Familiar Conversations on Romanism

Second Conversation

The Forgiveness of Sins: Purgatory

J. N. Darby.

<18007E> 293 {file section a.}

N*. Good day, James.

James. Good day, sir.

N*. Well, James, I am come to continue our inquiries into the truth of Roman Catholic doctrines.

James. I am glad you are, sir, and much obliged to you. Bill M. has been here since, and angry at my being so sure of the Bible being the word of God, and that I am so happy because I see that God has forgiven me, and that I have found salvation in Christ. He says I am turned fanatic, and that my head is turned, and what not. It tried me a little, but I know I am happy, and my wife helped me. And it was only what he had said to me before. And when I turned to scripture, it came to me just with light and power; it was like another book to me; so I was not shaken really. If a man sees the sun, it is hard to persuade him he does not see it, though he cannot explain to another how he comes to see it, only that God gave him eyes; but I should like to hear something more about the church, for that is what he always comes down upon. I expect he will be here to-night, and perhaps, if it is not too much to ask, you would have some conversation with him about it. My woman would be glad to hear, too, if you have no objection.

N*. Not the least; we will wait to speak of the church and authority till M. comes. I am glad he will be here, we can have our questions fully out. We will take however Roman Catholic doctrines from their own authoritative sources, which is still better. However he can recall any point I might forget, which will be an advantage. As to their arguments, I have Milner's "End of Controversy," which I know is distributed largely in cheap editions, so that I suppose we shall have the best arguments which they have to produce. Meanwhile there is a point I can touch on (for which we had not time the other day), I mean purgatory, because it is directly connected with the all-sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice, which gave you, through grace, such comfort the last time I saw you. The Romanists teach that there are two kinds of sins, mortal and venial. The first, they say, deprives the soul of sanctifying grace (that is, the grace that makes us friends of God), and deserves hell: venial sin does not deprive us of this. It does not, spiritually speaking, kill the soul, so their catechisms speak. The Council of Trent declares that the grace of justification is lost by mortal sin. Venial sin however, according to the same authority, does not exclude from grace, but by mortal sins men are sons of wrath and enemies of God. They say that if a man dies in mortal sin he goes to hell, but if he dies in venial sin he goes to purgatory; or if his mortal sin has been forgiven, and he is again justified by penance, he may go to purgatory to satisfy for the penalties that may remain after forgiveness.

294 James. What is purgatory?

N*. They are very shy indeed of saying what it is. Our friend, Dr. Milner, says, "All which is necessary to be believed on that subject is, there is a purgatory, and the souls detained there are helped by the prayers of the faithful, and particularly by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar." This is the same as the Council of Trent. Only they anathematize any one who denies that, after men are freed from the eternal penalty of their sins, they have to satisfy in this world or in purgatory the temporal penalty to which they are liable for them. They do not tell us what it is, and forbid curious questions; only there is, they say, a place of temporary punishment. In the Catechism of the Council of Trent, however, it is called the fire of purgatory, in which the souls of the just are cleansed by a temporary punishment.* Those who get in must stay there till they have paid the very last farthing, for so they apply that text; yet their friends can help them to get out by prayers, alms, and particularly by the so-called sacrifice of the Mass. Now all this you can easily see (however little clear it may be) goes clean against the whole testimony of God as to the forgiveness of sins. They ground it in their reasonings on the impossibility of a soul suffering for a small sin as it would for murder. They put a person under vindictive temporal punishment, which does not purify, but satisfies God. They are always labouring to get people out; indulgences are used to spare people part of this temporal punishment due to sin, as they say, but "no one can ever be sure that he has gained the entire benefit of an indulgence, though he has performed all the conditions appointed for this end."** How different is scripture. God does chasten for sin with a view to our holiness, even when we are perfectly forgiven — He, for our profit (it is said), that we may be partakers of His holiness. That, the heart assured of His goodness can easily believe, and bless Him for it. He speaks to us (as it is beautifully said) as unto children: "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him." It is also true that God governs, and shews sometimes His displeasure against sin in this world. And He has so ordered the world that he that sows to the flesh, of the flesh reaps corruption; but a vindictive penalty — when a man is not in the flesh at all, as to which God can be satisfied by the man's sufferings in this or another world, or by his friends' offerings, with which no purifying is connected, but which serve merely to buy him off from God's hand, who will not let him go till the last farthing is paid — is a horrible blasphemy against the truth and grace of God. The scriptures do not teach us thus. What should you say, James, to the thought that, after God had forgiven you, and declared that He would remember your sins and iniquities no more, God was going to put you into the fire or some other horrible pain, till you paid Him the last farthing of these temporal penalties?

{*It is singular enough the obscurity and inconsistency of the Catechism of the Council of Trent on this subject. In the article on the descent into hell, besides what I have just quoted, after speaking of purgatory, it is said, "The third kind of abode is that in which were received the souls of the just who died before Christ, and where, without experiencing any kind of pain, supported by the. blessed hope of redemption, they enjoyed peaceful repose. These pious souls, then, who in the bosom of Abraham were expecting the Saviour, Christ the Lord liberated, descending into hell." (Vol. 1, p. 123, 3.) Shortly after, in the same article, it is said, speaking of the descent of the just: "They all descended, some to endure the most acute torments; others, though exempt from actual pain, yet deprived of the vision of God, and of the glory for which they sighed, and consigned to the torture of suspense in painful captivity." Is being consigned to the torture of suspense in painful captivity peaceful repose in the bosom of Abraham? Were the holy and the just held in painful captivity in the bosom of Abraham? Is that the picture which scripture gives of it? The fire of purgatory is the second thing. 'Limbus patrum' is the third kind of abode, where there was no pain, but peaceful repose. Yet some were there to endure the most acute torments. In a further passage it is said, "And the souls of the just, on their departure from this life, were borne to the bosom of Abraham; or, as is still the case with those who require to be freed from the stains of sin or die indebted to the divine justice, were purified in the fire of purgatory" (p. 127, 2.) Hence the souls of the just who were enjoying peaceful repose in the torture of suspense must have been perfect souls. The others were in the fire of purgatory as people are now. The Jews' belief is that Abraham descended from time to time to deliver souls. Bellarmine insists that it is a material fire — a strange thing for souls to suffer from. But what is more important, he declares that the element of sin (the fomes peccati) is gone by death, because sensuality is extinguished — habits not. But they must soon be gone too, nay, at once, though that is not the case in this life, because there will there be no contrary and resisting element as there is here — nor is purgatory for these habits, as adults who die directly after baptism, and martyrs do not go there. Yet neither baptism nor martyrdom destroys them. After reasoning thus, and saying purgatory was for none of these, he adds, "There remain, therefore, the penalties of guilt and venial sins, which may properly be called the remains of sins, on account of which purgatory is. But these remains, it is sometimes certain, are purged in death: sometimes it is certain they are not purged, sometimes it is doubtful which happens, and it is most probable they are partly purged and partly not purged." (Vol. 2, Bellarm. De Purg. lib. 2, cap. 9, 7 (p. 370): "Restat ergo reatus poenae, et peccata venialia, quae proprie dici possunt reliquiae peccatorum, ob quas est purgatorium. Has autem reliquias aliquando certum est in morte purgari; aliquando certum est non purgari: aliquando dubium est, quid fiat, et probabilissimum est, partim purgari, partim non purgari": and preceding and following sections. I cite this because it is thus clear from the highest authority of the Roman Catholic church that it is not inward spiritual purifying, for sensuality is extinguished by death — not even habits, but the penalty of guilt and venial sin. It is strictly penal and satisfactory; and, secondly, it is exactly for that ("the remains of sin," which extreme unction takes away) that men go into purgatory; which is noticed farther on. The pains of purgatory, says Bellarmine, are most horrible (atrocissimas). It cannot be said how long they last — they may diminish gradually. This he proves by visions. He enlarges upon the proofs of the horrible pains compared with anything here. In result, for the slightest faults (if Pope Gregory the Great is to be believed), and with no view to purify from lust or sensuality (for that is extinguished), justified holy souls in a state of grace are kept in torment as a mere penal satisfaction.

