lect., v. ii. p. 275] They did not allow of the catholic baptism of infants, but baptized those again who went over from that church to their community. [Rob. Res., p. 463] They were divided into two classes, the perfect and imperfect, the latter class lived in the enjoyment of things like other men. [Ency. Brit. art. Albig.] They were agreed in regarding the church of Rome as an apostate church. They rejected her sacraments as frivolous. While her clergy were ornamented and arrayed in rich vestments, the Albigensian teachers were satisfied with a black coat.

11. While the catholic community was in an awful slumber, or under those feelings of consternation, as this century drew to a close, and the clergy immured in luxury and vice, the Paulicians or Albigenses were endeavoring to reform men by a simple exhibition of divine benevolence. "Many efforts were made," says Mosheim, "by Protestants, the witnesses of the truth, by whom are meant such pius and judicious Christians as adhered to the pure religion of the gospel, and remained uncorrupted amidst superstitions. It was principally in Italy and France that this heroic piety was exhibited." [Hist., v. ii. p. 198] This is an honorable concession to these reforming Baptists. The Paterines were the zealous advocates of reform in Italy, while the same class of Christians, under the name of Bulgarians, Publicans, boni homines, Albigenses, with several other titles, [Ib. p. 225] openly avowed in France the same doctrines and discipline of the Redeemer. Their united efforts were directed to restore Christianity to her original purity, and to her legitimate and exalted claims. We have now imperfectly detailed, to the end of the tenth century, an account of the only religious body of people who were not immured in the corruptions of the times, and who unceasingly proclaimed the word of truth, in the face of every class of superstitions, and every degree of vice both in clergy and laity.

12. Having stated the views of the early Dissenters, Euchites, Novatianists, Manicheans, Bogomilans, Bulgarians or Paulicians; and proved their denominational character, it will be necessary to conclude this section by reference to modern writers. "No point," asserts Mosheim, "is more strongly maintained than this, that the term Albigenses in its more confined sense, was used to denote those heretics who inclined toward the Manichean system, and who were originally and otherwise known by the denominations of Catharists, Publicans, or Paulicians, or Bulgarians. This appears evidently, from many incontestible authorities. [Ch. Hist., C. 11, pt. 2, ch. 5, ~2, note, and Cent. 13, pt. 2, ch. 5, S 7, note] This slur of heterodoxy is asserted by Robinson; but what import he intended to convey by the term, we know not. The same writer asserts, "Greece was the parent of these Dissenters; Spain and Navarre, the nurses; and that France was the step-mother." [Ec. Res., p. 320] Dr. Allix allows the Albigenses to be looked upon as a colony of the Vaudois. [Rem. on the Albig. Ch., C. 11, p. 114] Being satisfied of their genealogy, we observe the reproach of Manicheism has been improperly applied. We have no means of ascertaining what this offensive doctrine was, as enemies cannot be safely credited where their interest is involved.

It is said, the Manicheans held that good and evil proceeded from opposite causes: if this is all their heresy, if fully investigated, probably many of our modern churches would be involved in the same crime; but since the Paulicians sincerely condemned the memory and opinions of the Manicheans, and complained of the injustice of giving them that term, [Gibbon’s Ro. Hist., ch. 54, vol. x., p. 156] whatever those errors were, they ought not to be united with their name. The reproach is allowed by Dr. Allix as not belonging to the Albigenses; [Rem. Albig. Ch. pref. xi. and ch. 11, p. 95] which is conceded by Dr. Jortin, who asserts they had very little of the Manichean system attached to them. [Rem. on Ec. Hist., vol. v., p. 53] It is very probable the Albigenses held some opinions in common with the Manicheans, as they did in the discipline of believers’ baptism, [Mosh. Com. on the affairs of the Christians before Constant. s. 111] but these Vaudois were not heretical in their views. Baronius says, "they were confuted at a conference before the Bishop of Albi, from the New Testament, which alone they admitted; they professed the catholic faith, but would not swear, and were therefore condemned." [Annals, Cent. 12]

The centuriators of Magdeburgh clear them of heresy. [Annals, vol. iii., Cent. 12, cap. 8, pp. 548-9; Lord Lytteton’s Life of Henry II, vol. iv., p. 395, oct.] Bishops Usher and Newton, with Dr. Cave, have declared their soundness in the faith of the gospel.

13. Dr. Mosheim says, "The Waldenses were less pernicious than the Albigenses" [Ch. Hist. v. ii., p. 432, note], but this view is combated by modern writers, without giving any satisfactory elucidation. [Dr. Maclean in Mosheim, and Jones’s History of the Christian Church, vol. ii., p. 36, 5th ed.] Now, it must appear plain that the Albigensian churches, in their original constitution, did partake of the early puritan discipline, since those societies were, to some extent, made up of those who retained the stern views of Novatian. There is no impropriety in our supposing the "pernicious" difference to consist in some, if not all, of those churches, like the Novatian societies, refusing communion to those who apostatized or fell into flagrant sins, while this severe exclusion might not have been enforced in the churches of Piedmont. That the Albigensian churches partook of this excluding discipline, is acknowledged by Dr. Allix. [Rem. on Albig. Ch. c. 16, p. 145, and Pied. Ch. c. 17, p. 166]



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