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THAT the doctrine of purgatory, as it is taught in the Roman church, is a novelty, and a part of their new religion, is sufficiently attested by the words of the Cardinal of Rochester, and Alphonsus à Castro; whose words I now add, that he who pleases, may see how these men would fain impose their new fancies upon the church, under pretence and title of ancient and catholic verities. The words of Roffensis in his eighteenth article against Luther are these: "Legat qui velit, Græcorum veterum commentarios, et nullum, quantum opinor, aut quam rarissimum, de purgatorio sermonem inveniet. Sed neque Latini simul omnes, at sensim hujus rei veritatem conceperunt:"-" He that pleases, let him read the commentaries of the old Greeks, and, as I suppose, he shall find none, or very rare mention or speech of purgatory. But neither did all the Latins at one time, but by little and little, conceive the truth of this thing."-And again: "Aliquandiu incognitum fuit, serò cognitum universæ ecclesiæ. Deinde quibusdam pedetentim, partim, ex Scripturis, partim ex revelationibus creditum fuit:" "For somewhile it was unknown; it was but lately known to the catholic church. Then it was believed by some, by little and little; partly from Scripture, partly from revelations."-And this is the goodly ground of the doctrine of purgatory, founded, no
A letter to a Friend touching Dr. Taylor, sect. 4. n. 26. p. 10, which if the reader please for his curiosity or his recreation to see, he shall find this pleasant passage, of deep learning and subtle observation: "Dr. Taylor had said that Roffensis and Polydore Virgil affirm, that whoso searcheth the writings of the Greek fathers, shall find that none, or very rarely any one of them, ever makes mention of purgatory. Whereas Polydore Virgil affirms no such thing; nor doth Roffensis say, that very rarely any one of them mentions it, but only, that in these ancient writers, he shall find none, or but very rare mention of it." If this man were in his wits when he made this answer (an answer which no man can unriddle, or tell how it opposes the objection), then it is very certain, that if this can pass among the answers to the Protestants' objections, the Papists are in a very great strait, and have very little to say for themselves: and the letter to a friend was written by compulsion, and by the shame of confutation : not of conscience or ingenuous persuasion. No man can be so foolish, as to suppose this fit to be given in answer to any sober discourse; or if there be such pitiful people in the church of Rome, and trusted to write books in defence of their religion; it seems they care not what any man says or proves against them if the people be but cozened with a pretended answer; for that serves the turn, as well as a wiser.
question, upon tradition apostolical; delivered some hundreds of years indeed after they were dead; but the truth is, because it was forgotten by the apostles, and they having so many things in their heads, when they were alive, wrote and said nothing of it: therefore they took care to send some from the dead, who, by new revelations, should teach this old doctrine. This we may conjecture to be the equivalent sense of the plain words of Roffensis. But the plain words. are sufficient without a commentary.
Now for Polydore Virgil, his own words can best tell what he says; the words I have put into the margent', because they are many; the sense of them is this. 1. He finds no use of indulgences before the stations of St. Gregory; the consequent of that is, that all the Latin fathers did not receive them before St Gregory's time; and, therefore, they did not receive them altogether. 2. The matter being so obscure, Polydore chose to express his sense in the testimony of Roffensis. 3. From him he affirms, that the use of indul gences is but new, and lately received amongst Christians. 4. That there is no certainty concerning their original. 5. They report, that, amongst the ancient Latins, there was some use of them: but it is but a report, for he knows nothing of it before St. Gregory's time; and for that also, he hath but a mere report. 6. Amongst the Greeks it is not to this day believed. 7. As long as there was no care of purgatory, no man looked after indulgences; because if you take away purgatory, there is no need of indulgences. 8. That the use of indulgences began, after men had awhile trembled at the torments of purgatory. This, if I understand Latin or common sense, is the doctrine of Polydore Virgil; and to k Lib. 8. cap. 1. de Inven. Rerum.
1 Ego vero originem quod mei est muneris, quæritans non reperio ante fuisse, quod sciam, quam D. Gregorius ad suas stationes id præmio proposuérit, Quapropter in re parum perspicuâ, utar testimonio Johannis Roffensis episcopi, qui in eo opere quod nuper in Lutherum scripsit, sic de ejusmodi veniarum initio prodit:-Multos fortasse movit indulgentiis istis non usque adeò fidere, quod earum usus in ecclesiâ videatur recentior, et admodum serò apud Christianos repertus. Quibus ego respondeo, non certò constrare à quo primum tradi coeperint. Fuit tamen nonnullus earum usus (ut aiunt) apud Romanos vetustissimos, quod ex stationibus intelligi potest et subit. Nemo certe dubitat orthodoxus an purgatorium sit, de quo tamen apud priscos non ulla, vel quam rarissime, fiebat mentio. Sed et Græcis ad hunc usque diem, non est creditum esse: quamdiu enim nulla fuerat de purgatorio cura, nemo quæsivit indulgentias ; nam ex illo pendet omnis indulgentiarum existimatio: si tollas purgatorium, quorsum indulgentiis opus erit? cœperunt igitur indulgentiæ, postquam ad purgatorii cruciatus aliquandiu trepidatum est.
him I add also the testimony of Alphonsus à Castrom: "De purgatorio fere nulla mentio, potissimum apud Græcos scriptores. Qua de causa, usque ad hodiernum diem, purgatorium non est à Græcis creditum." The consequent of these things is this; If purgatory was not known to the primitive church; if it was but lately known to the catholic church; if the fathers seldom or never make mention of it; if, in the Greek church especially, there was so great silence of it, that to this very day it is not believed amongst the Greeks; then this doctrine was not an apostolical doctrine, not primitive, nor catholic, but an innovation and of yesterday.