One catechism defines it "a place of punishment where souls suffer for a time, before they go to heaven"; but the Council of Trent and the creed of Pope Pius give us no help here.}

{**Milner's "End of Con." Letter 42, On Indulgences, "of what it really is" (sec. 4 of second par. of Letter 42.). Bellarm. De Indulg., lib. 1, cap. 12.}

296 James. I never could think that.

N*. No one who knows God's truth could, James. It revolts every thought that God has given to us of His grace and of Himself.

James. But, then, what do you say to the murderer not being punished more than one who had committed a small fault?

N*. I say that if they turn to God through Christ, they are both washed clean, as white as snow, even if the sin was as scarlet. The whole argument, James, denies Christian truth. No person renewed in heart will call any fault small which comes from the carnal mind, which is enmity against God. We know that, if we are not redeemed and justified and born again, we are all children of wrath; that if we are, though we may be chastened for our profit, God imputes to us no sin at all, as Paul says in Romans 4, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth no sin," quoting Psalm 32, because Christ has, for those who by grace are in Him, borne and satisfied perfectly for them all; that (Heb. 10) by one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified; that, if they are really Christ's, they have a new nature (Col. 3:10); that Christ Himself is their life (Col. 3; Gal. 2:20); and that, when we die, we are absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5); that God has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1). In a word, we believe in salvation through the work of Christ, and a new, divinely-given, nature. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin (1 John 1). God forgives and cleanses from all iniquity. It was when Christ had by Himself purged our sins that He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1). What do we want of a purgatory, if we are perfectly purged and cleansed, made (as scripture speaks) as white as snow! They would persuade us that God has given His Son for our sins, that He has borne them; and yet, that for those who die in grace, who are really in Christ, all whose sins Christ has borne, cleansing them in His precious blood — interceding for them in virtue of it if they have failed (1 John 2) — God has still a prison in order to punish them grievously for the very sins which Christ has borne, and that He will exact the last farthing of them!

297 James. That's not Christianity, I'm sure, nor the God of the Bible.

N*. It is not, James: and what strikes me in all the doctrines of popery is that they deny the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ, His own grace. But a word as regards degrees of guilt. Even in eternal punishment scripture speaks of a difference, of few stripes and many stripes (Luke 12:46-47); but that is in eternal punishment when Christ comes to judge, as you may see, verse 46; and they are all alike shut out from the presence of the blessed God, and that is what is infinitely dreadful; while, if through grace they have been brought to repentance and faith in Christ, if they have really been made partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4), the Lord imputes no sin to them. The Romanist reasoning supposes that the sinner who is in grace has to answer for his own sins, and hence it makes the difference of great and small. Christianity teaches us that, if a man be in Christ, Christ is He who has answered for them, and that hence none is imputed to him at all. But he does look for purifying by the word of God in whatever details he may need it, and by chastening in the flesh when it is called for; but he has a new nature, and, if he dies and leaves this world of discipline, he will not have his body or flesh remaining at all. He departs and is with Christ; he falls asleep in Christ, Jesus receiving his spirit. He could not look on the God who has loved him, given His Son for him, justified him, cleansed him in Christ's blood, made him His own child, and declared He would never remember his sins, as a God who would after all put him into torment till he paid the last farthing.

298 James. That is true; I see plain enough it denies the very nature of Christianity, all it tells you of God and all the feelings it gives towards God for His love. Why the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost! I begin to feel it now, and see in the Bible that it belongs to the Christian; and there would be an utter end of that, if it was true that God was going, after saving us by Christ, to put us into prison till we had paid the last farthing. No: I believe Christ has paid the last farthing for me (blessed be His name), and that He ever lives to make intercession for me. I do not know what kind of a religion that is, but it is not real Christianity. Of this I am sure; though I do not say good people may not be blinded by it.

N*. No: its character is not divine. Penances to satisfy an exacting God, purgatory if you do not do enough, multiplied rites and ceremonies to quiet the conscience without purifying it, no confidence in God as a God of love, no resting in thankful peace on the efficacy of Christ's work, no childlike confidence in a Father's goodness taking away fear; these are not the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ, nor their fruits. The system really sets aside grace, and puts us under the terror of an eternity which we are not fit to meet. It pretends that Christ's blood was shed to bring the Old Testament saints to paradise, but that the commandments are given for us to merit it by. Then there are ceremonies to eke out our failures; and, in spite of them all, and of a sacrament that is to wipe out the remains of sin* (for so they say extreme unction does, which Christ's blood, however believed in, has not done of itself), we are to go to purgatory and finish the payment to a God who will have the last farthing. It is neither God come down to us in love (and this is what Christ really was on earth, and as to His love He surely is not changed), nor we reconciled to God by the death of His Son, which scripture says that we who believe are. Forgive me, James, if I speak earnestly and warmly when I think of the wrong done to God's love and to the efficacy of Christ's precious blood by it.

299 They can give a thousand cunning explanations about purgatory, which after all are but straw before the word of God; but the end is that the poor soul under this teaching needs, and feels it needs, purging in order to be with God. It does its best, is not purged; gets the sacraments, is not purged; and then goes to purgatory, and God knows when it will get out. For see what a poor case it is after all. A man is absolved, has the viaticum, the benefit of Christ's sacrifice; afterwards he is anointed, which is declared to wipe away the remains of sin,* and then after all goes to purgatory. What is that for? Not to purge him — for the remains of sin are wiped away (I use the terms of the Council of Trent*) by extreme unction: what does he go to purgatory for after that? The natural conscience feels it must be to purge the soul, not merely to satisfy a vindictive God; but, if it be, then the sacraments have not done it. And though they have had masses before which have not kept them out of this prison, and they get masses said to get them out when they are in, yet we never know when they will get out after all. They are helped, but we are not told (that is carefully avoided) whether the satisfaction is judicially received for the satisfaction of another: the offended judge is not bound to receive. It is probable it is; but they are only suffrages,** not satisfaction necessarily applied.

{*Concil. Tridentini Sessio 14, De Sacr. Extremae Unction is, Cap. 2 — "Cujus unctio delicta, si quae sint adhuc expianda, ac peccati reliquias abstergit." This is exactly what Bellarmine says souls go to purgatory for. Again, "it rids the soul of the languor and infirmity brought on it by sin, and of all the other remains of sin." (Extrema Unct., vol. 1, 5. 6, p. 597, 11) — Catechism of the Council of Trent.}

{**Bellarmine de Indulg. lib. 1, 6, 3. They are "per modum suffragii." 14, 5, 6, "per suffragia."}

300 And remark here, that it is with no view of benefit to the souls that are in purgatory that they are tormented. God does chasten men in this world (and to this Roman Catholics appeal); but we read, "he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness." God may bring in judgment, like the flood, or the perishing of the Israelites in the wilderness; but, in this last case, it is said, "As I live, saith Jehovah, all the earth shall be filled with my glory." It was His public government in this world vindicated. But Bellarmine says, the souls in purgatory are sure of their salvation, that death has wholly taken away the principle of sin in them, nor is the purgatorial fire to correct evil habits that have been acquired. It is purely completing so much punishment imposed on them, satisfying a penalty. And for that they are in horrible torments, perhaps till the resurrection.*

{*Yet the words "expiantur" and "purgantur" are used for clearing the tormented souls from it, because heaven cannot be defiled. But it shews the mere external character of the remedy of their idea of sin. It looks like quibbling on the Latin word "purgo," which means to put away in the way of expiation, and not purging of a soul.}

James. Well, how can people be so blinded? For I cannot believe, if a soul is forgiven and purged, God could take pleasure in tormenting it; and if it is not purged, then their absolution, and sacrament, and unction are worth nothing after all. Purgatory and they cannot both be true, that is plain. Ah! when a man is in the blessed light, he sees clear, even if he be ignorant, because he knows the love of God and the value of the precious blood of Christ.

N*. Yes, James, he is taught of God; and what concerns his soul is as clear as daylight, ay, and what God is too, though he have much to learn. We have considered what purgatory is for the soul when compared with the truth of scripture; we will see the value of their proofs of it by and bye. In the meanwhile see how their doctrine of the intercession of the saints hides the grace of Christ.

