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detestable idolatry. Had all their tenets been equally rational with the last, they would not have been obnoxious to much censure. They were divided into two classes ; the perfects and the believers. They all openly professed great purity of manners, and secretly practised the most infamous voluptuousness, on the principle, that from the waist downwards, man is incapable
Such is the disgusting caricature which this writer has exhibited to the world of the Albigenses. But that any man with his eyes open, and capable of exercising two grains of discrimination, should have first of all permitted himself to be so far imposed upon by the Catholic writers, as to give credit to such a tissue of absurd and ridiculous fooleries, and then gravely to detail them to his readers for the truth of history, is at once a striking instance of weakness in the author, and of the necessity of exercising continual vigilance on the part of the reader, if he would neither become the dupe of Papal slander, nor of Protestant credulity. The reader cannot fail to be
History of France, Vol. I. p. 412. London, 1791. I am not iusensible that there is a grossness in this quotation which renders it almost unfit to be transplanted into any other soil; and I am anxious to apologise to my readers for laying it before them; but the truth is, that it is not worse than may be found on the same subject in many other writers, while the recency of its publication, and the high ground which its author has lately taken among us, seemed to entitle him to the right of preference. As to the statement itself, it cannot but remind us of the words of Jesus, “ Blessed are ye when men shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name's sake.”
surprised, when he is told that the author of this wretched ribaldry is no other than John Gifford, Esq. the biographer of the late Right Honourable William Pitt, whose work, recently published in 3 vols. 4to. and 6 vols. 8vo. is held up as a kind of national undertaking! Of the merits of this last publication it would, no doubt, be presumptuous in the present writer to offer any opinion ; but if the biographer of our great statesman have been as regardless of the truth of history in the latter instance as in the former, posterity will owe him but few obligations for his labours.
Mr. Hume had a much more correct view of the character of the Albigenses ; and it is singular that Mr. Gifford should have overlooked it. The following is the passage to which I refer. “The Pope (Innocent III.) published a crusade against the Albigenses, a species of enthusiasts in the south of France, whom he denominated heretics, because, like other enthusiasts, they neglected the rights of the church, and opposed the power and influence of the clergy. The people from all parts of Europe, moved by their superstition and their passion for wars and adventures, flocked to his standard. Simon de Montfort, the general of the crusade, acquired to himself a sovereignty in these provinces. The Count of Toulouse, who protected, or perhaps only tolerated the Albigenses, was stripped of his dominions. And these sectaries themselves, though THE MOST INNOCENT AND INOFFENSIVE OF MANKIND, were extermi
nated with all the circumstances of extreme violence and barbarity.” History of England, Vol. II. ch. xi. Nothing can be more just than this account of the Albigenses, provided we allow Mr. Hume his own definition of the term “ enthusiasts"-a term which he uniformly employs to denote all those who believe the Bible to be the word of God, and who receive it as the rule of their faith and practice. I may further add, that the reader will find his account of the Albigenses to be perfectly consonant to all that is related of them in the following pages.
I shall here take the liberty to introduce, as expressive of my own sentiments, the language of an author, who, more than a century ago, was engaged in the same pursuit with myself, and to whose learned pen the following pages are much indebted. “I conceived that it was well becoming a Christian to undertake the defence of innocence, oppressed and overborne by the black. est calumnies the devil could ever invent. 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. 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, laboured to preserve the Christian religion in its ancient purity, which the Church of Rome all this while has
endeavoured to abolish, by substituting an illegitimate and supposititious Christianity in its stead. So long as the ministers of the Church of Rome think fit to follow his conduct who was a liar and a murderer from the beginning, innocence should not be deprived of the privilege of defending herself against their calumnies, while she willingly resigns to God the exercise of vengeance for the injustice and violence of those who have oppressed her.”*
It may possibly occur to some of my readers that “the Portraiture of Popery,” would have been a title every way as appropriate to the ensuing pages as that which I have given it. And it certainly must be admitted, that the odious features of superstition and intolerance do but too prominently obtrude upon us, wherever the proceedings of that apostate church interpose themselves. The picture which invariably presents itself to the mind, is that of a power " speaking great words against the Most High, and wearing out the saints of the Most High,t’ 0r, of a woman “ drunken with the blood of the saints, and of the martyrs of Jesus.” † It should, bowrier, be remarked, that if the outlines of this hidevus picture have been sketched in the following work, and in colours more sombre than may be pleasing to its friends, the circumstance is wholls accidental, since it is an object that
* Dr. Lui Remarks so the Churches of Pestmont preface, > 6. . Dum ri. 45.
; Rer. IV. 6 SOLL
was entirely foreign to the intention of the writer, further than a faithful record of well-authenticated facts might necessarily lead him to it.
In sketching the History of the Christian Church previous to the times of the Waldenses, I have gone considerably more into detail than was my original intention; but in that particular I have been actuated solely by the desire of rendering the work more generally useful to that class of readers for whom it was principally designed. After all, it pretends to nothing more than a sketch of a vast subject, and no one can be more sensible than the writer himself is of its numerous deficiencies. Whether he may hereafter be induced to resume the subject, and fill up the outline more correctly, must depend partly upon the reception which the present attempt meets with from his cotemporaries, and partly upon other circumstances which are beyond the reach of human control. For the rest he would gladly offer his apology in the words of Father Paul, the Venetian. “He that shall observe that I speak more of some times, and more sparingly of others, let him remember, that all fields are not equally fruitful, nor all grains deserve to be kept; and that of those which the reaper would preserve, some ears escape the hand or the edge of the sickle; it being the condition of every harvest, that some part remains to be afterwards gleaned.” *
• History of the Council of Trent, translated by Brent. p. 2.