Imatges de pÓgina
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to a more perfect system. And thus the different branches of that denomination of Christians have, since that time, been called Mennonites.

For what has been advanced above, inany respectable testimonials and evidences may be adduced, from a large German work of upwards of 900 folio pages. This work contains much matter of church history, and accounts of the Martyrs, throughout every century from the days of Christ and his Apostles, down to the year 1660. It was compiled with much care and attention, from the most ancient and authentic accounts and records of church history and chronology, by T. J. V. BRAGHT-entitled DER BLUTIGE SCHAU-PLATZ, oder MARTYRER SPIEGEL DER TAUFFS-GESINNTEN, oder WEHRLOSEN CHRISTEN, etc.--i. e. THE BLOODY THEATRE, or MARTYRS' MIRROR OF THE ANABAPTISTS, or DEFENCELESS CHRISTIANS, etc. This valuable work was completed in the year of our Lord 1659, and printed in the Low Dutch language; and, in process of time, it was translated into the German language-as also were the writings of MENNO SIMON and THEODORE PHILIP; in which language they are now extant, and have gone through several editions. Here also it will be proper to observe, that in the large work above referred to, are contained the thirty-three articles which comprise the subsequent Confession of Faith. And,

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As the English language has become so prevalent in our day and country, it was deemed necessary to have the articles of our faith translated into the English language, and of having them published therein, for the benefit and prop agation of the church; hoping and believing that they will also be read with advantage by all Christian denominations; inasmuch as they are based on the word of God, and point out the narrow way that leadeth to life eternal.And, should our English friends have heretofore taken up wrong and unfavourable ideas, concerning our religious professions, a knowledge of them now may have the favourable tendency of disposing them to change their minds, and to think quite otherwise. And, should the following pages be read with candour, which we sincerely desire, we doubt not they will be edifying to thousands of our fellow pilgrims on the road to heaven; and may be the means of pointing out, in some degree, that strait gate and narrow way which, according to the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, is found but by few. Matth. 7: 13, 14.

Now, as the German work above alluded to, which contains much authentic evidence to what has been advanced, is, as it were, inaccessible to many of our English readers, we will endeavor to adduce some testimony to prove the antiquity of our religious confession of faith, from DR. MoOSHEIM'S ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY, which is generally admitted to be a stand

ard work. This respectable historian, in giving an account of the Waldenses, in the 12th century, 5th chapter and 11th section of his work, writes as follows:

11. "Of all the sects that arose in this century, none was more distinguished by the reputation it acquired, by the multitude of its votaries, and the testimony which its bitterest enemies bore to the probity and innocence of its members, than that of the Waldenses, so called from their parent and founder, Peter Waldus. This sect was known by different denominations. From the place where it first appeared, its members were called the poor men of Lions, or Leonists; and from the wooden shoes which its doctors wore, and a certain mark that was imprinted upon these shoes, they were called Insabbatati, or Sabbatati. The origin of this famous sect was as follows: Peter, an opulent merchant of Lions, surnamed Valdenses, or Falidisius, from Vaux, or Waldum, a town in the marquisate of Lions, being extremely zealous for the advancement of true piety and Christian knowledge, employed a certain priest, about the year 1160,in translating from Latin into French the Four Gospels; with other books of holy scripture, and the most remarkable sentences of the ancient doctors, which were so highly esteemed in this century, But no sooner had he perused these sacred books with a proper degree of attention, than he perceived that the religion which was now taught in the Roman

church, differed totally from that which was originally inculcated by Christ and his Apostles. Struck with this glaring contradiction between. the doctrine of the pontiffs and the truths of the gospel, and animated with a pious zeal for promoting his own salvation and that of others, he abandoned his mercantile vocation, distributed his riches among the poor, and forming an association with other pious men, who had adopted his sentiments and his turn of devotion, he began, in the year 1180, to assume the quali ty of a public teacher, and to instruct the multitude in the doctrines and precepts of Christianity. The archbishop of Lions, and the other rulers of the church in that province, opposed with vigour, this new doctor in the exereise of his ministry. But their opposition was unsuccessful; for the purity and simplicity of that religion which these good men taught, the spotless innocence that shone forth in their lives and actions, and the noble contempt of riches and honours which was conspicuous in the whole of their conduct and conversation, appeared so engaging to all such as had any sense of true piety, that the number of their disciples and followers increased from day to day. They accordingly formed religious assemblies, first in France, and afterward in Lombardy, from whence they propagated their sect throughout the other provinces of Europe with incredible rapidity, and with such invincible fortitude, that neither fire nor sword, nor the most cruel inven

tions of merciless persecution, could damp their zeal, or entirely ruin their cause.

12. "The attempts of Peter Waldus and his followers were neither employed nor designed to introduce new doctrines into the church, nor to propose new articles of faith to Christians.-All they aimed at was, to reduce the form of ecclesiastical government, and the lives and manners both of the clergy and people, to that amiable simplicity, and that primitive sanctity, that characterized the apostolic ages, and which appear so strongly recommended in the precepts and injunctions of the divine author of our holy religion. In consequence of this design, they complained that the Roman church had degenerated, under Constantine the Great, from its primitive purity and sanctity. They denied the supremacy of the Roman pontiff, and maintained that the rulers and ministers of the church were obliged, by their vocation, to imitate the poverty of the Apostles, and to procure for themselves a subsistence by the work of their hands. They considered every Christian as, in a certain measure, qualified and authorized to instruct, exhort, and confirm the brethren in their Christian course, and demanded the restoration of the ancient penitential discipline of the church, i. e. the expiation of transgression by prayer, fasting, and alms, which the new invented doctrine of indulgences had almost totally abolished. They at the same time affirmed, that every pious Christian was qualified and.

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