Familiar Conversations on Romanism

Second Conversation

The Forgiveness of Sins: Purgatory

J. N. Darby.

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324 To return to Dr. Milner's proofs. I need not notice 1 Corinthians 15:29, because the apostle does not give a hint that he is speaking of Jews; he is speaking of being baptized. And supposing he were, I know not what Jewish superstitions have to do with Christians. We are all baptized unto death, and of that's being the sense (comparing verse 28) I have no doubt. The only thing such a quotation proves is that they are very hard run for a passage. The proof from the expression, "Abraham's bosom," is soon answered: the Catechism of the Council of Trent contrasts it with purgatory.* How Dr. Milner reconciles it with honesty to quote it for purgatory I cannot tell. The force of the expression, however, is evident. Abraham had for the Jew the highest and most blessed place in the other world, and to be in his bosom was to be in the next best place to him, as the beloved disciple in Jesus' bosom, when at the table. Besides, Dr. Milner says Lazarus reposed there. Is it repose to be in purgatory? All this is too bad.

{*Part 1, Article 5, of Creed, chap. 6, sec. 4.}

325 Again, Christ in spirit went and preached to the spirits in prison. This is the prison above mentioned — Abraham's bosom. He says, But Christ went into paradise. This day, He said to the thief, thou shalt be with Me in paradise. Do they preach in paradise? or is Abraham's bosom (and, still more, is paradise) a prison? It is perfectly evident that the Lord uses Abraham's bosom as a place of special favour and blessedness. The poor man died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. And again, Now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. Did the angels carry him to the fire of purgatory to comfort him, after his sorrowful life on earth?

James. Why, Bill, that can't be. Is it not plain that the Lord meant to shew that the poor man that had so sad a portion below had, after all, if we think of the other world, a better part than the man that had his good things in this life? And surely that cannot mean making satisfaction to God in torment. But I don't quite see, sir, why the poor man went there and the rich man to hell.

N*. I believe the Lord loves the poor, James. Still, alas! of course, all the poor do not go to heaven because they are poor. But the force of the Lord's history, I believe, is this: He is, in these chapters of Luke, shewing the grace that seeks and receives poor sinners, as the lost sheep and the prodigal, and at the same time opening heaven to our view, and teaching us that we ought to use this world in view of the next, and not as the place of present rest and comfort. You know the Jew had been promised riches and blessings here, if obedient, because in that people God was shewing His government on earth. But after Christ was rejected this was no longer the case, and the veil was to be rent in His death, and saints were to take up their cross daily, and heavenly things were to be their portion and reward, as in very truth they always were; but now it was plainly and openly so, even as Christ speaks in this same chapter, calling them their own things: earthly things were only in their hands for a time, as another's. Hence the Lord draws the veil, as it were, and shews that a poor man, whom a Jew might have thought to be under judgment for his sins, went straight to Abraham's bosom — that is, to a Jew's mind, to the best place in the other world: and riches, instead of being a proof of God's favour, had shut the man up in his own selfishness, for he had slighted the poor man at his door — the dogs had more compassion than he — and when the other world came, he was in torment. He had had his good things.

326 James. I see, sir, it is all plain enough; and, indeed, if one sees God's ways in the Bible, all becomes plain by degrees.

N.* We must wait upon the Lord to be taught, James, and He will surely instruct us. He has graciously said, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not." So the Lord opened the understanding of the two that went to Emmaus, and so He does now.

Bill M. But you cannot deny that St. Augustine held a middle place.

N.* You know the Romanists hold two middle places, one where the Old Testament saints were before Christ came, and another where the yet incompletely purified just go now: and here I cannot exempt Dr. Milner from the charge of dishonesty.* He says, Christ descended into hell … the prison above mentioned, or Abraham's bosom — in short, a middle state. And he says, What place, I ask, must that be which our Saviour calls Abraham's bosom, where the soul of Lazarus reposed among the other just souls, till by His sacred passion He paid their ransom? … Not heaven, but evidently a middle place, as St. Augustine teacheth. Now, if he had answered his own question, Dr. Milner knows very well he must have said "limbus patrum (that is, the place where they say the saints dying before Christ were), and not purgatory" (which, in the Roman Catholic doctrine, is entirely distinguished from the limbus patrum). This is wholly and wittingly deceiving, for he adds, after speaking of Abraham's bosom, "It is of this prison, according to the holy fathers, that our blessed Master speaks, when He says. 'I tell thee thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the very last mite.'" This is not Abraham's bosom. Now this they do apply to a middle state, but not to the limbus patrum. Christ delivered the patriarchs and the others from that, and it is now quite empty. They were at perfect rest, they tell us, suffering no pain. All this is attempted to be passed upon us as a proof of purgatory, with the expression, "in short, a middle state."

{*There is this excuse for Dr. Milner, that the Roman Catholic doctrine is confused enough. The hell to which the Saviour descended is said to contain three places: first, hell proper, where the wicked are tormented; secondly, the fire of purgatory; lastly, a third sort of receptacle is that in which were received the souls of the just who died before Christ. These pious souls Christ liberated, for after all they were kept in painful suspense (suspensi torquebantur), and miserable wearisomeness (misera molestia) — a singular kind of Abraham's bosom. But here purgatory is a distinct thing. We have already seen that Christ brought to heaven, according to the Roman Catholic doctrine, the holy fathers, and the other pious souls freed from prison. But then they do hold that some were suffering the most acute torments, as those in purgatory do.}

327 Further, he says, "As St. Augustine teacheth." Now Augustine says, "Neither is it to be believed that Abraham's bosom, that is, the habitation of a certain hidden rest, is any part of hell" (Letter to Evodius). But Dr. Milner refers to De Civit. Dei, 15, C. 20 (it should be 20, C. 15). Augustine does not say a word of purgatory there, but says, "For if it does not seem absurd to be believed that those ancient saints also, who kept the faith of a Christ to come, were in places as far as possible from the torments of the impious, but in hades (or hell, not the hell of the damned) until the blood of Christ, He, having descended also to those places, should bring them up immediately; thenceforward the faithful good, already redeemed thus at the price of that blood poured out, know nothing more at all of hades until, having received their bodies also, they should receive the good things they deserve."

Hence his notion, whatever it is worth (and it is really worth nothing at all — it is a mere notion, and I will produce an opposite one from himself in a moment, but, such as it is, it is here), would prove that Abraham was clean out of hades now, and whatever middle place he is in is not purgatory, nor ever was; and moreover that since the death of Christ the faithful redeemed have nothing to do with hades.

But Augustine has said more than this, for he speculated, and very wildly too, on all sorts of subjects. He elaborately argues, reasoning on the text, "He hath loosened the pains of hades" (hell), which was then applied to Christ's descent to hell (though an undoubtedly incorrect passage in the Latin translation)* but insists,** for that reason, that, as evidently the patriarchs and prophets go even there where Abraham was, Christ could do nothing for them as to loosening the pains of hades (or hell), a word which he declares was never yet found to be used in scripture in a good sense, for they were not in it, and the great gulf fixedly separated them at an immense distance. And he wonders if any one could dare (if the scripture had said Christ when dead went into Abraham's bosom, not mentioning hades or hell) to assert He had descended into hell.*** He says that, if it is nowhere read in the divine authorities, it is not to be believed that that bosom of Abraham — that is, the habitation of a certain secret quietness — is any part of hell at all. Now, it is quite true that the Catechism of the Council of Trent says it is. How they manage about the consent of the Fathers I do not know. I believe, in all this utter confusion, one knew nearly as much about it as the other. How blessed is the simplicity that is in Christ! To depart and to be with Christ is far better, knowing that if we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord, and desiring rather to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. The more I see of the Fathers, the more I see what darkness and confusion they were in; only I was to answer what you should bring forward. A word more, therefore, from St. Augustine. He declares that (Letter to Evodius 3) he does not see what Christ could have conferred on these just who were in Abraham's bosom, "from whence I do not see that, according to the beatific presence of His divinity, He had ever left them." As also He promised the thief, that on the same day on which he died he should be in paradise with Him, when He was going to descend to loose the pains of hell. So that before even He went into hades He was in paradise and Abraham's bosom, and even before, by His beatific wisdom, and in hades or hell by His judicial power (Epistle to Evodius). He says indeed that loosing the pains of hades might apply to Christ Himself, as there follows, "in which it was impossible for him to be holden." This is undoubtedly the sense, only the true word is having loosed the pains of death. If Augustine had only looked to the Greek!

{*The Vulgate reads, adou for thanatou, "hades," for death, but has no support whatever from the Greek text.}

{**Epistle to Evodius, where he says, moreover, that they had the beatific presence of His divinity, which He had never withdrawn from them, and therefore does not understand what He could have conferred on them. (Sec. 8 or 3.)}

{*** He repeats the same thing in Gen. addit.: "I have not found in scripture — at any rate canonical scripture — that hell is used in a good sense; but that the bosom of Abraham is not to be taken in a good sense, and that rest where the pious poor man was carried by angels, I know not that any one would listen to, and therefore I do not see how we can believe that can be in hell." In the tract, De praesentia Dei, or Epistle 187, he says, that whether the bosom of Abraham be paradise or infernal places (inferos) he cannot say. If "to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise" is to be taken of Christ's human soul, paradise is in the infernal places (in inferno), but easier, and free from all the ambiguities.}

329 On the whole, he seems to deem it best to think that Christ's soul descended to hell (hades), His body remained in the grave, and His divinity in Abraham's bosom, and to believe that the thief was with Him as God in paradise. As to preaching to the spirits in prison, he is inclined to think (Epistle to Evodius) it was by His Spirit in Noe. Peter speaks only of the souls then disobedient, an interpretation which I have no kind of doubt is the true one. Peter speaks of the Spirit of Christ in the prophets; so here in Noe. The Jews, who expected a glorious Messiah in the body, had only His presence in Spirit, and were a small minority. So in Noe they were a small minority, and Christ was only there in Spirit: but those who despised that, are all in prison to await the judgment of the great day. We are saved, like Noe, by death and resurrection in Christ, as he in a figure was. In Genesis God says, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man, but his days shall be an hundred and twenty years." It would be monstrous to say that these were the only ones to whom more time would be given, and they be preached to when dead, for those only are spoken of.

