BOGOMILS OF BULGARIA AND BOSNIA BY L. P. BROCKETT, M. D.
BULGARIA AND BOSNIA;
The Early Protestants of the East.
AN ATTEMPT TO RESTORE SOME LOST LEAVES OF
L. P. BROCKETT, M. D.,
„The Cross And The Crescent,” ” History Of Religious
AMERICAN BAPTIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY,
1420 CHESTNUT STREET.
Entered to Act of Congress, in the year 1879, by the
AMERICAN BAPTIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
Introduction.—The Armenian and other Oriental churches
Dualism and the phantastic theory of our Lord’s advent
in the Oriental churches.—The doctrines they rejected.—They held to baptism
Gradual decline of the dualistic doctrine.—The holy and exemplary lives of the Paulicians
The cruelty and bloodthirstiness of the Empress Theodora.—The free state and city of Tephrice
The Sclavonic development of the Catharist or Paulician churches.—Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Servia its
principal seats.—Euchites, Massalians, and Bogomils
The Bulgarian Empire and its Bogomil czars
A Bogomil congregation and its worship.—Mostar, on the Narenta
The Bogomilian doctrines and practices.—The Credentes and Perfecti.—Were the Credentes baptized?
The orthodoxy of the Greek and Roman churches rather theological than practical.—Fall of the Bulgarian Empire.. 43
The Emperor Alexius Comnenus and the Bogomil Elder Basil.—The Alexiad of the Princess Anna Comnena
The martyrdom of Basil.—The Bogomil churches reinforced by the Armenian Paulicians
under the Emperor John Zimisces
The purity of life of the Bogomils.—Their doctrines and practices.—Their asceticism
The missionary spirit and labors of the elders and Perfecti.—The entire absence of any hierarchy
The Bogomil churches in Bosnia and the Herzegovina.—Their doctrines more thoroughly scriptural than those
of the Bulgarian churches.—Bosnia as a banate and kingdom
Bosnian history continued.—The good Ban Culin
The growth of the Bogomil churches under Culin.—Their missionary zeal and success
The authorities from whose testimony this narrative is drawn.—Its thorough corroboration by a cloud of witnesses
The era of persecution.—The crusades against the Bogomils.—Archbishop of Colocz
Further crusades.—The hostility of Pope Innocent IV.—More lenient, but not more effective, measures
The establishment of the Inquisition in Bosnia.—Letter of Pope John XXII.—Previous testimony of enemies to
the purity of the lives of the Bogomils
Further persecution.—A lull in its fury during the over-lordship of the Serbian Czar Stephen Dushan.—The reign
of the Tvart-ko dynasty
The Reformation in Bohemia and Hungary a Bogomil movement.—Renewal of persecution under Kings Stephen Thomas
and Stephen Tomasevic.—The Pobratimtso
Overtures to the sultan.—The surrender of Bosnia to Mahomet II. under stipulations.—His base treachery
and faithlessness.—The cruel destruction and enslavement of the Bogomils of Bosnia and, twenty years later,
of those of the Duchy of Herzegovina
The Bogomils not utterly extinguished.—Their influence on society, literature, and
progress in the Middle Ages.—Dante, Milton, etc.—The Puritans.—Conclusion
A liturgy of the Toulouse Publicans in (probably) the Sixteenth Century
Were the Paulician and Bogomil churches Baptist Churches?
THE belief that there had existed through all the ages since the Christian era churches which adhered strictly to scriptural doctrines and practice—churches which were the true successors in faith and ordinances of those founded by the apostles, and had never paid homage to Greek patriarch or Roman pope— was firmly impressed upon the minds of the Baptist church-historians of the first fifty years of the present century. They believed also that these churches were essentially Baptist in their character, and some of them made extensive researches among the works of secular and ecclesiastical historians of the early centuries to find tangible proofs to sustain their conviction. They were partially, but only partially, successful, for the historians of those periods were ecclesiastics of either the Greek or Roman churches, who added, in most cases, the bitterness of personal spite, from their discomfiture by the elders of these churches, to their horror at any departure from papal or patriarchal decrees.
For the last twenty-five or thirty years the ranks of the Baptist ministry have been so largely recruited from Paedobaptist churches—all of which had their origin, confessedly, either at the Reformation or since—that many of our writers have been disposed to hold in abeyance their claims to an earlier origin, and to say that it was a matter of no consequence, but there was no evidence attainable of the existence of Baptist churches between the fourth and the eleventh or twelfth centuries.
To the writer it has seemed to be a matter of great consequence to be able to demonstrate that there were churches of faithful witnesses for Christ who had never paid their homage or given in their allegiance to the anti-Christian churches of Constantinople or Rome. Even in idolatrous Israel, in the reign of its worst king, Ahab, the despairing prophet was told by Jehovah, „Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him ” Was it possible that among these many millions of misguided souls who had given themselves over to the delusions of the Greek and Roman churches, there was not at least as large a proportion, who had not been partakers in the sins or these anti-Christian churches, but had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb?
It was true that both the Greek and Roman churches had put the brand of heresy on every sect which had dared to deny their dogmas; but might it not be that beneath that brand could be discerned the lineaments of the Bride of Christ?
My attention was first called to the possibility of discovering more than had hitherto been known in regard to these early Protestants of the Eastern lands some two years since, While engaged in some studies for a work on the Eastern Question. In the Christian churches of Armenia, Bulgaria, and Bosnia I believed were to be found the churches which from the fifth to the fifteenth century were the true successors of the churches founded by the apostles’ in all matters of faith and practice. The „Historical Review of Bosnia,” contained in the second edition of Mr. Arthur J. Evans’ work on Bosnia in 1876, first opened my eyes to the wealth of the new historical discoveries thus brought to light in Bosnia and Bulgaria. Mr. Evans is a member of the Church of England, an eminent scholar, thoroughly devoted to archaeological investigations, and had made very patient and successful researches on this very subject. While he had explored the libraries of Mostar and Serajevo, as well as of the Greek and Roman Catholic convents throughout Bosnia and the Herzegovina, I found that a considerable portion of his facts were gleaned from two recent historical works—Herr Jirecek’s Geschichte der Bulgaren (Berlin, 1876), and M. Hilferding’s Serben used Bulgaren, originally published in the Sclavonic language, but translated into in 1874. Jirecek is a Bohemian, and, I believe, a Roman Catholic, but a man of great fairness. Hilferding is- a Russian, and attached to the Greek Church. Both treat largely (as they are under the necessity of doing) of the Bogomils, as these early Christians were called, since their history is very largely the history of the two nations for five or six centuries. Both give very minute descriptions of the faith and life of these people, and most of the historical facts given in the following pages are derived from them. But wherever Mr. Evans could find anything in the early secular or ecclesiastical writers of the Dark Ages or medieval times bearing on this subject he has carefully gleaned it, even though it were but A single sentence. This has been done, on his part, solely from a love of archaeological research, for he has evidently no special sympathy with the people about whom he writes; but he is entitled to the praise of manifesting a judicial fairness as between them and their persecutors.
My own labor on the subject has not been confined to the verification of Mr. Evans’ quotations and references, but has extended in certain directions which he had left untouched, such as a careful study of all those affiliated sects whose connection with the Bogomils he had demonstrated, and the tracing up, so far as possible, all hints in regard to their special tenets. Among these I have found, often in unexpected quarters, the. most conclusive evidence that these sects were all, during their earlier history, Baptists, not only in their views on the subjects of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but in their opposition to Paedobaptism, to a church hierarchy, and to any worship of the Virgin Mary or the saints, and in their adherence to church independency and freedom of conscience in religious worship. In short, the conclusion has forced itself upon me that in these ” Christians ” of Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Armenia we have an apostolic succession of Christian churches, New Testament churches, and Baptist churches, and that as early as the twelfth century these churches numbered a converted, believing membership as large as that of the Baptists throughout the world to-day. I have chosen in the narrative to present only the facts ascertained, without making any deductions from them. They are so plain that the wayfaring man can comprehend their significance. In the Appendix (II.) I have endeavored to summarize these facts and to show their significance to Baptists. I now offer the whole as a humble contribution to Baptist church history.
L. P. B.
Brooklyn N. Y., February 1,1879.
BULGARIA AND BOSNIA.
THE ARMENIAN AND OTHER ORIENTAL CHURCHES.
THE wars which from time immemorial are devastated the fair lands of Eastern Europe and Western Asia have had in most cases a religious basis. At first, in pagan times, the worshippers of the gods of the hills attacked the adherents of the gods of the valleys or of the plains; later, the devotees of Bel or Baal made war upon the worshippers of the one living and true God. When Christianity became the religion of the state, its emperors and generals turned their arms against the pagan Avars and Bulgarians, or, full as oft, upon those Christian sects which from their purer worship were denominated heretics by the orthodox. This condition of warfare on religious grounds has continued throughout all the centuries of the Christian era, even down to our own time, sometimes assuming the form of a fierce and bloody persecution against the protesting churches who refused obedience to the Roman or the Greek Church, and sometimes. raging in terrible conflict against the Turk. Even in the war recently in progress, the cross of the Greek Church was arrayed against the Mohammedan crescent.
It is, however, only one division of this series of religious conflicts which specially concerns us—that which relates to the power claimed by the self-styled orthodox Greek and Roman churches to put down, by force and bloodshed, every form of faith which they were pleased to denounce as heresy.
No sooner was the Christian church, by the conversion of Constantine, relieved from the pressure of persecution, than its bishops and leaders began to magnify what it had previously regarded as trifling errors into heretical dogmas which threatened not only the peace, but the very existence, of Christianity. The Bishop of Rome, the Bishop of Alexandria, the Bishop of Carthage, and the Bishop of Nicomedia were ranged against each other in hostile array; council succeeded council; the emperor sided now with Arius and now with Athanasius—first with the iconoclasts and next with the makers and worshipppers of images; and in a few years the followers of the Prince of peace were wielding the weapons of a carnal warfare against each other. These hostilities and conflicts continued through the following centuries, until they culminated in the separation of the two bodies in the East and in the West, since known as the orthodox Greek and the Roman Catholic churches.
But there two churches, differ as they might, had yet many points in common. Their greatest differences were that the Greek Church adhered somewhat more strictly to the early forms of the primitive and apostolic church in its ordinances and ritual, and that it did not recognize the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. Both paid divine honors to the Virgin Mary; both addressed their prayers and homage to saints and angels; both used pictures, icons, statues, and crucifixes in their worship. and both denounced as heretics all who differed from them in belief. By both, also, the churches of the remote East were regarded as fountains of heresy. The Roman Church considered them as guilty of all the seven mortal sins, and the Greek Church proclaimed, that for those who continued in these heretical doctrines there was no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come.
And what were these fearful heresies? The positive doctrines of their belief are hard to trace, since they are only recorded in the accusations of their bitterest enemies. They probably differed considerably in different periods. There had come down to most of these churches from the old Aryan inhabitants of Persia some of the dogmas which had distinguished them, surrounded as they were by idolaters, in their maintenance for more than three thousand years of a purely theistic worship. These Aryans, like their descendants, the Parsees of the present day, held to two principles which governed this world and all worlds—the good principle, called also Ormuzd, and the evil principle or spirit, which they named Ahriman. Both they believed to be subordinate to the Great First Cause, who dwelt in the light unapproachable and had delegated nearly equal power to these two spirits. There is room for admiration that these thoughtful sages, without the light of revelation, should have approached so close to the truth as they did, and yet the great problem of the entrance of sin into the world, and the self-evident fact of its continued existence and its terrible effects, might well, in the absence of purer light, have led them to this belief in dual divinities.
When the religion of Jesus Christ was revealed to these orientals by the preaching of the apostles and their followers and the diffusion of a few manuscript copies of the Gospels, and, later, of the other books of the New Testament, it is not surprising that they should have recognized in Jesus the Ormuzd of their old faith, and in Satan their evil spirit, Ahriman, and, for want of better instruction, should have attributed to them the qualities, powers, and functions which their reformers and prophets had assigned to the two principles; nor that some of the other fictions of their older faith, so dear to Oriental minds, should have clung to their new doctrines, through the slow-moving centuries’ till they were displaced by the clearer light of Revelation.
DUALISM AND THE PHANTASTIC THEORY OF OUR LORD’S ADVENT IN THE ORIENTAL
CHURCHES.—THE DOCTRINES THEY REJECTED.—THEY HELD TO BAPTISM.
As a matter of history, we find that most of the Oriental churches, and indeed some of those of Asia Minor which had been founded by the apostles, were permeated with these dualistic doctrines, though in different degrees. It would not be far from the truth were we to say that there have been traces of it among the most evangelical churches of all the ages since, even down to our own time. As to the doctrines which they did not believe, the evidence is more satisfactory. They honored the Virgin Mary as the mother of our Lord according to the flesh—though there were different opinions even on this point but they refused any worship to her as a divine or superhuman being. True to their old Aryan training, they repudiated alike picture and icon, statue and image, crucifix and crosier. They recognized no bishop or high priest; their elders served them in their simple ritual, and expounded to them the word of God. The initiatory rite of their faith has been to some extent a matter of dispute; with nearly all there is ample evidence that it was as in the Greek Church, an immersion in water, though probably not a trine immersion, and without the anointing, and other ceremonies.
But many of their enemies, overlooking the fact that all their members received baptism on their admission into the church, because it was not attended with the ceremonials and adjuncts of the Greek Church, have spoken of their ceremony of ordaining and setting apart their elders and „perfect ones ” as a spiritual baptism, called by them consolamentum and administered by the simple imposition of hands. The denial of their practice of water-baptism is due solely to this misapprehension. The strictness and ascetic character of their doctrines led them to prohibit all architectural display. Their churches were simple, plain, barn-like buildings, without tower, steeple, or bell. They knew nothing of nave, transept, chancel, or altar. The bare walls of the room had no ornaments; rude seats accommodated the worshippers; a table covered with a white cloth, on which lay a copy of the New Testament, or, if they were unable to obtain this, the Gospel of St. John, sufficed instead of pulpit for their aiders.
At first, with but limited instruction, and with only a small portion of the New Testament in their hands, there is no reason to doubt that their doctrinal views, whether measured by the standard of the Christianity of those times or of our own, were in some respects heretical. The leaders of the Paulicians in the fifth and sixth centuries are reputed to have held these opinions: that God had two sons; that the elder, whom they called Satanael, had been at first endowed with all the attributes of deity and was chief among the hosts of heaven; that by him, through the power bestowed upon him by the Father, the material bodies of the universe—suns, moons, and stars—were created, but, in consequence of his ambition and rebellion, he was driven from heaven, and took with him the third part of the heavenly host. Then, they said, God bestowed the power on his younger son, Jesus, whom he made the heir of all worlds, and gave him the power over all spiritual intelligences. Satanael had created our earth, but Jesus breathed into man the breath of life, and he became a living soul. Thenceforth there was a constant conflict between Satanael and Jesus. The former compassed the death of the latter after his assumption of the human form and nature, but by this very act Satanael secured his own defeat, for Jesus rose from the dead, the conqueror over his great enemy and all his foes, and was received into heaven in triumph, having redeemed by. his death all who should trust in him. We see in this system of doctrine—which it is only right to say comes to us through their enemies—many traces of the old dualistic theory of the good and the evil spirits, but the whole is illumined by a brighter and better hope—that of the speedy triumph of the right and the good— than ever cheered the heart of Zartusht or gleamed from the pages of the Zendavesta.
GRADUAL DECLINE OF THE DUALISTIC DOCTRINE.—THE HOLY AND
EXEMPLARY LIVES OF THE PAULICIANS
As the years gathered into decades and the decades into centuries, and the number of copies of the Scriptures was multiplied and carefully studied by these diligent and simpleminded inquirers after truth, their views of the divine revelation became clearer, their doctrines more scriptural, while their lives were as pure as ever. Well might they assume the title of Cathari—”the pure”—from that beatitude of our Lord which they had from the first made their motto and their rule of life: „Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” Even their bitterest enemies and persecutors could not deny their exemplary character, however strongly they might denounce their want of reverence for images and icons, and their abhorrence of Mariolatry. More than once their foes, even in the act of persecution, were, like St. Paul, converted to their faith and became their leaders and martyrs. But their pure and blameless lives did not in the least degree protect them from cruel persecutions. They had become very numerous among the Armenians and the inhabitants of the Caucasus region, and as early as the begin-ning of the sixth century a considerable number of their leading men had sealed their testimony at the stake, victims of weak or dissolute emperors goaded to persecu-tion by the persuasions or threats of ambi-tious and unscrupulous bishops.
Occasionally, when the emperor happen-ed to be himself an iconoclast, or destroyer of the statues, images, icons, sculptures, and bas-reliefs which abounded in all the churches which had sanctioned the Eastern or Greek ritual, there would be a temporary lull in the persecution, as was the case when Constantine. („Copronymos,” as the monks derisively called him) ascended the throne in 741, and signalized his accep-tance by a general onslaught upon the statues and pictures of the Greek churches; but even he so far sympathized with the general hostility to the „Paulicians”—the name which their enemies then gave them—that he transplanted a large colony of them to Thrace that they might vex and annoy his heathen subjects, the Bulgarians, a mixed race, part Tartar and part Sclavonian.
But this movement, if it was intended as a punishment, failed of effect. The Armenian Paulicians won their way to the hearts of their heathen neighbors and converted great numbers of them to their own faith, and such was the influence of their pure and exemplary lives upon the emperor, that in the later years of his ion,, reign he too was considered a Paulician. But on the accession of his son, Leo IV. (775-78O), and still more under the regency and rule of the ambitious but infamously cruel Irene, his widow, the images and pictures were restored to the churches and the relentless persecution of the Paulicians was renewed. Irene was dethroned and banished in 802, but the persecuting disposition continued amid the frequent changes of rulers till 815, when Leo V. for five years renewed the rule of the image-breakers, and the Paulicians had a brief period of rest. For the next twenty-two years foreign wars attracted the attention of the emperors—Michael II. and Theophilus—from very active persecution.
THE CRUELTY AND BLOODTHIRSTINESS OF THE EMPRESS
THEODORA—THE FREE STATE AND CITY OF TEPHRICE.
On the death of Theophilus his empress, Theodora, became regent (her son, Michael III., being but five years of age), and for fifteen years ruled with a rod of iron. It is a remarkable fact that the empresses and em-press-regents of these Byzantine dynasties were always more cruel, destructive, and persecuting in their dispositions than the emperors. Theodora was no exception to this rule. She restored the images and pictures, convened a council of bishops at Nicaea, which she compelled to register her edict for the maintenance of these idolatrous pictures in the churches, and then turned her whole energies to the destruction of the Armenian Paulicians. She issued her decree that all her subjects should conform to the Greek Church, and when the Armenians refused she sent her armies into their land, put to death, either by the sword or the stake, over one hundred thousand Paulicians (some accounts say two hundred thousand), and drove the remainder into exile.