The word of God teaches us that the blessed Son of God came down to earth, and got, as scripture beautifully speaks, the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season to him that is weary (Isa. 50:4). We are told that He was in all points tempted like as we are without sin; that we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but that, having suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted (Heb. 2:17-18; chap. 4:15-16): so that I can come boldly to a throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help in time of need; that if I sin, which I can never excuse, still I have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2). Here then God teaches me I have a throne of grace to which I can come boldly, and a high priest who understands all my weakness and sorrows, and feels for me in them, and, if I have sinned, One who has made propitiation for the sin. Now that is all I want. It is holy ground to go on, for no sin is allowed at all, but it suits my heart and my wants. On the other hand, what does the intercession of the saints and Mary tell me? It says to me, No, you cannot come boldly to the throne of grace. Christ is too high, too glorious.* He does not, and either will not or cannot feel for my wants and sorrows as others do. Mary has a more tender heart. The saints can enter better into my wants — are nearer to me. In vain has the Son of God become a man on purpose to know and to bear my sorrows, to assure me that He feels for me in tender love and compassion: others (if I am to believe the Romanist doctrine) are more suited to me. I must get them to go and move Him to love me and enter into my sorrows, and get what I want from Him for me.** And if I have sinned, instead of trusting to His intercession who has made propitiation for me, I must get saints to do it, who never could nor ever have done it. Did they ever, when in the form of God, become a poor man for me? Did Mary ever do so, or shed her blood for me? — And see how it denies the grace of God. Is this getting saints to go because I dare not go, coming boldly to the throne of grace because it is a throne of grace? I had rather have the heart of Him who became a man of sorrows for me, and shed His blood for me, and is the one only high priest, than all the Marys and all the saints (blessed as they may be in their place) that ever were.

{*See Dr. Pusey's "Eirenicon," vol. 1, p. 122, for the Encyclical.

The present pope, in his encyclical letter of 1849, says that the Virgin, "by the foot of Virtue, 'bruised the serpent's head,' and who, being constituted between Christ and His church, and, being wholly sweet and full of graces, hath ever delivered the Christian people from calamities of all sorts." … "For ye know very well, ven. brethren, that the whole of our confidence is placed in the most holy Virgin, since God has placed in Mary the fulness of all good, that accordingly we may know that, if there is any hope in us, if any grace, if any salvation, it redounds to us from her, because such is His will who hath willed that we should have everything through Mary."

M. Olier, the founder of the Seminary of S. Sulpice (quoted by Dr. Pusey in his "Eirenicon," vol 1, p. 104), said, "We are very unworthy to draw near unto Jesus; and He has a right to repulse [rebuter] us, because of His justice, since, having entered into all the feelings of His Father from the time of His blessed resurrection, He finds Himself in the same disposition with the Father towards sinners, that is, to reject them; so that the difficulty is to induce Him to exchange the office of judge for that of advocate; and of a judge to make Him a suppliant. Now this is what the saints effect, and especially the most blessed Virgin!"

I will add here, from a prayer-book, "St. John's Manual," recommended (1856) by John, Archbishop of New York, some of the devotions to the Virgin. "I worship thee, O great Queen, and I thank thee for all the graces which thou hast hitherto granted me; and especially I thank thee for having delivered me from hell, which I have so often deserved … I place all my hopes in thee, and confide my salvation to thy care." — Saint John's Manual, p. 886; and in p. 887, "By thee we have been reconciled to our God; Thou art the only advocate of sinners … We have no hope but in thee, O most pure Virgin."}

{**It is the common doctrine that the Virgin has more power in heaven than God, that the mother can command her Son. I have had it stated to myself by poor Roman Catholics. Nor is this the ignorance of the poor: Bernardine Senensis teaches, Serm. 61, Artic. 1, cap. 6: "All things are subject to the command of the Virgin, even God himself." (Quoted by Ussher, "Answer to a Jesuit's Challenge," p. 417, where there is a great deal more to the same purpose.) It is expressly founded on a mother's having pre-eminence, and being superior to a son. The words in Latin are, "sequitur quod ips abenedicta Virgo sit superior Deo." It follows that the blessed Virgin herself is superior to God. — De Bust. Marial. Part 9, Serm. 2. And so it is said that God has reserved the supremacy of justice, but given up to the Virgin the supremacy of grace. And such is the tenor of their practical teaching. Thus, in "The Glories of Mary," by Liguori (vol 1, chap. 3, sec. 2), a sinner, after saying the "Hail Mary" to an image of the Virgin, "saw an infant covered with wounds streaming blood … he began to weep; but he saw the infant turning away from him … He had recourse to the most holy Virgin, saying, Mother of mercy, thy Son rejects me." The Virgin reproached him with renewing the passion of Jesus. "But because Mary knows not how to send away disconsolate a soul that has recourse to her, she turned to her Son to ask pardon for that miserable sinner. Jesus still appeared unwilling to forgive him; but the holy Virgin, placing the infant in the niche, prostrated herself before him, saying, 'Son, I will not depart from thy feet till thou dost pardon this sinner.' Jesus then said, 'Mother, I can refuse thee nothing; thou dost wish me to pardon him, for thy sake I pardon him; make him come and kiss my wounds.' The sinner came weeping bitterly, and as he kissed the wounds of the infant they were healed. In the end Jesus embraced him in token of his pardon; the sinner changed his conduct, and afterwards led a holy life, enamoured of the most holy Virgin"!

What shall we say to such statements? The images, in the first place, are the living persons; they do not, as falsely alleged, merely recall these. Real idols! Mercy is in Mary, not in Jesus. It is a denial of His own words: "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." It is for Mary's sake that Christ pardons the sinner. And what place has His blood-shedding, which is stopped (!) by the sinner's repentance through Mary's grace? Is it possible to have a more complete subversion of all truth? Upon its folly I offer no comment. Their excuse is that "Jesus is the only mediator of justice between men and God, … but because men recognize and fear in Jesus Christ the divine majesty which resides in Him as God, the Lord wished to appoint another advocate, to whom we could have recourse with less fear and with more confidence. This advocate is Mary … ." There is need then of a medium with the mediator Himself. — S. Bernard, Serm. in Sign. Magnn., quoted in Liguori, vol., 1, chap. 6. sec. 2. Again she is compared to Abigail with David: "She knows so well how to appease the divine justice by her tender and wise prayers, that God Himself blesses her for it, and, as it were, thanks her for thus keeping Him from abandoning them to the chastisements which they deserve." Note that she is a mediatrix of justice really in these stupid blasphemies; or what does appeasing the divine justice mean?}

302 I speak with you, James, of the substance of these things, and compare the Roman Catholic system with the truth, with what Christianity is as given to us of God; because you have not lost it as given of God, but are rather come to it really in your heart, and thus can understand the difference. Romanism is not the Christianity of the scriptures at all, not God's Christianity: grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

303 James. Thank you, sir, thank you. It does me good, and clears up many a point for me. It does make a wonderful difference when one knows there is such a thing as grace — knows God's grace ever so little, as shewn us in Christ. When one has learned to have confidence in God's goodness, one sees the whole system is false; that it is not grace; that man has to work and suffer to satisfy God. He may have sacraments to get grace and works to merit glory, but it is no God of grace that he has to do with.

N*. But they will not allow you, James, to have confidence in the love of God, or to be assured. They cite the words — "no man can know love or hatred by all that is before him," to prove that no Christian can be assured.

James. Well, I do not see, if a Christian believes that God gave His only-begotten Son for him when he was a poor sinner, to say nothing of His love being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, how he can doubt that God loves him. No doubt the grace of God must work in his heart to make him really think of it, or care for it, or believe it; but if it does, he must know God loves him, and he is bound to believe that the blood of Christ cleanses him from all sin.

304 N*. Surely he is, James, but this is formally denied by the Council of Trent,* and every Roman Catholic.

{*See Con. Trid. Sessio VI, cap. 9.}

James. I see it is impossible for a true believer to receive for a moment their doctrine. It denies the grace of God, and the real efficacy of Christ's work, so that His love is never known, and the soul has never true peace, and penances are put in the place of inward purity.