Augustine refers also in this letter to 1 Peter 4:6, as well as to 1 Peter 3:19-20. There it is said the gospel was preached to them that were dead. He prefers the sense of dead in sins; I believe it was simply when they were alive, hence to be judged accordingly (as said in verse 5). The truth is, this letter is an answer to one written to Augustine on the former passage, and the writer had used the expression that Christ had emptied, or made void, hades or hell which he questions, speaking uncertainly as to this — as to whether souls could believe after they were there. And a second question raises more nice points too, into which it is not necessary to go. But he arrives, on the point that now occupies us, at exactly the opposite conclusion to Dr. Milner, namely, that Abraham's bosom had nothing to do with hades, or hell, that it was Christ's Spirit in Noe, and that preaching to the dead meant the dead in sin, but allows his friend, Bishop Evodius, to think otherwise if he liked.

330 As to purgatory, he does speak of it elsewhere, but with the greatest possible uncertainty, so that to say he taught it is alleging what is false. He speaks of the subject in three different places, and in all of them in reference to 1 Corinthians 3 — he shall be saved, yet so as by fire — and using the same arguments, and indeed in a great measure the same words. The places are, Defide et operibus, 15 and following (or 24 and following); Enchiridion de fide, spe et charitate, 69 (or end of 18); and De Civitate Dei, 21, 26.

In the first he is resisting persons who viewed the text as meaning that, if men believed and were baptized, they were on the foundation, and, let them live in whatever sin they might, they would be saved; passing through certain pains of fire, they would be purged so as to obtain salivation by the merit of the foundation.* This he resisted by a multitude of texts. Some other sense, he said, must be sought for, and that this text is one of those of which Peter speaks as hard to be understood, and adds, "When I consider it, I had rather hear more intelligent and learned men." He then puts the case of Christians living in a lawful state, but while never denying Christ for pleasure, yet not living in a self-denying way, and consequently having grief and distress when they lost the things. Those who sought only to please God were building gold, silver, and precious stones; those who please themselves, though Christians, wood, hay, and stubble.** All would be tried by fire and tribulation, and the latter feel the loss, yet be saved, as on the foundation. Then he adds, "Whether in this life only men suffer these things, or whether after this life certain judgments of this kind follow, my understanding of the passage is not abhorrent from the principle of truth." At any rate, he says, however we interpret it, the living wicked will not be saved.

{*This, however, as we shall see, was pretty much the conclusion that Jerome came to; for agreement between the Fathers is the most ridiculous thing in the world to talk of.}

{**As to this, however, Bellarmine says he is all wrong, because this would put the highest saints in purgatory too, as all are tried by fire.}

In the Enchiridion, after going over the same ground, and saying it happens in this life that man is so proved, he says, That some such thing takes place after this life is not incredible, and whether it be so may be inquired, and it may be discovered, or remain hidden, etc.

331 In The City of God he insists that it cannot be what is said in Matthew 25, as in 1 Corinthians 3, all go through this probation; and after speaking of self-willed, and unsubdued souls, though Christian, he says, "After the death of the body, until they come to that which is to be the last day of remuneration and damnation after the resurrection of bodies, if, in this interval of time, the spirits of the dead are said to suffer a fire of this kind, which they do not feel who have not had such morals and such loves in the life of this body, in order that their wood, hay, and stubble should be consumed, but which others feel who have carried that kind of building with them, whether there only, or here and there, or, be it so, here and not there, they find a fire of transitory tribulation, burning worldly things, although not imputable to damnation (or pardonable as regards damnation), I do not oppose, because perhaps it is true."

As to Psalm 37, there is not the smallest proof that what he says refers to purgatory. He does frighten the people (for it is to the people he speaks here) with a terrible fire, more terrible than anything in this life; but he may refer to his purifying work of the day of judgment, which is quite as likely, or seems so.

Now, no Christian soul who knows what it is to be cleansed from all sin could be shaken by confused notions of possible punishment such as this poor father debits here. It is as poor a foundation to build anything on as could well be thought of. Had he looked soberly at the passage, he would have seen it applies to those labouring in the ministry in the world — builders in the church; and that the things destroyed are not bad works, but bad building, so that the man's labour was lost, though the builder was saved, yet even he as a man that just saves his life out of a fire.

As to the controversy — for as to divine truth such statements are not worth a thought, and only shew what an unstable foundation the doctrine of the Fathers is — as to the controversy, it is not purgatory he speaks of, for all saints go through it. He insists on that as its distinctive character; whereas into purgatory only those go who need partial purging. He adds, as a possible interpretation of it, persecutions when martyrs are crowned, and all stand good; others are consumed in it if the foundation is not there; others saved, but suffer loss. He instances Antichrist also as a possible explanation.

To shew how little he can be reckoned on, I may add that he holds that the judgment of the last day itself, the final judgment, will be purgatorial fire for some. He saw nothing of the judgment of the quick in this world, and so misapplied Malachi 3:1-6 to the judgment of the great white throne (De Civitate Dei, 20, 25). And when Malachi says the sons of Levi shall offer sacrifices of righteousness, he applies it to their being themselves offered up to God pure when thus cleansed, "for what could such offer more grateful to God than themselves?" and then says that that question of purgatorial pains, to be diligently treated, "must be put off to another time." He thinks that thus they will offer perfectly, the floor being purged, and they that need it purified by fire.

332 That I may complete however the doctrine of the Fathers on this subject, and shew how sure a foundation they give for us to build upon, Origen tells us (and Dr. Milner quotes him among the holy Fathers as an authority, and he was very early in church history indeed) that we shall want the sacrament to purify us after our resurrection. Having spoken of purifying of women after child-birth, "If, because the law is spiritual, and has a shadow of good things to come, we can understand that a truer purifying will happen to us, I think that after the resurrection from the dead we want the sacrament, washing us and purging us; for no one can rise again without filth, nor can any soul be found which is immediately free from all faults." That is comfortable doctrine (Origen in Luc., Hom. 14, ed. De la Rue, 3, 948).*

{*Origen, however, is not very consistent. He says, "As I think it is necessary for us all to come into that fire of 1 Corinthians 3, even if we are Paul or Peter." But then he says we shall not all go through it in the same way. "Some will go through it like the Egyptians, those who have followed the devil (Pharaoh); some like Israel, if they are quite pure in this life; but if they pass through the fire, it shall not burn them," Is. 48:2. But then he expressly says it is the penalty of eternal fire; he thought all would go through eternal fire for purification, but none remain there.}

James. Well, Bill, how can you or Dr. Milner bring such confusion and uncertainty for us to build our faith on? The Bible is a thousand times clearer and more certain than all this. I understand plain enough, thank God, now that the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin, and that God purifies the heart by faith, and that I am born again, and have a new nature in Christ; but all these doubts and dark doctrines could only blind and puzzle the mind.

333 Bill M. But I did not quote them.

James. No, but Dr. Milner, in the book you gave me, quotes different places in them; and, now I have heard what they say, I doubt if they understood the gospel at all — at least what redemption really is.

N*. It is just what they did not, James. The evil that pressed so sore upon Paul, even in his time, had now overrun the church, as he forewarned it would; and true saints, as surely Augustine was, having lost the full sense of the value of Christ's work, indulged in all kinds of speculation, and were in confusion and darkness as to doctrine. They had lost the truth of the full value of Christ's sacrifice, that by one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Hence, each had to get clear somewhere of his own sins, each differing in degree from another, and having to answer for them in proportion, and as there was nothing in scripture, none knew exactly how.

James. But is that all you have for purgatory?

Bill M. No; there are a number of holy Fathers who are quoted, as you may see in Milner, and passages of scripture too.

N*. I will refer to one of them, as one on whom the Roman Catholics build a good deal (the rest will soon be disposed of) — I mean Jerome (adversus Jovinian., lib. 2, 23). Jovinian denied human merits, and said all were equally saved who persevered in the faith of Christ, and opposed celibacy. Jerome, who was a very violent and abusive man,* though called a saint, was furious, and St. Augustine was severe upon him too. In this work he refers to the same text of 1 Corinthians 3, but does not say a word of purgatory, and contradicts Augustine expressly. Augustine, from the text, refutes those who used the passage (Matt. 25) by shewing that every man's work would be tried. Here Jerome says that he whose work remains will be saved without being tried by fire, and there is a certain difference between salvation and salvation. This is an attempt to answer Jovinian, but not a syllable about purgatory.

{*Nothing is more curious than the way the honest and excellent Tillemont explains how he was a saint for the church, in spite of all this, though better men were not.}

The truth is, Jerome expresses himself so strangely about the matter, that some accused him of denying eternal punishment, and say that Augustine refers to him in rejecting certain views on it. At all events one thing is certain, that it is not of purgatory, as held by Roman Catholics, that he teaches. In speaking of punishment, as contrasted with perishing, he quotes: "They that have done good unto resurrection of life, they that have done evil unto resurrection of judgment," adding, to explain it (a gross misapplication), "those that have sinned without law shall perish without law" (that is, an impious person, who perishes altogether); "he that has sinned under the law shall be judged by the law, and shall not perish." That is pretty interpretation! the sinner with light will not perish, the sinner without it will, contrary to all righteousness and the Lord's express teaching. But, at any rate, in Jerome's statement the judgment, in which man does not perish, comes consequent upon resurrection; that is, it is not purgatory at all.

