Shackelford on Baptist History (Complete)

Chapter 7: Waldensean Period (1260 Years)

“And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days. And to the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, times, and a half time, from the face of the serpent.” (Rev. 12:6,14 “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them and shall overcome them, and kill them.” (Rev. 11:7)

We now enter upon the wilderness period of the church, or what is more frequently called the Waldensean period. It is admitted that the true church is represented by the woman who fled into the wilderness and was nourished there for “a time, times and a half time.”

A time appears to stand for a year; times, for two years, and a half time for half a year. A time, times, and a half time would, therefore, represent three and a half years. These three and a half prophetic years, says Mr. Ray, represent 1260 years of time by our computation. The correctness of this interpretation appears in the fact that a day is made, in the Scriptures, to represent a year. A thousand two hundred and three score days, therefore, represent 1260 years, which is the wilderness period of the church.

“We are told that when the witnesses shall have finished their testimony the beast shall kill them. It will be seen in the further development of this history that the Waldenses were wholly exterminated from the valleys of Piedmont, whither they had fled for the protection of their lives, and the few who escaped butchery were incarcerated in prison, their property confiscated, and their children disposed among Catholics. This occurred in 1686. Counting back from that period, 1260 years, brings us to A.D. 406, as the beginning of the Waldensean period. During this period of 1260 years the Novatians, Montanists, Donatists, and indeed all Christians of whatever name, who held to the same principles which these Christians held, were known by the common name of Waldenses. This was the obscure, or Wilderness period of the churches, and much of their history is wholly unknown. They were persecuted on every hand by the Catholics who were their common foe, and there can be no doubt that this church was the great Whore, the Serpent and the Beast, which came up out of the bottomless pit, to make war upon the true witnesses and kill them.

There is a range of mountains, the highest in till of Europe, extending from the Adriatic to the Mediterranean seas, and separating Italy from France, Switzerland and Germany. Piedmont was the name given to the valleys situated at the foot of these mountains. Pede, foot, and montium, mountains. Hence the word Piedmont, and also the word Piedmontese, which signified dwellers at the foot of the mountains. The class of Christians, called Waldenses, derived their name from the fact that they inhabited those valleys. In France, these people were called Vaudois (vaux); in Lombardy, ecclesiastical writers named them Valdemes; simply from their living in valleys. “They call themselves Valdenses, because they abide in the valley of tears.”

Orchard says the Waldensean faith was held by the inhabitants of these valleys, as early as in the days of Constantine the Great, which was in the beginning of the fourth century, and when those severe measures eminated from the emperor, Honorius, against rebaptizers, the Baptists left the seats of opulence and power, and sought retreats in the country and in the valleys of Piedmont—which last place in particular—became their retreat from imperial oppression. This was in A.D. 404. “The assumption of power by the Roman priesthood occasioned multitudes of private persons to express publicly their abhorence of clerical vice and intolerance, and particularly of the lordly ambition of the Roman pontiffs. In the sixth and seventh centuries, many withdrew from the scenes of sacerdotal oppression, ignorance and voluptuousness. These sought refuge in Piedmont, and were called Valdenses; they abhorred popery.”

There can be no doubt that the Catholic church was represented by the great beast that ascended out of the bottomless pit: also by the serpent, from which the woman fled into the Wilderness, until the witnesses gave their testimony and were destroyed. It must not be supposed, however, that all the true believers had retired to the valleys of Piedmont. There were witnesses to the true faith scattered all over Europe during the whole of the Waldensean period of 1260 years. They were to be found in Italy, Franco, Spain, the different States of Germany, in Poland, and in North Africa. Their history is traced by the lighted fagots of the martyr’s stake, and by their blood stained foot-prints. Everywhere, like the hunted fawn, were they to be found fleeing from their pursuers, or hiding themselves in caves and dens, but still preserving the principles of a pure Christianity, and joyfully giving up their lives in defence of the same. Their books and writings were burned, their property was confiscated, and they themselves were banished from place to place, but everywhere they carried the torch of divine truth, for the principles which they held were divine and could not die.

Author of the “Compendium Of Baptist History”. Please inform the Editor of the AHB (via the Contact page) if you have biographical information on this author. Thank you.

Shackelford on Baptist History (Complete)