Satisfied at last that this cruel queen (whose private life was as infamous as her rule was imperious and despotic) meant nothing less than their utter extermination, the Armenians rose in rebellion, having as their leader a brave Paulician named Car-seas, asserted their independence, and after driving Michael III. and the usurper Bardas out of Armenia and threatening Constantinople, established the free state of Tephrice with absolute freedom of opinion for all its inhabitants. From the capital of this free state, itself called Tephrice, went forth a host of missionaries to convert the Sclavonic tribes of Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Serbia to the Paulician faith. Great was their success—so great that a large proportion of the inhabitants of the free state migrated to what were then independent states beyond the emperor’s control. The free state of Tephrice declined for some years, and finally became extinct by the emigration of most of its inhabitants and the surrender of the remainder to the Saracens. The times were not propi-tious to its permanence—for a higher intelligence than then existed among the masses is essential to the existence of a free state—but it had lasted sufficiently long to demonstrate that the religious basis is the best on which to found a state, and that it was possible for a nation to exist while maintaining perfect religious freedom. More than seven hundred years later these problems were wrought out with a grand success on the coasts of a land in the far West, of whose existence no man then dreamed, the motives which prompted the establishment of a free state being the same in the latter as in the former case, and the doctrines professed by these exiles for their faith differing very slightly.
THE SCLAVONIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE CATHARIST, OR PAULICIAN,
CHURCHES.—BULGARIA, BOSNIA, AND SERBIA ITS PRINCIPAL SEATS.—EUCHITES,
MASSALIANS, AND BOGOMILS.
We have now reached a stage in the history of these Cathari, or Paulicians, when their movement takes a new departure. Hitherto it has been mainly of Armenian origin; henceforward it becomes Sclavonic. Bulgaria has become an independent state—an empire, indeed—taking in both banks of the Danube and extending northward into what is now Southern Russia, and southward almost to the gates of Constantinople. More than once its czars, as its rulers were called, had knocked so loudly at those gates that the feeble successors of Constantine started back with affright and were ready to buy a peace by the payment of great sums of money. Two thousand pounds of gold, or nearly four hundred and fifty thousand dollars of our money (a vast sum in those days), was the tribute annually paid by one of these emperors to the Bulgarian czar. On the west and north-west three other independent states were rising into prominence—Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia. Their inhabitants were Sclavonians, and their government, at first patriarchal, had gradually taken on monarchical forms, till, though usually in accord, each state was practically independent; and for the most part all acted in concert with the semi-Sclavonic empire of Bulgaria in resisting the inroads of the Greek emperors. Later they united, now under a Serbian, now under a Bosnian, and anon under a Hungarian, leader in fighting the Turk.
Already, in the beginning of the tenth century, these independent states, and especially Bosnia, had been considerabIy leavened with the Paulician doctrine, to which its enemies, though never weary of denouncing them as Manichaeans, about this time began to apply a new name, that of Bogomils or Bogomiles, while the Bulgarian writers called them also Massalians alla Euchites. There are various explanations of the origin of these names, the most plausible being that they are substantially the same name translated into the Syriac, Greek, and Sclavonic languages. The term Massalians is said to be derived from a Syriac word signifying ” those who pray,” and the Greek Euchites has a similar meaning; while Bogomil is thought to be derived from the Bulgarian Bog z’milui, signifying „God have mercy.” Prayer being the most characteristic act of the Bogomilian worship, as well as of the sects with which it was allied, this derivation has the merit of probability as well as of tradition. Another tradition mentions a Bulgarian elder or pope (the Sclavonic term for priest) named Bogomil. This is a possible Bulgarian name, and answers to the German Gottlieb or the Greek Theophilus, each signifying „beloved of God.”
The believers in these doctrines, it should be observed, never called- themselves by any of these names, and had even dropped that of Cathari, which at an earlier period they had assumed. They called themselves simply „Christians,” and it must be confessed that they did more honor to the name than any of their persecutors.
THE BULGARIAN EMPIRE AND ITS BOGOMIL CZARS.
THE doctrine had during the tenth century taken deep root in Bulgaria and Servia. The czar Samuel, the most illustrious ruler of the Bulgarian Empire, was himself a convert to the faith, while of one of the early Serbian princes, St. Vladimir, it is recorded that he was the zealous enemy of the Bogomils, though his son Gabriel and his wife were members of that sect. From its first introduction into these countries the professors of the Bogomilian faith, under whatever names they were known, had been active propagandists and missionaries, and their success was the more remarkable from the extreme simplicity of their ritual and their absolute avoidance of all appeals to the sensuous element in human nature. Though Bulgaria and Servia were at this time independent states, at least so far as the Byzantine empire was concerned, the state churches were in accord with the Church of Constantinople, and acknowledged their allegiance to the Greek Patriarch. Whatever we may think now of Byzantine architecture, the gorgeous ornamentation of the churches within and without, their chimes of bells, their pillars, porticoes, naves, transepts, and chancels of the most costly marbles and syenites, their altars resplendent with jewels, the sacred paintings and sculptures glowing with color which adorned the walls, the air heavy with the odor of precious incense, and the richlyrobed priests and bishops who chanted and intoned the service,—were all it would have seemed, so attractive to the Oriental taste, with its love of beauty and of sensuous delights, that no simpler and ruder service would have commanded their attention for a moment.
A BOGOMIL CONGREGATION AND ITS WORSHIP.—MOSTAR, ON THE N NARENTA.
BUT let us picture to ourselves (and we have ample authority for the picture) a Bogomilian assembly at the close of the tenth century. We will choose for our location the ancient town of Mostar, in the Herzegovina, which was one of the principal seats of the new doctrine. Along its streets on the Lord’s Day a company of plainly-dressed Bosniacs wend their way toward one of the narrow side streets of the town. They are met at every turn by gayly-dressed men and women, who are on their way either to the Greek church or to the theatre, and who are laughing, shouting, and apparently in the highest spirits; yet they move forward deliberately but determinedly across Trajan’s beautiful bridge, which spans with a single arch of stone the swift and rocky channel of the Narenta, toward a plain, barnlike structure, whose rude stone walls and thatched roof give no indication that it is a temple for the worship of the Most High. They all enter, and the spacious room, with its bare walls and its rude benches, is soon filled. No pillars sustain the comparatively low ceiling; no pictures, bas-reliefs, or sculptures adorn the walls or attract the attention of the worshippers There is no altar radiant with gold and color, no screen for the choir, no pulpit even for the officiating minister; but at the rear of the room a plain table covered with a white linen cloth, and having upon it a manuscript copy of the New Testament, and a roll on which are inscribed some of the grand and inspiring hymns of the apostolic church, furnish the only. indications of the place of the leader of the congregation. By the side of the table sits an old man whose white locks fall upon his shoulders. His plain dress—that of the Bosniac farmer of that time—does not differ from that of the other men in the congregation. His fine intellectual face is hidden by his hand, and his attitude and manner indicate that he is engaged in silent prayer. Presently he rises from his seat, kneels reverently—his example being followed by all the congregation—and utters with evident sincerity and fervor a brief prayer full of feeling and evincing a spirit of devotion which shows that he at least is worthy of the name of Bogomil—”the man who prays.”
At the conclusion of the prayer the whole congregation join him in reciting the Lord’s Prayer, closing with an audible „Amen.” He next commences chanting, in a voice of wonderful melody, some one of those hymns of the early church with which Bunsen, in his Hippolytus, has made us so familiar—hymns doubtless sung by the apostles, and believers of their time. He then reads a portion of the New Testament history. Laying down the precious manuscript, he proceeds to unfold to his eager hearers the character and life of the incarnate Jesus. He tells of his poverty, his sufferings, his rejection by men, his crucifixion, his reappearance in a more glorious beauty and with a more manifest power; of his six weeks’ stay upon earth in this semi-glorified condition, and of his return to heaven amid a throng of attendant angels and saints; and as he portrays him as the Redeemer, the Abolisher of death, and the Conqueror over the Spirit of evil, his eye grows brighter, his tall and commanding form is raised to its full height, and, gazing upward as if, like Stephen, he saw the heavens opened, he breaks forth in that sublime chant of the twenty-fourth Psalm: „Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.” The congregation, deeply moved, chant in the same tones the response, „Who is this King of glory?” and the elder, again taking up the strain, replies, „The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your leads, O ye gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in;” and as the congregation again respond, „Who is this King of glory?” he answers, in sweet but powerful tones, „The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.” Returning, after this episode, to his discourse, the elder describes in such glowing terms the bliss and glory of the heavenly state, the joys of the redeemed, the worthlessness of all earthly honors or comforts, and the insignificance of the trials and persecutions of the present life in comparison with the glory that shall follow, that his hearers are quite lifted above all earthly cares or disquietudes. In all this there is no appeal to the sensuous element; the heaven he describes is not Mohammed’s paradise—not even the glowing and radiant „city of our God” which Chrysostom so eloquently portrayed—but a heaven so spiritual, so pure, and so holy that none but the pure in heart can ever hope to attain unto it. With another fervent repetition of the Lord’s Prayer, in which all the congregation join, adding their earnest „Amens,” the people disperse. In the after-part of the day, as the sun declines to the West, they again assemble for worship and prayer, many of the congregation, and among them some of the older women, participating in the prayers. The reverent repetition of the Lord’s Prayer (the presbyter Cosmas says five times on each Lord’s Day) constituted an important feature of their services.
THE BOGOMILIAN Doctrines AND PRACTICES.—THE CREDENTES AND
PERFECTI.—WERE THE CREDENTES BAPTIZED?
WHAT was the daily life of these people, and what their relations to each other and to the communities in which they lived? The question can only be answered by the testimony of their adversaries—testimony which we may be certain will not be too favorable to them.
They had taken upon them the name of Christians—followers of Christ. Did they honor that name more than the so-called orthodox members of the Greek and Latin churches? Let us scan the evidence.
It is agreed by all the writers who speak of them that their membership was divided into two classes, the Perfecti, or pure ones, and the Credentes, or believers. The Perfecti were never very numerous. In 1240, when the Bogomilian doctrines had spread over all Europe and the number of believers, or Credentes, could not have been less than two millions and a half, and may have exceeded three millions, Reinero Sacconi, or, as Hallam and other English writers call him, Regnier, the inquisitor, the best informed of their enemies, who had himself been at one time a member of the sect, estimates the number of the Perfecti as not exceeding four thousand. These were their leaders, or elders, and their devout women. They went forth to teach by twos, like the seventy sent out by Christ. They were required to remain in a state of celibacy and could not hold any property, these requirements being probably intended to make their journeyings and itinerant labors less trying and to secure their undivided consecration to their work. The presence that they regarded marriage and the possession of property as mortal sins is a fiction of their enemies, as their whole history proves. This relinquishment of property on the part of the Perfecti they regarded as the fulfilment of Christ’s injunction to the young ruler (Matt. xix. 21): „If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.” They were also to lead ascetic lives, to eat only vegetables and fish, and to fast rigidly at certain seasons of the year. They had peculiar signals for recognizing each other, and their support was contributed by the Credentes, or believers. They received the title of elders, and, in addition to their duties as preachers and pastors of the congregations, and missionaries to other lands, they alone had power to administer the consolamentum, or rite of initiation into the ranks of the Perfecti. This was done by the laying on of hands of the elders, by means of which they believed that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, descended upon those on whom hands were laid, and thenceforth they too were elders and missionaries. The rites by which believers were received into the ranks of the Credentes are not specified by their adversaries; it is certain, however, that baptisms—i. e., immersion, for the Oriental churches had no other conception of baptism than immersion—was the principal, and perhaps the only, one. We give below our reasons for coming to this conclusion.* There was a covenant often entered into by the believers to receive the consolamentum at the approach of death, and there is abundant evidence that they celebrated the Lord’s Supper—though without giving it any mystic signification—whenever it was possible, every Lord’s Day. Women were admitted to the ranks of the Perfecti, but they too were required to lead celibate lives and to practice abstinence from meats; they seldom preached, though they often took a part in public worship. More than six hundred years before the organization of any sisterhood analogous to the Sisters of Charity in the Roman Church these holy women, the deaconesses of the Bogomil churches, devoted their whole time to ministering to the sick, to visiting and aiding the poor, to teaching the young the rudiments of their faith—establishing thus in their Lord’s Day instruction the first Sunday-schools in the Christian church—to administering in extreme cases the consolamentum to the dying, and to teaching the ignorant, and especially young girls, the rudiments of learning and the way of salvation. Like the brethren of the Perfecti, they went forth to their work in couples. The Credentes, or believers, were for a period of nearly four centuries the merchants, the traders, the agriculturists, and, to a considerable extent, the nobles and officials of Bulgaria and Bosnia.
* This question of the baptism of the members of the Bogomil, or Paulician, Church as the initiatory rite to membership among the Credentes has been very fiercely discussed by ecclesiastical writers, and not always in the best temper. our reasons for believing that it was always administered are the following:
1. Their well-known and universally-admitted repudiation of infant baptism, and their often quoted declarations that the Credentes should only comprise those who professed personal faith in Christ as their Saviour. The profession was made in some public way, and was evidently not made by the imposition of hands, as that was confined to the Perfecti, or celibate disciples, and was a personal consecration to a specific ministry. This profession of faith was also a prerequisite to participation in the Lord’s Supper.
2. The omission of any mention of this by the presbyter Cosmas, Zygabenus, and others is not an argument against it, for they, as ecclesiastics of the Greek Church, recognized nothing as baptism except the trine immersion of infants, with its accompaniments of unction, naming after one of the saints, and invocation to the saints and the Virgin Mary; and, as all these were repudiated by these humble Christians, they would naturally declare that they did not practice baptism. But, per contra, Harmenopoulos, a Greek priest of the twelfth century, expressly declares that they did practice single immersion, but without unction, etc., and only upon adults, on the profession of their faith. He adds that they did not attribute to it any saving or perfecting virtue, which is in accordance with their other teachings.
3. Reinero, the inquisitor, who had originally been one of them, says: „They say that a man is shell first baptized when he is received into their community and has been baptized by them, and they hold that baptism is of no advantage to infants, since they cannot actually believe.”
4. We find in the histories of Jirecek and Hilferding numerous incidental allusions to the baptism of persons of high rank, such as the ban Culin Tvartko III, King Stephen Thomas, the Duke of St. Sava, etc., who never advanced beyond the grade of Credentes, but who are said to have been „baptized into the Bogomil faith.” That during the period of their greatest persecutions the ordinance was administered secretly, and perhaps at night, is very probable, but there is no evidence that it was ever omitted, much less that any other mode was substituted for it. That would have been impossible in an Oriental church.
THE ORTHODOXY OF THE GREEK AND ROMAN CHURCHES RATHER THEOLOGICAL
THAN PRACTICAL.—FALL OF THE BULGARIAN EMPIRE.
IT was a period when infinitely more stress was laid upon the doctrines which a man believed than upon the life which he led. The questions were not, „Is a man chaste? Is he truthful? Is he honest and upright? Does he love his neighbor as himself? Do his good deeds proceed from right and pure motives?” but, „Does he believe that the Virgin Mary is divine and should be worshipped? Does he worship and pray to the saints ? Is he willing to have icons and pictures of the Virgin and the saints in his house and in his church ? Does he believe that Christ had one will or two, and one nature or two ? If he holds that Christ was divine, does he think that his divine nature was similar to, or identical with, that of the Father? Is there a purgatory? And if so, can the priest by his masses bring the faithful out of it?”
Since the Bogomils did not, or could not, answer these questions of dogma to the satisfaction of the bishops and emperors, they were denounced as „worse and more horrible than demons,” and he who killed them thought he did God service. Yet now and then one of their bitterest persecutors was compelled to acknowledge that their lives were pure and chaste, that they were honest and truthful, kind to their neighbors, and observant of all the ethics of the moral law.
„Would that our orthodox believers were half as exemplary on these points!” says one of their enemies bluntly. But all this was regarded as of no importance so long as they were such heretics in regard to the doctrines of the church. And so the strong arm of persecution was stretched out against them whenever kings, princes, or emperors could be found to permit it. While under the rule of their native princes the Bogomils of Bulgaria suffered comparatively little from persecution. The czars of Bulgaria were humane and merciful; and, though the Bulgarian Church, founded by Cyrillus and Methodius, was in most respects a copy of the Byzantine, yet there is reason to believe that others of the czars besides Samuel turned with a feeling of relief from the florid and tasteless display of the Greek ritual to the simple and fervent worship of the „Christian ” churches.
But, alas! after an independent existence of more than one hundred and fifty years, luring most of which time it had maintained constant warfare with the Byzantine Empire and carried terror and dismay more than once to the very gates of Constantinople, the Bulgarian kingdom fell, in the beginning of the eleventh century, before the prowess of Basilius II., one of the emperors of the Macedonian dynasty, and was annexed to the Byzantine Empire as a province. From the time of this annexation the edicts of persecution seem to have been issued against the harmless Bogomils, but the revolutions and counter-revolutions of the next seventy years in the Eastern Empire, during which time fifteen emperors ascended the throne, left little opportunity for active efforts to put them down.
THE EMPEROR ALEXIUS COMNENUS AND THE BOGOMIL ELDER BASIL.—THE „ALEXIAD”
OF THE PRINCESS ANNA COMNENA.
IN A.D. 1081, Alexius Comnenus I.—not the first of the Comnenus dynasty, but the first who tool that name as a part of his title—ascended the throne, and during his reign of thirty-seven years persecution of all those whom he regarded as heretics was carried on without any scruples of conscience, or any regard to honor or decency. Alexius had a daughter, the princess Anna Comnena, who. with a most inordinate share of vanity, possessed much of her father’s cruel and malignant nature. After her father’s death and the defeat of her conspiracy to secure the throne for herself and her husband she turned her attention to literature, and wrote the Alexiad, a history of her father’s reign, which has been preserved, like the fly in amber, for its very worthlessness, and gives us some idea of the events of that time. In this book she has left an account of the persecutions of the Bogomils.
The leader of the sect at this time was a venerable physician, Basil by name, whose pure life and eloquence in the eposition of his doctrines had given him great influence in Bulgaria. An ascetic in his life, and, like all the elders, a celibate and without worldly possessions, he had supplied his few and simple needs by the practice of the medical profession. The princess Anna unblushingly narrates how her father set a trap to decoy this venerable man into the toils already laid for him, inviting him to the imperial table and luring him on to an exposition of the doctrines of the Bogomils by pretending a deep interest in them and a willingness to embrace their views; holy he brought him into the imperial cabinet and had a long interview with him—of which she professes to have been a witness—in which he artfully drew from him a still more full statement of their views on all controverted points, as well as the secrets of the sect, if there were any, and then, suddenly throwing aside the arras on the wall, revealed the scribe who had taken down the confession of what he termed his heresy, and beckoned to the aparitors—officers of the court—to come forward and put his guest in irons.