334 The passage on which he is mainly charged with denying eternal punishment* is in his Commentary on Isaiah 66. I do not know that there is more than gross confusion, and, I must say, excessive ignorance of truth. But I will trace his views more closely just now. It will help us to understand the truth of purgatory. But one has really only to read the so much-vaunted Fathers to see the utter worthlessness of their doctrine, and their excessive perversion of scripture. I have paid attention to these two writers, because they are the two great teachers of western or Latin Christendom, and are the real source of the establishment of these doctrines there, though we have seen that one of them affirms (indeed both) quite another doctrine, namely, that of the final judgment itself being a probationary fire; and the other saying that, as to the fire after death, he could not tell: he did not oppose it, for it might be true, but repeatedly expressing his doubts about it, and declaring that several of the scriptures relied upon, in his judgment, meant another thing. But both shewed that of the clear and scriptural doctrine of redemption, and the forgiveness of sins, and the perfect cleansing of Christ's blood, they were wholly ignorant. It was practically lost in the church. Superstition and horrible corruption had come in like a flood.

{*He speaks, too, of devils, and those who deny God, suffering eternal torments; but wicked Christians will be more mercifully judged. But this refers to Origen holding that all would be saved.}

As to the other Fathers, a single remark will suffice for them; they speak of prayers for the dead, not of purgatory. This was the common practice, to pray for all the dead, that they might have a part, or a speedy part, in the resurrection to glory, or in the first resurrection. They were remembered in the sacrifice of the altar. But this had no possible connection with purgatory, for they named patriarchs, apostles, prophets, martyrs, and the Virgin Mary herself. I suppose, M., you do not think all these are in purgatory?

335 Bill M. Of course they are not; they are all in heaven.

James. In heaven! and what do they pray for them for?

Bill M. Well, I did not know they did.*

{*It is a curious fact, too, that these very prayers for the saints were turned into prayers to the saints. These prayers are found in all the ancient liturgies. Thus, in that ascribed to St. James: "Remember, Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, the orthodox whom we have commemorated, and whom we have not commemorated, from righteous Abel unto this day. Give them rest there, in the land of the living in thy kingdom, in the delight of paradise, in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our holy fathers, whence pain, sorrow, and groaning are exiled, where the light of thy countenance looks down," etc. And St. Chrysostom, "And further, we offer to thee this reasonable service in behalf of those who have departed in the faith, our ancestors, fathers, patriarchs, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, virgins, and every just spirit made perfect in the faith … especially the most holy, undefiled, excellently-laudable, glorious lady, the mother of God and ever Virgin Mary." I recall here what I have noticed elsewhere, that Epiphanius specially remarks, that Christ alone, as testifying to the glory of His Person, was not prayed for, (Bellarmine attempts to say it was only commemoration at the Mass; but that is false. Epiphanius speaks distinctly of prayers for them.) It would only be repeating the same words nearly, to quote all the different liturgies. St. Gregory's, who formed the Roman one, may suffice: "Remember, O Lord, thy servants (male and female) who have preceded us with the sign of faith, and sleep in the sleep of peace. To them, and to all who are at rest (quiescentibus) in Christ, we entreat thou shouldest grant a place of refreshment and light and peace." Nor is this all. In the Decret. Greg. lib. 3, tit. 41, C. 6, Cum Marthae 5 et infra, after a long discussion whether the water as well as the wine in the Mass is changed into blood, Innocent III replies to another question of the Archbishop of Lyons, why, when in the ancient liturgies, in a part of the service called the Secreta (where the name of the person in whose honour the Mass was said was mentioned), it ran thus: "Grant, Lord, that this offering may profit the soul of thy servant, Leo," it was now said, "Grant us that by the intercession of thy servant, Leo, this oblation may profit us." Innocent tells him that scripture says that it is injurious to the saints to think they need to be prayed for when they are in life. As to how the change came about, he says nothing; but in looking for glory for the saints, it must be their being honoured among men, and refers to St. Augustine's statement, calling it scripture; thanksgiving for very good, prayer for middling good, and a solace to middling bad, and tells the archbishop that whether it be so he leaves to him to investigate. The poor pope made a sad blunder in quoting Augustine as scripture, for that word about martyrs is St. Augustine's. Thus the liturgy was changed: still the prayer for rest for those asleep in Christ remains. The force of this has been felt, and, in a modern Roman Catholic Prayer Book, approved by the Archbishop of New York, it is said to be for souls in purgatory, though it is expressly for all who rest in Christ (omnibus quicscentibus in Christo).}

N*. I dare say not, but Dr. Milner did very well; and I must say, if he had been honest he would not have quoted them. If he was only proving that superstition and false doctrine and immorality came in very soon into the professing church, I should have nothing to say; the true thing to say would be that they characterized it; but that it was yet fallen into modern popish doctrine is not true. Faith is not shaken by the corruption of the early church (and you shall have proofs of that corruption), because the scripture foretells it as plainly as possible, saying that on the departure of the apostles the evil would break out, that the mystery of iniquity was already at work, and that in the last days perilous times would come — men would have a form of piety, denying the power of it; and scripture warns men to hold fast by the scriptures.

336 James. So it does; I remember that, to be sure. How blind one is when one has not them in one's heart! And yet how good God is; He has saved me from all this confusion I did not know of.

N*. We shall get on this point when we touch on the authority of the church and scripture. We will try and finish with purgatory. One of the books quoted is a treatise of Tertullian's, which he wrote when he had left the church, and refers in it to a fanatical teacher, whom he calls the Paraclete, or, as we should say, the Comforter; for Tertullian, the first and one of the most distinguished of the Latin Fathers, left what you call the Catholic church as insupportable.

I do not know that I need go farther into the Fathers. I admit that they prayed for the dead, and remembered them at the Eucharist. Their ideas were wholly unscriptural, and full of confusion; yet what they held was not the Romish purgatory, but what was entirely inconsistent with it. It was a doctrine which arose from their having entirely lost the sense of the completeness of redemption, and got back to the Judaism which Paul so contended against; so that when a person stated that all true believers persevering in the faith of Christ were alike saved, he was cried out against as a dreadful man. I have already quoted them as to their view of men going one of two ways after their death.

337 As regards the scriptures quoted, I have spoken of 1 Peter 3:19, and 1 Corinthians 3:13-15. The fire would try the work of every man who was a workman in God's house. This was the day of the Lord, to be revealed by fire. But it is not purgatory. The work is the work of the labourers, not the conduct of Christians at all, and the day of the Lord, not purgatory; and it is alike evident and admitted that it cannot be applied to the Romish doctrine of purgatory, because every one's work is to be tried. As regards not going out till men have paid to the last farthing, I have not the least doubt that it was addressed to the Jewish people, with whom God was in the way while Christ was there, and they have been delivered to the officer, and are still under judgment, and will remain so, till they have received the full chastisement under which they are lying, and then will be brought to repentance and blessing. This may not be as clear in Matthew 5:25, but it is as clear as possibly can be in the parallel passage in Luke 12:54-59. St. Augustine (Sermo 9, Sermo 109, and Tract. in Joh., 45) refers both the passages to the day of judgment in contrast with this life, and does not hint at purgatory.

As to the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, the incontestable meaning of the passage is that which is expressed in the Gospel of Mark; it "hath never forgiveness." The Jews believed in an age to come, in which, under Messiah, there would be a fuller revelation of God's grace and favour than under the law; and, in a general way, they were right. The Lord declares that this sin would be forgiven in neither — that is, never forgiven at all. Besides, this text, if applied as Roman Catholics apply it, would not prove purgatory, but deny eternal punishment, for purgatory is for those who are forgiven and justified. Hence this passage cannot apply to purgatory, for this sin is not to be forgiven, and it would mean that the unforgiven, the lost, would be forgiven in the next world. In Gregory the Great we find another view of purgatory. In general he rejects it, but admits it in a very small degree, referring to the last passage I have quoted. He quotes a number of passages to prove that we shall be in the day of judgment as we are when we die, and that now is the time to settle all with God — John 12:35; Isaiah 49:8, quoted by Paul; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Psalm 117 — concluding from which sentences it is evident that such as any one goes out of this world, such he is presented in judgment. But, however, concerning certain light faults, it is to be believed that there is a purgatorial fire before the judgment, and he refers to 1 Corinthians 3 as the proof; but, however, as I said before, for little and the very smallest sins, such as "idle speech,* immoderate laughter, or the sin of carefulness in family matters," etc. And then he gives us an altogether novel explanation of the passage in 1 Corinthians. Augustine makes gold, etc., to mean works so good that they stood the fire: for Jerome it was salvation without going through the fire at all; Gregory does not notice them, but speaks of iron, brass, lead — such dreadful sins that men are wholly lost. He says, However the passage may be understood of the fire of tribulation applied to us in this life, however, if any one take it as speaking of the fire of future purgation, it is to be diligently considered that he says he can be saved through fire, not who shall have built on this foundation iron, brass, or lead — that is, greater sins, and therefore harder, and then already insoluble — but wood, hay, stubble, that is, the very smallest and lightest sins, which fire easily consumes."** (Dial. lib. 4, c. 39.) How fire consumes sins, every one must judge for himself.

