The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches
of Piedmont and of The Albigenses
1690 & 1692
Scholar & Historian of the Church of England
TO THE KING.
May it please your Majesty,
IF your Majesty, following the example of your glorious ancestors, did not think it an honour to maintain the Reformed Religion, I should never have undertaken to present your Majesty with a treatise of this nature. This defense of the ancient Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont, is a kind of apology for the Reformation brought about in the century last past, in which those heroes of your name had so great a part. The Reformation, rightly considered, consists only in the rejecting of what for many ages has been superadded to the Christian religion. The conduct of the ancient Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont has served for a model to our Reformers, and has justified their undertaking, seeing they have always preserved amongst them the sacred truths of the Christian religion committed to them, as they had received them from the disciples of the Apostles, and rejected the corruptions thereof, according as by degrees they broke forth in the west.
This hath been the only thing that hath made them the object of the hatred of the Church of Rome, and hath drawn upon them, for so many ages, such prodigious floods of persecution. It is very true, that the wretched remains of these ancient Churches appear too contemptible to attract the eyes of the Princes of the earth towards them; their present desolation seeming so universal, that the world looks upon them no otherwise than irrecoverably lost, and finally destroyed. But all Europe knows, that your Majesty does not judge of things according to the corrupt maxims of the world, but the true light of the Gospel, which informs us, that outward prosperity is not entailed on the true Church; that Jesus Christ owns those only for his disciples, who take up their cross, and follow him; that he knows how to frustrate the hopes of their persecutors, by miraculously supporting and continuing his Church, whilst they suppose themselves to have finally triumphed over it. This is that your Majesty gave a high proof of, when, from your Royal Throne, you were pleased to cast an eye on the miserable estate of that little flock of dispersed Christians, in affording them an happy retreat in your dominions, as to the ancient professors of pure Christianity, and the faithful witnesses of those saving truths which all Protestants do profess. What marks of your charity and compassion have they not received? And of what efficacy hath not this great example of your Majesty been, to oblige your subjects to give them fresh instances of their brotherly love and affection towards them? Thus, Great Sir, whilst you make good the character of a Prince, who draws the eyes of all the world upon him, by the greatness of his exploits, by the steadiness of his conduct, and by the moderation of his government, you, at the same time, bear the impress of a Prince truly Christian, full of zeal for the interests of his Saviour, and of compassion for those who suffer for the sake of his Gospel. This being a truth so generally owned, I have taken the boldness to lay at your Majesty's feet, and publish under your august name, the defense of these illustrious confessors of the truth, whom their enemies have endeavoured to bear down with their calumnies, after having borne them down with the violence of their horrid and bloody persecutions. God hath so miraculously raised your Majesty for the rescuing of the Protestant religion from the destruction ready prepared for it, and which had been infallible, without the vigilance and heroical courage of your Majesty; that those who suffer for it, suppose they may have leave thus to address your Majesty, whilst they comfort themselves in their sufferings, with the prospect of that powerful safeguard and support God hath provided for his poor distressed and afflicted Church, in the person of your Majesty, as an evident mark of his favour and protection. May the great God, who has so tenderly preserved your Majesty against all the attempts and machinations of your enemies, and hitherto has made you triumph with so much glory over them, continue to pour forth on your Majesty the choicest of his blessings and favours, crown with a glorious success the great undertakings of your Majesty for the good of your subjects, for the advantage of Europe, and for the comfort of all those who profess the truth; are the ardent prayers constantly presented to God by him who is, with a most profound respect,
Most humble and obedient
Subject and servant,
TO THE QUEEN
May it please your Majesty,
This defense of the Albigenses, the ancient and illustrious Confessors, who some ages ago enlightened the southern parts of France, is laid down at your Majesty's feet for your protection, as well as their successors do now fly into your dominions for relief. That charity which moves your Majesty to protect them by your gracious favour, and support them by your royal bounty, makes me presume to offer this historical apology to your sacred Majesty.
Their faith was in most things the same with that which our Reformers taught in opposition to the Church of Rome; and after all the endeavours that have been used to blacken them by the most horrid calumnies, as well as to destroy them by the cruelest inquisitions and crusades, the innocency of their lives, and the exemplariness of their deaths, makes them to be justly gloried in as the true authors of the Reformation.
It was from them that this church [Church of England] (now so happy in your Majesty) received the first beams of that heavenly light which it now enjoys, and which it of late maintained with such vast advantages, that it is deservedly esteemed the chief body, as well as the justest glory, of the whole Reformation. The persecutions of those earliest restorers of the doctrine of Jesus Christ drove them out of their country, and forced many to fly into this kingdom for shelter, who brought with them the first seeds of those truths which have since yielded so plentiful an increase. There is nothing in this history that will either strike or charm. Those true disciples of their crucified Master were considerable for nothing but the purity of their doctrine, the innocency of their lives, and the patience as well as the constancy of their sufferings. But the glories of this world which surround your Majesty do not darken or lessen in your esteem these distinguishing characters of the religion of Christ our Saviour, and of those his suffering members, in whose afflictions you are pleased to take so great a share, that you do very much diminish their own sense of them, and make them so much the easier by those vast supports you give them.
May that God who has raised up your Majesty to support religion, and protect its confessors in their lowest circumstances, and who has so miraculously preserved and prospered the King and your Majesty in opposition to the enemies and persecutors of his truth, still pour down the richest of his blessings upon your Majesties; may you perfect what you have so gloriously begun; may you he long, great and happy here, and infinitely greater and happier for ever. These are the daily wishes and most earnest prayers of,
May it please your Majesty,
Your Majesty's most dutiful, most faithful, and most obedient subject,
The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont. Peter Allix. Oxford, at the Claredon Press. MDCCCXXI. Pages iii to vi.