Here this delicate princess drops into coarseness and scurrility. She can find no fault in the character, the life, or the conduct of this apostle of the Bogomils, who seems, even from her own account, to have borne himself with a dignity and lofty courage which should have made his imperial betrayer and persecutor utterly despise himself. But, in default of this, she ridicules his personal appearance and that of his followers—though she is obliged to acknowledge that they included members of many of the families of the highest rank—and pours out her venom on his doctrines and declarations, of which, however, she seems to have no very clear comprehension. „Basil himself,” she tells us, „was a lanky man with a sparse beard, tall and thin.” ” His followers,” she says, ” were a mixture of Manichees and Massalians.” This was a slander, so far as the Manichaeism was concerned, which their enemies never tired of uttering, though very few of them seem to have known what the doctrines taught by Manes really were. She prates of „their uncombed hair, of their low origin, and their long faces, which they hide to the nose, and walk bowed, attired like monks, muttering something between their lips.” She denounces their doctrines, as explained by Basil, as being most heretical and blasphemous, though she does not seem to have understood them, but, „what was more shocking still, he called the sacred churches—woe is me!—the sacred churches, fanes of demons.” When he saw himself betrayed by the emperor he declared „that he would be rescued from death by angels and demons.” This is perhaps a perversion of the passage (Acts xxvii. 23, 24) where Paul in circumstances of great peril said, „For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar;” or of that blessed passage in the Psalms, quoted by our Lord: „He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone;” or possibly of that parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in which our Lord tells us that Lazarus was carried by the angels unto Abraham’s bosom.
THE MARTYRDOM OF BASIL.—THE BOGOMIL CHURCHES REINFORCED BY THE ARMENIAN
PAULICIANS, UNDER THE EMPEROR JOHN ZIMISCES.
EVEN in this scurrilous report there is brought before us one of the grandest scenes in the whole history of martyrs for the faith. This old man, with his long white hair and beard, suddenly finding himself betrayed by a most villainous plot of the imperial dastard before him, with his hands fettered and the full consciousness that martyrdom in its most cruel form was his doom, yet utters no reproach against his persecutor, but with a sublime faith looks up to heaven, and declares that he shall be borne to his home above by the angels of God, the ministers who do his will.
Turning away from this scene of ecstatic faith, we find ourselves compelled, not without loathing, to look over the pages of the record of this princess, who tells us daintily, after a vast expenditure of billingsgate, „I should like to say more of this cursed heresy, but modesty keeps me from doing so, as beautiful Sappho says somewhere; for though I am an historian, I am also a woman, and the most honorable of the purple, and the first offshoot of Alexius.” Then, having gratified her vanity with this boasted modesty, she goes on to describe, in all its horrible details, the burning at the stake of this glorious martyr and those of his brethren whom Alexius, the head of the Greek hierarchy, had been able to capture either by force or guile. We cannot bring ourselves to lay before our readers the description she gives so minutely and with such evident enjoyment of the preparations for the holocaust in the hippodrome—the crackling of the fire and the shrinking of the poor human bodies wasted by fasting, but still sustained by unfaltering trust in their Saviour as they come nearer to the flames, the turning away of their eyes, and finally the quivering of their limbs as the fire scorched and shrivelled their flesh.
Can it be, one asks in amazement, that a woman of high rank, and for her time of remarkable culture—a woman, too, professing to be a follower of Christ—can thus gloat over the tortures of a martyr for conscience’ sake? Even the fiends of the pit would blush for shame over such a monster of cruelty.
The Bulgarian Bogomils were unquestionably more rigidly dualistic in their doctrines than those of Bosnia, Serbia, and the Herzegovina. There is also some reason to believe that they held to what the old theologians called „the phantastic theory of the incarnation of Christ”—i. e., that his body here on earth was a phantasm, and not a real body. This was due to several causes. These Bogomils, Paulicians, or Christians of Bulgaria had been largely reinforced by repeated migrations and transplantations from Armenia and the Caucasus, where the doctrine of the two principles had been first professed in a form most nearly allied to that of the Zendavesta. Even as late as the latter part of the tenth century the emperor John Zimisces brought great numbers of these Armenians from their native country and planted them in Roumelia and Thrace. Their abhorrence of the licentiousness, falsity, treachery, and bloodthirstiness of those who ministered at the altars and were the heads of the Greek hierarchy, who worshipped in the gaudy temples of the Greek Church, caused them to cling with greater tenacity to the doctrines of their fathers. It was also true that only portions of the Scriptures had, even as late as the twelfth century, been translated into either the Bulgarian or the Armenian tongue; and so thoroughly had the persecutions and trials they had endured from the Greek Church led them to distrust everything Greek, that very few of them could speak or read the language in which the whole Scriptures were extant. The manuscript copies, even of the books of the Bible, which were to be had in Bulgarian and Armenian were very few, and many of their places of worship were only supplied with the Gospel of John.
THE PURITY OF LIFE OF THE BOGOMILS.—THEIR DOCTRINES AND PRACTICE. — THEIR ASCETICISM.
YET it is remarkable, notwithstanding the two great errors they were charged with entertaining, that their practical Christianity and their belief in the essentials of a true faith were so sound. The name „Christian” was not to them one of trivial or doubtful import: it comprehended a reverence for God and adoration of him as the Father and Source of all good; a holy and abiding trust and belief in Jesus as the Son of God—a divine Being who had made an atonement for their sins, and through whom alone salvation was possible—and in a Holy Spirit, or Comforter, who would teach, lead, and guide them in the way of all truth. It comprehended also very frequent and devout prayer—not to angels or saints or the Virgin Mary, but to Jesus—for guidance and strength, and a constant watchfulness and resistance against all temptation of the evil one; and finally, it included holy living, obedience to God’s commands, the maintenance of that filial spirit which could come to God as a little child comes to its father and in their intercourse with their fellow-men the observance of chastity and purity, the avoidance of desecration of the Lord’s Day, theft, violent anger, murder, falsehood, evil-speaking, and covetousness. In short, though their theology might have been unsound in some points, their Christianity was spotless, and they were „epistles of Christ, known and read of all men.”
We have already noticed some of the dogmas of the Greek Church and of the Latin Church which they denied; the presbyter Cosmas—a Greek priest who lived at the end of the tenth century, and a bitter enemy—shall furnish us with others. Of their vigorous denunciation of the worship of the Virgin Mary, of worship and prayers to the saints, and of images, icons, and pictures of the Virgin and the saints, enough has been said. But they also opposed the use of crucifixes, crosses, bells, incense, ecclesiastical vestments, and everything which contributed to pomp and ceremony in the worship of God. They ridiculed alike the dogmas of transubstantiation and consubstantiation, and denied that the Lord’s Supper had any mystic significance. It was, they said, a memorial service which the Founder of Christianity had to commemorate his sacrifice of himself for the sins of the world, and all true believers should partake of it in both kinds—not as conferring any saving grace, but as a token of their remembrance of him and of their gratitude for his redemptive work. They did not admit any idea of purgatory, but believed that those who died in Christ entered into rest—a blissful state, but not the state of the highest felicity, to which they might only attain after the first resurrection. They were very severe in their denunciation of the wanton, profligate, and ungodly priests and other dignitaries of the church, whose impure and unholy lives were in such marked contrast to those of their self-denying and ascetic elders. The tendency to asceticism among them was strong, as it always is among a persecuted and conscientious people. Their elders subsisted on vegetables and fish only; they held no property, had no home, no wife or child. In some instances, as in the case of Basil, they sustained themselves by their own labor; in others, and especially in the case of missionaries, they were sustained by their brethren, the believers, who did not enter upon the condition or take the vows of the Perfecti. This ascetic and abstemious life was as far removed as possible from the seclusion, the fastings, flagellations, exposure to the weather, and hermit or desert life of the stricter orders of monks and nuns in the Greek and the Roman churches. The devout women also who had entered upon this higher life of self-denial were sustained in their labors among the sick, the poor, and the ignorant by the contributions of the believers. Nor was this an onerous task. Their number was small—not more than one or two in the thousand of believers—and their needs were but trifling. There was no pauperization in this, nor was it regarded in the light of a charity by either the givers or the recipients.
THE MISSIONARY SPIRIT AND LABORS OF THE ELDERS AND
PERFECTI.—THE ENTIRE ABSENCE OF ANY HIERARCHY.
THE spirit of propagandism—or, as it would be both more true and more kindly to call it, the missionary spirit—was very active in them. It is to Bulgarian rather than Bosnian missionaries that the earlier forms of dissent from the Church of Rome are due. The Albigenses—so called from the province where they first appeared in considerable numbers—and the Patarenes—probably from the name of a suburb of Milan in which they were very numerous—were the spiritual descendants of the Bulgarian Bogomils and the first-fruits of their missionary zeal. Their other missionary work was mostly performed in Croatia, Wallachia, Moldavia, and the provinces which now form the southern portion of Russia in Europe. In many cases the congregations established by them affiliated at a later day, and with a more enlightened faith, with those established by the Bosnian Bogomils. They had no organized hierarchy. When their numbers became large the elder most highly esteemed in a province or country. appointed or called to the work twelve apostles, or messengers, who went forth two and two to their work, but with equal powers, rights, and privileges with the elder himself; and if he found it necessary, he called forth „other seventy also.” These were all from the ranks of the Perfecti, but among the believers, there were often those who, prompted by religious zeal, devoted themselves to Christian work. In the end most of these received the imposition of hands, which initiated them into the official body.
This simple organization was very probably drawn from the civil organization of the Sclavonic tribes. Among these the patriarch, who was the father and ruler of a numerous household, became, as his influence widened, by the voluntary selection of his equals, the zupan, or elder, of a commune, and one of these zupans, by the choice of his fellow-zupans, became the grand zupan, or elder, of his tribe or province, with the chance of being called to the still higher station of ban (prince), or czar (chief ruler or king). But in the Bogomil eldership there was nothing analogous to the Latin archbishop or pope, or the Greek archimandrite, patriarch, or metropolitan. In the thirteenth century, when there were in Western Europe thirteen provinces of believers all tracing their origin to the Bogomils of Bosnia and Bulgaria and numbering some millions of believers, all affiliated with their brethren of those countries, though the Bosnian chief elder might be regarded as the wisest councillor in their ranks, he possessed no more ecclesiastical authority than the youngest elder of the most distant and feeblest province.
THE BOGOMIL CHURCHES IN BOSNIA AND THE HERZEGOVINA.—THEIR DOCTRINES
MORE THOROUGHLY SCRIPTURAL THAN THOSE OF THE BULGARIAN CHURCHES.—BOSNIA
AS A BANATE AND KINGDOM.
LET us now turn to Bosnia and the Herzegovina, or, as it was called about this time, the Principality of Chelm. The introduction of the Bogomil doctrines was not effected in most of this region till the early part of the tenth century, and they did not take deep root there till toward the close of the eleventh century. By that time, however, the whole country was very thoroughly leavened with them, though there had not been any persecution instituted against them. The orthodox church of Bosnia had been from the first more Sclavonic than Greek. It had originated from the labors of Cyrillus and Methodius, and, though accepting in general the dogmas of the Greek Church and its gorgeousness of architectural decoration and ecclesiastical display, its Scriptures, psalter, and ritual were in the Sclavonic, and not in the Greek, tongue. It had manifested, up to the twelfth century, none of the persecuting spirit of the Greek or the Roman Church. It had wavered in its allegiance, now recognizing the pope as the head of the church, and anon manifesting by its services and its dogmas a preference for the Eastern Church, though it had no sympathy for the Byzantine rulers or people.
The Bosnians—or Bosniacs, as they call them selves—had, after the Sclavonic fashion, elected their zupans from the patriarchs of the communes, or the groups of villages, and their grand zupan, whom they as early as the beginning of the tenth century had begun to call ban—i. e., prince or grand duke—from the zupans or chiefs of their groups of villages. They were practically independent, acknowledging in some great emergency, as of war or territorial acquisition, now the Ban of Croatia, anon the Grand Zupan of Servia, and perhaps a little later the King of Hungary, as over-lord or suzerain, and following one or other to the battle-field. But in time of peace this suzerainty amounted to very little. At no time from the beginning, of the tenth century were they the acknowledged subjects of the Byzantine emperor. If his generals succeeded in subduing the over-lord under whose banners they had last marched, they transferred their fealty to another over-lord who was not subdued, or remained in their mountain-fastnesses, which the Byzantine troops, enervated by luxury, found inaccessible.
In 1138, Bela II., King of Hungary, under this nominal suzerainty attempted, at the instance of the pope, to make a raid against the Patarenes—one of the names which the popes bestowed upon the Bogomils—in the country between Cetina and Narenta. These names of places or districts indicate that the region visited was in the Herzegovina and Montenegro rather than in Bosnia proper. This expedition seems to have e accomplished nothing. The pope was occupied with other wars and crusades against heresy, and the Hungarian king—whose real name was Coloman, though he reigned under the title of Bela II. or Geiza II., Bela or Geiza being the royal patronymic of that period in Hungary—was soon engaged in a war with Manuel I., one of the ablest of the Byzantine emperors; and in this war, which continued for a long time, the Hungarian king was powerfully aided by his natural son, Boric, who had been chosen ban of Bosnia.
BOSNIAN HISTORY CONTINUED.—THE GOOD BAN CULIN.
ON the death of Boric, in 1168, his son, known in Bosnian history as the good ban Culin, became the ban, or ruler, of Bosnia. His reign extended over thirty-six years—years of peace, quiet, and prosperity to his country. The recent war with the Byzantine emperor, as well as the preference of the Hungarian kings for the Latin rite, had inclined both Bela III., who was now on the Hungarian throne and the acknowledged suzerain of Bosnia, and his chief vassal, the ban Culin, to acknowledge the superior claims of the Papacy. For the twelve years which followed Culin’s accession to the throne of Bosnia the pope, Alexander III., was too busy in fighting the anti-popes of that period to do much in the way of suppressing heresy; and meanwhile, Culin, at first considered a dutiful son of the Church of Rome, had lapsed into the heresy of the Bogomils, and with his wife* and his sister, who was the widow of the Count of Chelm (the modern Herzegovina), had submitted to baptism and been numbered among the Credentes, or believers. Pope Alexander III., on hearing of this departure from the faith, at once exerted such a pressure upon the ban through his suzerain, the King of Hungary, that he recanted from his Bogomil doctrines, appearing, it is said, in person at Rome with his recantation not later than the early part of A.D. 1181.
*Culin had married a sister of Stephen Nimanja, Ban of Serbia, whose Bogomilian opinions were notorious before her marriage.
Whether the corruptions which were even then prevalent at Rome disgusted him, or the persuasions of his wife and sister were too strong to be resisted, we know not; but it is certain that within a few years the ban Culin was reported to Pope Innocent III. as having relapsed into his former errors and as having infected at least ten thousand of his subjects with his heresy. This was in 1199. The next year it was reported that Daniel, the Roman Catholic bishop of Bosnia, had joined the Bogomils or Patarenes, and, soon after, that the Roman Catholic cathedral and episcopal palace at Crescevo had been destroyed by the heretics. For many a year thereafter there was no Roman Catholic bishop of Bosnia.
The pope was furious. He appealed to the King of Hungary to punish his heretic vassal. But Culin was too strong to fear the Hungarian armies, and the Hungarian king was too well aware of his strength to venture any attempt to coerce him. And thus it came to pass that while Western Europe was devastated by De Montfort in his crusade against heretics, the banat of Bosnia afforded a secure asylum to persecuted adherents of the Bogomilian heresy from all parts of Europe.
THE GROWTH OF THE BOGOMIL CHURCHES UNDER CULIN.—THEIR
MISSIONARY ZEAL AND SUCCESS.
For the hundred years ending with A. D. 1220 the Bogomils of Bosnia had been very active in missionary work. They still affiliated to some extent with their brethren in Bulgaria, though they had greatly modified their views concerning the origin of the two principles of good and evil, and no longer held to the phantastic theory of the incarnation, but conformed to the present orthodox views of the human nature of Christ, and accepted the Old Testament in its entirety. But though their theology was elastic and comprehended somewhat differing views, their Christianity was pure, simple, and stern as ever. The Albigenses, and probably some of the earlier Catharist churches, had been the converts of Bulgarian missionaries; but the Waldensian congregations, the believers of the plains of Lombardy and the South of France, the Catharists of Spain, the early Reformers of Bohemia, the „Ketzers” of the Lower Rhine, the Publicani (a corruption of Pauliciani) of Flanders and England, were all the followers and disciples of the Bogomilian elders or djeds of Bosnia. Reinero Sacconi—or Regnier, as the English historians call him—an Italian apostate of the beginning of the thirteenth century, who, having been one of the Bogomilian Credentes, had recanted and, uniting with the Roman Catholic Church, become an inquisitor, states that the churches of the Cathari, as he calls them, numbered then as many as thirteen bishoprics, or rather elderships—for they did not recognize the name of bishop—that of Bosnia or Sclavonia being the most important and the parent of the others. These elderships were scattered through all the countries of Europe, and extended in an unbroken zone from the Black Sea to the Atlantic and from the Mediterranean to the Baltic. They had penetrated into England and made their appearance in Oxford and its vicinity in 1160. Henry II., then on the English throne, called a council, and on its finding, issued a decree that the Publicani should be branded on the forehead with a red-hot key, publicly whipped and thrust forth from the city, and that nobody should give them food or shelter. The poor wretches, the historian adds, owing to the rigor of the season and the sentence, sunk under the punishment, and were all dispatched.
THE AUTHORITIES FROM WHOSE TESTIMONY THIS NARRATIVE IS DRAWN.—ITS THOROUGH
CORROBORATION BY A CLOUD OF WITNESSES.
THESE are not hasty generalizations, confounding sects essentially distinct with each other, and giving them a common origin of which they were ignorant, as some of the ecclesiastical historians have pretended, but well-authenticated facts, every link in the chain of evidence being attested by reputable witnesses.