{*This is an unhappy instance, because the Lord says for every idle word we shall give account in the day of judgment — a plain witness that for any and the smallest sins, if they were not wholly and entirely put away, and we cleansed from them, they remain to be answered for in judgment, and if so, we are condemned. "Enter not into judgment, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified."}

{**Again, I recall that Bellarmine says this passage cannot apply to purgatory, because all pass through the fire; and, as we shall see, Augustine thought of a fire purifying carnal affections, the wood, hay, and stubble, which Bellarmine does not allow. It is penal, paying the last farthing. Gregory thought the end of the world was close, and if people had lived very well, if they were not purified by tribulation here (to which Augustine also applies it), for some very small failings, they might be purified by a short process, before the judgment actually came. See his Dialogues, lib. 4, 39, and following.}

338 The result is, purgatory has infinitely more influence than the truth: note what it is. A man, according to Pope Gregory, can build on the foundation — that is, on Christ — iron, brass, lead, such dreadful and indissoluble sins, that he goes to hell, and that no man is free to die in peace; for, for the smallest, he must go to purgatory. Christ has fully and effectually cleansed from none. To hell, however, no Catholic who goes to the priest can go. If a man neglects the church, he goes to hell; at any rate, if he does not confess once a year, he is in mortal sin: but for the most grievous sins he gets absolution on his confessing them — prayers and fasting, perhaps, for penance; but for not finishing these, or for venial sins, he goes to the horrible fire of purgatory, so that is really the only thing to fear. The most dreadful sin can be built on Christ, according to Pope Gregory, and a man not go to hell; but Christ saves none but some rare martyr from purgatory, the true and real place of suffering; all must go there. And that is Catholic Christianity!

339 Scripture, not history, is the warrant for doctrine; but the historical fact is that half the church, and the oldest half of it, never held purgatory, nor do to this day (the other half, when expressing their personal faith, spoke in a way entirely contrary to it), but had, when the true knowledge of redemption was lost, and the purifying power of ceremonies and works came in, some mere vague notion of an intermediate state, or its possibility, or a purgatorial fire in the judgment of the last day, which ripened gradually in the West to the fact of a purgatory stated, as we have seen it, by Gregory at the end of the sixth century, but then only, if these were just, for very little sins, such as idle words. Before that prayers for the dead were offered, but then for all departed in peace, including the Virgin Mary. I give a specimen from Chrysostom: "We offer to thee this reasonable service for those that are absent in the faith — our forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets and apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, religious persons, and every spirit perfected in the faith, but especially for all-holy, spotless, over-and-above-blessed, God-bearing, and ever-Virgin Mary."

The importance of this is that it shews that all that Dr. Milner says of the connection of prayers for the dead and purgatory is without foundation, and is, I must say, disingenuous. I have quoted quite sufficient of the Fathers' denying purgatory; I only fear that it might be supposed that I attach any importance to their opinions. From Epiphanius we may find both doctrines of going to the Lord and prayers for the dead combined. Aerius had objected to prayers for the dead, just before the time of Augustine and Jerome, saying, What good could it do them? Epiphanius answers, What can be more useful, more opportune, more worthy of admiration, than the hearing the names of the dead: first, in order that those present may be persuaded that the dead live, nor are reduced to nothing, but still exist and live with the Lord; then, that that most religious doctrine may be preached by which it is evident that those who pray for their brethren think well of them — that they are gone on a journey. But the prayer which is made profits them, though it may not cut off all the sins: but it is profitable in this, that, for the most part, while in this life we fail, voluntarily or involuntarily, something more perfect may be signified, for we make mention at the same time of the just and of sinners, of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, bishops, authorities, and all of the whole universal assembly, that Jesus Christ the Lord, receiving a special honour, may be separated from the rest of men, etc. The Lord Jesus was, of course, not prayed for; His mother, Mary, we have seen, was.

340 The statement of Dr. Milner, that the Greek church holds it, is an unworthy statement. The deputies did agree to it at Florence. The Emperor was pressed very hard by the Turks, and looked to help from the West, and so came to get the Greek and Roman sees and systems united. The Greeks strongly resisted purgatory, saying they were afraid it would lead to Origen's doctrine, that there was nothing else for any one — no eternal punishment. However, they did yield; but their concession was rejected with outcries on their return. They themselves said they had been deceived, and the doctrine is denied to this day, and they remain separate from Rome as before.

Alphonsus de C. (Adversus omnes Haereses) admits that in the ancient writers "there is almost no mention of purgatory, especially in the Greek writers, and that therefore by the Grecians it is not believed unto this day." So Fisher, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rochester, "that no orthodox person now doubts whether there is a purgatory, concerning which, however, amongst the ancients, there is either none, or, at any rate, very seldom indeed, mention (rarissima). But among the Greeks, even to this day, it is not believed." I give the quotations from others, but there is no doubt of their correctness.

Neither this reference then, to the Greek church, nor that to the Fathers, proves anything, save that the statements of Dr. Milner are unfounded. The Fathers cannot be trusted for doctrine a moment. Justin Martyr declares that it was impossible that the Supreme God could assume a body, and that it was not He who appeared to Abraham. He, I may say all the early Fathers, if we except the good and gracious old Irenaeus, held that there was no personality of the Son till the time of the creation. Hardly any of them — none, perhaps, but Irenaeus — before the Council of Nice, were clear as to the divinity of Christ. All this came from the same source as purgatory, a mixture of Judaism and Platonic philosophy; so, indeed, did saintly and angelic mediation. This mixture of philosophy and Judaism at Alexandria in Egypt was the fertile cause of corruption in the church.

341 A few words as to the true origin of purgatory.

The Romanists do, as heretics always do, take a hard passage, which people do not understand, and use it for their false doctrine. If one knows the right interpretation, one can answer at once, and say, "No; it means so-and-so"; but if you cannot, you are exposed to be led away by false interpretation, because you do not know at all what the passage means. One may be guarded by other plain truths, but, as to such a question, a person has nothing to answer. But the true source of the doctrine of purgatory is a mixture of Judaism and Platonism. Roman Catholic authors refer to both as being the same doctrine in substance as the Romanist doctrine of purgatory; and so they are. It will help us, if I give you here a sketch of the history of purgatory. No one denies that the modern idea of purgatory is found nowhere so closely stated as in Plato. Dr. Milner* admits and insists on it; and Bellarmine, De Purg. lib. 1, C. 2, appeals to Plato, Cicero, Virgil, and the Mahometans, to prove that it is according to natural light. Now, what does that mean? That redemption and the complete putting away of sin by the work of Christ for the believer — his heart being purified by faith — having been set aside, natural conscience (having the sense of faults in it, having nothing else to make amends for these faults according to their gravity, and unable to quiet or purge itself here) looked with hope and fear to some satisfying for them, or being purged from them hereafter; that is, that Romanism, through the loss of the knowledge of redemption, is a return to heathenism, or, at best, to the instincts of natural light.

{*Letter 43, sect. 4, "End of Controversy." "Bishop Porteus intimates that the doctrine of a middle state of souls was borrowed from pagan fable and philosophy. In answer to this, I say that if Plato [Plato in Gorgia], Virgil [Aeneid], 1, 6, and other heathens, ancient and modern, as likewise Mahomet [the Koran] and his disciples … have embraced this doctrine, it only shews how conformable it is to the dictates of natural religion." — [ED. P. T.]}

342 I will now give the statement of Plato. After a pretty elaborate description of hades, or the infernal regions, he continues: "These things being so, when those who are departed come to the place where the demon* carries each, first they are distinguished in judgment, both those who have lived well, and piously, and righteously, and those who have not; and those who seem to have lived in a middle way, having come to the Acheron, having ascended the vehicle for each, they come to the lake, and there they dwell and, being purified and paying the penalty of their unrighteous deeds, they are absolved, if any one has acted unrighteously, and have the rewards of their good deeds, each according to his desert. But those who seem to be incapable of being healed, because of the greatness of their sins — having committed either many and great sacrileges, or many unrighteous and illegal murders, or whatever else such-like they may be involved in — these a fitted fate hurries away to Tartarus, whence they never get out; but those who have committed such as may be healed, yet great sins … are kept a year, and, if need be, more, till they obtain release from those they have injured for the wrongs done; for that is the penalty adjudged them … But those who are esteemed to have excelled as regards living piously, these, liberated and removed from their places on the earth, as from prisons, going away to the pure dwelling-place, dwell over the earth. And of these same, those who have been adequately purified by philosophy, live without pain all time after, and come into a better habitation than these, which it is neither easy to describe, nor is there now time." And again, "If a soul depart in this state (a good one) it departs to what is like itself, and invisible — what is divine, immortal, and wise, and, coming there, begins to be happy, is freed from the contagion of human ills, and is in the society of the gods. But if it shall depart contaminated out of the body, it will be, when separated, impure.** Those who have passed through life justly and piously, when they die, go to the isles of the blessed, to dwell in all happiness, without any evils. But he who has lived unrighteously, and without God, will go to the prison of vengeance and punishment, which they call Tartarus. But they who have committed the worst unrighteousness, and on account of such unrighteousness cannot be healed any more, of these examples are made. These cannot indeed any longer be helped who are incurable, but they help those who see them, when they see them, for their very great sins, suffering most painful and frightful sufferings for ever."

{*Demon, with Plato, is an instrument of divine agency, not bad as such.}

{**Plat. Phaed. sect. 118, 119; Eus. Praep. Ev. (553), lib. 11, 27 to 38; from (568) Gorgias, near the end, sections 164, 168.}

343 All this was borrowed from Egypt, as different points shew, though made up into Grecian philosophy, as in other parts we find him stating the Egyptian doctrine of the transmigration of souls, accompanied with another doctrine, greatly taught there afterwards, that the soul existed before, and came down to dwell in the body, two natures making up one person, as will be found in the places I have quoted from. But, though in a heathen form, we have the Roman doctrine of saints who go to heaven, the wicked to hell, and a middle class to purgatory. So Virgil,* when Aeneas goes down to hades, he is told by them in purgatory, "When life leaves with the last light (of day), not yet is every evil over to the unhappy, nor all corporeal infection** wholly gone; and it is altogether necessary that many things should have grown up as part of ourselves in wonderful ways*** therefore they are exercised with penal torments, and pay the penalty of old evils." And then he speaks of different punishments before they go to elysium.**** And, further, in the Odyssey, souls complain that sacrifices have not been offered for them, to get them out of this place. So Ovid's Fasti, lib. 2, 33.