N*. That is the truth. Scripture tells us of divine love, and its sweet and blessed comfort known in the soul; of purity, inward purity, required, but communicated to us by a new life, by one being born of God, and enjoying the renewing of the Holy Ghost; of the perfect efficacy of Christ's sacrifice once for all, so that being justified by faith I have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord: and then of walking thus, through His continual grace, in the favour and fear of God, with the assurance that when I am absent from the body I shall be present with the Lord, and finally be glorified with Him. They tell me of meriting heaven by my works; of satisfying God for my sins (even if forgiven), of multiplied sacraments, and ceremonies, and penances, and, when I have done all, of going to hell or to purgatory. And if the blessed Son of God has died, it is only to give efficacy to the sacraments which leave me in this evil case after all. It is a poor kind of religion. They tell me I cannot be saved out of it — and yet, if I am in it, I cannot after all tell whether I am saved or not.* Well, I do not believe that the God of grace meant to leave a man there. I believe He gave His Son that I might have peace in my soul, and be happy, according to His holy nature; not that I might remain ignorant after all of His love and of my own salvation. I read that the revelation of Christ was "to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins"; and that peace by Jesus Christ was preached because He has made peace. And I see that Romanism deprives us of all the present blessing of the gospel altogether. But here, I suppose, is your neighbour.

{*See Cat. Con. Trid., pars 4, cap. 14, sect. 16 (vol. 2, p. 389). Bellarm. De Indulg., lib. 1, cap. 3, sect. 3.}

305 James. Sit down, Bill. This is the gentleman I told you of. This, sir, is Bill M.

N*. Good day, M.

Bill M. Good day, sir.

N*. We have been talking of the true religion, M., and whether the Roman Catholic system is the true one. Hitherto we have mainly compared it with the substance of Christianity as it is set out in scripture for the comfort of us poor sinners. But it is all fair to hear what you have to say for the system which you have adopted and would persuade James to adopt, and I propose we should take Milner's "End of Controversy" as a kind of text-book, for it is largely circulated by zealous Romanists to win Protestants by to Romanism, and printed cheap by your friends, as giving the best possible account of their doctrine and overthrowing Protestantism.

Bill M. The church alone can judge of the truth, sir, and we must submit to her authority, or we shall never arrive at it.

N*. Well, but we are Christians, what you will call Protestants, professing to believe sincerely in Christ, and you must shew us the truth somehow. We do not, at any rate, yet own the Roman Catholic system to be the true church. Of course I do not conceal from you that I am very far from thinking it so. It will not do to say the church teaches so and so, when you have not yet shewn us what is the true church; but I shall gladly hear all you have to say. You have sought to bring James here to turn Roman Catholic, saying you alone have the true church, and I have sought to guard him against it. You, or Dr. Milner himself, can tell us what that which you call the true church says on the points in controversy; but you cannot use the authority of the church to me before I believe that that to which you belong is so. Indeed, there would be another thing to prove, namely, that the church has authority to teach. I believe it has not, but that the apostles had, and subordinately, the ministry, those whom God has called to it, though these last not so as to be any rule of faith. I am quite ready to discuss the question of the church's authority: it is of all importance; but we cannot use it till we have it, and as your famous Dr. Milner has discussed the different points, we can see what your best authorities have to say. We will discuss the true church like all the rest.

306 Bill M. I do not know whether I ought to argue with you, because, till you submit to the authority of the true church, you cannot see the truth.

James. Well, but then you must confess you have nothing to say for your doctrines. You used to praise Milner's book, M., to me, and say nobody could answer it.

Bill M. When once the church has pronounced, I believe.

N*. You must first shew what is the church. But besides that, this is not receiving the truth yourself in the love of it. And if you think we are in such deadly error, and do not seek to convince us, you are answerable for our souls. Besides, it is not enough to shew me where the true church is (I believe I am in the true church these many years): I must have the truth of God for its own sake. I believe in the authority of the word of God, and one way of knowing whether that which calls itself a church is the true church is to know what it teaches. And when your doctors write books on these points, they do try to persuade us. They must, or we should not be persuaded; though, strange to say, they never give the holding of the truth of God as a mark of the true church.

Bill M. But you cannot tell what the true sense of the Bible is. There the church alone can guide you.

N*. I do not see, if I humbly depend on God's grace, why I cannot understand what Paul says as well as what Dr. Milner says; and if I cannot understand all scripture, I can see where it directly contradicts your doctrine. Besides you circulate Dr. Milner's book, and I suppose therefore I can understand him, and surely I must examine what his book says. You must think me capable of that; or am I to swallow all he, too, says as gospel without inquiry? If you are going to convince me by Dr. Milner's book, you must let me examine what it says. You have put the things before me, and I must examine them. I am surely not to believe Dr. Milner as infallible. I am willing to take him as correctly representing what the church of Rome wishes to say; though as authority I must take the Council of Trent and what is called the Catechism of the Council of Trent. I do not wish now to discuss the true sense of the Bible, though I shall freely refer to it if needed, as you do not deny its authority, and I shall leave it to its own authority in the conscience. Nor can I swallow all manner of evil doctrines which you may have propounded to me by putting them in the gilded pill, "the church." If you are going to convert me to your system, I must know what it is. We were speaking of purgatory, and, if you please, we will finish that subject, and then speak of the church, or rule of faith, or any other point you please: only you must let me speak plainly without being offended. I would not willingly hurt any man's feeling: it would be a sin to do so; but when we are discussing the truth, we must have the truth.

307 Bill M. Oh! to be sure. It is better to speak all plainly out. I shall not be offended.

N*. You will have no objection, then, to my taking Dr Milner's "End of Controversy" as my guide in learning what Roman Catholic views are, as it has been given to so many for that purpose. This is the best and readiest way, even while referring to any other authority desirable. Allow me now to ask you what is purgatory?

Bill M. It is a place of punishment for venial sins, and for anything that remains of the temporal punishment of forgiven mortal sins, into which Christians dying in a state of grace go.

N*. Well, I suppose that is pretty correct. Dr. Milner says (Letter 43), "All which is necessary to be believed by Catholics on this subject is contained in the following brief declaration of the Council of Trent: 'There is a purgatory, and the souls detained there are helped by the prayers of the faithful, and particularly by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar.'" (Sess. 25, De Purg.). This is singularly vague, carefully vague. What is purgatory? Do people suffer there? What do they suffer for? What are they helped out of? — Of all this the statement tells us nothing. Yet on this is founded all the system of masses for the dead, masses multiplied according to the wealth of the dead man or his family (for the poor stand a poor chance here), and the anxious terror of the living; on this was founded all the dreadful traffic in indulgences. Yet the Catholic is not bound to believe that there is any suffering at all. But Dr. Milner is right: I seek in vain for any authoritative instruction from the Roman rule of faith upon the subject. What is left vague may be filled with terror, and so in practice it is. The Catechism of the Council of Trent, however, gives us a little further insight into it. Speaking of Christ's descent into hell, it says, "Hell, then, here signifies those hidden abodes, in which are detained the souls that have not been admitted to the regions of bliss" (vol. 1, p. 123). And then, after speaking of the hell of the damned, it says, "Amongst them (the places called hell) is also the fire of purgatory, in which the souls of the pious, being tormented for a definite time, are cleansed,* that an entrance may lie open to them into the eternal country, into which nothing defiled entereth." And then it is left to the minister in these words: "The truth of this doctrine, founded, as holy councils declare, on scripture, and confirmed by apostolical tradition, demands diligent and frequent exposition, proportioned to the times in which we live, when men endure not sound doctrine."** The truth is, the Romanists are very shy of saying much on this head, because the statements of the Fathers are as contradictory and as full of confusion as they can possibly be. Here we are told Abraham's bosom is in hell (hades).***

{*Animae cruciatae expiantur. Expiantur is a sacrificial word, expressing the removal of what in any way offends the gods, is offensive in their sight. — The Editor of the Present Testimony adds from Donovan's Latin and English Catechism of Council of Trent the passage in full: —

"Praeterea est purgatorius ignis, quo piorum animae ad definitum tempus cruciatae expiantur, ut eis in aeternam patriam ingressus patere possit." — Catech. Rom. cap. 6, sect. 3.