The German ecclesiastical writers Gieseler, Neander, Mosheim, and Schmidt had collected many facts on this subject, as had also Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of Rome, and Hallam in his State of Europe during the Middle Ages, but Mr. A. J. Evans, in his recent monograph on the history of Bosnia, has with great labor and research made an exhaustive study of the whole subject, and has brought the most conclusive proofs of the derivation of all these early Protestants from a common source, and that source the Bogomils of Bosnia and Bulgaria. Jirecek, a recent Bohemian writer on Bosnia and Bulgaria and Hilferding, a Russian historian of Serbia and Bulgaria, under which he includes Bosnia, both adduce official evidence of the affiliation of the Bogomils with the Waldenses, the Bohemians, and the Moravians, as well as of their identity with the „Poor Men of Lyons,” the Vaudois, the Henricians and the so-called heretics of Toulouse, the Patarenes of Dalmatia and Italy, the Petrobrussians, the Bulgares or Bougres, and the Catharists of Spain. Matthew Paris, Roger of Hoveden, and Ralph of Coggeshale, three of the most renowned of the early British chroniclers, testify to their presence in large numbers at this period in Toulouse, in Provence, in Flanders, and in England, and that they were called in the latter two countries Publicani or Poplicani,, a corruption of Pauliciani. All these writers trace them directly or indirectly to their origin in Bosnia; and Matthew Paris and Ralph of Coggeshale, trusting probably to the misrepresentations of some of the Romish inquisitors, relate that the Albigenses, Waldenses, and other heretics of France, Spain, and Italy had a pope of their own, who resided in Bosnia, that he created a vicar (apostolic?) in Toulouse whose name was Bartholomew, and that these heretics went annually to consult their Bosnian pope on difficult questions of faith and doctrine. The Bosnian djed, or chief elder, may have enjoyed some sort of actual primacy in consequence of his age, experience, and more profound acquaintance with doctrine, and had probably sent some of the Bosnian elders as missionaries to Toulouse; but in so doing he could not have claimed any ecclesiastical authority, as a hierarchy of any sort was utterly abhorrent to the spirit and temper of both the Bogomils and their affiliated sects in the West. A careful and critical examination of the civil and ecclesiastical histories of this period in England, France, and Germany affords abundant corroborative evidence of the origin of all these sects from the Bosnian churches, and of the complete identity of the doctrines professed by them all. Under the fierce persecutions instituted against the Waldenses, Catharists, etc., of Western Europe by the popes in the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth centuries, we have the testimony of the popes themselves that very many of the Waldenses, Patarenes, Publicans, etc., took refuge with their brethren in Bosnia, which at that time was protected by the good Ban Culin.*
*Ralph of Coggeshale goes into considerable detail of the doctrines of the Publicani in Flanders and England, and thereby establishes their complete identity with the Bogomils. They held, he says, to two principles—of good and evil; they rejected purgatory, prayers for the dead, the invocation of saints, infant baptism, and the use of pictures, images, and crucifixes in the churches; they accepted, of the New Testament, only the Gospels and the canonical Epistles (here he was certainly misinformed); they insisted, in their prayers and all their worship, on the use of the vulgar tongue; their elders and perfect ones, both men and women, observed a vegetable diet and condemned marriage. In this connection he relates a most shameless and cruel story told him by gervase of Tilbury, then clerk of the Archbishop of Rheims, subsequently an historical writer. This profligate clerk relates to him how, having failed to seduce a beautiful countrygirl, he perceived her heresy, accused her successfully before the Inquisition of being one of the Publicani, and feasted his eyes with her dying agonies at the stake. Even the hardened monk Ralph cannot refrain from adding that, ” girl though she was, she died without a groan; as illustrious a martyr of Christ (though for a different cause) as any of those who were ages before slain by the pagans for their Christian faith.” It must have been an heroic courage and faith indeed which could draw forth such an encomium from a monkish narrator.
THE ERA OF PERSECUTION.—THE CRUSADES AGAINST THE
BOGOMILS.—THE ARCHBISHOP OF COLOCZ.
WE return from this digression to an account of what befel the Bogomils of Bosnia after the death of „the good Ban Culin.” After his decease, which occurred in 1205, the King of Hungary, wishing to pacify Pope Innocent III., procured the election of Zibisclav, a Sclavonian, but a strict Roman Catholic, as Ban of Bosnia. But the pure lives, the honesty, integrity, and industry, of the Bogomils, were too much for this Roman Catholic Ban, and he became a convert to the hated sect. There were peace and quiet in Bosnia till 1216, when the learned and gentle Pope Honorius III., having ascended the papal throne, believing that these heretical Bogomils could be convinced of their heresies by argument, sent the accomplished subdeacon Aconcius to Bosnia to labor for their conversion. But the arguments of the eloquent subdeacon proved no more efficacious than those of his predecessors: the heresy grew and increased, like the waters of Noah’s flood, continuously. Northward and northwestward, in the provinces of Croatia, Dalmatia, Istria, Carniola, and Sclavonia, which had hitherto been strongly Roman Catholic, the number of converts multiplied daily, while at home they were fast becoming the dominant power.
In this emergency the Archbishop of Colocz, in Hungary. stood forth as a defender of the Romish faith. Armed with authority from the pope and the Hungarian king, he entered Bosnia in 1222 at the head of a host of Hungarian Catholics, and used the sword with such good effect that he had shortly possessed himself of the provinces of Bosnia, Ussora, and Soy. The Ban Zibisclav, who seems to have possessed very little of the Sclavonic pluck, notwithstanding his Sclavonic origin, was compelled to abjure his errors, and, falling humbly at the feet of the pope, Gregory IX., received from him an embrace; in return for which he professed to be willing to dedicate to his service his person, his lands, and all the goods he at that time possessed. This was in 1233.
The subjects of the Ban were not inclined to be included in this abject surrender. The violent persecution which had raged for eleven years had not terrified them, though it had subjugated their Ban, and their answer to their persecutor was the erection of more places of worship and the setting apart of a greater number of djeds, or elders, both for home and missionary work. Pope Gregory IX. was enraged at the boldness of these heretics. Provence had been overrun and purged of its heresies, the Waldenses had been driven into the fastnesses of Piedmont, and should he be thus flouted by these Serbian BogomiIs? It was not to be thought of for a moment. A new crusade was proclaimed, and Coloman, Ban of Sclavonia and brother of the King of Hungary, was to lead it. In 1238 he entered Bosnia. with a large army to exterminate the heretics. The weak and treacherous Zibisclav permitted without protest or resistance the havoc and devastation which this ruffianly crusader made among his best subjects. Coloman „purged”—so they called it—the whole kingdom, and extended his ravages through the principality of Chelm, which formed the south-western portion of the present Herzegovina. No troubadour has sung, no historian has recorded, the barbarities and atrocities of this war of extermination: we only know that many thousands were enrolled among the glorious army of martyrs, and that from under the altar, the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held, uttered again their cries for vengeance on the cruel persecutor of the saints. Pope Gregory IX., in 1240, congratulated Coloman on ” wiping out the heresy, and restoring the light of Catholic purity;” but ere his death, in 1241, he had discovered that his congratulations were premature.
The Tartar invasion of 1241, which weakened the power of Hungary, and in which the crusader Coloman and the base coward Zibisclav both fell on the field under the fierce assault of the Khan Ugadai, relieved the Bogomils from persecution for a time.
FURTHER CRUSADES.—THE HOSTILITY OF POPE INNOCENT IV.—MORE
LENIENT, BUT NOT MORE EFFECTIVE, MEASURES.
IN 1246, Pope Innocent IV. found that there was need of a third crusade in Bosnia, and again it was entrusted to an archbishop of Colocz. „A man skilled in all the science of war,” King Bela IV., aided him in his impious work. He butchered many heretics and cast thousands into dungeons, and succeeded in persuading the pope that his deserts were so great that the Roman Catholic see of Bosnia was transferred from the archiepiscopal diocese of Spalato to that of Colocz. But his triumphs were of short duration. A bishop had been established in Bosnia after the first crusade in 1240, and had maintained his episcopal authority, not without difficulty, till 1256, but then it lapsed a second time. The Bogomils were still in the ascendency, and the Hungarian suzerainty was no longer potent in the affairs of Bosnia.
The popes Alexander IV., Urban IV., and Clement IV., perhaps more enlightened, and certainly more politic, than their predecessors, abandoned their method of converting the Bogomils by fire and sword, and resorted to persuasion. The Dominican and Franciscan friars were established in Bosnia between 1257 and 1260, and argument and entreaty took the place of violence. Still there was no Roman Catholic bishop of Bosnia, nor did persuasion prove more effective than force.
There is nowhere any record among the persecutors of these cruelly-harassed Bogomils that they rose against their persecutors, or that when, as was often the case, they temporarily attained to power, they ever sought to persecute in turn, or to do any injury to those who had so often and so deeply injured them. If they are to be regarded as Christians who follow the example of the Lord Christ, who, when he was reviled, reviled not again, and suffered in patience the contradiction of sinners, are not these humble and patient souls to be reckoned as eminently entitled to that honored but much-abused name ?
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE INQUISITION IN BOSNIA.—THE LETTER
OF POPE JOHN XXII.—PREVIOUS TESTIMONY OF ENEMIES TO THE PURITY
OF THE LIVES OF THE BOGOMILS.
ABOUT 1275, Bosnia passed under the overlordship of the King of Serbia, Stephen Dragutin, and his successor, Milutin Urosh II. The latter was favorable to the Romish Church, and in 1291 allowed two Franciscan brothers to establish the Inquisition in Bosnia. But at first the jaws of this terrible wild beast were muzzled. For a period of about sixty years the Bogomil churches had rest, and, like those in apostolic times, „walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”
After this season of peace and quiet the hand of the persecutor was raised against them more violently than ever. The Hungarians had once more regained their ascendency in Bosnia, and the Romish authority was re-established there. In June, 1325, the pope, John XXII., wrote two letters, one to Charles, King of Hungary, the other to Stephen Kotromanovic, Ban of Bosnia. The letter is still extant, and bears date at Avignon. The following is a literal translation of it:
„To OUR BELOVED SON AND NOBLEMAN, STEPHEN, PRINCE OF BOSNIA: Knowing that thou art a faithful son of the church, we therefore charge thee to exterminate the heretics in thy dominions, and to render aid and assistance unto Fabian, our inquisitor, forasmuch as a large multitude of heretics, from many and divers parts collected, hath flowed together unto the principality of Bosnia, trusting there to sow their obscene errors and to dwell there in safety. These men, imbued with the cunning of the Old Fiend and armed with the venom of their falseness, corrupt the minds of Catholics by outward show of simplicity and lying assumption of the name of Christians; their speech crawleth like a crab and they creep in with humility, but in secret they kill and are wolves in sheep’s clothing, covering their bestial fury as a means whereby they may deceive the simple sheep of Christ.”
How terrible the danger that these ravenous lambs would tear and destroy the meek, gentle, and timid wolves of the Inquisition!
This was not the first time that the Bogomils had been accused of hypocritical meekness and gentleness. Three centuries before, the presbyter Cosmas had said, „When men see their lowly behavior, then think they that they are of true belief; they approach them, therefore; and consult them about their souls’ health. But they, like wolves that will swallow up a lamb, bow their head, sigh, and answer full of humility, and set themselves up as if they knew how it is ordered in heaven.” And to the same purport Euthymius, the scribe of Alexius Comnenus, who furnished the evidence on which the Bulgarian elder was sent to the stake, says of them: „They bid those who listen to their doctrines to keep the commandments of the gospel, and to be meek and merciful and full of brotherly love. Thus they entice men on by teaching all good things and useful doctrine, but they poison by degrees and draw to perdition.” We could hardly ask for stronger evidence than these hosthe popes and priests supply of the purity of the lives and doctrines of those whom they persecuted.
FURTHER PERSECUTION.—A LULL IN ITS FURY UNDER THE SERBIAN CZAR,
STEPHEN DUSHAN.—THE REIGN OF THE TVART-KO DYNASTY
THE appeal to the King of Hungary and the Ban of Bosnia did not fail of effect. The persecuting edicts went forth in 1330; the inquisitor plied his satanic arts, and once more ” the lilies of the field,” as their elders were wont to call them, were trampled under foot. Many of their leaders and elders, as well as the believers, were burned or driven from the realm, and all the horrors of the old crusades were repeated. But all the zeal of the inquisitor Fabian, seconded by his royal coadjutors, did not suffice to materially diminish their numbers.
In 1337, Pope Benedict XII., who had succeeded John the Persecutor, made the discovery that Bosnia was as full of heresy as ever, and endeavored to start a fourth crusade against the Bogomils of Bosnia, calling to his aid the Bans of the adjacent states and the King of Hungary; but the Hungarian power was again waning, and the powerful Serbian czar, Stephen Dushan, was already reducing the adjacent banats to subjection. Availing himself of these facts, the Ban, Stephen Kotromanovic, who seems to have been a shrewd ruler, was able to divert them from their purpose.
In 1340 the Czar Dushan had assumed the over-lordship over Bosnia, what is now the Herzegovina, Croatia, Rascia, Sclavonia, Ruthenia, Dalmatia, and a part of Hungary. Dushan had no sympathy with the Church of Rome, but he was content to let things remain as they were. The monks made great efforts to convert the Bogomils, even professing to work miracles for that purpose, and the inquisitor tried and burned all he dared.
The Serbian over-lordship came to an end in 1355, with the death of Dushan, and the Ban, Stephen Kotromanovic, busied himself for the next three years with the effort to gain as his vassals some of the states which after the death of Dushan had broken off from the suzerainty of Serbia. He secured an over-lordship over the principality of Chelm (a part of the Herzegovina) and the banats of Rascia and Zeuta (the present Montenegro).
In 1358, Stephen Tvart-ko, a nephew of Louis the Great of Hungary, succeeded to the throne of the banat, and by his rare tact and ability added to his sway as vassals the Princes of Chelm and Zeuta, the Ban of Dalmatia, the Zupans of Canal and Tribunja. In 1376 he wrested from his uncle Louis the permission to assume the title and state of King of Bosnia. He aspired to still higher honors. He hoped to unite under his sole dominion all the Sclavonic states of the Balkan, and to rule as Czar over a wide and powerful empire. His lineage and that of his queen were connected with the reigning families of all the neighboring states, and, as the legitimate heir of several of these families, he had a claim on this extended sovereignty. In his reign of thirty-three years he included under his sceptre a larger territory than any other Bosnian ban or king. His administration was distinguished by wisdom and toleration. He was no theologian, and in his own personal belief leaned alternately to the Greek and the Roman Catholic churches, but his toleration of the Bogomils was steady, persistent, and generous. During his reign they were free from persecution, though the Franciscan friars complained to Pope Urban V. in 1369 that he was the protector of the Patarenes, and the pope attempted in vain to stir up his enemies against him, writing to the King of Hungary, his uncle, that King Tvart-ko, „following in the detestable footsteps of his fathers, fosters and defends the heretics who flow together into those parts from divers corners of the world as into a sink of iniquity.” The hopes which he had entertained of extended empire were crushed by the great and fatal battle of Kossovo, in 1389, and he died in 1391, greatly lamented, though his last days had been clouded by misfortunes.
The toleration of the Bogomils was continued during the short reign of Tvart-ko II. (1391-1396), and increased during the long reign (1396-1443) of his successor, Tvart-ko III., surnamed „the Just,” who, together with the principal magnates of his realm, was an adherent to the Bogomil faith. During the long period of eighty-five years the demands and threats of the popes were of little avail. Though the reign of Tvart-ko III. was for a time disturbed by civil disorders, and there were at one time two, and at another three, princes professing to be kings of Bosnia, he was at no time so weak as to fear the incursions of the allies of Rome.
THE REFORMATION IN BOHEMIA AND HUNGARY A BOGOMIL
MOVEMENT.—RENEWAL OF PERSECUTION UNDER KINGS STEPHEN THOMAS
AND STEPHEN TOMASEVIC.—THE POBRATIMTSVO.
DURING this period the Bogomils, availing themselves of all their opportunities for missionary work, were sending aid and encouragement to their brethren in Bohemia and Hungary, and the Reformation under John Huss and Jerome of Prague was avowedly a Bogomil movement. At this time also their leaders were men of such learning and culture that Pope Pius II. in 1462 found it necessary to send the most learned men he could find to Bosnia to refute their heresies.
But with the death of Tvart-ko III. there came a change. His successor, Stephen Thomas, was the illegitimate son of one of Tvart-ko’s rivals, and was raised to the throne by the Bogomils, to whose communion he belonged. But he was a man of weak and vacillating temper, and when the crafty papal legate, Thomasini, threatened him with the rejection of his claims to the throne unless he abjured his faith and became a Roman Catholic, and promised to reconcile his rivals and to give him a consecrated crown if he yielded to his demands, the weak king, after a feeble resistance, consented, abjured, and was baptized into the Roman Catholic fold in 1444. one of his vassals, Stephen Cosaccia, Duke of St. Sava, was a strict Roman Catholic, and refused allegiance to him unless he thus abjured his faith. But no sooner had Stephen Thomas. the Bosnian king, commenced or permitted the persecution of the Bogomils than the Duke of St. Sava (the modern Herzegovina) cut loose from the papal party and joined the Bogomils himself.
In 1446, Stephen Thomas found the sentiments of his people so strongly arrayed against him that, like the English King John, he was compelled to assemble the magnates of his realm, and the Bogomil leaders among them, at Coinica, and grant them large privileges, and, among others, toleration for the Bogomils, but his cowardly and craven nature led him to falsify his oath and deliver them over to the power of the Inquisition. In 1450 the Bogomils, wearied and disgusted with his treachery and the cruelty of the Inquisition, turned for protection to the Turks, and compelled the king to buy an ignoble peace by the payment of a large tribute. In 1457 he appealed to the whole Christian world for help against the infidel, but he was said to have already made with the Turkish sultan that solemn alliance of sworn brotherhood known to the Sclavonic race as the Pobratimtsvo.* These constant changes and tergiversations had alienated all his friends from him, and his assassination on the field of Bielaj in 1459 by his step-brother and his own illegitimate son, Stephen Tomasevic, caused little sorrow.
*The Probratimtsvo was a secret rite, performed with much ceremony and the mingling of the blood of the two parties to it, by which they became sworn brothers and the recipients of each other’s fullest confidence. The violation of the vow of brotherhood was considered the most horrible of crimes.
The parricide at once usurped the throne, and proved a baser man than his father. He claimed to be a Roman Catholic pure and simple, and solicited the aid of the pope, Pius II (AEneas Sylvius), on the express ground of his desire to commence immediately the extirpation of the Bogomil heresy. In the first year of his reign he turned the arms of his troops against his unoffending Bogomil subjects, and in a few months had slaughtered or driven out of his kingdom forty thousand of them. In 1463 he again appealed to the pope, apparently in great distress at the near approach of the Turks. He had occasion for this appeal. He had continued his persecution of the Bogomils, and they, the majority of the population of his realm, and especially of the cities, were justly incensed against him.
The prospect of another influx of Romish heresy-hunters was not a pleasing one to them, and, finding that they had nothing to hope for from their king, they turned to the Turkish sultan and opened negotiations with him. An agreement was made that they would transfer their allegiance to him, and he in return guaranteed them their personal liberty, free toleration for their religion, freedom from taxation, protection of property, and other privileges.
OVERTURES TO THE SULTAN.—THE SURRENDER OF BOSNIA TO MOHAMMED II. UNDER STIPULATIONS.—His BASE TREACHERY.—THE DESTRUCTION AND ENSLAVEMENT OF THE BOGOMILS OF BOSNIA, AND THE DUCHY OF HERZEGOVINA.
THE sultan crossed the Dwina in June, 1463, and on the 15th of that month the fortress of Bobovac, the strongest in Bosnia, and the ancient seat of Bonian bans and kings, surrendered to him, its governor being a Bogomil. The treacherous and cowardly king fled to Jaycze, another strong fortress, but on the approach of the Turkish pasha escaped to Clissa, where, after forty days’ siege, he surrendered on condition of his life being spared, giving up his treasures, amounting to a million of ducats. In eight days seventy strong cities, nearly all of them commanded by Bogomils, opened their gates to the sultan’s officers.