{*In Dante's Inferno Virgil is made to be the poet's "guardian spirit," through the visit. The English reader may see the account of the whole occurrence in Wilkie's translation of the Inferno, Edinburgh. — [ED. P. T.]}

{**Or evils; but Platonic doctrine makes the text, I doubt not, right.}

{*** This is also Platonic, and the same is found just before the passage I have quoted from Eusebius.}

{**** But here, again, there is the Egyptian doctrine of transmigration. This Christianity made them suppress; the rest they retained.}

Plato teaches the pre-existence of the soul (Phaedo, 923) and transmigration. Only true saints, who had kept alone from every snare of corporate existence, went, it is suggested, to God: so did Pythagoras. Philo, the Jew, held the pre-existence of the soul, as Plato, and that the air is full of demons up to the moon; and the lower, or inferior class, were disposed to be earthly, and came into bodies. This came from Indian or Egyptian heathenism. Why do I speak of these things? Because the great early doctors of the church, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, were educated in Platonism. Origen, too, embraced the whole system — transmigration, and the renewal of the whole series of the soul's history in another earth. Jerome and Ruffinus (Latins), and even, in part, Ambrose followed Origen in a great deal, as did Gregory of Nyssa, and many others in the East.

344 Origen was followed and defended till the fifth general council. Jerome and Augustine, who hesitated, as we have seen, about it all, led in the notions of the Western church. But Origen held that angels, devils, and men, were all on the same footing of responsibility, though in different states; and withal, that all would be ultimately saved; punishment was only purgatory for any.*

{*This is so universally admitted, that I do not quote the passages. Those who wish may refer to Huet's Orig., lib. 2, Q. 6.}

Ambrose we may speedily dismiss, the only difficulty being that he directly contradicts himself. But that is nothing with the Fathers. His doctrine, in result, is, that all professing Christians will be saved, and heathen unbelievers, that is, Christ's enemies, will not; that Christ chastens those that are His, and consigns those who are strangers to Him to eternal punishment (Enar. of Ps. 118, Octon. 20, sect. 24). As to the manner of it, he gives two directly conflicting statements: first, that there are three classes, the godly Christians, who will not come into judgment at all; those who have failed, though Christians, who will come into judgment; and the wicked, who will not come into judgment, abiding under wrath, so that it is not needed (Enar. in Ps. 1: 53 and 56). He held two resurrections, and the failing Christian class to be tormented between the two; but it is after their resurrection. To the third class he refers the passage, "They are condemned already." Those who have added good works to faith will rise to blessedness, not judgment. He rests on John 5: 28, 29, and the Revelation. But there is nothing clear as to when the resurrection to life or judgment takes place. In another place he declares that all must pass through the fire, even John and Peter; that the flaming sword is in the way of paradise (confounding the garden of Eden and the paradise of God); and hence, though John, the beloved of Christ, might escape death, he could not escape the fire, only such as John would be soon done with it (Enar. Ps. 118, Octon. 20, sect. 12, etc.).

345 Jerome may be fairly said to have also held that all Christians would be saved; but his history demands a little more attention. He admired and quotes Origen, or his views, at least, largely. Ruffinus, a great friend of Jerome, translated Origen. This made him known, and he was widely condemned. Jerome attacked Rumnus, and Ruffinus answered, it was no worse to translate him (Origen) than to cite him continually on these very points without the smallest disapprobation. Jerome, though a saint, got badly out of the scrape, as Tillemont and Dupin, honest Roman Catholics, confess. He alleges all sorts of bad excuses, and at last says, if he had held the views, he did not hold them now. I will now give some of his statements, and the result.

On Ezekiel 1:4-5, our God, he says, is a consuming fire, and, as the ember comes after the fire, so happier things will be afforded after the torment of fire, which is for all believers (nobis omnibusque credentibus). Here all professors of Christ are to be delivered: we are to be in the fire, to give better things to the pure and purged; though, indeed, it goes farther than believers here, saying that after judgment and torments comes the precious brightness to the sufferers, as the providence of God governs all things, and what may be thought penalty is medicine.

On Ecclesiastes 9 he records the opinion of some, that reasonable creatures can offend and merit in another age, though death ends it in this, and he does not blame this.

In the end of his thirty-fifth Homily on Luke, "agree with thine adversary quickly," he gives getting out of prison, not as he excuses himself, and is pleaded for him, but as his own the effect of paying the last farthing is that a man gets out; a minute sin soon paid; greater ones longer; and, if they are very bad, how long will people remain? But it is all after judgment, but no one can say how long; it may be infinite ages.

Finally, at the end of his Commentary on Isaiah, after quoting a series of passages, as alleged by others, to shew punishment will have an end [citations which shew utter ignorance of scripture, and the misleading of human imaginations, spiritualizing, as it is called, what is plain], after quoting, as the assertion of others, that this future mercy is hid for the sake of useful terror [which is Origen's doctrine], he adds for himself, "which we ought to leave to the knowledge of God alone, who knows how to weigh both mercy and torments, and knows also how and how long he ought to purge," etc.; and then he closes by saying, "and as we believe the torments of the devil, and of all deniers and impious men who say in their heart, 'there is no God,' to be eternal, of sinners and impious men, yet Christians, whose works are to be proved and purged in fire, we think the sentence of the Judge to be moderate, and mixed with clemency."

346 Worse doctrine one could hardly have, for Christians, who have light, are to be dealt with in clemency, even if impious, but the impious heathen are to be eternally lost. With purgatory it has nothing to do; it takes place after judgment, and of forgiveness, which is the groundwork of purgatory, there is no hint.

James. But, with all this confusion and darkness, why do they quote the Fathers, and make so much of them? This man does not seem to know the truth, nor grace, either.

Bill M. How can an ignorant man like you judge these holy men?

James. I do not know what they are, nor why they are called Fathers; but I am sure what we have just heard is not according to scripture nor God's truth, as the Lord Himself, and as Paul, and the rest — that is, the word of God — has taught it, and we are told to call no man father on the earth. But why is it, sir, so much is made of them, when such things are in them?

N*. It would not be so, James, with one who knew the truth and the scriptures of God. But what is ancient is venerable in men's eyes, and the word of God is too powerful for any one whose heart does not bow to it to hear, and they put it practically aside. The writings of these men are a matter of learning, the tradition of the elders, not of conscience; and, besides that, we must remember the influence and power of the enemy.

James. But then, surely, sir, Paul, and Peter, and John, and all the apostles, and others, are more venerable than they are — the inspired apostles of the blessed Lord, chosen by Himself; and so the other inspired writers. But these writers are not inspired.

347 N*. Undoubtedly, James, they are more venerable; and we are specially charged to hold fast to that which was from the beginning, as the apostles clearly were, and those called Fathers clearly were not.

Bill M. But you will be taking a wrong meaning out of the scriptures, and those men that lived hundreds of years ago must know better what the apostles taught than we can.

James. Well, Bill (begging your pardon, sir, for answering; we are poor men, and understand each other), but surely the best way of knowing what the apostles taught is to read what the apostles say? I know we need God's grace for it, and I am ignorant of many things in scripture; but, at any rate, the right meaning is certainly there to get, and it is not in what we have heard of these Fathers at all; and I find it a great deal easier to understand, upon those things we have been speaking of, than what we have heard out of these books. Anybody can understand that if the writers of the scriptures were inspired, they must have said it right, and perfectly, rightly, and better than those Fathers, who were not inspired at all; and why can they tell me the matter better than those we know God sent to tell it?

Bill M. But it is the priest will tell you what the truth is; you need not be reading those books.

James. How can I tell that he is inspired?

Bill M. No, of course, he is not.

James. Then he is no better to me, as to this matter, than any other; and why can I not read the scriptures that are for myself?

Bill M. You are too proud entirely. The priest is not inspired, but he teaches what the bishop teaches, and the bishop teaches what the pope and the church teach; and the scriptures were written in Greek, and languages you do not know.

James. Sure, it is not pride to listen to what God says. The Lord Jesus commended a poor woman for doing it, and said it should not be taken from her; and I know that the New Testament scriptures were written to all the Christian people, except a small part. How can I tell the priest teaches, or the bishop either, what the church teaches? I cannot rest the salvation of my soul on that; it is resting it on man. I know what the apostles and the Lord taught is right, and my soul can trust it for salvation; but you give me nothing for my faith to rest in, except fallible men, for that you do not deny they are: and, as to Greek and Latin, what are these Fathers written in? I have no need to judge anything about them, for I rest my soul on the word of God, that I know is His; but what I have heard of the Fathers is very poor stuff any way.

348 N*. Poor stuff indeed; but it is what these doctors refer to, and the truth is, if you were learned, James, you would know that to refer to what the Fathers teach is to put your foot on a quicksand, in order to have firm ground. They contradict each other, and contradict themselves, as indeed we have seen already. But go on with Bill M.

James. I have not much more to say, sir. You see, Bill, I have a soul to be saved, and I must have some sure foundation from God for it, and I have got that, and through mercy know I have got it, in the word of God, in what you do not deny to be such. There I find that God hides these things from the wise and prudent, and reveals them unto babes. It was not through learning I found salvation and got peace in my soul, and to know I was saved, but by the grace of God.

Bill M. It is awful to hear you talk so. Know you are saved! Who can know that?