"There is also the fire of purgatory, in which the souls of just men are purified by a temporary punishment, to qualify them to be admitted into their eternal country, into which nothing defiled entereth." — Donovan's Translation, vol. 1, p. 123, 2, Art. 5.}

{**The sixth question on this subject in the Roman Catholic Catechism would lead us to conclude that as there were these pious people in purgatory, as well as saints in Abraham's bosom, before Christ descended, the one — though in repose — tortured by suspense, though sustained by hope (a strange kind of repose), the other pious souls not completely saints, tortured horribly in the fire — so when He descended these last got off to heaven as well as the saints, properly speaking. Who finished their satisfaction for them, without which they could not be clean, we are not told. They were better off than those now in purgatory, any way. These, we are told, must pay the last farthing, or they cannot come out thence. Better to have been a Jew, any way, than a Christian. However that may be, it is to be taught that Christ the Lord went down to hell to liberate from prison those holy fathers and the other pious persons, and brought them to heaven. Yet those in purgatory now enjoy the effects of Christ's expiation, are in a state of grace, sure, Bellarmine tells us, of their salvation, no principle of sin (Fomes peccati) in them; but there they must stay till they have made satisfaction for their faults. The happier Jews and Old Testament saints got clear without doing so,though what Christ did was to impart the benefit of His passion to them, of which the Christians who have to stay enjoy the benefit, but only to bring them into purgatory; for otherwise they would have gone into hell. They are strange inventions all, and hence confusion. It must be so when it is denied that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin, and that by one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. But let us remember that the doctrine of purgatory is that, when the guilt of sin is wholly removed, and the principle of sin (Fomes peccati) totally gone, men are to be tortured for a definite time in hell-fire to satisfy God; nor did Christ loose the pains of hell for the saints!}

{*** Ad inferos. Rom. Cat. de Symb. cap. 6, Quaes. 6, vol. 1, 124. Quibus de causis Christus ad inferos descendere voluit.

"Wherefore, before he died and rose again, the gates of heaven were never open to any one; but the souls of the pious, when they departed from this life, either were borne into Abraham's bosom, or, which also now happens to them who have something to be cleared away (diluendum) and be paid (persolvendum), were purged in the fire of purgatory." — So 2, 3: "The souls of those pious persons who, in the bosom of Abraham, expected the Saviour, Christ the Lord, descending into hell, set free."}

309 Tertullian* says (when a good churchman), I think that hell (hades) is one thing, Abraham's bosom another.

{*Adv. Marcion, 4, 34: He adds, Abraham's bosom is a place of refreshment for the souls of the just, till the resurrection.}

Augustine says that Abraham's bosom is to be thought a part of hell (hades);* elsewhere** he cannot tell — thinks it may, but says he cannot find it is so called; and doubts*** if any one could endure its not being taken in a good sense, and therefore he does not see how it can be hell. Again, he says the bosom of Abraham is the rest of the blessed poor whose is the kingdom of heaven.**** In the first letter***** alluded to he refutes Christ having taken all out.

{*Ps. 85, 18; De Gen. ad Lit 12, 33, 63; De Civ. Dei, 1, 12, 50.}

{**Ps. 85:18.}

{*** Epist. 187, 6 (Ed. Ben.); Ed. Gaume, 2, 1019, 1020.}

{**** Quaest. Ev. 2, 38; Ben Ed. 3.}

{***** Epist. 164, 7 (Ed. Ben.) [Gaume fratres ediderunt] 2, 860.}

St. Jerome says, "Our Lord Jesus Christ descended into the furnace of hell, in which the souls of sinners and just were kept shut up, that without any burning or hurt to Himself He might free from the chains of death those who were shut up there" (in Dan. 1:3). Still I suppose we must take this only as applying to those that were His. He says (in Lam. Jer. 2:3), "Therefore the Redeemer called on the name of the Lord out of the lowest lake, when in the power of His divinity He descended into hell, and, the bars of Tartarus being destroyed, tearing away His own whom He found there, ascended conqueror to the upper regions." Thus then all the just, all that belonged to Christ, would be delivered. Again, yet further (in Esaiam 6, 14), "hell is the place of punishment and torment, in which the rich man clothed in purple is seen, to which also the Lord descended, that He might loose the bound out of prison." This was hardly Abraham's bosom, as Augustine often says.* Indeed he ventures on rather slippery ground for an orthodox Father, the pillar of Romanism (in Eph. 2, cap. 4). "The Son of God, therefore, descended into the lower parts of the earth, and ascended above all heavens, that He might not only fulfil the law and the prophets, but also certain hidden dispensations which He alone knew with the Father. For indeed neither can we know how the blood of Christ can profit the angels and those who are in hell, and yet we cannot be ignorant that it did profit them." Whatever this may mean, it is clear that the preceding statements overthrow the idea of His simply delivering those who in quiet repose were awaiting the Redeemer's victory. I suppose the bars of Tartarus were hardly round Abraham's bosom. Can there be a greater confusion and ignorance? I do not quote as many different speculations as there are fathers. But saints may thus learn what the Fathers' writings are worth.

{*Aug. makes two hells (inferos; inferna), Ps. 85:18.}

310 I add only these to shew that it is no individual mistake of Jerome's. Ambrose (de Mys. Pasch. 4) says, "Christ being void of sin when He descended to the bottom of Tartarus, breaking the bars and gates of hell, recalled the souls bound by sin, the dominion of death being destroyed, out of the jaws of the devil into life." So many others. Now this was not delivering merely those in repose. Either all the just were in repose and better off than Christians, who go (I may say) all to purgatory — and then those fathers are all condemned; or else they were in purgatory, and this deliverance of peaceful souls in a distinct place from purgatory, as taught by the Catechism of the Council of Trent, is all wrong. And what is come of those that were in purgatory none can tell. St. Augustine will help us out a bit perhaps (Enchiridion, 110, 29): "When therefore sacrifices, whether of the altar or of any alms-giving whatsoever, are offered for all baptized persons deceased, for the very good they are givings of thanks; for the not very bad they are propitiations; for the very bad, even if they are no help to the dead, they are certain consolations of the living. But to whom they are profitable, they are profitable either to this, that there should be full remission, or at any rate that damnation itself may be more tolerable." Albert the Great teaches that that must mean purgatory; but the famous master of sentences, as he was called, Peter Lombard, declares that it is not to be denied that it is accepted for the punishment of those who are never to be set free. All who are in purgatory are middling good: the least bad, who are never to be freed, are middling bad, and their pains may be mitigated. They can do better, it seems, than what the Lord taught as to Abraham and Lazarus: but, oh! how we see the wild unbridled imagination of these Fathers. They had lost the plain truth of scripture, and wandered in every uncertain and unstable thought of their own imagination.

311 James. Well, it is strange doctrine. It is a terrible thing, after one is justified and in a state of grace, to go and suffer in a kind of temporary hell-fire. And there we must go, and that just if we are in a state of grace. What do you say to that, Bill?

Bill M. It is no good arguing on religion. How could you expect me to explain everything? The church says there is a purgatory, and we are warned not to look curiously into it, and be taking notions to ourselves.

N*. Yes, my good friend, but we are not looking curiously into it. We are paying attention to what is taught in the Catechism of the Council of Trent; and according to that, though the doctrine be inconsistent and contrary to itself, if I am to take the general statement, it would have been far better, to have been a godly Jew than to be a godly Christian.

Bill M. But that Catechism is for the clergy, not for us.

N*. Yes, but the clergy are to teach according to it, and according to the consent of the Fathers. But we will pass on. I will quote Bellarmine's account of purgatory, as he is of very high, perhaps the highest, authority among Roman Catholics; for as to the consent of the Fathers, it is out of the question. On this point he says, what is so called is "a certain place in which, as in a prison, souls are purged after this life which have not been fully purged in this life; that thus purged, namely, they may be able to enter into heaven, where nothing defiled will enter." Yet the same Bellarmine distinctly declares that lust has ceased in death, that evil habits are not corrected in purgatory, that it is purely a penal satisfaction for sin — that is, no purifying or purging at all. See what he says as to satisfaction, lust being gone. Well, I deny purgatory as a wholly false unscriptural idea, and as a denial of the efficacy of the work of Christ. I read in scripture, "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." God declares of the sanctified (and they only, it seems, go into purgatory), that "He will remember their sins and iniquities no more." I find that, when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord; I am taught to give thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. I find that the poor thief went, the same day he died, straight into paradise to be with Christ. Hence for the true Christian the fear of death is wholly taken away. He is already one spirit with Christ, and he knows that to depart and be with Him is far better. Christ has borne his sins in His own body on the tree; and he has not himself therefore to bear the consequences of them. He has a wholly new life by the quickening power of Christ. Christ is his life; and when out of this sinful flesh he is in every sense clear from sin for ever.*