But Mohammed II. was a base and infamously treacherous prince. He used the wretched Stephen Tomasevic to the utmost, gaining possession through him of all those towns which had not already surrendered, and then caused him to be executed, with the most barbarous tortures, on the field of Bielaj, where he had assassinated his father. We have no tears to shed over this retributive justice upon the parricide, but the fate reserved for the Bosnians, and particularly for the Bogomils, was such as to cause the sultan’s name to be handed down to after-ages as the synonym of infamous perfidy. The most eminent of the Bosnian nobles who had not escaped to Dalmatia were transported to Asia; thirty; thousand of the picked youth of Bosnia, sons of the best families, were placed as cadets among the Janissaries, to be converted to the Mohammedan faith and recruit the Moslem armies; two hundred thousand of the inhabitants, including the young and beautiful, were sold as slaves; the cities and lordly residences were plundered, and the whole land given over to desolation.
This blow did not fall at this time on the Herzegovina, as its inhabitants stood by their duke, Stephen Cosaccia, who, though profligate in life, had protected the Bogomils, who formed by far the larger part of his people. They fought bravely for their country and drove away the Turks, but were compelled to pay tribute. Twenty years later, under the rule of Cosaccia’s sons, the Turkish armies again invaded the duchy, and enacted much the same scenes as they had done in 1463 in Bosnia.
The results of this conquest were disastrous for Bosnia, and almost annihilated the Bogomils. The noble youth who were placed in the hands of the Janissaries came back in due season Mohammedans in faith, and inherited their old estates; and there is to this day in Bosnia a large population (more than four hundred thousand) Sclavonians by birth, but Mohammedans in religion. This fact greatly complicated the religious question in the recent war.
THE BOGOMILS NOT UTTERLY EXTINGUISHED.—THEIR
INFLUENCE ON SOCIETY, LITERATURE, AND PROGRESS IN THE
As to the Bogomils, there is little reason to suppose that any considerable portion of the adult population embraced Mohammedanism. Of the two hundred thousand slaves, a part—perhaps the larger part—may have done so, but those who were left wifeless and childless could do little to maintain their faith. The Roman Catholics are to this day weak there, and mainly made up of Italian and Austrian immigrants into the country; the main portion of the Christian population is Sclavonic and attached to the Greek Church, and have come in from the adjacent states.
But Bogomilism did not entirely die out. In the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries we find traces of the Bogomils, sometimes as objects of persecution, and both Gardiner and Blunt, ecclesiastical Cyclopaedists, say that for many years past they have had churches in the vicinity of Philippopolis. In the insurrection of 1875 among the refugees from Turkish cruelty and outrage who fled to the adjacent Austrian provinces, they were found in considerable numbers. Mr. W. J. Stillman, our consul at Ragusa, ascertained that there were about two thousand of them in that city alone, and mostly from Popovo and its vicinity, and learned that they were still numerous in the valley of the Narenta and near Crescevo.
Mr. D. Mackenzie Wallace, in his recent very able work on Russia (Am. ed., New York, 1877, pp. 293-305), gives a very full account of the Molokani and Stundisti, two Protestant sects holding nearly the same views, whom he found in Southern and Central Russia, and whose tenets he studied with great care and impartiality, visiting and conferring with their elders in regard to their views.
This narrative of Wallace shows beyond question that these South Russian sects are the legitimate spiritual descendants of the Bogomils. Mr. Wallace, who is, at least in sympathy, a Presbyterian of the Kirk of Scotland, says that he was attracted to the Molokani (Hepworth Dixon says the name means „milk-drinkers”) because he had discovered that their doctrines had at least a superficial resemblance to Scotch Presbyterianism. After some interviews with their leading men he found that, though some of their doctrines had a strong resemblance to Presbyterianism (especially, it would what may be considered their Calvinism, though they never had heard of Calvin), yet there were these differences: Presbyterianism has an ecclesiastical organization and a written creed, and its doctrines have long since become clearly defined by means of public discussion, polemical literature, and general assemblies. „The Molokani,” he says, „hold that Holy Writ is the only rule of faith and conduct, but that it must be taken in the spiritual, and not in the literal, sense. For their ecclesiastical organization the Molokani take as their model the early apostolic church as depicted in the New Testament, and uncompromisingly reject all later authorities. In accordance with this model, they have no hierarchy and no paid clergy, but choose from among themselves a presbyter (or elder) and two assistants—men well known among the brethren for their exemplary life and their knowledge of the Scriptures—whose duty it is to watch over the religious and moral welfare of the flock. On Sundays they hold meetings in private houses—they are not allowed to build churches—and spend two or three hours in psalm-singing, prayer, reading the Scriptures, and friendly conversation on religious subjects.”
Mr. Wallace declares, after the most intimate intercourse with them, that their knowledge of the Scriptures (atlthough they were all peasants) left nothing to be desired. Some of them seemed to know the whole of the New Testament by heart, and they were exceedingly familiar with the Old Testament. They are Sclaves, and their Bibles, like those of the Bogomils, are in the Sclavonic tongue. „Never have I met,” he says, „men more honest and courteous in debate, more earnest in the search after truth, and more careless of dialectical triumphs than these simple uneducated peasants.”
There exists among the Molokani a system of severe moral supervision. If a member has been guilty of drunkenness or any act unbecoming a Christian, he is first admonished by the presbyter (or elder) in private or before the congregation; and if this does not produce the desired effect, he is excluded for a longer or shorter period from the meetings and from all intercourse with the members. In extreme cases expulsion is resorted to. On the other hand, if any one of the members happens to be, from no fault of his own, in pecuniary difficulties, the others will assist him. This system of mutual control and mutual assistance has no doubt something to do with the fact that the Molokani are always distinguished from the surrounding population by their sobriety, uprightness, and material prosperity. The testimony from all quarters was that they were a quiet, decent, sober people. Their doctrines were in general those of evangelical Protestant churches, but, as they had no creed but the Bible, Mr. Wallace believed that there was room for considerable diversity of theological views, though he acknowledged that he was unable to recognize any evidence of that diversity. „One gentle. man,” he says, „ventured to assure me that their doctrine was a modified form of Manichaeism” (the old charge), „but I did not put much confidence in his opinion, for I found on questioning him that he knew of Manicheism nothing but the name.” The prevalent opinion, which they did not controvert, was „that they were the last remnant of a curious heretical sect which existed in the early Christian church.” They are persecuted by the Greek Church and the government, though not so bitterly now as formerly. They are said to be loyal and patriotic toward the emperor, but all the efforts of the Greek Patriarchs or the government to convert them to the views of the orthodox Greek Church have proved utterly unavailing. Mr. Wallace estimates their numbers at several hundred thousand.
The Stundisti, whom we know to be Baptists, are a sect of more recent origin, but agree generally in their doctrines and practices with the Molokani.
There comes to us also, since the conclusion of the war between Russia and Turkey, cheering evidence that four hundred years of Moslem sway and the profession of the Moslem faith have not utterly driven out from the hearts of these descendants of Bogomil nobles the recollection of the faith of their fathers. Several recent writers on Turkey and Bosnia have intimated that these Sclavonic Mohammedans were not so strongly opposed to Christianity as has been supposed; and Mr. A. J. Evans, who has been travelling in Bosnia again in 1877 and 1878, thus writes in his Illyrian Letters: „An active leader among the Begs (Sclavonic Mohammedan nobles) answered as follows the question whether he would imitate some of his associates, who were already receiving baptism from Bishop Strossmeyer (the Austrian Roman Catholic bishop) and his priests: ‘Not yet, but when the time comes and the hour of fate strikes, I will do so in another style. I will call together my kinsmen, and we will return to the faith of our ancestors as one man. We would choose to be Protestants, as are you English; but if need be, we will join the Serbian Church. Latin we will never be. If we go into a Roman church, what do we understand? My family has never forgotten that they were once of your faith and were made Moslems by force. In my castle there is a secret vault in which there are kept the ancient Christian books and vessels that they had before the Turks took Bosnia. My father once looked into it, then closed it up, and said, ‘Let them be; they may serve their turn yet.’ How many of these secret vaults in Bosnia may yet be opened and their Christian books brought out?”
But though thus apparently stamped out in the land of its birth and its greatest triumphs, under the heel of the fanatic Turk, the doctrine of these martyrs of the faith survived and in more western lands pervaded and influenced the religious life, the social condition, and the literature of the subsequent centuries.
It seems to be conclusively demonstrated that in his early life the greatest of Italian poets, Dante Alighieri, was a mender of the sect of Patarenes, one of the names by which the Bogomils of Italy were designated; and though later in life he probably gave in his adhesion to the Romish faith, the evidence of his early doctrinal beliefs is manifest in the „Heaven” and „Hell” of the Divina Commedia. That the same views had taken full possession of the mind of John Milton two hundred years later, whose Paradise Lost might, so far as its theology and demonology are concerned, have been written by a Bogomil djed, or elder, is equally certain. Nor is this surprising. Milton had passed some years in Italy and in close association with the Waldenses the representatives of the Bogomils in Italy and Piedmont, and as Cromwell’s secretary of state he nobly interfered in their behalf. The later Puritan writers, and notably Baxter, Howe, Alleine, and others, give unconscious evidence in their writings of the sources from which their doctrines and teachings were drawn. Even if there were no other evidence of the affiliation of the Puritans, both of earlier and later times, with the Bogomils, the doctrine of a personal devil, as now held by all the Puritan churches, would be sufficient to demonstrate it.
The great movements of the Reformation under Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, and Zwinglius, though absorbing considerable numbers of the Bogomil or Catharist churches in Southern and Central Europe, were in some respects for them a retrogression. Their Protestantism
was purer than that of the Reformers; they had never bowed the knee to Baal, and their mouths had never kissed him; they had never held any allegiance to the Romish pope or the Greek patriarch; they had never accepted any of the erroneous doctrines of these corrupt churches; and neither the paedo-baptism nor the transubstantiation of the Church of Rome, nor the consubstantiation of the Greek and Lutheran churches, had any advocates among them. They were „Christians” pure and simple, yielding nothing to conciliate any of those who had a lingering affection for Romanism.
It is not wonderful, then, that the Waldenses in Italy and Piedmont should have maintained their independent position, nor that in England—where the original Reformation was deficient in thoroughness, and where there were in the country many of the descendants of the Publicani of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries*—there should have been a revolt from the partial Reformation in the shape of that Puritanism which established a purer Protestantism there, and has been the corner-stone of free institutions in our own country.
The spiritual lineage which we have thus briefly and imperfectly traced through the ages from the tenth century to our own time is one of which every true Protestant may well be proud. Though no gorgeous temples, no stately cathedrals, have made their worship conspicuous and attractive; though no historian has described, with vivid and touching pathos, those scenes of martyrdom where scores of thousands yielded up their lives rather than deny their faith; though no troubadour has given immortality to their paeans of victory, as the flames enwrapped them in a glorious winding-sheet,—yet their record is on high, and He whose approval is worth infinitely more than all the applause of men, has inscribed on the banner of His love, which surrounds and protects the humblest of those who suffered for His sake, the legend, ” BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART; for they shall see God.”
*In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries these confessor” to the truth were often ‘known as ” Hot Gospellers.”
IT has long been a matter of surprise to those who have studied the history of Bosnia and Bulgaria that the Bogomils, who for so many centuries were numerous and powerful not only in those states, but in Western Europe also, should have left such slight traces of a literature behind them. That it was not for want of culture or learning was certain, for on at least two occasions the popes, and those the most accomplished occupants of the papal throne, issued their bull requiring that the most learned men of the universities of Italy and France should be sent to Bulgaria and Bosnia to reason with the elders of the Bogomils and confute their heresies. These Roman Catholic scholars did not succeed in convincing either the elders or their followers. A passage from Mr. Evans’ Illyrian Letters, which we have quoted elsewhere, gives the probable explanation of the scarcity of the Bogomilian literature—that it was concealed at the time of the Turkish invasion, and will probably be brought to light soon.
Meantime, a careful search has discovered a single document (aside from the Bogomil Gospels, a Codex of 14O4, but preserving the primitive forms of speech) which illustrates their doctrines or practices. This is a manuscript of wholly uncertain date, partly in the Romance and partly in the Provencal language, discovered in France in 1851, and now in the Palaisdes Arts at Lyons. This was published by Cunitz in Jena in 1852.* It is rather a liturgy and book of forms than a confession or declaration of faith, and, if genuine, pertains to the very latest period of their history, and to the French and Italian rather than the Bosnian branch of the church. The work is not complete. It commences with a short liturgy, of which the Lord’s Prayer and the Doxology are in the Romance language, and the first seventeen verses of St. John’s Gospel in Latin. The remainder of the work is in the Provencal tongue, and consists, first, of an act of confession; secondly, of an act of reception among the number of Credentes or believers; thirdly, of an act of reception among the Perfecti, or perfect; fourthly, of some special directions for the faithful; and fifthly, of an act of consolation in case of sickness. It is prescribed that the act of confession is to be made to God only, and it is concluded with the following form of prayer: ” O thou holy and good Lord, all these things which happen to us in our senses and in our thoughts, to thee we do manifest them, holy Lord; and all the multitude of sins we lay upon the mercy of God, and upon holy prayer, and upon the holy gospel: for many are our sins. O Lord, judge and condemn the vices of the flesh. Have no mercy on the flesh born of corruption, but have mercy on the spirit placed in prison, and administer to us days and hours, and genuflections, and fasts, and orisons, and preachings, as is the custom of good Christians, that we may not be judged nor condemned in the day of judgment with felons.”
The act of reception into the number of Credentes, or believers, seems to have been. analogous to „the hand of fellowship ” in many of the modern churches, and, contrary to the conjectures of some of the Germail critics, seems to have presupposed baptism. It was called the delivery of the orison, because a copy of the Lord’s Prayer was given to the new believer. The following is the form as given in this manuscript:
If a believer is in abstinence, and the Christians are agreed to deliver him the orison, let them wash their hands, and the believers present likewise. . And then one of the bons hommes, the one that comes after the elder, is to make three bows to the elder, and then to prepare a table, then three more bows, and then he is to put a napkin upon the table; and then three more bows, and then he is to put the book upon the napkin; and then let him say the Benedicite, parcite nobis. And then let the believer make his salute and take the book from the hand of the elder. And the elder must admonish him and preach to him. from fitting testimonies (or texts). And if the believer’s name is Peter, he is to say, ‘Sir Peter, you must understand that when you are before the church of God you are before the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.’ For the Church is called ‘assembly,’ and where are the true Christians, there is the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.”
The formula of the Consolamentum—which by this and perhaps other branches of the Catharists was called „the baptism of the Spirit” was as follows: „Jesus Christ says in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts i. 5) that ‘John surely baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.’ This holy baptism of imposition of hands wrought Jesus Christ, according as St. Luke reports; and he said that his friends should work it, as reports St. Mark:’ ‘They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall receive good.’ And Ananias wrought this baptism on St. Paul when he was converted. And afterward Paul and Barnabas wrought it in many places. And St. Peter and St. John wrought it on the Samarit tans. This holy baptism, by which the Holy Spirit is given, the church of God has had it from the apostles until now, and it has come down from bons hommes to bons hommes, and will do so to the end of the world.”
We do not attach much importance to this manuscript. It is probably a manual of forms written out for the convenience of some of the elders or bons hommes of the Toulouse Albigenses or Catharists, or perhaps the Vaudois, as late as the fifteenth century, or possibly even in the sixteenth; but the evidence is conclusive that these forms were a departure from the practices of the Bogomils. They and all the earlier Catharists utterly repudiated the practice of speaking of the evangelists or apostles, or indeed any one else, as saints-as, for instance, St. Paul, St. John, etc.; and this was one of the accusations brought against them by their enemies. Another point upon which they were strenuous was that all the Scripture readings and all the prayers, hymns, and responses should be in the common or vulgar tongue. In this, on the contrary, the Gospel is in Latin and the Psalm is referred to by its Latin title, while the Lord’s Prayer and the Doxology are in the Romance tongue, which to them was a foreign Ianguage. The ideas of apostolic succession and of the repeated reverences to the elder are also wholly foreign to the views or practices of the Bosnian or Bulgarian Bogomils. These departures from the ancient faith and practice make it probable that the congregation or congregations for whom this manuscript manual was prepared were composed of converts from Romanism, who had retained some of their old forms and doctrines and incorporated them into their new faith.
* The extracts from this document given below are from the able though somewhat prejudiced article on the Cathari in McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, vol. ii. pp. 155-157.
WERE THE PAULICIAN AND BOGOMIL CHURCHES BAPTIST CHURCHES?
WITHIN the last two years a Baptist newspaper of large circulation and conducted with great ability has asserted editorially that ” there was no evidence at present attainable which justified a belief in the existence of Baptist churches during the period between the fourth and eleventh or twelfth centuries.” The writer did not deny, although he did not assert, that there might have been during that period individuals who held to Baptist doctrines.
But great men are not always wise, and their dicta are not always infallible. It happened, at the very time that this statement was made, that there was evidence attainable that during the period specified Baptist churches as pure as any now in existence were maintained, and their membership during a part of that time was as large as, and perhaps larger than, that of the Baptist churches throughout the world at the present day.
In our demonstration on this point it may be well to define what are and have been in all ages the distinguishing characteristics of Baptist churches.
It will be said, perhaps, by persons who have not given the matter much thought, ” Oh, everybody knows what is the sole characteristic of Baptists: they believe in immersion as the only baptism.” This is true; but so do the Greek Church, the Mormons, the Campbellites or Disciples, the Christians, the Free-Will Baptists, etc., etc. ” Well, they reject infant baptism.” True; but so do most of those named above.
A critical examination of the history and doctrines of the Baptist churches of Europe and America reveals the following negative and positive particulars as characteristic of them all.
1. They take the word of God, as revealed in the Bible, as their only sufficient rule of faith and practice.
2. They regard faith in Jesus Christ as God manifest in the flesh, and as having suffered and died the shameful death of the cross, and risen again for their justification, and ascended to heaven as their Mediator, as the only sufficient assurance of salvation, and that this faith is always connected with repentance and regeneration.
3. They refuse to be bound by any creed or confession of faith or doctrine which is not clothed in the words of the Scriptures.
4. Their only initiatory rite for membership is the immersion of the believer in water on the profession of his faith. This they do not deem a saving ordinance, but a simple act of obedience to the command of Christ.
5. They entirely repudiate infant baptism, both as unscriptural and injurious to its subjects, inasmuch as baptism is only the profession of the act of faith on the part of the believer himself, and no one is able to promise for an infant that it shall believe at a future time. And they regard this baptism of infants as tending to hypocrisy and the introduction of unconverted persons into the church, and of no significance except where it entitles the infant, as it does in some countries, to state privileges.