James. I wonder you can rest a minute till you do know it. I do not mean to offend you, Bill, but what is your church worth, if a man cannot know he is saved in it, after all? You would be a happier man, if you knew you were.

Bill M. Of course I should; who would not? But it is all presumption.

James. Not if a person comes honestly to Christ. He says, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest": and through mercy I came to Him, and found rest. If you go to Him, you will find it. Sure, He cannot deceive us, nor tell us what is not true; and him that comes to Him He will in no wise cast out.

349 Bill M. I suppose you are going to turn preacher; and what about all your sins?

James. And what did the blessed Lord give Himself for? was it not our sins? and His blood cleanses from all sin; and I have read, "by him all that believe are justified from all things," and "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." That is the comfort, Bill, having God's own word for it. And, as to preaching, I am no preacher, but only giving, as I ought to be able to do, a reason for the hope that is in me, I trust, with meekness and fear, as I read we should.

Bill M. And I suppose you may sin now as much as you please?

James. No, indeed; I have to watch and pray, lest I enter into temptation, and find I need it too. But a Christian is a new creature, is born again, and hates sin; and there are blessed promises of help and grace for time of need, and that God will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able; and, if we do fail (and we have no excuse, I know, if we do), we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins. But there is no work to put away sin but the blessed Lord's one offering of Himself, and that is finished and perfected for ever, and He is set down at the right hand of God.

Bill M. But there is the holy, unbloody, sacrifice of the Mass.

James. Now, I know all your religion is a false one — forgive me for being plain, Bill — for the word of God declares that, where remission of sins is, there is no more offering for sin, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Now, either you have no true remission of sins in your church, or there is no more offering for sin; and an unbloody sacrifice is of no use at all. Ah! Bill, when one has learnt the truth from God, and has the word of God to rest on, one does not want learning to know these things. I am very ignorant of scripture itself yet; but what one wants for the saving of one's own soul, one gets through mercy fast hold of. My missis, there, knows a great deal more of scripture than I do; but, through mercy, I know what saves me. I wanted it, and, through mercy, I have got it; and I know what scripture is, not by learning, but because I found the holy God and a Saviour in it, or it found me, perhaps I should say. Any way, I know what I have got, and where I got it.

Bill M. But how do you know you are not deceiving yourself all the while?

James. That I might well do; but God cannot lie, and it is on His word I rest — on what you do not deny is His word, what I know to be such. It found me out, revealed my sins and myself to me, told me all I was, and told me what Christ was. The Spirit of God (as it must for that) worked in my heart; I was convinced of sin; it was no. I judged about it, it laid hold of me — was God's eye, that brought me naked before Him. No one, Bill, who has been under its power doubts what it is; and it is always so, and is holy, and will have holiness. Besides the Holy Spirit is given to those that believe, as it is promised; and he that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself.

350 Bill M. I told you you would turn preacher; your head is just turned. I do not understand a word you say.

James. Well, Bill, I hope you may, and be as happy as I am, though I am a poor, ignorant, and feeble creature, and know only what I want for my soul's salvation; but I hope to learn more of this blessed book the Lord Himself has given us. But you were telling us about these Fathers, sir. I was led on, talking to Bill M.; but it is well to know what they are. They say so much about them, and, of course, I cannot read them myself, and they make a wonderful deal of them.

N*. What you have been saying is far happier, and much more important, James, than all the so-called Fathers. You would have poor work to do, to read the hundreds of volumes of them, if you even knew Greek and Latin. It is only because they make much of them, and you cannot tell what they are, and all that is unknown is apt to be wonderful, that it is well to know what they are. We were giving the statements by which they are alleged to support purgatory, and, I am glad to say, we have almost done. Of one more I will quote some passages, because he, as well as Jerome, is made a great deal of, and he will nearly complete our history. He is called Augustine — was a very ungodly, and undoubtedly became a truly godly man. As to poor Jerome, saint though he be called, he had an awful and wholly unsubdued temper, and was abusive and revengeful to the last degree: however, he was a saint for Rome. I hope it was all right with him; but really, one can say no more. And now for Augustine.

What we have cited from Ambrose and Jerome has nothing to do with purgatory, but made judgment a temporary and purifying thing for all Christians, and was chiefly borrowed from Origen, admitted to be a heretic on all these points. But I will give you Augustine's statements, a good man, and partially led by what we have already looked at, but confessedly uncertain in his own mind; only he rejects positively the doctrines of the earlier Fathers, Origen, Ambrose, and Jerome. In the twenty-first book of The City of God, chapter 25, he had insisted that a man might outwardly partake of the Lord's supper, and not really receive Christ, that he who fed on Christ abode in Him, and that they were not members of Christ if in sin. Then he takes up the case of being burned (1 Cor. 3), and first refers to tribulation. "So," he says, "as far as it appears to me, that fire is found"; and goes on to declare it cannot be the eternal fire, as some have said, into which those who are on the left hand are cast, and that only those who are set on the Lord's right hand go into that fire, inasmuch as they are saved, though their work is burnt; whereas those who go into the eternal fire will never be saved, but punished for ever (21, 26, 3). Then, in 4, "if in the interval between death and resurrection the spirits of the deceased are said to suffer this kind of fire, that their wood, hay, and stubble may be consumed, which those who have not such morals and affections in the life of this body will not feel, but those feel who have carried building of this sort with them, whether there only, or here and there, or therefore here, that it may not be there, they find fire of transitory tribulation, consuming worldly things, but pardonable as concerns eternal damnation, I do not controvert, for perhaps it is true." Death may belong to it. "Persecution, in which martyrs are crowned, or which any Christians suffer, tries both kinds of building as fire, and if they do not find Christ in them, consumes some works and builders, some without the builders, if Christ be found," etc. He was a good man, and knew what it was to have Christ, and could not confound the substance of the matter with chaff, however dark he might be on a passage, and owns he was. "There will be, too, in the end of the age, tribulation in the time of Antichrist, such as never was." Thus his own mind rests on tribulation. He utterly rejects Origen's notions, taken up by Ambrose and Jerome; but, as I said, is partially led by their views, so as to admit the possibility of another purifying fire when a true Christian had allowed evil in himself. The application of 1 Corinthians 3 to purgatory, Bellarmine assures us, is quite wrong, because there every one's work is tried, and that will not do for purgatory (Bell. de Purg., lib. 1, C. 5, sect. 37, 38), and he rejects Augustine's own opinion, which is that of Gregory, that it is tribulation here (sect. 22, 26, 36). So little have we to trust in these doctors for unanimity of judgment. But in the tract on Faith and Works, 25 (15), this same Augustine utterly rejects the opinion of Ambrose and Jerome, though not naming them, and shews their views to be contrary to scripture where it is plainest, because of this, to him, obscure passage* in 1 Corinthians 3, and quotes 1 Corinthians 13; James 2:14; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21. "All this will be false," he says, "if they are saved by fire who persevere in such evil things, if only they believe and are baptized. And thus the baptized in Christ even who do such things will possess the kingdom of God." He adds a great deal more to the same purpose, which I need not quote. He then adds, 29 (16), "Perhaps it will be asked me here what I think of the sentence of the apostle Paul itself, and how I think it is to be understood. I confess I had rather hear more intelligent and learned persons, who shall so expound it, as that all those things which I have above recited should remain true and unshaken, and what I have not cited by which scripture most openly testifies that faith profits nothing save that which the apostle has defined, which works by love." He says, however, he will explain, as well as he can, that if there is a faith which works by love, that faith will not suffer him to perish; he will be saved: but if he has with that allowed his heart to be attached to earthly things, "in losing them they suffer loss, and by a certain fire of grief arrive at salvation." It is all poor and uncertain teaching, but of a godly man. On the same point, in the Enchiridion 18 (69), referring to the same passage, he says, "It is not incredible there may be some such thing after this life, and whether it be so may be inquired, and it may be discovered, or lay hid, that some of the faithful may be saved by a certain purifying fire; by how much they may have more or less loved perishing good things, by so much they may be more quickly or slowly saved."

{*There is really no obscurity in it. The apostle is not speaking of man's works, but of ministry. The fruit of bad ministry comes to nothing, but the minister may be in Christ the foundation, and saved. If a real heretic, and corrupter of the temple of God, the workman will be destroyed too. We have three cases (a wise builder; a true Christian, who built badly; and a corrupter) with the consequence to each.}

352 His doctrine as to good works shews how he lay open to these thoughts, and such uncertainty, for here we have a different doctrine from what he says in the tract on Faith and Good Works. In The City of God he gives both, but that the fire means tribulation, as his own view. In his book on Dulcitius' Eight Questions (1, 14), he earnestly rejects Origen's doctrine of the salvation of the wicked after a time of punishment; and, while mourning over those he cannot mend, nor refuse at the sacrament, still bows to scripture that they are lost. But in the thirteenth chapter of the twenty-first book of the Civ. Dei, citing the Platonicians and Virgil, which I have already referred to, he accepts purgatorial pains between death and judgment, though rejecting (what Origen and Jerome and Ambrose taught) that all the baptized would be saved. But in the twenty-fifth chapter of the twentieth book of the Civ. Dei, he teaches, from Malachi 3, that the day of judgment itself will be purgatorial for some, and as Malachi (who really refers to Israel) speaks of offering, he says they will then offer, but it will be themselves when purified, for what offering could be more acceptable to God? They cannot offer for their sins when purged; but he puts off the full discussion of that subject to another time. He then goes on, as the sacrifices would be offered as of old, to state that they were offered in paradise before the fall, and he loses himself in other ideas.

353 James. But you say, sir, Augustine was a godly man; yet he is confused and uncertain on the plainest things in scripture.

