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in his mind some remote allusion to it in this chapter ; but that this proverbial phrase, “saved, yet so as by fire,” signifying, as used by writers both sacred and profane, a narrow escape out of a great danger, should be relied on as the principal support of the doctrine, is truly marvelous ! I always thought that the fire of purgatory was to purify men's souls ; but the fire here spoken of is to try every man's work. Besides, it is not said that the person shall be saved by fire, but so as by fire; that is, with the like difficulty with which a man in a burning house is saved from its conflagration. A good man, who, on the precious foundation of Jesus Christ, builds worthless materials, such as wood, hay, stubble, shall suffer the loss of his work, yet he himself shall be saved, though with great difficulty, so as by fire. So much for the main pillar of purgatory
But they point us to Matthew, 5. 25, 26, "agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily, I
say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." Now i would look the intelligent Catholic, who refers to this in proof of purgatory, in the face, and ask him if he is in earnest; if he can think that the doctrine of purgatory derives any support from that passage. What is it but a most excellent piece of advice in reference to the settlement of differences among men ? But they say, “ does not Christ, in Matthew, 12 : 32, speak of a sin which shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come; and does not this imply
that some sins
may be forgiven in the world to come?" It implies no such thing. That form of expression is employed but to strengthen the denial. Besides, how can they be said to be forgiven, if they are purged away by fire ?
Ah, but does not St. Peter say that Christ went and preached to the spirits in prison ? Where were they but in purgatory ? But were all the giant sinners before the flood in purgatory? If so, there may be some hope for us heretics. But why should Christ go to purgatory to preach to the spirits there? It is not by preaching, according to the Catholics, that souls are liberated from purgatory, but by prayers and masses, well paid for. And why should Christ select out the antediluvian sinners, and preach only to them ? Indeed, I think the friends of purgatory had better give up that text; and not attempt to support their dogma by Scripture, but be content with tradition, consoling themselves with the reflection that though nothing is written about it, yet it has been handed down.
As for us Protestants, we do not believe in burning out sin-in salvation by fire. We protest against it. We believe in the washing away of sin, and that by the blood of Jesus alone: “The blood of Jesus Christ, his son, cleanseth us from all sin.” What is there left for fire to do? The spirits of the just made perfect ascribe no part of their salvation to fire. No. Their ascription is “unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” How could souls just come up out of purgatory, where they have been hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, undergoing the purification of fire, unite in this song?
43. More about Purgatory.
What low and unworthy thoughts the Catholics must have of the work of Christ and of the efficacy of his blood, that they should believe that after he has done all he can for a soul, and his blood has exhausted its virtue on it, it has still to be subjected to the action of an intense flame, for no one knows how long, in order that the expiation of its sins may be complete, and its salvation perfected! What a doctrine! Why, according to this, Christ was premature in saying on the cross, “ It is finished.” It was not finished. The expiation of sin was only begun on Calvary. It is completed in Purgatory! O God, I pray thee rid and deliver the mind of man from this dreadful delusion, so derogatory to thy dear Son, our blessed Savior; and so injurious to thee, for it represents thee, who delightest in mercy, as punishing after thou hast pardoned; as requiring satisfaction from men, after thou hast accepted for them the satisfaction of Christ!
Now I know the reason why Catholics are never happy in the prospect of death-why the dying votaries of that religion never exclaim, “O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory ?" It is because they are expecting to go to a place of fire. How can they be triumphant in the “certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation ?" How can their religion be other than what it is, a religion of fear and foreboding.
I have a few more things to say upon this subject; one of them is this: If there was in the time of Christ and his apostles such a place as Purgatory, it must have been a place of little note and of little use-of little note, for they say nothing about it—and of little use, because we hear of no one going there. Lazarus did not go there, neither did Dives-nor did the thief who was saved from the cross-nor did Judas. Paul speaks of those Christians who are absent from the body, as present with the Lord. Is Christ in Purgatory? Is it there that believers go to be ever with him? But hark! a voice from heaven! now we shall know how it is : “ I heard a voice from heaven,” says St. John, “saying unto me, write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth ; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors.” They that die in the Lord, rest. Then certainly they are not in Purgatory.
If Purgatory is full of souls, who are helped by the prayers of the faithful on earth, as Catholics say, why, in the multitude of their exhortations, do the sacred writers never so much as give us a hint about praying for those poor suffering souls? What a cruel oversight it was in them!
I smile sometimes when I look at this doctrine of Purgatory. But I repress the smile. Ludicrous as the doctrine is, it is still more pernicious. What does it do, that is so bad? Why, it turns away the attention of the soul from Christ. It says the very opposite of “behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away
the sin of the world.” And then it tells men that they may not only live, but die wickedly, and yet entertain the hope of salvation. It proclaims the possibility of a post-mortem repentance and purification from sin. It emboldens men to go out of the world in impenitence, assuring them that though they do, yet prayers and masses offered for them after death can save
them. It denies that we are to be judged and dealt with according to the deeds done in the body; whereas, the Bible declares that according to these, we are to receive.
On the whole, for this doctrine of Purgatory there is neither Scripture, nor reason, nor common sense. This, however, may be said of it. It is a profitable doctrine. Yes, a capital speculation. There is no doctrine which pays so well. You have heard of Peter's pence. Here his boasted successors get their pounds.
44. A Strange Thing. I read the other day in a Baltimore newspaper the following article:
“OBSEQUIES.- This day the Prelates and Theologians of the Catholic Provincial Council, now in session in this city, to. gether with several other priests, celebrated the solemn office for the repose of the souls of the Right Rev. Doctor Fenwick, of Cincinnati, and De Neker, of New Orleans. The Right Rev. Doctor Rosati celebrated the High Mass, attended by the proper officers. After the Gospel, the Right Rev. Doctor Purcell, Bishop of Cincinnati, ascended the pulpit and preached a funeral Oration; in which he ably portrayed, in accurate and pathetic language, the virtues and services of the deceased prelates, the former of whom fell a victim to the cholera, after years of laborious and successful exertions; the latter was taken away in the bloom of youth and in the midst of his labors by the yellow fever. After the Mass, Doctor Rosati performed the usual obsequies.”
Having finished reading the article, I withdrew the paper from my eye and I said to myself, Where am