[Barbe means beard. It came to be applied to the person wearing the beard, becoming a term of affection for an uncle and then became the term which Anabaptists in France and Italy used for their ministers. Pragela, a valley in the Alps west of Turin and near the French border was home to a large number of Waldensians.]
An Epistle of the Barbe Bartolemi Tertian to the Evangelical churches of Pragela, circa 1420 AD.
Jesus be with us.
To all our faithful and beloved brethren in Jesus Christ. I greet you all. Amen.
This Epistle is to alert your brotherhood, acquitting myself of that trust which is committed to me by God concerning you for the salvation of your souls, according to the light of truth given to us by the Most High. May every one of you maintain, increase and cherish to your utmost and by no means weaken or diminish those good principles, forms and customs given by those who have gone before us, of which we are not worthy.
For it would be but a very small and poor advantage for us to have been renewed by the fatherly persuasions and the light given to us by God, if we should now give ourselves up to a worldly, diabolical and fleshly conversation, forsaking the principal good, which is God, and the salvation of our souls for a short temporal life. For the Lord has said in the gospel, What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? And, It were better never to have known the way of righteousness, than having once known it, to walk contrary to it.
Yea, we shall be altogether inexcusable before the righteousness of God, and our condemnation more severe. For more torment will be inflicted upon those who have had the greatest knowledge. Wherefore I beseech you by the love of God not to diminish but to increase the love, fear and obedience which is due unto God, and to one another, and also to keep the good customs which you have seen and heard of God, by us and others. And that you will purge out from among you all those faults and failings which disturb your peace, love and concord, and all that obstructs your liberty in the service of God, and your own salvation and the administration of truth, if you desire that God would prosper you in the temporal and spiritual goods. For you can do nothing without Him.
If you desire to be heirs of His glory, do as He tells you, If you would enter into life, keep my commandments. Moreover, let there be among you no vain sports, gluttony, whoredoms, balls or other debaucheries, nor questions, fraud, usury, envy or discord. Neither support or uphold among you any persons of an evil life who could become a stumbling block or evil example to you. Rather let love and faithfulness reign among you and all good examples, doing one to another as every one would that it should be done to him. For otherwise it is not possible that any can be saved, or find grace and favour with God and man in this world, or glory in that which is to come.
And it is necessary that the leaders and those who govern among you see to maintaining these things. For when the head is sick all the members suffer. Wherefore, if you hope and desire to possess eternal life and to be held in esteem and favour and to prosper in the world in both spiritual and temporal things, cleanse yourselves from every disorderly way among you so that God may always be with you, Who never forsakes those who put their trust in Him. But know for certain that God does not answer or dwell with sinners, nor with the soul who desire evil, nor with the man that is a slave to sin. Wherefore let every one cleanse the way of his own heart and flee from dangers if he would not perish in them. I shall not say more for the present, except that ye do all these things and the God of Peace be with you all. Join with us in true, humble and devout prayer. Greetings to all the faithful and beloved of Christ. Amen
I am wholly yours, Bartholomeus Tertianus, ready to serve you in all things in our power, according to the will of God.