Third Confession 1. We believe that there is but one God, who is a Spirit — the Creator of all things — the Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us of who is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth — upon whom we are continually dependent, and to whom we ascribe praise for our life, food, raiment, health, sickness, prosperity, and adversity. We love Him as the source of all goodness; and reverence Him as that sublime being, who searches the reins and trieth the hearts of the children of men.
2. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son and image of the Father — that in Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells, and that by Him alone we know the Father. He is our Mediator and advocate; nor is there any other name given under heaven by which we can be saved. In His name alone we call upon the Father, using no other prayers than those contained in the Holy Scriptures or such as are in substance agreeable thereunto.
3. We believe in the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, proceeding from the Father, and from the Son; by whose inspiration we are taught to pray; being by Him renewed in the spirit of our minds; who creates us anew unto good works, and from whom we receive the knowledge of the truth.
4. We believe that there is one holy church, comprising the whole assembly of the elect and faithful, that have existed from the beginning of the world, or that shall be to the end thereof. Of this church the Lord Jesus Christ is the head — it is governed by His word and guided by the Holy Spirit. In the church it behooves all Christians to have fellowship. For her He (Christ) prays incessantly, and His prayer for it is most acceptable to God, without which indeed there could be no salvation.
5. We hold that the ministers of the church ought to be unblamable both in life and doctrine; and if found otherwise, that they ought to be deposed from their office, and others substituted in their stead; and that no person ought to presume to take that honor unto himself but he who is called of God as was Aaron — that the duties of such are to feed the flock of God, not for filthy lucre's sake, or as having dominion over God's heritage, but as being examples to the flock, in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, and in chastity.
6. We acknowledge, that kings, princes, and Governors, are the appointed and established ministers of God, whom we are bound to obey (in all lawful and civil concerns). For they bear the sword for the defense of the innocent, and the punishment of evil doers; for which reason we are bound to honor and pay them tribute. From this power and authority, no man can exempt himself as is manifest from the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, who voluntarily paid tribute, not taking upon Himself any jurisdiction of temporal power.
7. We believe that in the ordinance of baptism the water is the visible and external sign, which represents to us that which, by virtue of God's invisible operation, is within us — namely, the renovation of our minds, and the mortification of our members through (the faith of) Jesus Christ. And by this ordinance we are received into the holy congregation of God's people previously professing and declaring our faith and change of life.
8. We hold that the Lord's Supper is a commemoration of, and thanksgiving for, the benefits which we have received by His sufferings and death — and that it is to be received in faith and love — examining ourselves, that so we may eat of that bread and drink of that cup, as it is written in the Holy Scriptures.
9. We maintain that marriage was instituted of God — that it is holy and honorable, and ought to be forbidden to none, provided there be no obstacle from the divine word.
10. We contend, that all those in whom the fear of God dwells, will thereby be led to please Him, and to abound with the good works (of the gospel) which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them — which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, sobriety, and the other good works enforced in the Holy Scriptures.
11. On the other hand, we confess that we consider it to be our duty to beware of false teachers, whose object is to divert the minds of men from the true worship of God, and to lead them to place their confidence in the creature, as well as to depart from the good works of the gospel, and to regard the inventions of men.
12. We take the Old and the New Testament for the rule of our life, and we agree with the general confession of faith contained in (what is usually termed) the apostles' creed.
In the year 1508, about ten years before Luther began the Reformation, and during the reign of Ladislaus, king of Hungary and Bohemia, a dreadful persecution broke out against that class of his subjects, who held the principles of the Waldenses. The latter, to justify themselves from several charges erroneously imputed to them by their adversaries, drew up an apology addressed to the king, which was still extant in the time of Perrin, and as he has handed down to us the substance of it, I shall here extract a few of the more interesting particulars.
(1) It was said of them, by their adversaries, that a man might leave his wife when he pleased. On which they reply, that "matrimony is a bond which nothing but death can dissolve, except the crime of fornication, as saith the Lord Jesus Christ;" and also the Apostle Paul, I Corinthians VII saith, "Let not the wife depart from her husband, nor the husband put away his wife."
(2) A second calumny regards a community of goods and wives — to which they reply that marriage was of old ordained by God in Paradise; that it was designed as an antidote against adultery; and that it is recorded by the apostle, when speaking of this subject, "Let every man have his own wife, and every woman her own husband." Also, that "the husband ought to love his wife as Christ loveth the church," and that such as are married ought to live holily together with their children in the fear of God. That as for goods, everyone hath possessed his own at all times and in all places — they never having had any such intercommunity among them, as tended in the smallest degree to derogate from that lawful propriety which everyone has by right to his own estate.
(3) Another scandalous charge was, that they worshipped their barbs or pastors. The grossness of this calumny, indeed, sufficiently refuted itself. At one time they are represented as setting aside the necessity of the pastoral office altogether, and making its peculiar duties common to every member — at others they are charged with holding their pastors in such estimation, that they paid them divine honors. The Waldenses refer, on this subject, to their own writings, in which they have shown that God alone is the object of worship, and that they never intended to give that to any creature. And that as to their pastors, regarding them as those by whom they have heard the word of reconciliation, they consider themselves as bound in conscience and duty to treat them with kindness, and to esteem them in love for their work's sake.
(4) They have been accused of maintaining that it was in no instance lawful to swear. In reply to that they say that "some oaths are certainly lawful, tending both to the honor of God and the edification of their neighbors," instancing Hebrews VI:l7. That "men swear by a greater than themselves, and an oath made for confirmation is an end 'of alt strife." They also allege that it was enjoined upon the people of Israel, Deut. VI to swear by the name of the Lord — and also the oath made between Abimelech and Isaac in Genesis XXVI and that of Jacob, Genesis XXXI.