And this is of itself (besides all these confessions of their own parties) a suspicious matter, because the church of Rome does establish their doctrine of purgatory upon the ancient use of the church of praying for the dead. But this consequence of theirs is wholly vain; because all the fathers did pray for the dead, yet they never prayed for their deliverance out of purgatory, nor ever meant it. To this it is thus objected; "It is confessed that they prayed for them that God would shew them a mercy.-Now, mark well; if they be in heaven, they have a mercy, the sentence is given for eternal happiness. If in hell, they are wholly destitute of mercy; unless there be a third place, where mercy can be shewed them":" I have, according to my order,' marked it well;' but find nothing in it to purpose. For though the fathers prayed for the souls departed that God would shew them mercy; yet it was, that God would shew them mercy in the day of judgment; " in that formidable and dreadful day, then there is need of much mercy unto us," saith St. Chrysostom. And, methinks, this gentleman should not have made use of so pitiful an argument, and would not, if he had considered that St. Paul prayed for Onesiphorus, "that God would shew him a mercy in that day;" that is, in the day of judgment, as generally interpreters ancient and modern do understand it, and particularly St. Chrysostom now cited. The faithful departed are in the hands of Christ as soon as they die, and they are very well; and the souls of the wicked are where it pleases God to appoint them to be, tormented by a fearful expectation of the revelation of the day of judgment; but heaven
m Lib. 4. verb. Indul. vide etiam lib. 12. lib. Purgatorium.
and hell are reserved till the day of judgment; and the devils themselves are "reserved in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day," saith St. Jude°; and in that day they shall be sentenced, and so shall all the wicked, to everlasting fire, which, as yet, is but prepared for the devil and his angels for ever. But is there no mercy to be shewed to them, unless they be in purgatory? Some of the ancient s speak of visitation of angels to be imparted to the souls departed; and the hastening of the day of judgment is a mercy; and the avenging of the martyrs upon their adversaries is a mercy, for which the "souls under the altar pray," saith St. John in the Revelation; and the Greek fathers speak of a fiery trial at the day of judgment, through which every one must pass; and there will be great need of mercy. And after all this; there is a remission of sins proper to this world when God so pardons, that he gives the grace of repentance, that he takes his judgments off from us, that he gives us his Holy Spirit to mortify our sins, that he admits us to work in his laboratory, that he sustains us by his power, and promotes us by his grace, and stands by us favourably, while we work out our salvation with fear and trembling; and at last he crowns us with perseverance. But, at the day of judgment, there shall be a pardon of sins, that will crown this pardon; when God shall pronounce us pardoned before all the world; and when Christ shall actually and presentially rescue us from all the pains, which our sins have deserved; even from everlasting pain: and that is the final pardon, for which, till it be accomplished, all the faithful do night and day pray incessantly although to many for whom they do pray, they friendly believe that it is now certain, that they shall then be glorified. "Sæpissime petuntur illa, quae certo sciuntur eventura ut petuntur, et hujus rei plurima sunt testimonia," said Alphonsus à Castro P: and so also Medina and Bellarmine acknowledge. The thing is true, they say; but if it were not, yet we find, that, 'de facto,' they do pray, "Domine Jesu Christe, rex gloriæ, libera animas fidelium defunctorum de pœnis inferni, et de profundo lacu : libera eos de ore leonis, ne absorbeat eos Tartarus, ne cadant in obscurum." So it is
• Ver. 6.
P Contr. Hæres. lib. 12. tit. Purgator.
in the masses 'pro defunctis .'-And, therefore, this gentleman talking that in heaven all is remitted, and in hell nothing is forgiven, and from hence to conclude that there is no avoiding of purgatory, is too hasty a conclusion: let him stay till he comes to heaven, and the final sentence is past, and then he will, if he finds it to be so, have reason to say what he does: but by that time the dream of purgatory will be out; and, in the meantime, let him strive to understand his mass-book better. St. Austin thought he had reason to pray for pardon and remission for his mother; for the reasons already expressed, though he never thought his mother was in purgatory. It was upon consideration of the dangers of every soul that dies in Adam; and yet he affirms, she was even before her death alive unto Christ. And therefore she did not die miserable, nor did she die at all, said her son; "Hoc et documentis ejus morum, et fide non ficta, rationibus certis tenebamust;" and when he did pray for her; " Credo jam feceris quod te rogo, sed voluntaria oris mei approba, Domine:" which will yet give another answer to this confident gentleman; St. Austin prayed for pardon for his mother, and "did believe the thing was done already; but he prayed to God to approve that voluntary oblation of his mouth." So that now all the objection is vanished; St. Austin prayed, besides many other reasons, to manifest his kindness, not for any need she had. But after all this, was not St. Monica a saint? Is she not put in the Roman calendar, and the 4th of May appointed for her festival? And do saints, do canonized persons, use to go to purgatory? But let it be as it will, I only desire that this be remembered against a good time; that here it is confessed, that prayers were offered for a saint departed. I fear it will be denied by and by.
But, 2. The fathers made prayers for those, who, by the confession of all sides, never were in purgatory; for the pa triarchs, apostles, &c., and especially for the blessed Virgin Mary; this is a direct and perfect overthrow of the Roman doctrine of purgatory: and therefore, if it can be made good, they have no probability left, upon the confidence of which they can plausibly pretend to purgatory. I have already offered something in proof of this, which I shall now s Vide Missam in Commemorationem omnium Defunctorum. t Confess. lib. 9. cap. 12, 13. "Letter, pag. 11. n. 31.