{*Alphons. de Castro and the Roman Catholic bishop of Rochester admit that there was nothing about purgatory in the early, especially the Greek, Fathers, and the Greek church denies the doctrine, and passages from Tertullian, Cyprian, Gregory Neocaes., Basil, Dionysius, Quaes. et Resp. ad Orth (ascribed to Justin Martyr), Athanasius (if De Virginitate be his), Hilary, and Ambrose may be quoted, which plainly set aside purgatory, declaring that the righteous go to an eternal home. In the works of Greg. Neocaes. (Hom. 22) Macarius puts the three states: guilty, the devil takes it off; the holy servants of God, angels bring them to the Lord; if between the two, and where a man fights against the evil and loves the Lord with all his soul, He cleanses him in one hour, and takes him unto His bosom and to see light. Thus Athanasius says the just pass out of this world into everlasting rest. Ambrose says wise men desire death as a rest from their labours and an end of their evils; so in other passages. So Macarius; and Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. 32 in Pasch.) says, "nor beyond this night [of this life] is there any purifying." So the famous Cyril of Alexandria on Joan., lib. 12, c. 36. "For he delivered his own soul into the hands of his own Father, that we taking our point of departure in it, and on account of it, may have splendid hopes, firmly feeling and believing that we, having undergone the death of the flesh, shall be in the hands of God, and shall be in a far better state than we were with flesh: wherefore, also, the wise Paul writes to us that it is better to depart and to be with Christ." So the Q. et Respon. ad Orth., in Justin (2, 60). The narration of the rich man and Lazarus is a form of word having this doctrine, that, after the departure of the soul out of the body, it is not possible that by any care or diligence men can get any profit. "There is no death (says Athanasius, De Virg.) for the just, but a change, for he is changed out of this world into the everlasting rest. And as if any one might come out of prison, so the saints go out of this toilsome life into the good things prepared for them." And Ambrose, De bono mortis (4), "It is a certain haven for those who, cast about on the great sea of this life, seek a roadstead of sure quiet, and it does not make their state worse, but such as it has found it in each, such it reserves it for future judgment, and cherishes by the quiet itself." So again (12), "trusting therefore to these, let us go with full courage to our Redeemer Jesus, with full courage to the council of patriarchs, with full courage to our father Abraham, let us go boldly to the assembly of the saints and gathering of the just." It is plain that he had no idea of going to purgatory here, for those named are not there; he names going to Jesus Himself, and that with entire courage, on our death.

We might quote Jerome too, but of him I will speak, and Augustine, we have seen, had no settled thoughts. He supposed indeed that the day of judgment itself was a kind of purgatory, Enchiridion, 67, De Civ. Dei, 16, 24, Ps. 103:5; Ps. 6. As to Cypr. De Mortalitate — one would have to quote the whole tract. Nothing can be clearer as to the immediate blessedness of all the righteous. The righteous are called to refreshing, the unjust to punishment; it is his part to fear death who is unwilling to go to Christ — proving and insisting that thus there is for the servants of God peace, their free, their tranquil quiet. It is not going out but going elsewhere, and, time's journey finished, you pass to what is eternal. Who does not haste to better things?

"We injure Christ," says Tertullian, "when we do not with undisturbed mind accept others being called away; as if they were to be pitied. They have obtained their desire." (Tert. de Pat. 9, Quaest. et Resp. ad Orth., 75.) The souls of the just go into paradise to meet and see angels and archangels, according to the vision also of the Saviour Christ Himself, and according to what is written, "absent from the body and present with the Lord"; but the souls of the unjust go into the regions of hell (hades), as Nebuchadnezzar. Greg. Thaum. says, the good man will go rejoicing into his own eternal house; but the wicked will fill all things with their complaints.

If De Virginitate be not of Athanasius, as the style and some doxologies would shew, it is later. The writer says, "There is no death for the righteous, but translation, for he is translated out of this world into everlasting rest." There is the same truth in Macar. Hom. 22, but it may be alleged to concern the saints — the holy servants of God. The devils receive the wicked, he says, and drag them to their own place; choirs of angels the holy servants of God. Of any other place he does not speak. But in Hom. 26 he puts the case of conflict, two persons in the soul, as he says, and where is the soul to go, thus drawn two ways? He replies that the Lord, seeing you strive, and sometimes with all your heart, will separate you from death at once, and receive you into His bosom and light.

Hilary insists. on all being settled at death, referring to the rich man and Lazarus, and Abraham's bosom as eternal bliss; but though judgment is to come, still the case is settled in death. There is no putting off or delay, for the day of judgment is the eternal retribution of blessedness or punishment; but the time of death holds each one meanwhile by its own laws, either Abraham or punishment keeps each one for judgment. He then insists on confidence, which is more than hope, and refers to John 5; he that believeth on Me shall not be judged. (End of Tract on Ps. 2.) I do not quote more passages at length.

Basil and Gregory Naz. teach in general the same truths: the orthodoxy of the last may be questioned. We see from these the general faith of the church. The Hypognosticon once attributed to Augustine is equally clear. "As for any third place we utterly know none, neither shall we find in the holy scriptures that there is any such," Lib. 5.

Nor do the Roman Catholics deny that those who go to purgatory are forgiven and justified, and the principle of sin (peccati fones) is gone. It is penal suffering from God after guilt and sin are wholly gone. I do not give the Fathers as any authority, but as shewing the common current belief. Alphons. de Castro and John of Rochester I give from Ussher, the rest from the original authors. I will speak farther on of the real origin and history of purgatory, and of Jerome and Augustine more particularly. Bellarmine is not quite honest on the point, as he quotes the use of passages such as 1 Corinthians 3, by old writers, which he himself declares cannot be applied to purgatory, because it embraces all, and others as to praying for saints, which proves nothing, because, whatsoever the ground, for they find it hard to say, they prayed for all saints (even the Virgin Mary), that is, for those whom they held to be in heaven already. It may be for glory (Bell. de Purg., lib. 17), and this some said, "for glory given to them among men," for all is darkness and confusion. Indeed Bellarmine's quotations are not to be trusted. He quotes Hilary on Ps. 118 in proof of purgatory (De Purg., lib. 1, 10, sec. 38), leaving out the words which precede his quotation, and which wholly set aside the idea of purgatory. He says we have to undergo that unwearied fire; but Hilary says, "the day of judgment in which we are to undergo," etc., and goes on to say that thus the sword is to pierce the blessed Virgin Mary's heart too — and how could we desire it then? Either he borrowed his quotation, or he is wilfully dishonest.}

313 Bill M. Do you think, then, a murderer, and one who steals an apple, will be punished in the same way?

N*. Are you, then, an unbeliever, M.?

Bill M. No, I am a good Catholic.

314 N*. You are reasoning as an unbeliever would. What you say is as if Christ had not died for those who go to heaven. I do not say that the murderer and he who steals an apple will be punished alike; though we are very bad judges of guilt. It was by stealing an apple that men were driven out of God's presence and the earthly paradise; because they had given up God for an apple, and because lust and sin had come in. The tree is proved by its fruit, and one wild apple proves as well as a hundred would that the tree which bears it is wild and good-for-nothing. I do not say some men have not broken through more restraints of conscience — have not sinned against light, so as to be beaten with many stripes.

315 But this has nothing to do with the matter we are speaking of, namely, of those that are forgiven, who are going to heaven, who are justified and sanctified; for purgatory is for none others. The question is not therefore about the degrees of punishment for the lost, but of the saved (and according to Bellarmine all in purgatory are all even sure* they are saved, and so indeed they might well be, since none others go there): and I say as to such, that, whether they had been murderers or apple-stealers before, they are cleansed from all sin. They are, as scripture speaks, as white as snow, if their sins had been as scarlet. When I have washed anything, the question is not how much dirt it had before, disgusting as that may be, if the dirt be there, but whether I have washed it perfectly. Now the scripture tells us Christ has washed us perfectly, and I believe it. We are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. If we are saved, we have a new nature, and that is a holy one. We are made, says Peter, partakers of the divine nature. And, when we die, nothing remains but this holy life which is born of God. Guilt is gone, all impurity is gone, and in due time we shall have a glorious body too. Purgatory denies the efficacy of Christ's work, and the reality of receiving life from God. It upsets your own doctrines (as I said to James); for, as guilt is wholly removed, extreme unction, which wipes away the remains of sin, must be false, or else one that has been anointed has nothing to go to purgatory for; for men, we are told, go there for the remains of sin.