6. They regard the Lord’s Supper as a memorial, not a mystical, service, to be offered only to baptized believers. They repudiate utterly the mystical ideas of the ordinance entertained by some of the Reformed churches, the consubstantiation theory as held by the Lutheran, and still more decidedly by the Greek Church, and the transubstantiation doctrine of the Romish Church and its allies.
7. They abhor the worship of the Virgin Mary in all its forms, and that of the saints, prayers to the saints, prayers or masses for the dead, the worship of pictures, icons, images, crucifixes, and everything of the sort, monachisin and seclusion, and all attempts to acquire merit by superfluous good works.
8. They believe in the necessity of a pure and holy life—not for the attainment of heaven or of any earthly or heavenly good, but from gratitude to Him who hath redeemed them.
9. They have always held to freedom of conscience and worship. They have never, when they have had the power, persecuted any for holding views which differed from theirs, but have always granted to others what they claimed for themselves—the freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience.
10. They have always been a plain people—plain in dress, plain in their houses of worship, and plain in their speech. Their churches have not been decorated with cross or crucifix, statue or image, lectern, altar, reredos, or lighted candles. No „storied windows dight” have displayed full-length portraits of the Saviour, the apostles, or saints. No chimes of bells ring out for them the announcement of church holy-days. Even in the midst of the most gorgeous displays of church architecture and decoration they have been content with perfect plainness.
11. They have never acknowledged any hierarchy, archbishops, bishops, deans, archdeacons, and priests, nor have any of the monastic orders ever gained even a momentary foothold in their churches. Their pastors, teachers, or elders are chosen from, and licensed and ordained by, the churches, and these possess no exclusive or ecclesiastical authority; and though held greatly in esteem and love for their works’ sake, they have no ruling power or right of absolution beyond other members of the church, except what is derived from their intellectual attainments, their study of God’s word, and their earnest devotional spirit.
We think no one familiar with our denomination would question, for a moment, the right of a church which held these views, and practised in accordance with them, to be considered a Baptist church and entitled to receive the hand of fellowship at once.
Will any intelligent man who has carefully read this historical sketch point out a single item in which the Paulicians and Bogomils failed to come up to the standard of Baptist churches of the present day?
A great deal has been said of the gross doctrinal errors of the Paulicians, and they have been confounded (wilfully in some instances) with the Manichaeans, Novatians, and other sects whose doctrines they vehemently repudiated. The early ecclesiastical historians, who have given us such exaggerated pictures of their heresies, were themselves mostly priests or monks of the Greek Church, bitter partisans, and champions of a church which enforced uniformity of dogma at the point of the sword. From them alone, unfortunately, is nearly all our information in regard to the doctrines of these early Protestants derived. They had every temptation to misrepresent, and we know that in many instances they did so. For a period of ten centuries they persisted, against their earnest protests, in calling the Paulicians and Bogomils, Manichaeans, and imputing to them the dualistic doctrine, which was perhaps held, though probably only in a modified form, by some of the earlier Paulicians. They attributed to them also the phantastic theory of Christ’s mission to earth, of which there is no trace later than the sixth or seventh century. In Our narrative we have admitted these charges as probable, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, but they certainly disappeared speedily before the stronger and clearer light of God’s word. Meantime, these views, if theoretically held for a time, were no bar to a saving faith in Christ, and did not prevent them from leading lives of such holiness and purity that even their adversaries were compelled to acknowledge their excellence. Nor did they prohibit their making the most active exertions for the conversion of the world. They were, with all their errors, sons of God, without reproach, epistles of Christ known and read of all men.
At a period when the sword was the usual weapon for conversion, and the doctrines of the church were thrust down the throats of the unconverted „will he, nill he,” the Paulicians of Armenia were sending out their missionaries two and two, unarmed except with the word of God, among the savage and pagan Bulgarians, to lead them to Christ and to teach them the way of salvation; and they were wonderfully successful. Many centuries before either the Greek or the Roman Church had thought of the possibility of the devotion of holy women to the nursing of the sick, the care and instruction of the poor and ignorant and of little children, and all those works of mercy which have made the names of the „Sisters of Charity” and of „Mercy” so widely honored, devout women of the Paulician and Bogomil churches were giving themselves to these good works; and not only our modern missions, but our modern Sunday-schools and hospitals for the sick, find their models and origin among these humble people.
Grant, even, that in their earlier history, with but scanty light and with only small portions of the word of God accessible to them, they had fallen into theoretic errors in regard to the two principles of good and evil, and with their vivid Oriental imaginations had speculated upon the possibility of the phantastic theory of our Lord’s mission to earth, were these views any more crude than those of many genuine converts from heathenism at the present day? And when we set in the balance against these their simple faith in Christ, their repudiation of Mariolatry, invocations to saints, the worship of images and pictures, and, above all, their holy living and earnest working for the propagation of the truth, why should we turn away from them as heretics and unworthy of the Christian name?
The Greek and the Roman churches, their violent and relentless persecutors, who boasted of their orthodoxy, were, even at their best, far more heretical, both in doctrine and in practice, than the Paulicians. Their churches were decked and filled with images, sculptures, icons, and paintings of the Virgin Mary and the saints, and even with paintings of traditional scenes in the lives of saints and emperors which would now bring a blush even upon a cheek of brass; the idolatries, practised in both churches in the worship of the Virg in and the saints and emperors, and the adoring of crucifixes and relies, were open and gross; while the conduct of emperors and empresses, the spiritual heads of the church, was so infamous in its criminality that it put to shame even the worst of the pagan emperors of Rome. There were corruption, simony, theft, profligacy, and the most horrible licentiousness everywhere. All these things passed without rebuke, or at most with very gentle reproof, from the ecclesiastical historians of the times, who reserved the thunders of their denunciations for the pure and saintly Paulicians. At a later period the Romish Church emulated, and even surpassed, the Greek Church in the infamy of its priesthood, the cruelty of its persecutions of the hapless Bogomils, and the horrible corruption and impurity of its popes, bishops, priests, monks, and nuns.
When the hidden treasures of sacred books, manuscripts, and communion-vessels preserved in the secret chambers of castle-vaults in Bosnia and the Herzegovina for four hundred years and more by the Moslem descendants of Bogomil nobles shall be brought to light, as they soon will be, we shall learn more in detail of the doctrinal views of these Bogomil churches, but it is not to be anticipated that we shall find anything to their discredit; for holy living and careful, thorough study of God’s word ensure sound doctrine. „If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.”
Courage and firmness in defending their faith, coupled with a patient endurance of persecution for righteousness’ sake, was a characteristic of the Paulicians, and later of the Bogomils. Evans, a most impartial writer, estimates that between the eighth and fifteenth centuries nearly a million of these Protestants perished by martyrdom in Bulgaria, Bosnia, and the Herzegovina. But when, as in the ninth century, the Greek Empress Theodora attempted and vowed their entire extermination, they showed themselves no cowards or cravens in their defence of their hearths, their homes, and their faith, but drove back their cruel persecutors with such vigor that they made them quake in their gilded palaces in Constantinople.
Then followed an act which we, alone of all the Christian denominations, are warranted in claiming as distinctively a development of, one of our fundamental mental principles—the establishment of the free state and city of Tephrice, whose every citizen was at liberty to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience without let or hindrance. Where did these Christian mountaineers get this idea? All around them there was bitter persecution for conscience sake—they themselves had seen one hundred thousand or more of their brethren slain for their faith at the command of the infamous Theodora—yet, while flushed with their victory over their persecutors, they pause and found a state where persecution for conscientious belief shall be unknown, where every creed and every unbeliever shall find shelter from persecution. This free state lasted for nearly a hundred and fifty years; and though it was too early for permanence, since the nations were not capable of grasping so grand an idea, yet it existed Iong enough to show that those whom Christ makes free are free indeed.
And during its existence the freedom of opinion maintained there was not apathy or indifference. Far from it. The free city of Tephrice was the centre and seat of a missionary enterprise which has had no parallel since the time of the apostles. The missionary elders went forth two and two, sustained by their brethren at home, throughout Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Serbia, preaching the word, and the pagan Bulgarians and Bosniacs were converted in such numbers that their enemies of the Greek Church began to add to the other opprobrious names which they gave to the Paulicians that of Bulgars, which after a time was corrupted into ” Bougres,” by which term, among others, they were known for centuries.
At length so many of these missionaries migrated into Bulgaria that Tephrice became nearly depopulated, and fell into the hands of the Saracens. At a later period, when the Bogomils were, as was the case several times, the masters of Bosnia for forty, sixty, or, in one instance, a hundred years, they never retaliated upon their persecutors the wrongs which they had endured, but always advocated the largest liberty of opinion.
That the Bogomils of Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Serbia in the eleventh and following centuries had purged themselves from those erroneous doctrines which were taught by the earlier Paulicians, and were as clear in their doctrinal views as the Baptist churches here to-day, is abundantly evident from the reluctant testimony of their adversaries. They do not quite abandon their old nickname of Manichaeans in speaking of them, but oftener they call them Patarenes, Bougres, Ketzers, Publicani, and sometimes Arians, which is widest of the mark of all, for their belief in the divinity of Christ and his equality with the Father was as sound as that of the Athanasian Creed.
If their affiliation with all the purest Reformers before the Reformation were not so thoroughly demonstrated as it is, we might have anticipated it from their known missionary spirit; but there is no fact in history better substantiated than that the Bogomil churches in Bosnia were the mother-churches from which originated, through the labors of their faithful missionaries, the congregations of Waldenses, Vaudois, Poor Men of Lyons, Catharists, Ketzers, Publicani, Bohemians, and Hussites; and it is equally certain that during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and probably both earlier and later, there was an annual intercourse kept up between these churches and the mother-churches in Bosnia. Eventually there were probably some diversities of doctrine, which crept in among the Western churches; the manuscript found at Lyons in 1851, and which contains a form of worship certainly not earlier than the latter part of the fifteenth century—which we give in part elsewhere indicates considerable departures from the earlier faith. What these were it is difficult to say. They certainly did not include infant baptism, which was repudiated by most of the Christian churches of the Continent that had never been in fellowship with Rome. They may have admitted, in some cases, affusion or sprinkling in the place of immersion in baptism, but this is uncertain, and in the more southern churches improbable.
But there is one fact which should be kept in mind: the Bogomils, and, earlier, the Paulicians, as well as the churches which affiliated with them in Western Europe, refused to be called reformers, or even Protestants, if by that term there should be any implication that they were originally seceders from either the Roman or the Greek churches. They said uniformly and boldly, „We have never had any connection with those corrupt churches; and though we protest against their false doctrines, we have no belief that they can ever be reformed into churches of Christ.” It was this bold and consistent opposition to these great churches which so inflamed their wrath and made them such bitter persecutors of the Bogomil churches. As a consequence of this, as we have noticed in the history, none of those churches which had affiliated with the Bogomils of Bosnia were much enlarged by the Reformation, and most of them maintained a separate existence after that event.
This is just the position that the Baptist churches, and they only, have always occupied. They did not come out from Rome, for they never belonged to it. They sympathize, indeed, with what is good in the work of the Reformation, and with the churches which cannot go farther back than Luther or Calvin or Zwinglius for their origin; yet all of those churches retain, in their ordinances, their infant membership, and their hierarchy, some traces of their former adherence to the Church of Rome. The white robe of their profession has still some stains upon it. The Baptist churches, on the other hand, trace their spiritual lineage back in an unbroken line through myriads of white-robed martyrs who never were defiled by contact with Rome to the days of the apostles, and reckon as among their earliest elders and preachers the names of Paul and Peter and John, of Stephen and Philip and Barnabas, of Silas and Timothy and Titus; and the only priest they know is the Great High Priest who is passed into the heavens, the Shepherd and Bishop of souls.
In this noble position we stand, as a denomination, alone, though the early Puritans of England might have shared it with us had they not given up their birthright by adopting the twin errors of affusion and infant baptism from Rome.
1(C. II.). The denial of their practice of water-baptism, etc.—Harmenopoulos, a Byzantine monk of the tenth century, more candid than most of his fellows, says, as quoted by Mr. Evans, „that the Bogomils practised the rite (and if they did they must have received it from the Paulicians),” but did not attribute to it any perfecting (teleioun) virtue. This last expression is significant in this connection as showing that this rite was administered to all the believers (Credentes), in distinction from the spiritual baptism or consolamentum (which we have elsewhere described), which was only administered to those who were admitted to the ranks of the Perfecti or perfect ones, upon whom this spiritual baptism was supposed to exert a perfecting virtue. It is, we believe, generally admitted that the early Armenian Church, of which the Paulicians were an offshoot, did not practise trine immersion, like the Greek Church, though they immersed their converts once and applied the unction three times. At a later period and at the present day they immerse the subject, generally an infant, once in the font, and then pour water from the hand upon its head three times, adding also the anointing and other ceremonies. I have not been able to find a copy of Harmenopoulos’ history in any of our libraries.
See further, on this point, the testimony of Alanus de Insulis, about A. D. 1200, quoted in Note 3, C. viii.
2(C. II.). Jirecek, Geschichte der Bulgaren, pp. 180, 181 Presbyter Cosmas (a Greek priest of the tenth century), in his Slovo na Eretiki, cited by Hilferding; Serben und Bulgaren (German translation, vol. i. p. 120).
3(C. II.). Hilferding, in his work named above, quotes from the presbyter Cosmas a description of two sects of Paulicians, of which the first held to doctrines more distinctly dualistic than the second. The latter, whose doctrines we have summarized in this section, was, he acknowledges, much the most numerous. Hilferding identifies the first with a Bulgarian sect known as „The Church of Dregovisce,” which eventually became extinct, and the second with „The Church of Bulgaria,” which were the spiritual ancestors of the Albigenses. He says further that the Italian inquisitor and renegade Reinero Sacconi, of the thirteenth century, mentions both in his list of the thirteen Churches or nations of the Cathari. Hilferding, Serben und Bulgaren (German translation, vol. i. pp. 122-128 and ff.).
4(C. III.). For this act of Constantine V. see Gibbon’s Rome (Bohn’s ed., Vol. vi. p. 245).
5(C. IV.). See Gibbon’s Rome (Bohn’s ed., vol. vi. p. 242). Gibbon quotes in this and the following note from Petrus Siculus (pp. 579-764) and Cedrenus (pp. 541-545).
6(C. IV.). Gibbon’s Rome (Bohn’s ed., vol. vi. p. 243); Arthur J. Evans, Historical View of Bosnia (p. 30); Petrus Siculus, Historia Manichaeorum. Petrus Siculus was for nine months in A. D. 870 a legate from the Byzantine emperor at Tephrice, negotiating for exchange of prisoners, and wrote his History there, which was addressed to the new arch bishop of the Bulgarians. See the account of Petrus Siculus and this history in the Maxima Bibliotheca Patrum (vol. xvi.). Petrus Siculus, Historia Manichaeorum (pp. 754-764, edition of the Jesuit Raderus, Ingoldstadt, 1604, in 4to).
7(C. IV.). Tephrice (Gr. Tefrich), now Divrigni, is in Asia Minor, about one hundred and forty miles southwest of Trebizond and one hundred and. seventy south by west of Erzeroum. It is situated on a plain 3116 feet above the sea. Its present inhabitants are wild and ferocious Koords.
8(C. V.). This derivation of the word Bogomil, or Bogomile was first given by Epiphanius, a Byzantine writer, quoted in Sam. Andreae’s Disquisitio de Bogomilis.
9(C. V.). Recent Sclavonic writers, quoted by A. J. Evans in Historical Review of Bosnia (p. 31, note).
10VII.). The authorities for this picture of the Bogomil worship and manners are mostly drawn from Hilferding’s German translation of his Serben und Bulgaren (vol. i. pp. 118 and ff.). He cites, in regard to these subjects, The Sunodic of the Czar Boris, written in the year 1210; the Armenian Chronicle of Acogh’ig; the Slovo na Eretiki of the presbyter Cosmas, about 990; the Panoplia of Euthymius Zygabenus the scribe or secretary of the emperor Alexius Comnenus, about 1097 (Gieseler’s edition, Gottingen, 1852), and Harmenopoulos, the Greek monk already referred to, of the tenth century.
11Racki, cited by Jirecek, Geschichte der Bulgaren (pp. , 177 and ff.); other SouthSclavonic and Byzantine writers, also cited by Jirecek; the Panoplia of Euthymius Zyaabenus, translated by Gieseler (Gottingen, 1852), Neander, Church History (Marsh’s ed. vol. iv. pp 552 and ff.); Gieseler, De Bogomilis Commentatio, etc., etc, Sir Henry Spelman (Conciliae vol. ii. p. 59) and Nubrigiensis (book ii. c. 13), both cited by Jeremy Collier in his Ecclesiastical History of Great Britain (Lathbury’s ed., London, 1852, vol. ii. pp. 247, 248), both say of the Publicans, whose origin they trace through the Waldenses and Albigenses to Croatia and Dalmatia, that they refused to be called by any other name than Christians, and that their views were the same with those attributed to the Bogomils.
12(C. VIII.). These two classes, the Perfecti and Credentes, are in mentioned by all writers on the Bogomils and the sects with which they were affiliated; and it was one of’ the many evidences of their substantial identify with the Albigenses Patarenes, Vaudois, Catharists, Ketzers, Publicans, Waldenses etc., etc., that the same classes, under equivalent names, existed in all these sects of’ alleged heretics. Both Jirecek and Hilferding give minute accounts of’ this division of’ the Bogomils and of the initiatory rites of’ the Perfecti, quoting largely from the Sclavonic and Byzantine writers already referred to, and their statements are corroborated by Regnier or Reinero, Petrus Monachus, a Cistercian monk who wrote a history of the. crusade against the Albigenses, by Alanus de Insulis, whose treatise against the heretics, written about A. D. 1200, was published by Masson at Lyons, in 1612, and by Beausobre, Histore du Manichaeisme (vol. ii. pp. 762-877). In Provence the Perfecti were called Bons Hommes, and in Bosnia and Bulgaria, in the Sclavonic. Krstjani dobri Bosniani, or sometimes in both countries tries Sursiteli, or the elect.
Regnier, or Reinero, about A. D. 1250, is the best possible authority in regard to the number of the Perfecti, for he had been one of the Credentes, or believers, among the Patarenes, as the Bogomils of ltaly were, called, and there is also a tradition that he was a Dalmatian by birth.
