Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/100

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tern of indulgences was another of the sacerdotal devices which they rejected; and they added three specific rules of morality which became distinctive characteristics of the sect. Every lie is a mortal sin ; every oath, even in a court of justice, is unlawful; and homicide is under no circumstances to be permitted, whether in war or in execution of judicial sentences. This necessarily involved non-resistance, rendering the Waldenses dangerous only from such moral influence as they could acquire. Even as late as 1217, a well-informed contemporary assures us that the four chief errors of the Waldenses Avere, their wearing sandals after the fashion of the apostles, their prohibition of oaths and of homicide, and their assertion that any member of the sect, if he wore sandals, could in case of necessity consecrate the Eucharist.[1]

All this was a simple-hearted endeavor to obey the commands of Christ and make the gospel an actual standard for the conduct of daily life ; but these principles, if universally adopted, would have reduced the Church to a condition of apostolic poverty, and would have swept away much of the distinction between priest and layman. Besides, the sectaries were inspired with the true missionary spirit ; their proselyting zeal knew no bounds ; they wandered from land to land promulgating their doctrines, and finding everywhere a cordial response, especially among the lower classes, who were ready enough to embrace a dogma that promised to release them from the vices and oppression of the clergy. "We are told that one of their chief apostles carried with him various disguises, appearing now as a cobbler, then as a barber, and again as a peasant, and though this may have been, as alleged, for the purpose of eluding capture, it shows the social stratum

  1. Alani de Insulis contra Haereticos Lib. ii. — Disputat. inter Cathol. et Paterin. (Martene Thesaur. V. 1754). — Rescript. Pauperum Lombard. 31, 22 (W. Preger, Beitrage, pp. 60, 61).— Eymerici Direct. Inquis. p. ii. q. 14. (pp. 278, 279).— Petri Sarnaii Hist. Albigens. cap. 2.— In 1321, a man and wife brought before the Inquisition of Toulouse both refused to swear, and they alleged as a reason, in addition to the sinful nature of the oath, the man that it would subject him to falling sickness, the woman that she would have an abortion (Lib. Sententt. Inq. Tolosan. Ed. Limborch, p. 289).
    In the persecution of the Waldenses of Piedmont towards the close of the fourteenth century, one of the crucial questions of the inquisitors was as to belief in the validity of the sacraments of sinful priests.— Processus contra Valdenses (Archivio Storico Italiano, 1865, No. 39, p. 48).