{*Bellarm. de Purg., lib. 2, c. 4.}

Bill M. Do you mean that the soul (when it goes out of the body) is fit for heaven or paradise?

N*. Certainly, or how did the thief get there? I see the whole system of Romanism to be the very contrary to the gospel of peace. In that — in the Christianity of the scriptures — I see a God perfect in holiness, but one "rich in mercy," who loved the world, and gave His Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish. God, I see, is love. Christ, the blessed Saviour, gives Himself to bear and put away our sins, that we might draw near to God without fear: as it is said, "to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins." It is with a view to our being happy before Him, serving Him without fear. He gives His Spirit to them that believe, as a spirit of adoption and joy, the Holy Spirit; but He is given, says Peter, to all them that believe. Thus heaven is opened to them, and Jesus has entered as their forerunner; the joy of heaven is in their souls beforehand, the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, and by that Spirit which is the earnest of their inheritance till the redemption of the purchased possession. Having peace with God, they stand in God's favour, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. If they are tempted and tried, the blessed Jesus has been tempted in all things like them, sin apart: and having suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.

316 In a word, God is a source of joy because He is a Saviour, and a gracious help in every trouble. He finds me in misery, lost, going to hell, and warns me of it, and that if I go on in the broad road I shall surely come there. But when He is turned to, when Christ is really believed in, He takes me out of that position and saves me. In so doing He puts me in a place of joy and peace before Him, and He makes me know all this by His word and Spirit. Romanism is the very opposite of that. It brings me before a terrible exacting God when I am a Christian. It brings me by a series of ceremonies (after Christ has done all) into a position where I, even if a true Christian, have still to answer for my sins — may very likely go to hell for them — must do penance (unless I compromise it by an indulgence) for present failings: where I am always dreading eternity, and uncertain what is to become of me at last — only sure that God will exact satisfaction of me; that in any case I must go to purgatory into the fire, and make satisfaction for my faults, and that God will not let me out thence till I have paid the last farthing. Forgiving priests I may find, a tender-hearted Mary, kind interceding saints; but a forgiving God who loves and cleanses me, a tender-hearted interceding Saviour — that I cannot have in Romanism. Even if I am forgiven as to damnation, and if Christ Himself has effectually died for me, and I die in a state of grace, God will have the last farthing of me after all. This, as to the whole spirit of it, is contrary to the God revealed in Christ. God manifest in flesh, God become a man to die for me — that God I know. But that when He has done all that for me, He is going to exact the last farthing of me, and throw me into a fire of anguish till it is paid, this I do not believe. Such a God is not the God who has come to save us by Christ; it is another, and, morally speaking, a false one. It makes God one who lays heavy burdens on the human heart when we have to say to Him.

317 Christianity does shew us what an awful burden we are bringing on ourselves if we have not to say to Him, but shews us joy and peace if we have. It calls us from every burden of sin and of sorrow to find rest in Christ; and it shews me He was willing to take my burden on Himself, that I might be free. Christ says: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Is it rest to be put to do penance for my sins, living? and, even if saved, to go to purgatory for them when I am dead? And all this just to sustain the power of those that impose the penance, and profess to be able to help people out of — when they could not help their getting into — this terrible fire!

James. How plain and true it is! Oh, if God had not been a God of grace to me, where should I have been? But I had no thought the Romanists believed all this. What! penances while they are alive, and then the last farthing exacted when they die, and they forgiven and justified all the while! And, as you were saying, sir, told all the while that by extreme unction the very remains of sin are wiped away!

Mrs. J. I am sure we ought to feel for them, and pray for them too: but it is sad to think any could be so ignorant of what God is.

Bill M. But by your system a man may say he is justified, and go on sinning, and get clear to heaven.

N*. So man always reasons when he does not know what grace is; but scripture says, purifying their hearts by faith. Revealing God's presence to a man is not the way to make a man sin. Besides, if a man has a part in God's righteousness, it is by being born again, and thus he loves obedience to God and what is holy. Most true it is that we need grace every moment; but Christ has said: "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." And besides, if, through carelessness, we get away from God's presence and fail, Christ intercedes for us, and God will warn us outwardly and inwardly: and, if we heed not the warning, He will chasten us. But tell me, humanly speaking, who will be most anxious to keep himself clean: one who is spick and span clean, and going to meet the Queen — or one who is dirty, and does not know whether he ever will go out, unless it be to be hanged?

318 Bill M. Well, I suppose the man that was clean.

N*. And he must know he is clean.

Bill M. Of course.

N*. So with the Christian. He knows he is cleansed to meet Jesus, and he seeks to be clean in his walk, going to meet Him. We know, says the Apostle John, (mark that word, "we know") "that when he [Christ] shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; and he that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure." So the Apostle Paul: "Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord, for we walk by faith and not by sight. We are confident and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, whether present or absent, to be accepted of" (or, as in your Rhemish Testament, "to please) him." People forget that a new nature, the new man, as it is called, is as necessary and as much a part of Christianity as is the blessed sacrifice of Christ. Your objection is just the one that was made to the Apostle Paul's teaching, because he taught this very doctrine (Rom. 6), and he shews that Christ, who is his life, having died to sin, the true Christian reckons himself dead — cannot live in the thing which he is dead to. We have a part in the righteousness by having a part in the death, and so reckon ourselves dead, crucified with Christ. Having a part in death is not living on. How, says he, can we that are dead to sin live any longer therein? But if I deny that I am dead, I deny I am justified and righteous; for it is only by having a part in His death that I am justified. And it is real life and grace, and these will shew themselves in a man's walk.

But we can come to the proofs. I deny that any such thing as purgatory is found in scripture. When we have examined this, we must see what you all allege from the Fathers. Not that I attribute the smallest authority to them, or believe anything as revealed truth but what is in the word of God; but as we are reasoning about it, it is fair to meet all you have to say. It would be quite enough to say they reveal nothing, and have no authority at all; nor would I allege them for the smallest thing; but as you do allege them, we may examine what you allege. I own to you I have a very poor opinion of them from what I have read of them, without meaning to say they have no historical value. We have the highest authority for saying we must have what was from the beginning. But that is Christ and the apostles — none of it elsewhere. And John says, "He that is of God heareth us." Hearing what the apostles say themselves is the test of truth; and he who continues in what was from the beginning (and I repeat, the writings of the apostles and evangelists alone are that) shall abide in the Father and in the Son.

319 James. Where is that, sir?

N*. In 1 John 2:24 and chap. 4:6. But we will hear all you have to allege from the Fathers.

Bill M. They do not reveal anything; but they must know the truth better than we, and no sense ought to be received from scripture but according to their common consent as to the meaning of it. So says the Council of Trent (Sess. 4).

N*. Are you sure they do agree?

Bill M. To be sure they do, and the church teaches the doctrine they agree in.

N*. It would be a poor thing to have to wait for the truth till we had read all the Fathers. But I think you will find, even in our short inquiries, they are far from agreeing on the subject which occupies us, or indeed on any other.

However, to our proofs. The first that Milner notices is drawn from the second book of Maccabees. He tells us that he has a right to consider these books as scripture, because the Catholic church so considers them. Now, first, I do not admit the Roman system to be the Catholic church: but I leave this till we come to that question. But no church ever took them to be canonical scripture for fifteen hundred years. Augustine declares the Apocryphal books inferior to the other scripture, and Jerome, who was the translator of the Bible at the request of Pope Damasus, and whose translation, called the Vulgate, is declared authentic by the Council of Trent, and so held by all Romanists, says in his preface that Judith and Tobias, and the books of the Maccabees, the church indeed reads, but does not receive them among canonical scriptures. (Preface to the books of Solomon). So Ruffinus (published with Cyprian's works). He gives the list of canonical scriptures, exactly as Protestants receive them, and not merely as his opinion, but declaring that they are the books which, according to the tradition of the ancients, are believed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself. And having given the list, he adds: these are what the Fathers have included in the canon. But however, he adds, it is to be known that there are also other books, now called Apocrypha; and adds, which all they have willed should be read in the churches, but not anything be produced out of them to confirm as authority anything concerning the faith. So Jerome: thus also these two volumes the church reads for edification of the people, but not as an authority to confirm ecclesiastical dogmas. So Athanasius, or the author of the Synopsis ascribed to him, says — they were not put in the canon, but read to the catechumens; and in his festal letter again he gives the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, pronouncing the strongest blame on those who might pretend any others were scripture (1 (62) 767).