13(C.viii., foot-note).To the authorities here named for the proposition that the Credentes, or believers, were baptized must be added Alanus de Insulis, a French writer of about A. D. 1200, whose treatise against heretics was published by Masson of Lyons in 1612 Ile is cited by Hallam, Middle Ages (vol. iii. pp. 359, 360, note. Am. edition, 1864). Alanus, speaking of the Albigenses, who are fully identified with the Bogomils, says, „They rejected infant baptism, but were divided as to the reason, some saying that infants could not sin and did not need baptism; others that they could not be saved without faith, and consequently that it was useless. They held sin after baptism to be irremissible. It does not appear that they rejected either of the sacraments. They laid great stress upon the imposition of hands which seems to have been their distinctive rite.” Jeremy Collier, in his Ecclesiastical History of Great Britain (vol. ii. pp. 338, 339, ed. of 1852), speaking of the Albigenses of Toulouse, A. D. 1178, gives first the account of their doctrines found in a letter of the Earl of Toulouse to the Cistercian chapter, as recorded by Gervase of Canterbury. This letter is full of passion and violence. He declares that „the sacraments of baptism and the holy eucharist were renounced and detested by them; . . . in short, all the sacraments of the church are vilified and disused.” „Roger de Hoveden,” a somewhat more dispassionate writer, gives, Collier says, a somewhat different account. His statement is ” that they refused to own infant baptism, declared against swearing upon any account, expressed themselves with a great deal of satire and invective against the hierarchy, and refused to be concluded by any other authority excepting that of the New Testament.”
Nothing is said by Hoveden of their rejection of the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist, which would certainly have been mentioned by so careful a writer as Hoveden if it had existed. Indeed, his strongest objection to them was their wilful persistence in refusing to take all oath.
The noticeable point in all this testimony is that infants should not be baptized because they had not faith; that a personal profession of faith was a necessary prerequisite for baptism; that the spiritual baptism symbolized by the consolamentum was in their view the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which was only conferred on those who were already believers, but who wished to become perfect.
The fact that all the Oriental churches practised immersion only, and that this is still their only mode of baptism, is so well established by the testimony of all ecclesiastical writers that it seems hardly to need any additional verification; yet perhaps the following references may not be out of place: Neander, Apostelgeschichte (History of Apostolic Church), (i. p. 276); Knapp, Vorlesungen uber die Christliche Glaubenslehre (ii. p. 453); Hofling, I.c. (i. pp. 46 and ff.); Schaff, History of Apostolic Church (pp. 568-570); Conybeare and Howson, Life of St. Paul (i. p. 471); G. A. Jacob, D. D., Ecclesiastical Polity of New Testament (Am. ed. pp. 258-279); F. A. Farrar, Life of Christ (vol. i. pp. 114 and ff.); A. Geikie, Life and Words of Christ (vol. i. p. 577, note); Dean Stanley, Eastern, Church (Eng. ed., p. 34); Philip Smith, Student’s Ecclesiastical History (p. 172).
14(C. IX.). This testimony is scattered through all the centuries from the sixth to the fifteenth, and applies alike to the, Patarenes, Catharists, Paulicians, Bogomils, Albigenses, and Waldenses. Even Petrus Siculus acknowledges their holy and pure life, and admits that, in 660, Simeon, a Greek priest sent to put their leader to death, was converted by their heroic and unselfish devotion to their faith, and became, like the apostle Paul, a missionary and martyr to their doctrines. The same writer acknowledges that they were not believers in the doctrines of Manes, and hence were wrongly called Manichaeans: and after recapitulating six heresies which they held—of which only a modified dualism, and a belief that Christ brought his body from heaven would now be reckoned heresies—he confesses that they were endowed with sincere and zealous piety and were studious of the Scriptures. Gibbon (certainly an impartial witness) says of the Paulicians, after a very thorough and protracted study of the early writers on the subject, „A confession of’ simple worship and blameless manners is extorted from their enemies; and so high was their standard of perfection that the increasing congregations were divided into two classes of disciples—of those who practised and of those who aspired.” (Gibbon’s Rome, Bohn’s ed., vol. vi. p. 249.) The presbyter Cosmas and the secretary of the emperor Alexius Comnenus, in the works already quoted, and in the words cited elsewhere in this work, are compelled, though with evident disgust, to testify to the purity, not only of their lives, but of their conversation.
La Nobla Leyczon, a Provencal poem of Waldensian origin, and of a date not later than A. D. 1200, contains the following stanza, which illustrates the purity of the lives of the Waldenses as well as the malignant hostility of their enemies.
Que sel Re troba alcun bon que vollia amar Dio e temer Jeshu Xrist,
Que non vollia mandire, ni jura, ni mentir,
Ni avoutrar, ni aucire, ni penre de l’autruy,
Ni venjar se de li sio ennemie
Illi dison quel es Vaudes e degne do murir.”
A free translation of these lines would be:
„Whoso finds any good man who wishes to love God and bear witness for Jesus Christ, who will not curse nor swear nor lie, who will not be an adulterer nor steal nor do wrong to another, nor avenge himself upon his enemy, people will tell him that that man is one of’ the Vaudois, and ought to be put to death.”—Hallam’s Middle Ages (vol. iii. p. 363, note); Am. ed, do.; Literature of Europe (vol. i. p. 50, note, Am. ed.).
15(C. XI.). The Alexiadus of the Princess Anna Comnena is a diffuse, voluminous, and gossipy work after the fashion of the writers of those days. It abounds in the most fulsome praises of her father, herself, and all connected with the imperial household. As her father’s reign continued for thirty-seven years, she expands her wearisome details over many books, that relating to the entrapping and martyrdom of Basil being the fifteenth. The Alexiad was translated into French and largely annotated by the learned Ducange, and his edition is the only one now generally accessible. This account of Basil is from liber xv. 486-494 of’ Ducange’s edition of’ the Alexiad. Gibbon, Decline and Fall (vol. vi. p. 247, and note, Bohn’s ed.), affirms that Basil was the only victim burned at the stake at this time, and there is some reason to think that the statement is correct; but Alexius within a short time thereafter persecuted the Bogomils to the death, and the Princess Anna boasts that he entirely exterminated them.
16 (C. XI.). This colony of Armenian Paulicians is said by Zonaras, (vol. ii. liber 17, p. 209), cited by Gibbon, to have been more numerous and powerful than any that had gone before from the Chalybian hills to the valleys (of’ Mount Haemus. The date of their migration is said to have been A. D. 970. Anna Commena also mentions this colony in the Alexiad (liber xiv. p. 450 et ff.).
These Armenian Paulicians were probably dualists, and possibly held to the phantastic theory of the advent of Christ—viz., that he was clothed with an impassive celestial body and that his death and resurrection were only apparent, and not real. We say „possibly,” because, though there were undoubtedly sects more or less intimately connected with the Gnostics and Manichaeans in Armenia and Asia Minor who held these views, yet the evidence that the Paulicians did entertain them is solely furnished by their bitter enemies, who we know for the next five or six centuries did not hesitate to propagate the most unblushing falsehoods concerning them.
The statement that they were Manichaeans was industriously propagated for more than six centuries, and was fastened upon them in the fifteenth century by King Stephen Thomas of Bosnia, notwithstanding their earnest and indignant protests through all their history, and even the fair and impartial Hallam, whose investigations in regard to these sects were more thorough and exhaustive than those of’ any other writer except Mr. Evans, is so far deceived by this constant reiteration that he admits its probability in regard to all of’ them except the Waldenses, and perhaps a part of the Catharists. With the proofs, now at our command however, of the identity of the Catharists and the Waldenses with the Bogomils, this admission proves fatal to the Manichaean doctrines of the whole. It is probable, nevertheless, that these Armenian Paulicians formed „The Church of Dregovisce,” which Hilferding says, in chapter i. part i. of his Serben und Bulgaren, was much more dualistic and field to many errors which were not held by the Christian church of Bulgaria. The Albigenses of’ the earlier dates were the spiritual children of this church of Dregovisce.
Both Jirecek and Evans notice also one source of the dualistic doctrines of these early Bulgarian believers. The Armenian Paulicians were planted in Epirus and Thrace, while the Bulgarians—Bulgares—a mixed race, half Tartar and half Aryan, were yet pagans, and the Paulicians found them already imbued with dualistic ideas: they divided their worship between the Black God, the spirit of evil, and the White God, or spirit of good. Jirecek’s words are: „Es war fur Bogomil keine schwere aufgabe, das unlangst erst dem Heidenthume entruckte volk fur eine Glaubenslehre zu gewinnen, welche, gleich dem alten slawischen Mythus von den Bosi und Besi, lehrtdass es zweierlei hohere Wesen gebe, namlich einen guten und einen losen Gott.” (Geschichte der Bulgaren, p.175. See also Evans’ Historical Review of Bosnia, pp. 41, 42.) Every one who is familiar with the operations of’ foreign missions among the heathen must have noticed how ready the native converts are to accommodate anything in their new views to their old beliefs and prejudices. A most notable instance of this is the well-known known fact that, in all Buddhist countries, Roman Catholic missionaries have met with great success, from the similarity of their doctrines of merit, of the priesthood, of monastic orders, and of instruction, to those already held by the Buddhists.
But that a closer study of the Scriptures, when they were translated into the Sclavonic, Italian, Provencal, German, and English tongues, had led them to abandon the dualistic doctrines or hold them in a mitigated and not unscriptural form is evident even from the testimony of’ their adversaries. Thus Petrus (or Robertus) Monachus, a Cistercian monk, who wrote an account of* the crusades against the Albigenses in the thirteenth century (Cited ill Hallam’s Middle Ages, Am. ed., vol. iii. pp. 359, 360), says that „many of them” (observe, not all) „assert two principles or creative beings—a good one for things invisble, an evil one, for things visible; the things the former author of the New Testament, the latter of the Old; and they wholly repudiate, except as possessing a certain authority all those passages of the Old Testament which are quoted in the New, and even these they only deem worthy to be received on account of’ their reverence for the New Testament.” This assertion that they rejected the entire Old Testament. because they believed it the work of the evil spirit is reiterated by all the Greek and the Roman Catholic writers from Petrus Siculus in the ninth century, Monachus and Alanus in the thirteenth, down to Matthew Paris, Roger do Hoveden, Ralph of Coggeshale, and. Gervase of Canterbury; yet we have the most conclusive evidence that it was not true. Euthymius Zygabenus, the secretary of’ the emperor Alexius Comnenus when Basil was examined by the emperor, and a most bitter enemy of the Bogomils, states in his Panoplia (as cited by Evans, Historical Review, ete., 1). 36) that the Bogomils accepted seven holy books, which he enumerates as follows: 1. The Psalms; 2. The Sixteen Prophets, 3, 4, 5, and 6; The Gospels ; 7. The Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse. Some writers have charged them with rejecting the Epistles of Peter and the Apocalypse, but there is no evidence of this. The Bogomil New Testament was word for word that of the early Sclavic apostle Methodius. Of this Jirecek furnishes on 1). 177 the most conclusive proofs. If, then, this statement of their enemies like so many others, is proved to be false, what assurance is there that their alleged dualistic doctrines were anything more than an old falsehood revamped for the occasion?
17(C. XII.). This summary of the worship and mode of life of the. Bogomils is substantiated in every point, though with evident reluctance, by the presbyter Cosmas in his Slovo na Eretiki, Euthymius Zygabenus in his Panoplia, Anna Comnena in lib xv. of the Alexiad, and Sclavonic authorities collected by Jirecek and Hilferding.
18 (C. XIII.). Jirecek, Geschichte der Bulgaren, p. 180.
19(C. XIII.). The Bosnian chief djed, or elder, seems to have been at this time (about A. D. 1220) the presiding officer of’ the affiliated sects or denominations, somewhat like the former presidents of’ our triennial conventions. He was primus inter pares, but possessed no judicial or ecclesiastical authority (See Jirecek, Gesehichte der Bulgaren, p. 180).
20(C. XIV.). This is Hilferding’s statement.
21(C. XIV.). Schimek, Politike Geschichte Konigreiche Bosnian und Roma p. 36), cited by Evans, Hist. Rev. of Bosnia p. 43).
22(C. XV.). Schimek, Pol. Gesefichte des Konigreiche Bosnien, etc. p. 46).
23(C. XV., foot-note)/ Schimek, as above; Mackenzie and Irwin’s Serbia.
24(C. XV.). Farlati, „Episcopi Bosnenses” (in his Illyricum Sacrum, vol. iv. p. 45), cited by Evans, Hist. Rev. of Bosnia p. 44).
25(C. XV.). Evans, Hist. Rev. of Bosnia (1). 44).
26(C. XV1.). Regnier or Reinero, about A. D. 1250, is a well-known authority. Maitland, Facts and Documents on the History of the Albiqenses and Waldenses (London, 1832) criticizes his statements. He is quoted by Mosheim, Beausobre, Gibbon, and Jirecek, but I have not been able to find in our libraries a copy of his work, and so cannot verify in person the above statement, though all the authorities I have cited agree in regard to it.
27(C. XVI.). The substantial identity of these sects, which under so many different names were spread over all Western Europe, and their origin from the Protestants of Bulgaria and Bosnia, was strongly suspected by others than Regnier even in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Perhaps the earliest of the writers who gives positive testimony on this point is William Little of Newbury (A. D. 1136-1220), more generally known as Neubrigiensis or Nubrigiensis from his residence. He was the author of a history of England from the Norman conquest to A. D. 1197, in five books, and he was an eye-witness of much that be describes. His history is found in full in Hearne’s collection of early English histories.
In book ii. chap. 13 of his history be speaks of the coming of foreign heretics called Publicans into England in 1160. He says: „The heresy first appeared in Gascoigne, though from what person is uncertain. From thence the erroneous doctrine spread through a great many provinces of France, Spain, Italy, and Germany; they gained ground by the remissness of the church discipline. They were,” he says „a company of ignorant rustics, and, though their understandings were very gross and unimproved, yet their obstinacy and self-opinion was such that the convincing them by argument and retrieving them from their mistake was well-nigh an impossibility.” Their leader was one Gerhard, who, he admits, had some little learning, but the rest, about thirty in number, were altogether unlettered. Their language was High Dutch. Their doctrines, as Gerhard stated them, were identical with those of the Waldenses and Ketzers. They were orthodox enough, Neubrigiensis says, concerning the Trinity and the incarnation (no dualism there), but then, as to many other material points, they were dangerously mistaken; for they rejected infant baptism and the holy eucharist—i. e., the doctrine of the real presence—declared against marriage (qu., as one of the sacraments?) and catholic communion. They were more familiar with the Scriptures than the bishops of the Council which examined and persecuted them; and, finding themselves worsted in argument the bishops lost their temper, admonished them to repent and return to the communion of the church, and on their declining to do so turned them over to the secular arm, with the result stated in the text. A later historian, Sir Henry Spelman (1561-1641), in relating this incident, declares his belief that they were Waldenses, although this was the very year that Peter Waldo is said to have formed his congregation at Lyons. Sir Henry Hallam—whose careful researches in regard to the whole subject we have already noticed, and who, while admitting the Bulgarian or Bosnian origin of all the other sects, the Albigenses, Catharists, Ketzers, Publicans, etc., pleads earnestly for a different paternity for the Waldenses, mainly on the ground that be does not think they were Manichaeans, as be believes the others to have been—has yet, with his accustomed fairness, brought forward some very important proofs that they existed as a sect long before Waldo’s time, and that some of their original leaders came from Hungary or countries adjacent to Hungary.
The Waldensian poem La Nobla Leyczon, already referred to in Note 1 (Ch. IX.), is unquestionably genuine. and the highest authorities agree could not have been written later than the close or the twelfth century, some thirty or thirty-five years after Peter Waldo commenced his labors at Lyons. This time is altogether too short for the development of the condition of persecution which then existed if the Waldenses had originated from Waldo’s labors. But a still stronger argument for their existence before the time of Waldo and for their Eastern origin is furnished by Sir Henry Hallam (Middle Ages, vol. iii. p. 361, note; American edition). „I have found, however, a passage in a late work which remarkably illustrates the antiquity of Alpine Protestantism, if we may depend on the date it assigns to the quotation.” Mr. Planta’s History of Switzerland (p. 93, 4to ed.) contains the following note: „A curious passage singularly descriptive of the character of the Swiss has lately been discovered in a manuscript chronicle of the abbey of Corvey, which appears to have been written about the beginning of the twelfth century. ‘Religionem nostram et omnium Latinae ecclesiae Christianorum fidem, fidem, laici ex Suavia, Sucia. et Bavaria humiliare voluerunt: homines seducti ab antiqua progenie simplicium hominum, qui Alpes et viciniam habitant, et semper amant antiqua. In Suaviam, Bavariam, et Italiam borealem saepe intrant illorum (ex Sucia) mercatores, qui biblia edisunt memoriter, et ritus ecclesiae aversantur, quos credunt esse novos. Nolunt imagines venerari, reliquias sanctorum aversantur, olera comedunt, raro masticantes carnem, alii nunquam. Appelamus eos idcirco Manichaeos. Horum quidam ab Hungaria ad eos convenerunt,’ etc.”
It is a pity that Mr. Planta should have broken off the quotation, as its continuation might have given us further information concerning these Bosnian Perfecti, for such they evidently were, not worshipping images or pictures, turning away from the relics of the saints and from the so called sacraments of the Romish Church, thoroughly familiar with the Scriptures, subsisting on vegetables, rarely or never eating meat, and while passing as merchants or hawkers of goods, really exercising their vocation as missionaries, and preachers of the word. They too were called Manichaeans, that old term of reproach which for so many centuries had been forced upon them by their enemies. Their disciples, Hallam admits, were the Waldenses of the Alpine valleys. If the teachers were regarded as Manichaeans, their disciples could hardly be called by any other name; and, though Robert Monachus, Alanus de Insulis, and, William du Puy, monkish historians of the early part, of the thirteenth century, as quoted by Sir Henry Hallam, speak of’ the Waldenses as heretics, but less perverse than those they bad previously described, their testimony in regard to their actual doctrines is hardly to be considered of any great value.
The fact in the case seems to have been that Peter Waldo, if not himself one of the Bosnian Perfecti and „mercatores” (he is said to have been a merchant or trader), was a convert to the Bogomil doctrines, and, entering the ranks of the Perfecti—or, as they were called in France at a later date, „Bons Hommes”—became a magister or senior (terms answering to the strojnik, apostle, or djed, elder, of the Bosnians) to the church already existing in Lyons, and by his missionary zeal aided powerfully in propagating the Protestant doctrines in France and Germany. Hallam says that a translation of the Bible was made by Waldo’s direction, and this was probably the first made into the Provencal tongue, those previously used having probably been either the Vulgate and Latin of Jerome or the Sclavonic version of Methodius.
Hallam also says that the missionary labors of the Waldenses were directed toward Bohemia. This seems to be only so far true as that there was a very free intercommunication among all the branches of these Protestant churches by means of the „mercatores,” who in all their histories have so important a place. Regnier mentions the Church of Bobemia as one of the thirteen provinces of the Catharist affiliated churches.
Jirecek (Geschichte der Bulgaren, p. 214) refers to a diploma of Innocent IV. in A. D. 1244 which demonstrates that there was a frequent intercourse between the Waldenses and their co-religionists in Bosnia. He also cites Palacky and Brandl to show the intimacy of the Bosnian and Moravian churches.