(5) Another calumny was, that they showed no reverence to sacred places maintaining that is not a more grievous sin to burn a church than to break open another house. To defend themselves against this charge they say,
That neither the place nor the pulpit makes a man holy — and that those are greatly deceived who think the better of themselves because of the dignity of the place. For what was greater than Paradise, or what more pure than heaven? Notwithstanding which, man was driven out of Paradise, because he sinned there; and the angels were expelled from heaven, that they might be an example to all succeeding ages, teaching us that it is neither the place nor its grandeur and dignity, but innocence of life that makes a man holy. (6) Again; they are charged with holding, that the civil magistrate ought not to sentence anyone to death. To which they answer, "that it is written a malefactor shall not be suffered to live; and that without correction and discipline, doctrine serves to no purpose, neither would judgments be known or wickedness punished." That therefore, just anger is the mother of discipline, and patience without reason the seed of vices, encouraging the wicked to proceed in their excesses. True it is, that they complained of the conduct of the magistrates in delivering them up to death, without any other knowledge of them than they had obtained from the priests and monks who pretended to discover errors in them and then exclaiming against them as abuse which they had introduced into the church, condemned them as heretics, and delivered them up to the secular power. Moreover, they regarded it as both unwise and cruel, on the part of the magistrates, to give credit to men so carried away with passion as were the priests, and that they should put to death so many poor innocent persons without having either heard or examined them.
(7) Allied to the foregoing was another slander, tending to render them odious to kings and princes, namely, "that a layman in a state of grace hath more authority than a prince living in mortal sin." In reply to that imputation, they said,
that everyone ought to be subject to those who are placed in author! ty — that it' is their duty to obey them, to honor them with double honor, to be subject to them with allegiance, and promptly paying them tribute. (8) The next charge was that the Waldenses affirmed the pope had no authority over the kings and princes of the earth, who derived their authority from God alone; and on which account they took occasion to call them Mamchaeans. They replied:
We believe that the holy Trinity created all things, both visible and invisible, and that (Jehovah) is Lord of all things in heaven, earth, and hell, as it is written, 'All things are created by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.' (9) It was further alleged against them, that they objected to the payment of tithes — that priests might lawfully be put to death, or dispossessed of their tithes, which anyone might retain without scruple of conscience. And it is certain, says their historian, that could the Waldenses have appropriated their tithes to any other purpose than the maintenance of those whom they regarded as "dumb dogs," drowsy watchmen, slow bellies, deceivers, and deceived, they would have done it; but as they had not power to detain them, some of them made any disturbance about the matter. It indeed appears, that in what depended upon their own voluntary choice they gave nothing to such persons, nor cared for any of their helps after death, of which the priests complained, and these took occasion to accuse them as heretics. But let us hear them upon the subject of revenge. "The Lord knowing that we should be delivered up, said 'Beware of men.' But He never teaches or counsels His elect to slay anyone, but on the contrary, to 'love their enemies.' When the disciples said to Him, 'shall we call for fire from heaven and consume them?' Christ answered, 'Ye know not what spirit ye are of.' Also the Lord said to Peter, 'Put up thy sword into its place.' Besides, temporal distresses ought to be despised and sustained with patience, for in them nothing happens that is new. Whilst we are here, we are the Lord's threshold, .to be beaten like corn when it is separated from the chaff."
(10) Claude de Rubis, a virulent Catholic writer, who compiled the history of the city of Lyons, defames them by saying, that, having retired from the city of Lyons, and taken from refuge among the Alps, the Waldenses, like the rest of the inhabitants of the valleys, had become sorcerers — and indeed, says he, there are two things which commonly accompany each other, that is heresy and sorcery, as hath been verified 'in the cities and provinces which have admitted heresy amongst them. To justify themselves against this foul aspersion, they say:
Those act against the first precept of the Decalogue, who believe the planets can control the free-will of man. Such do, in effect, esteem the planets to be gods; for they attribute to the creature that which is the peculiar province of the Creator. Against such the prophet Jeremiah saith, 'learn not the way of the heathen, and be not afraid of those things at which the heathen are dismayed.' Paul also says to the Galatians, 'Ye observe days and months and times and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed on you labor in vain.' They also act against this commandment who believe in sorcerers and diviners, for such believe the demons to be gods. The reason is, because they ask that of demons which God alone can grant, viz. to discover things that are secret, and to reveal the truth of things to come, which if forbidden by God. Leviticus XIX, "Thou shalt not be an enchanter, neither take counsel with familiar spirits or wizards, not inquire the truth among the dead, for all these things are an abomination to the Lord." And as to the punishment which God in a way of vengeance, inflicts upon such, we read in the book of Kings, that Elijah demanded of Ahaziah, saying, "What! is there no God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now, therefore, thus saith the Lord, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die." Saul died, because he had prevaricated with the commandment that God had given him: he kept it not, neither put his trust in the Lord, but asked counsel of a witch: wherefore the Lord slew him, and transferred his kingdom to David, the son of Jesse. It is also said, in the book of Leviticus, that, "whosoever shall turn aside to enchanters and wizards, I will lay my hand upon him, and cut him off from the midst of his people." Everyone ought to know that all enchantment, or conjuration, or charms, or spells, carried for a remedy to men or beasts, are of no avail, but on the contrary a snare and ambush of the old adversary the devil, through which he endeavors to deceive mankind.
(11) One more charge against them is, that they compelled their pastors to follow some trade. Their answer to this is surely a very satisfactory one. "We do not think it necessary, say they, that our pastors should work for their bread. They might be better qualified to instruct us if we could maintain them without their own labor."