320 This is the constant testimony of the early church. Cyril of Jerusalem gives the same list of the Old Testament, and does not admit the Maccabees. The Council of Laodicea forbids any others to be read in the churches, and gives the same list. The Apostolic Constitutions (which of course I do not cite as of the apostles, but which shew the early judgment on this point) give us the same list — 2, 57, and that for reading in the churches. The only exception, or apparent one, is that the African churches, as represented by the Council of Carthage and St. Augustine (though Augustine makes a formal distinction between some books and others, and he says that they are not canonical), call the Apocrypha canonical too: but Augustine admits at the same time that learned men did not doubt that two of them were spurious, that is, not written by the professed authors, but says that though they were so, they were received by the Western churches. We learn also how little weight he attached to the word canonical. He says that people ought to attach most authority to those which were received by all the churches; and that in those which were not received by all, they should prefer those received by most and the more important churches. It is clear none of them were even received in the Eastern churches, nor were they in the churches of Gaul, as both the Hilarys shew. Hilary of Arles tells St. Augustine, writing to him on predestination and free will, on occasion of the Pelagian controversy, that the churches of France around him rejected one testimony he had produced, because it was cited from an uncanonical book.

321 Not only so, but a pope, and a very distinguished one indeed, who earned the name of Great — Gregory — says, Moral 19, 13 (34) on Job 29, "Concerning which we do not act out of order if we produce a testimony out of books which, though not canonical, are published for the edification of the church"; and then cites Maccabees.

Thus we have the constant sense of the doctors of early ages; and, referring to the African church, Cardinal Cajetan, one greatly employed by the pope about Luther, says, "The words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the rule of St. Jerome, and, according to his judgment, those books are not canonical, that is, regular, to establish those things which are of the faith. They may be called, however, canonical, that is, regular, for the edification of the faithful, as received and authorized for this purpose in the canon of the Bible: with this distinction, thou mayest discern what is said by Augustine, and written in the provincial Council of Carthage." Thus he reconciles, as others have done, the statements of the African prelates with the universal judgment of Christendom.

Further, we have a list in the middle of the third century from Origen, the most diligent student of scripture, in his Commentary on Psalm 1 (De la Rue, vol. 2, 29), quoted by Eusebius, Hist. Ec. 6, 25), bearing exactly the same testimony as to what is canonical. We have a list of Melito's, about the close of the second century, given by Eusebius, 4, 26. He says he has given, in extracts written by him, "a catalogue of the books of the Old Testament received of all, which I have thought necessary to put down here"; and then he gives the same list as all do, but not the Apocrypha. Epiphanius (B. T. 7, vol. 1, 122), confirms this same list as being received by the Jews, though not speaking of his own judgment. But Christendom is not all we have to look to, nor indeed the principal thing; because the Old Testament was committed originally to God's people Israel, to the Jews.

Bill M. But you are not going to make infidel Jews an authority?

322 N*. I am not speaking of infidel Jews, who are now scattered because they rejected Christ (though in this even they are more faithful than Rome and her doctors), but of those of whom Paul says that the oracles of God were committed to them. The Old Testament was committed to Israel as God's people, nor have they at any time failed in keeping it. Now they recognized the books we receive as canonical, and not those which the Council of Trem has wickedly added. This is a matter of undoubted history. Indeed the Apocryphal books are not extant in Hebrew at all. But further, Josephus also states it in a very formal manner, and adds that there were books written since Artaxerxes, but that they were not esteemed worthy of the same faith as the others, for there was no regular succession of prophets. He declares, "We have not a multitude of books, discordant and opposed to one another, but only two-and-twenty, embracing the history of all time, which are fully esteemed to be divine"; and thereon enlarges on their divine authority and the empire they obtain, from youth up, over the Jew's mind. He gives then their number and triple division, as held by the Jews. But there is yet more and incontrovertible authority, which quotes them according to this same division, as the law, the prophets, and the psalms. That is, the Lord Himself quotes them, these same books, as of divine authority, as a known set, to the exclusion of all others; and declares too, in another place, the absolute authority of the scriptures — "The scripture cannot be broken."

But I will appeal to yourself, and James here, or any man in his senses that fears God, to say if this book, the second of Maccabees, can be inspired. Here is the writer's own account of it, at the beginning, 2 Maccabees 2:23: "All these things, I say, being declared by Jason the Cyrenean in five books, we have tried to abbreviate into one: for, considering the multitude of books, and the difficulty of those who wish to occupy themselves with historical accounts by reason of the multitude of events, we have taken care, for those who wish to read, that there should be pleasure for the mind; for the studious, that they may commit it more easily to memory; for all who read, that profit may be conferred on them. And for ourselves, indeed, who have undertaken this work of abbreviating, we have taken on ourselves no light labour, but, indeed, a business full of vigils and toils." Then he describes the different style of authors and abbreviators (to the former belongs truth in details — to abbreviators studiousness of brevity, according to the given form), and adds, he will begin his story, "for it is foolish to be diffuse before the history, and then short in the history itself": and finally he closes thus (2 Macc. 15:37-39): "With these things I will make an end of the discourse, and if indeed well, and as suited the history, this I myself also would wish; but if less worthily, it is to be pardoned me. For as drinking always wine or always water is unwholesome to us, but to use both alternately is delightful, so to those that read, if the discourse be always exact, it will not be pleasant. Here, therefore, it will be closed."

323 Now, I ask you, is it not a blasphemy to say that "if it was well done, it suited the history, but if less worthily, it was to be borne with," was said by the Holy Ghost?

Mrs. J. And surely they do not give that for scripture, sir?

N*. It is the very book which Dr. Milner quotes as scripture, on the authority of the Catholic church, to prove purgatory.

James. Why, Bill, how can you receive such things? never could have thought it possible. I am not learned, but sure no one that had a respect for God could ever say that was inspired, or that the Holy Ghost could excuse Himself, and say that what was badly done was inspired, or that He had done it.

N*. Well, James, I do not think M. has much to say for himself in this matter; but note this, that the citation of this passage has proved to us another point — that the Romanists have falsified scripture, and have flown in the face of the constant testimony of the church for fifteen centuries, whatever value that may have, and of that too of the Jews, as divinely-appointed keepers of the Old Testament, who have given a testimony as to what is holy scripture, sanctioned by the Lord Himself, but rejected by what calls itself the Catholic church.

But this is not all: the passage (2 Macc. 12:39), even on their own shewing, can have nothing to do with purgatory, but denies all their doctrine. The men who were slain in Maccabees had votive offerings to idols about them, and therefore had fallen in battle, and hence had defiled themselves with idolatry;* but purgatory is for venial sins, not for apostasy to idols. And it is hard to tell what was to free them then. And we must remember there is not one word in the law or the prophets which Christ owned of any such a purgatory, and that He sharply condemned the tradition of the elders who make thereby the word of God void. Dr. Milner ventures to quote no others from the Old Testament. I will give a list from Bellarmine; you may easily see whether they apply. They prove only one thing, that I can see, namely, that they could find nothing in scripture for it.

{*And it was a sin-offering Judas made the collection for, to make expiation for their sin; and the thing praised is, in truth, his belief in the resurrection. Offering for the dead was foolish else, it is said.}

324 Tobias 4:18: this is also Apocrypha, a history of an angel, accompanying a good young man as a dog, and helping him to drive a devil away from his nuptial chamber with a broiled fish's liver.

Mrs. J. And do they call that the word of God?

N*. They do.

Mrs. J. Well, well: but pardon, sir; you were giving the list.

N*. 1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 1:12; Psalm 37:1; Psalm 65:11; Isaiah 4:4; chap. 9:18; Micah 7:8; Zechariah 9:11. This last verse runs thus, "By the blood of thy covenant I have brought thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." I may add the proof here, for it is edifying. He says that many apply this to the limbus of the fathers, as he is said to bring them out; but Luke 16:25 proves there is no water to console them, and there is in Abraham's bosom, for Lazarus was comforted there. Hence he adds that Augustine held that Christ visited those tormented in hell, that is, in purgatory, and delivered many of them.