Jirecek speaks of the constant tendency of’ the Bogmils toward a purer orthodoxy, and states that one of the Italian Bogomil elders—Giovanni di Lugio—taught of the real humanity of Christ and accepted the entire Old Testament
28(Ch. XVII.). Matthew Paris, Historia Majora ad Annum 1223 (Rolls Series, vol. iii. p. 78 et ff.); Radulph de Coggeshale (Chronicon Anglicanum, Rolls Series, p. 121 et ff.; p. 195 et ff.); Roger of Hoveden’s Chronicle, Prof. Stubbs’ ed. (Rolls series, vol. ii., p. 153 et ff.). To these may be added William Little of Newbury (Neubrigiensis), History of England from the Norman Conquest to the Year 1197 (liber ii. chaps. 13, 15), Gervase of Canterbury, Chronicon (about 1210), and at a later date Sir Henry Spelman, a very careful writer, born in 1561. Of these historians, all, or nearly all, were monks and, while they were very much alike in their prejudices against all heretics, some of them took more pains than others to verify their statements. Of these William Little of Newbury (Neubrigiensis) seems to have been the most careful, except, perhaps, Sir Henry Spelman and Matthew Paris the least so.
29(Ch. XVII., foot-note). I have not thought it necessary to quote at length, beyond what I have done in the text, the statements of these writers in regard to the affiliation of the other sects, except the Waldenses, with the Bogomils of Bosnia; the point is conceded by all the ecclesiastical and historical writers. Collier (Ecclesiastical History of Great Britain, vol. ii. Lathbury’s ed., 1852, pp. 250, 338, 339) speaks of the Albigenses in Toulouse in 1161 and 1178, and gives an account of’ their doctrines from the early historians which shows them to be identical with those of the Publicani (11 pages 341 and 414 he gives an account of their spreading their doctrines throughout Flanders and England and of their persecution; and on page 431 he gives a full account of their spreading throughout (from Matthew Paris) Western Europe and their Bulgarian pope or chief elder.
The first great crusade against the Albigenses, Catharists, and other affiliated churches of Western Europe was that prompted by Pope Innocent III. against the heretics of Toulouse, the domain of Count Raymond VI. of Toulouse, and directed by the Roman Catholic legates Arnold, Abbot of Citeaux, and Milo, the infamous Count Simon de Montfort being in command of the papal troops. It lasted from A. D. 1209 to 1229, and hundreds of thousands of innocent Christian men, women, and children were massacred in cold blood by these inhuman butchers. De Montfort himself was killed in 1218, but his son was as base as the sire. These persecuted Christians fled in great numbers to Bosnia, where the „good Ban Culin” protected them against the fury of the pope, and in the society of their co-religionists they enjoyed peace and quiet.
30(Ch. XVIII.). The authorities for these particulars of the crusades against the Bogomils of Bosnia are Rainaldi, an Italian cardinal of the sixteenth century, whose Ecclesiastical Annals (in ten vols. fol.) are a Continuation of those of Cardinal Baronius, and cover the period between 1197 and 1566, and Farlati, a writer of the eighteenth century, author of Episcopi Bosnenses in his Illyricum Sacrum. Both, were very bigoted and bitter Roman Catholics, and their hatred of the „heretics,” as they called them, is manifest in almost every line.
Hilferding contributes some items to this history, and his spirit is much more generous and just.
31(Ch. xx.). This letter of Pope John XXII. may be found in Waddingus, Annales Minorum (Vol. vii. ed. seeae), under the year 1325. Waddingus—was a native of Ireland, but passed most of his life in Rome, where he attained eminence as a scholar 11 and author. He was successively procurator and vice-commissary of the order of’ St. Francis, usually called the Minorite brethren, and wrote their history (in eight vols. folio) under the title of Annales Minorum (Lyons and Rome, 1647-1654), as well as several other works concerning the order. The Franciscans hall had a house of their order in Bosnia since about 1260, and their management there naturally came under Wadding’s review.
32(Ch XXI.). This letter of Urban V. may he found in Rainaldi’s Ecclesiastical Annals, under the year 1369, and the correspondence of’ the. Franciscans with Urban V. and Gregory XI., as well as the substance of the letters of both pontiffs, in Wadding’s Annales Minorum, under the years 1369-1372.
33(Ch. XXI.). For the historical facts in relation to the reigns of Stephen Kotromanovic, the three Tvart-kos, Stephen Thomas, and the parricide Stephen Thomasevic, the authorities on whom most reliance is to be placed are Jirecek, Schimek (Politike Geschichte des Konigriechs Bonien und Roma), Spicilegium (De Bosnice Regno), The Book of Arms of the Bosnian Nobility (1340), examined and partly copied by Mr. Evans, and other works not accessible in this country or England, cited by Jirecek and Evans.
34(Ch. XXII). Wadding, in his Annales Minorum, under the year 1462, says: „In this year . . . the pope, Pius II., being much alarmed at the progres of heresy in Bosnia, and hearing that there was a great want there of men skilled in philosophy, the sacred canons, and theology, sent thither learned men from the neighboring provinces, and especially the brother Peter de Milo, a native of Bosnia, and four fellows. These five had studied in the best Cismontane and Transmontane universities, under the most learned doctors. The pope, moreover, gave orders that some of the largest convents should be converted into schools for literary studies.”
This was not the first nor the last testimony unwillingly extorted from the papal authorities to the fact that among the Bogomil leaders and their co-religionists there were men of great learning and intellectual ability, although it was their constant habit to stigmatize these Protestant sects as ignorant rustics, too stupid and besotted to be able to understand the Scriptures or the arguments of the monks or bishops. The pope Honorius III., two hundred years before, had felt compelled to send the learned and eloquent subdeacon Aconcius to convince and convert these Bogomils, and even he had failed of success.
Hallam Middle Ages, vol. iii. p. 364) cites another instance of great interest. Pope Innocent III. (1198-1216) was much disturbed by the fact that the Scriptures had been translated into Provencal French and were largely circulated among the common people of the diocese of Metz and elsewhere. In a letter addressed to the clergy of that diocese, found in the Works of that pontiff (p. 468), he tells them that no small multitude of laymen and women, having procured a translation of the Gospels, Epistles of St. Paul, the Psalter (the Psalms), Job and other books of Scripture to be made for them into French, meet in secret conventicles to hear them read and preach to each other, avoiding the company of those who do not join in their devotion; and, having been reprimanded for this by some of their parish priests, have withstood them, alleging reasons from the Scriptures why they should not be so forbidden. After condemning them for these conventicles, the pope urges the bishop and chapter of Metz to discover the author of this translation, which, he says, could not have been made without a knowledge of letters, and to ascertain what were his intentions, and what degree of orthodoxy and respect for the Holy See those who used it possessed. This letter failed of its desired effect; for in another letter (p. 537 of his Works) he complains that some members of this little association continued refractory and refused to obey either the bishop or the pope. That Metz was at this time full of Vaudois, or Waldenses, we know from other authorities, and it is very probable that this was the translation of the Scriptures directed by Peter Waldo, a few years before.
35(Ch. XXIV.). Mr. Evans well says (pp. 56-58 of his able Historical Review of Bosnia): „Perhaps enough has been said to show the really important part played by Bosnia in European history. We have seen her aid in interpreting to the West the sublime puritanism which the more eastern Sclaves of Bulgaria had first received from the Armenian missionaries; we have seen her take the lead in the first religious revolt against Rome; we have seen a Bosnian religious teacher directing the movement in Provence; we have seen the Protestants of Bosnia successfully resisting all the efforts of Rome, supported by the arms of Hungary, to put them down; we have seen them offering an asylum to their persecuted brothers of the West—Albigenses, Patarenes, and Waldenses; we have seen them connected with the Reformation in Bohemia and affording shelter to the followers of Huss. From the twelfth century to the final conquest of the Turks in the sixteenth, when the fight of religious freedom had been won in North-western Europe, Bosnia presents the unique phenomenon of a Protestant state existing within the limits of the Holy Roman Empire, and in a province claimed by the Roman Church.
„Bosnia was the religious Switzerland of mediaeval Europe, and the signal service which she has rendered to the freedom of the human intellect by her successful stand against authority can hardly be exaggerated. Resistance, broken down in the gardens of Provence, buried beneath the charred rafters of the Roman cities of the Langue d’Oe, smothered in the dungeons of the Inquisitions, was prolonged from generation to generation amongst the primeval forests and mountain-fastnesses of Bosnia.
„There were not wanting, amongst those who sought to exterminate the Bogomils, churchmen as dead to human pity as the Abbot of Citeaux, and lay arms as bloodthirsty as De Montfort; but the stubborn genius of the Serbian people fought on with rare persistence and held out to the end. The history of these champions of a purer religion has been written by their enemies and ignored by those who owe most to their heroism. No martyrology of the Bogomils of Bosnia has come down to us. We have no Huss or Tyndale to arrest our pity. ‘Invidious silence’ has obscured their fame.
Urgentur, ignotique longa
Nocte, carent quia vate sacro.’
„Protestant historians, fearful of claiming relationship with heretics whose views on the origin of evil were more logical than their own, have almost or entirely ignored the existence of the Sclavonic Puritans.” This sharp rebuke is especially deserved by Dean Milman in his Latin Christianity, and by Archbishop Trench in his recent Lectures on Ecclesiastical History. Others are not wholly guiltless. „Yet of all worn-out devices of ad captandum argument, this assuredly is the most threadbare—to ignore the transitions of intervening links, and pointing to the extremes of a long concatenation of cause and effects, to seize upon their differences as a proof of disconnection. In the course of ages the development of creeds and churches is not less striking than that of more secular institutions. Bogomilism obeyed an universal law; it paid the universal tribute of successful propgandism: it compromised, or, where it did not compromise, it was ruthlessly stamped out. The Manichaen elements, most distasteful to modern Protestants, were in fact the first to disappear.” („Yes, if indeed they ever really existed among the Bogomils.”—AUTHOR of The Bogomils of Bulgaria and Bosnia.) „In its contact with the semi-pagan Christianity of the West the puritanism of the Gnostic East became, perforce, materialized; just as, ages before, Christianity itself, an earlier wave of the same Eastern puritanism, had materialized in its contact with the undiluted heathendom of the Western empire. To a certain extent, Bogomilism gained. It lost something of its anti-human vigor, and, by conforming to the exigences of Western society, became to a certain extent more practical. Thus by the sixteenth century the path had been cleared for a compromise with orthodoxy itself. The Reformation marks the confluence of the two main currents of religious thought that traverse the Middle Ages in their several sources, Romish and Armenian. No doubt, from the orthodox side—which refused to reject all that was beautiful in the older world, which consecrated Graeco-Roman civilization and linked art with religion—the West has gained much; but in days of gross materialism and degrading sacerdotalism it has gained perhaps even more from the purging and elevation influence of these early Puritans. The most devout Protestant need not be afraid to acknowledge the religious obligations which he owes to his spiritual forefathers, Manichaean though they were; while those who perceive in Protestantism itself nothing more than a stepping-stone to still greater freedom of the human mind, and who recognize the universal bearing of the doctrine of Evolution, will be slow to deny that England herself and the most enlightened countries of the modern world may owe a debt, which it is hard to estimate, to the Bogomils of Bulgaria and Bosnia.”
It is to be remembered that these are the thoughtful and well-considered words of a traveller and scholar who has no affiliation with Puritan or Baptist, who while professedly a member of the Anglican Church, has strong leanings toward evolution, but who, from his English love of fair play, and the conviction derived from extended and careful research, and the pure and stainless lives of these Protestants of the East, has been compelled to take up arms in their defence.
We have shown elsewhere and from other sources that the movement of the Bogomils and their co-religionists of Western Europe was independent of, and had very little connection with, the Reformation. Never having belonged to Rome, they had no occasion to reform her doctrines or churches, and in fact had as little to do with the Reformation as the Protestant and independent churches of to-day have with the Old Catholic movement. They may have wished the Reformation well, as we do this Old Catholic movement; but as we have not, and cannot have, any affiliation with it, while it holds so many Romish errors, so they precluded from any direct affiliation with the Reformed churches, for the same reason.
Return To ‘A Baptist Voice’ English Home
A short description of Historic Baptists By Raul Enyedi
A short description of Historic Baptists
By Raul Enyedi
As the preservers of the doctrinal and practical simplicity found in the New
Testament, and having a continuous existence from the first Christian century until this
day, among the Baptists are to be found the original Christians. Our founder is not a
man, but the Savior Jesus Christ Himself.
In history we have been known under different names which were given to us due
to a certain characteristic or a certain leader or place. Novatians, Donatists, Paulicians,
Albigenses, Waldenses are just a few of these names. Generally we were known by the
deprecatory name “Anabaptists” (rebaptizers). This was because we did not recognize
acts performed by churches which we considered not authentic and baptized those who
were converted to our faith. However, we never acknowledged that name, because we
did not consider that we baptized the second time. Rather we baptized for the first time in
a correct, biblical way. In the course of time the prefix “ana” was dropped and we
remained known as “Baptists” (baptizers).
Our historic development is different than that of the traditional Churches. We did
not come out of the Protestant Reformation, nor from the Roman Church, nor from the
Greek. We did not identify with any of these churches and we are not like them. Sir
Isaac Newton, the great man of science, stated that he was convinced that the Baptists are
the only Christians “that have never symbolized with Rome.” Looking back in history,
we take this statement as a great compliment.
Being unjustly called “heretics” (Mircea Eliade, the great historian of religion, said
“the first Christian forms were closer to those who were classed later on as heretical”),
our forefathers were severely persecuted by both the ecclesiastic and secular authorities.
Many paid with their own lives for what was thought to be the ultimate guilt, that of
believing and practicing in their everyday lives the principles of the New Testament and
of asking for freedom for all people to serve God according to the dictates of their
conscience. Even though millions were martyred for their faith, in their turn they never
persecuted any other person. Nobody suffered persecution at the hand of the Baptists and
not even one drop of blood was spilled in the name of our religion!
The particularities after which our churches can be identified today, as well as in
any given time of Christian history are the following:
1. According to the biblical definition, the church is the assembly of baptized
believers in a given place – an organization centered on spiritual activities,
whose Founder, Head and Lawgiver is the Savior Jesus Christ. The church
is not a building and is not formed only of the clergy. We do not believe in
concepts like national or universal Church, these being in contradiction with the
2. Members of a church can be only persons who believed the Gospel and
whose lives have been visibly changed. To believe the Gospel means to
believe that man deserves death for his sins, and can be saved only by God, by
grace (that is, without deserving salvation) because of the fact that Christ
suffered the punishment for his sins. We believe that man cannot save himslef
by his works and cannot possibly cause God to be favorable toward him. Man
is totally dependent on God’s mercy.
3. The way to enter the church is by baptism (performed only by immersion)
based on the personal testimony of each candidate. This is the beginning of
the Christian life. From that moment follows obedience and faithfulness toward
all the teachings of the New Testament.
4. The church has only two ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
These are symbolic. Nothing miraculous happens during these ceremonies.
They commemorate the death and the resurrection of the Lord and show our
identification with Him. These are not saving sacraments, therefore,
participation in them does not assure anyone’s salvation.
5. The laws and ordinances upon which the church functions are found
exclusively in the New Testament (even though we believe that the whole
Bible is the Word of God). The church is a New Testament institution.
Therefore, we do not accept other standards, viz. Old Testament Jewish forms
and practices, Church tradition, teachings of a modern prophet, etc.
6. There is no hierarchy or clergy in the church. The church has only two sorts
of servants. Pastors, who are also called bishops and elders in the Scriptures.
They have responsibility for the teaching and spiritual growth of believers; and
deacons, who take care of the natural duties of the church.
7. The church functions as a pure democracy. Every member is actively
involved in the life of the church and the decisions are made by the vote of the
majority. There are no differences between members, all being equal. We do
not have boards, committees or other ruling bodies.
8. The churches – local assemblies – are independent one from another in the
exercise of their laws and discipline, but cooperate one with another as equals in
different activities. No church has authority over another one. The association
of churches in different supra-church structures is unbiblical and harmful to
9. We believe in the absolute separation between church and state. We pay
authorities what we owe them, as citizens of the state in which we live. We do
not demand concessions from the government. We believe that the expenses of
each church are not public expenses, but must be supported by the members of
10. We believe and maintain that every man has the right to religious freedom.
Nobody has the right to impose a religion by force, because every person is
responsible before God for what he believes and for the way he lives his life.
These ten particularities make us differ from many churches that are still called
“Baptist,” but they represent the doctrinal and practical skeleton by which a Baptist
church, can be recognized, whatever name it bore or historic period in which it existed.
Since all these principles are found in the Scriptures, we consider them all to be essential
characteristics without which a church cannot be an authentic church of Christ.
A few other characteristics are worth noticing.
We believe that the only intermediary between God and men is Jesus Christ.
Through Him we have free access to God, without needing the intercession of priests or
Our churches do not have holydays. What most people consider to be Christian
holydays are actually Jewish rituals, but even more often old pagan celebrations to which
were given Christian names. From these pagan celebrations the practices and sometimes
even the dates were kept. The celebration of Christmas, for example, is also called the
celebration of the Lord’s Nativity. But the Scriptures do not give an exact date of His
birth, but only the approximate period (end of September, beginning of October). If we
try to find in history the origin of the date and practices of Christmas we shall find them
as coming from paganism. Moreover, the Bible does not tell us that we must celebrate
His birth. These are sufficient reasons for us not to be involved in such holydays. For
the Christian, every day lived in obedience to God is a day of celebration, of rest for the
We believe that the purpose of the church is not that of granting salvation to men.
The principle “there is no salvation outside the church” is unbiblical. God is the one who
saves souls, not men. Men cannot save themselves and cannot save anyone else, whoever
they might be and whatever they might do. The purpose of the church is that of
representing Christ and His message before the rest of the world and of helping the
spiritual growth of believers. An authentic church is the place where God accepts the
worship and the service of believers.
Baptists always promoted the increase of knowledge and education among men.
The concept of blind faith is foreign to us. We do not have lists of forbidden books,
secular or religious, and we encourage true science. The Bible does not encourage
narrowness and ignorance. The saying “believe and search not” is not biblical, as many
believe. The Bible states the contrary: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
This is our principle.
We are not part of the ecumenical movement (the movement of unification of
churches) because, unfortunately, they do not return to truth, or to the spirituality of
original Christianity, or to the teachings and practices of the New Testament. On the
contrary, these are continually ignored. The doctrinal basis of ecumenism is the decrees
of the first ecumenical councils.
We are different and separated from Baptist churches that are involved directly or
indirectly, through the representatives of their ruling bodies, in the ecumenical movement
or have given up some of the fundamental Baptist principles.
Our purpose is not the conversion of the world or a certain nation to one ideology.
We do not use marketing strategies for development and do not seek financial success or
advantages. What we hope to accomplish, and that we shall do, if the Lord wills, is to
present the Gospel of Christ to as many people as we can and to convince them to read
the Holy Scriptures because there is found the way to eternal life. The rest depends on