N*. That is the very use of referring, as I have done, to the Fathers. They are quoted, and Bill M. had referred to them as great authorities to you, and so do Dr. Milner and all Roman Catholic teachers. Nay, their Council of Trent will have no interpretation of scripture but what is by their unanimous consent. Hence it was well to know what they are really worth. Augustine was a godly man, and hence his spirit rejected the vagaries of Origen, copied by Jerome and by Ambrose, who must have had great weight with him as his spiritual father, but he rejects it all. But not knowing the fulness of redemption, as not one of the Fathers did, nor that the poor thief could go straight into paradise to be with Christ, because Christ's blood (who was in grace on the cross by him) had cleansed him from all sin, nor able, as scripture speaks, to "give thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," they were at a loss what to do with the faults and failings of real Christians. Before Augustine the purifying was held to be after the day of judgment: this he sometimes teaches — sometimes that it was tribulation here — sometimes between death and judgment; and then he put off its full discussion (but never took it up again), and wished some more learned man to treat of it — would not controvert its being after death, or here and not there, or here and there both.

354 But the seed of the doctrine was now sown. Gregory the First, of Rome, a great but very superstitious man, whom sober Roman Catholics acknowledge to have stuffed the very book I quote from with absurd and incredible stories, thus speaks in it, founding his doctrine on the Lord's words, "neither in this world nor in the next": which refer solely to the age of the law and that of the Messiah, a perfectly well-known Jewish distinction, of which he knew nothing. He says it is to be believed that there is a purifying fire for very light faults, but only for small and the very least faults, as frequent idle talk, or immoderate laughter, or error of ignorance in immaterial things; and then refers to 1 Corinthians 3, which, as we have seen, their great doctor, Bellarmine, says can not apply to purgatory, and which Gregory says may be understood of tribulation in this life, but with the strangest application, saying, contrary to the rest, "not iron, brass, lead — hard things, and these, indeed, indissoluble; but wood, hay, stubble — that is, the smallest and lightest sins, which the fire easily consumes": and then he adds, "only if a man has deserved it in this life" (Dialogues, lib. 4).

James. But that has no sense, and the apostle speaks of gold and silver, and precious stones, and what the teacher has built in his service. They don't seem to have understood the scriptures at all, according to what you have quoted, sir.

N*. Nothing can be more foolish as an interpretation; but they had all lost the doctrine of a complete redemption and purging of the conscience by the precious blood of Christ, and therefore all was dark to them. They had to make out some other way of clearing themselves, and hence penances and purgatory and indulgences and such like means. But this is all poor Romanists have to rest on. How different from the clear and sure testimony of the word of God, with its holy claim on the conscience, and full and perfect grace for the soul, the constant presence of Christ before God for us, and His intercession unsought, for every need and every failure, in virtue of a blood and righteousness which never can fail, and sanctifying correction by His word and Spirit in our hearts, with chastening, if needed, for our good, not as an exacting God, for "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth," and for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness!

355 But I have done my history of purgatory. The doctrine had now come in, and soon after the dark ages, when wickedness, and corruption, and superstition were at their height. What do we see, then, as the result? Scripture does not say one word of purgatory, but teaches exactly the contrary. We have examined the pretended passages; but when I turn to heathen philosophers and Jews, I find a system of doctrine to which the Romanist doctrine is conformed. Nor is that all. These Jewish doctrines were mixed up with this particular class of heathen ones at Alexandria, as is well known, and all the works of Philo testify. Now all the early learned Fathers who imprinted the character of their doctrines on the church lived at Alexandria. There was the great Christian catechetical school, and the principal of these Fathers were its masters, as Clement and Origen; and through these this mixture of Platonism and Judaism flowed into the church. The fact of the accordance of these doctrines is not my statement alone; you see Dr. Milner admits it, and says it shews how suited it was to human nature, which is quite true: only that the reasonings of philosophy were added. And Bellarmine, the Jesuit, and one of the highest authorities in Romanist doctrine, refers to Plato and Cicero and Virgil, as holding these views, and seeks to prove it thereby as of the common light of nature (Bell. de Purg., lib. 1; Prague, 1721, P. 348). So Dr. Milner, "it is conformable to the dictates of natural religion"; that is, punishment suited to the degrees of guilt is. Now, I do not deny this; moreover, scripture speaks of it (Luke 12:47-48). Before I answer this, let us recall the doctrines to which I refer.

Plato holds that the flesh is an evil part of the nature, which infects the soul, and that if it has wholly given itself up to vice, it would be given up to punishment for the advantage of others, as an example: if not, but that still any had not kept themselves free, they would be punished in hades for a certain time, proportioned to their unpurged stains; that there were two instruments for the health of the body, exercise (gymnastics) and medicine, and if the first were not sufficient, the other was to be applied; that the spots of the soul were like the colours after a wound when completely well. The soul, at the end of its purification and punishment, would be rendered splendid and spotless. That is simply purgatory — purgatory from the natural need of the soul without Christ. Virgil enlarges a little on it: besides the torments of hell, he states the same process of punishment and purification, but he does not quite finish them off then; he sends them to elysium, a place of blessedness, and then, after a length of time, the hardened spots are wholly gone, and the ethereal soul is left quite pure. Other fictions were added; the souls quite pure, according to Plato, went off to the stars, according to their qualities, for they held (so Philo, the Jew) the stars to be living beings. All this was much borrowed from the Egyptians and Pythagoras. Hades was placed by them under the earth, and so by Romanists (as Bellarmine). This doctrine of purgatory was connected with the famous mysteries of Eleusis. It was signified in the rites, says Plato, that he who was not initiated and the unperfected in them would go to hades, and lie in mire, but that the purified and perfected person, when he departed, would dwell with the gods. So they held that there were those who answered to the Romish saints — the heroes, who went to heaven at once, and were eternally happy. Here is Virgil's account of purgatory: "Moreover, when at the last ray life leaves, yet not every sorrow ceases to the unhappy, nor do bodily pains altogether pass, and it is altogether necessary that many things contracted by long usage should grow in a wonderful way into their very constitution. Therefore they are exercised with penal sufferings, and satisfy by punishment for the inveterate evils." This is not Tartarus, the hell of the condemned, but souls that can be purified, who are not yet fit for elysium. You must not be surprised if we refer Roman Catholic doctrines to heathens, where we find exactly the same doctrine. All the language used of the sacraments by the Fathers is borrowed from heathen mysteries, and that even in the language of the liturgies.

356 But there was another source historically of this doctrine (I say historically, for it was all the same reasoning of human nature that did not know the gospel of salvation) — the Jewish doctrine. The Jews' notion (and the identity of thought is here also extraordinary) was this: they say (as Cyprian, Ambrose, and hosts of others) that there is no place of repentance after death. This the Fathers repeat continually; so the Jews. It is true; but where redemption is not known the only resource is to keep people from sin by terrifying the mind always by the dread of an avenging God, falsifying His character. But then they make almost all Jews get out of the place of punishment, because God has punished the best for all faults, and, after punishing the wicked, must crown what they have done right. Even if one commandment be kept, a Jew will be blest, so that, between that and Abraham's help and Moses', every child of Israel will see the world to come. God leans to the side of mercy, and it would not be just, they say, that a man suffered eternally for crimes which have often been light ones. Hence they have a purgatory for prevaricators in Israel, those who are not entirely good nor entirely bad. They pray to get souls out of it, and God releases them, and particularly at great days of expiation. It is even said that they sell indulgences to the people to get out quicker. Their purgatory is a part of hell beneath the earth. They judge that souls who have done both evil and good works will be punished for the evil, and then be rewarded for the good. So exactly says Origen (Hom. 16) on Jeremiah 5:6, "If after you are on the foundation of Jesus Christ, you have gold, etc., and wood, etc., what would you have done to you when your soul quits your body? Would you enter into the holy place for the gold, etc., to pollute God's kingdom, or stay out for the wood, and receive no reward for the gold," etc.? Yet neither is this just. He then quotes, "our God is a consuming fire," and says, there comes always blessing after threats and sorrow. And quoting falsely, I know not how, Isaiah 40, he insists on the word first ("I will first retribute double their iniquities"); first we shall suffer the torment for our iniquities, then be crowned for our righteousness. This is exactly Jewish.

357 Jerome, reasoning against Pelagius (who said that in the day of judgment the wicked and sinners are not to be spared, but to be burned), answers, You interdict mercy to God. When He says, sinners shall cease out of the earth, He does not say they shall be burned in eternal fire — sin and iniquity (not impiety, which is not knowing God) according to the quality of the vices, after the wound of sin and iniquity receives health. It is one thing to lose the glory of the resurrection — another to perish everlastingly. This, too, was the Jewish notion. The resurrection is for Moses, the saints, and the righteous. In all this we see, no doubt, what suits nature, and how thoroughly the Fathers have followed the crude imaginations of Jews and heathens; and then Rome has made a new system out of it, whose first definite traces are to be found in Gregory the Great, at the end of the sixth century. Only some went farther, as Origen, who held, as Bellarmine himself tells us, that there was no punishment but purifying punishment: he thought that souls had existed before, and were then born into this world, and that they would go on purifying gradually till they purely enjoyed God. It is hard to say what place he gave to Christ in this. Gregory of Nyssa held the same views, and speaks of Judas being purified, of whom Peter says, "he went to his own place," and the Lord, "it had been good for him not to have been born." And throughout his works this doctrine is taught. Some looked shy at him with good reason; but the great Romanist champion, Bellarmine, eulogises him as admirable, and he was one of ten whom the Council of Ephesus said they were to decide all by, and one of those sent on a kind of visitation round the churches to see there was no Arian heresy.*

