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: That, in the earlier and middle ages, various tribes of Manichèans emigrated from the east into the west, seems, on the whole, to be established by at least very plausible evidence. Some of the adherents of this ancient paganising form of Christianity appear to have planted themselves in the southern regions of France; where also, from time immemorial, the Albigenses had existed as a regu-' larly organised ecclesiastical community. In the eyes of the Romanists, both were heretics : and, in matter of fact, both were to be found within the limits of the same country. To render the accusation plausible, nothing more was necessary : and, as it suited the policy of the Latin ecclesiastics to blacken the Albigenses, they scruple not, on all occasions, even in defiance of their own express testimony, to represent them as determined Manichèans. Traces of this fact perpetually meet us: and no where do they occur with greater copiousness, than in the writings of the Bishop of Meaux. This very learned, but most disingenuous, prelate brings evidence to prove, that various sects in the south of France were tainted with Manichèism, and that their ancestors had emigrated from the east. These sects he would identify with the Albigenses: and thus, by an easy process, the Albigenses, whom in point of doctrine he would carefully discriminate from the Vallenses, are suddenly transmuted into Manichèans.
Yet, how does the matter really stand, when disentangled from gross misrepresentation ?
- We have seen, on the fullest evidence, that, in point of doctrine, the Albigenses symbolised with the Vallenses, whom the Bishop himself is constrained to acquit of all tendency to Manichèism : and, if this be not sufficient, we have additionally seen the actual Confession of faith, made by the Albigenses themselves in open court, and honestly preserved in the 'writings even of their enemy Roger Hoveden. Now this ancient Confession is at once free from Manichèism, and perfectly accords in all its grand outlines with the parallel ancient Confession of the allowedly non-manichèan Vallenses. Hence, whatever Manichèan sects there may have been in the south of France, it is abundantly clear, from direct evidence, that the Albigenses ought not to be reckoned in their number.
We may regret, that the zeal of Bossuet, in what ḥe deemed a good cause, did not permit him to attend to the respectable testimony of an eminent historian of his own country. : Mezeray distinctly specifies the fact, that the Albigenses were frequently confounded with certain contemporary sectaries who were tainted with Manichèism : but, at the same time, he very honestly and very carefully acquits them of the odious imputation so industriously brought against them by their unrelenting enemies.
Treating of the year 1163, he remarks, that There were two sorts of heretics in the south of France. The one class, ignorant and dissolute, were a species of Manichèans : the other class was more learned, and was altogether remote from such filthiness. This second class held much the same opinions as the Calvinists : and they were variously called Henricians and Valdenses. But the people ignorantly confounded them with the Manichèans, Cathari, or Bulgarians
It may be proper to remark, that those, whom we now call Albigenses, did not receive that name until after the session of the Council of Albi. Previous to that period, for whatever reason, they were known, among their enemies, by the appellation of Henricians : and, partly from thc identity of their tenets with those of the Valdenses of Savoy, and partly from the circumstance of their subsequent union with them, they at length came to be distinguished also by the title of Valdenses. Hence, when Mezeray speaks of certain heretics in the south of France, who were not Manichèans, who held much the same opinions as the Calvinists?, and who were variously denominated Henricians and Valdenses ; there can be no doubt, that he speaks of those, who, from the town of Albi, were at length more generally styled Albigenses.
The people, as we are informed by the historian, ignorantly confounded the Albigenses, who were
Mezer. Abregé Chronol. Philippe Auguste. p. 657. Edit. Amsterd. 1674.
Catel. Hist. Tolos. lib. ii. p. 121, 231, cited by Allix. 3 Avoient à peu près les mesmes opinions que ceux qu'on nomme aujourd'huy Calvinistes. Mezer. Abreg. Chronol. p. 657.
not Manichèans, with the Cathari or Bulgarians, who, in his opinion, were Manichèans.
Very probably the people, misled by the representations of the Latin priesthood, might, through a mixture of prejudice and ignorance, eagerly receive and eagerly propagate the confused account so justly censured by Mezeray : but what shall we say of the learned Bishop of Meaux, who has equally and systematically confounded the innocent Albigenses with the Manichèan heretics their contemporaries? Has the Bishop done through design, what the vulgar, according to the historian, did through sheer ignorance? The Bishop and the people have fallen into the self-same confusion with respect to the ancient Albigenses : and Mezeray, the Bishop's own contemporary, pronounces, without hesitation, that ignorance was the cause of the popular mistake. Now, most certainly, neither Mezeray, nor any other man, would dream of charging the eminently learned and the highly talented Bishop of Meaux with ignorance. Such a charge were too ridiculous to be sustained for a single moment. Yet has the great Bossuet strenuously maintained the identical error, into which, according to Mezeray, the people could have fallen only through gross ignorance : and it must be admitted, even by the Bishop's worst enemies, that a more dexterous piece of jesuitical management cannot easily be found, than that which is contained in the eleventh book of his Variations of the Protestant Churches.
I may add, that Gerebrard, in his Chronology, bears exactly the same testimony as Mezeray.
He states, that those ancient religionists in the south of France, who were variously denominated Henricians and Albigenses, were the theological parents of the more modern French Calvinists.
Now the Calvinists, whatever we may think of their leading peculiarity, most certainly neither are nor ever were Manichèans : and Mezeray expressly asserts, as he is fully borne out by direct evidence, that the Henricians or Albigenses of the twelfth century held much the same opinions as the Calvinists of his own time. Therefore, clearly, in the judgment of Gerebrard, the old Albigenses could not have been Manichèans 3.
" Gereb. Chronol. cited by Allix.
The Bishop of Meaux somewhat whimsically demonstrates the Manichèism of the Albigenses from the fact, that they denominated the Pope Antichrist.
Certainly, this argument will swell the ranks of the Manichèans to a very unexpected amount : for, whether well or illfounded, no opinion has prevailed more generally than this among all the protestant Churches. According to the learned Prelate's very original mode of reasoning, Bishop Warburton, who founded a Lecture for the express purpose of shewing the Pope to be Antichrist, must needs have been, intus et in cute, a thorough-paced disciple of Manes.
The most ridiculous part of the story is, that the old eastern Manichèans, who mainly borrowed their speculations from the theology of Persia, never once, so far as ecclesiastical history testifies, fatigued their heads about the Pope of Rome : nay, it may be doubted, whether, if acquainted with him, they would not have been his special friends and admirers, The Gnostics,