{*The reader who cannot search his works may see a Protestant account in Schroek, 14, 236; or a Roman Catholic in Tillemont, 9. Gregory of Nyaassa[Nyssa?], 20, 276.}

358 And now see the true character of all this.

Christianity has come finding man lost — justly lost by sin, and departed from God — has brought him salvation when he is in that state — has brought him life, eternal life. Christ is that life — a life holy in its nature, and which loves God and that which is good; he, it tells us, who receives Christ, receives this life. Such is the positive plain declaration of scripture; but that is not all. How can such poor, sinful, guilty, creatures have confidence to come to God; to walk at peace with Him, so as to come to His holy habitation hereafter, even if, quickened by Christ, they desire it? First, the Son of God has become a man, and lived amongst men to prove His love, and that He does not reject the vilest; He is the friend of publicans and sinners. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. Hence we see the very vilest (who could not venture near a decent person) come to Jesus — humbled surely, but received, and told to go in peace. Thus God was revealed amongst men, that sinners, such as we are, might trust Him. But to enter into His presence in heaven we must be cleansed — justified. The same blessed One gives Himself for us; has given Himself for the sins of all who come to God by Him; has borne their sins in His own body on the tree. Thereupon the Holy Ghost declares to us that they which believe are justified from all things; that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses them from all sin, and that God will remember their sins and iniquities no more. Hence we are assured of being with Christ directly when we die — absent from the body and present with the Lord — and we are called upon to give thanks to the Father, who has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. So the poor thief, who talked of being remembered when the kingdom came, was assured that he should be that very day with Christ in paradise. And the Holy Ghost is given to those who believe as the seal of God upon them, and the earnest of their inheritance. And He is in them — a Spirit of adoption — crying Abba, Father. Death they know is a gain to them — resurrection the time of glory. They know that when He comes He will receive all that have believed in Him, and they will appear with Him in glory.

359 Being justified by faith they have peace with God; holiness is their delight; glory and being like Christ their sure hope. If they fail, Christ is an Advocate with the Father for them, and ever liveth to make intercession for them, and hence is able to save utterly and completely. Warnings they need; exhortations too, vigilance, prayer, and every other means, public or private, that God in grace has afforded them. If they carelessly fail, they have every ground to humble themselves in the dust, and confess their fault before God. If they do not own the warnings of the word in grace, God chastens them as a father, that they may be partakers of His holiness; but they do not doubt that they have eternal life in Christ, because God says so, nor that the blood of Christ cleanses them from all sin, nor think that God will remember their sins and iniquities any more.

Instead of that, what do I find? Christ brought in as a foundation to begin with, and a man who is built on Christ as a foundation having still to answer for everything as much as if there was no Christ; he has to pay the penalty of his sins now, or must do so hereafter, for God will have the last farthing. Sacraments there are to cleanse and justify — justified in baptism, not from his actual sins (for as yet he has committed none), but when he has, a sacrament to purify him from guilt without purifying his heart; nay, on the contrary, a sacrament which makes contrition unnecessary, and gives absolution on sorrow from a lower motive, called attrition — a horribly unholy doctrine — forgiveness quieting the conscience without purifying the heart, but the forgiven man having still to satisfy an exacting God for his sins, unless this temporal penalty too be excused by an indulgence. Then, when dying, other sacraments, no less than three, to quiet his conscience again; and then he must go to purgatory to pay and satisfy God still. And all this if a man is in grace forgiven, sanctified, and justified! It is not Christianity, whatever else it may be.

360 James. Well, how little one knows what Romanism is! I could never have thought it; but all these Fathers! I thought they were such holy people, all teaching as nobody else could. Why, they only make everything dark, I think: the word of God is clearer and surer too. I see that plainly now, and then one has the words of the apostles and of the blessed Lord Himself, and we are sure they are right. Oh, what a comfort for one's poor soul that is!

Mrs. J. But I do not know, sir, why one should trouble oneself with all these books and mazes of uncertain teaching when one has the word of God. They are beyond poor folks like us, and if knowing the truth depended on reading them, we should be in a bad way, while with my Bible and the words of my blessed Saviour all is simple and full of grace, just suited to simple people: and then they are His own.

N*. Just so, Mrs. J.; they are His own. Oh, what a thought that is! They come with power, they come with authority, and that is what no man's words can do; and then they come in grace to the heart — God's grace.

Mrs. J. They do, sir.

N*. When God has become a man — when He can say, If thou knewest the gift of God, and Who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given — when the High and Holy One has come so low to be with sinners, the moment I believe it, I can have confidence in Him. I have much to learn; but to learn from one who loves us. If we reject His grace, we have a debt we never can pay at all: but if we have Him, we have one who — blessed be His name — has paid the last farthing for us. There is not the smallest need of your knowing the Fathers. They may be interesting, as a matter of history, to shew what went on in those days for those who make research, and they are so; and in a very few indeed we see marks of piety and true grace, as in Irenaeus of the more voluminous, and others I need not name here; but it is not in the books of those times you get the highest parts of Christianity. They were almost all corrupted by heathenism and philosophical reasonings. I do not think you would find as much rubbish and false interpretation in any quantity of serious books of the same size nowadays. But men suffered then for Christ, and so did some of these very men. As to their consent in doctrines, it is all a fable. There never was more disputing and confusion about doctrine than in those days. They were holding councils on councils to try and settle it, and often the emperors managed the matter their own way — by their power, by the banishment of those whose opinions they did not like, etc. In one great council they had, the prelates of one party beat the old Archbishop of Constantinople so that he died of it. And some of the other councils were not a great deal better, though not so violent.

361 Bill M. But I do not want you to read the Fathers, but to hear the church. I cannot answer as to all these Fathers, because I have not read their books: the priest would answer all, I am sure.

James. But you used to talk about the holy Fathers to me, Bill, and how they all agreed from the beginning in one doctrine and one church, and all that.

Bill M. And so they did, I am sure.

N*. You cannot, M., speak of the Fathers, nor do I blame you for that, unless it is speaking of them without examining; but Dr. Milner has read them, and though I own scripture alone for an authority, we agreed to take his book as you had given it, and we were bound, as he had quoted them, to examine what he said. Nor can I acquit Dr. Milner of dishonesty on this subject. As to the scripture (1 Peter 3:19) there is no preaching in purgatory we well know: Abraham's bosom, Augustine even assures us, cannot mean purgatory. As to 1 Corinthians 3, not only Augustine says it is most difficult, but Bellarmine declares it cannot apply to purgatory, for there all are to go into the fire. But as to the Fathers it is worse, because he knows that prayers for the dead cannot be reconciled with the Romish purgatory, for all were prayed for, even the Virgin Mary. This he must have known; so that to quote the Fathers, who speak of it as proving purgatory, is utterly dishonest, and to say "an intermediate state which we call purgatory" — he knew very well it was not what they call purgatory. His statement as to the Greek church is equally false: it holds neither purgatory nor indulgences. They do hold prayers for the dead, as in the earlier centuries, but reject wholly purgatory. Neither was "from the beginning," and we must have that, or what is false. We have examined these Fathers on the subject of purgatory pretty much at length, and we may leave it. You, I know, would like to take up the question of the church, which you think settles everything.

362 Bill M. Yes, it is no good arguing; we must get some authority to decide. And the church, the Lord declares, is that authority, and tells us to hear it. What can you say against the Lord's own words?

N*. Well, M., we will take your own subject up next. It is fair you should have your turn; but for the present I think we have had enough. The Lord willing, we will take that up when we meet again; only remember, as far as we have gone, we have had all your friend, Dr. Milner, has to say for your doctrine. It is not taking a person who cannot be expected to know much of the Fathers, and seeking to confound him. I can add, that I have looked into a more famous man still of your party, and that is Bellarmine; but it is the same in substance, and I do not see that he adds anything material. He says St. Chrysostom is quite wrong in his view of 1 Corinthians 3, for on this interpretation all would be saved. I do not know how he manages about the consent of the Fathers. I suppose he was not thinking of it just then, yet this is their pet text on the subject. Bellarmine prefers Gregory, which I have given you. For my own part, what I see is this — the real source of purgatory is heathenism and Judaism, which were associated at Alexandria, where the first great doctors of the church lived. At first it took the shape of purifying all completely in eternal fire. Still this was not generally accepted. It then took the form of prayers for all, because they had not fully the sense of Christ's having so atoned for believers' sins, that they were white as snow for God. They apportioned, therefore, to all some punishment — at the least the punishment of loss, not seeing God; or at any rate were uncertain, and prayed for all, even for the Virgin Mary, with a view to their speedily seeing the face of God; but the idea of the purging process survived through, and in Augustine's time was a question as to which he doubted — Jerome speaking with such uncertainty that he is accused of denying eternal punishment. This was in the fifth century: in the end of the sixth Gregory specifies the purifying very light sins, but doubts still. With schoolmen it was like other things formed into an elaborate system; but all this last part was only in Western Christendom. Greek or Eastern Christendom has never received the doctrine.

363 I conclude: scripture is positively and clearly against it, as destructive of Christ's work. The Fathers are one mass of confusion as to it, its true source being heathenism and Judaism; and the oldest half of Christendom rejects it to this day. Yet it is practically the great doctrine of Romanism in connection with the Mass. It is to get people out of it that Masses are constantly said. The poverty of the system is shewn, and the character it gives to God, in that it proceeds on the ground of God's exacting the last farthing (an interpretation denied by Augustine and Jerome), and that after the use of all the means the Roman system has at its disposal — absolution, the viaticum, and extreme unction, which wipes off the remains of sin — so utterly unprofitable are they (by their own confession) that the faithful have to go to purgatory to get these remains burned out by the relentless and exacting hand of God.

Oh, what a difference from that holy grace of God that saves, cleanses, and gives life!