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general, but I am possessed of no proof that he was not a Christian. Certainly, I find in his moral history no reason why they should be so positive that he is not at rest. They might have made the appointment conditional, I should think-mass to be said for the repose of his soul, provided it be not at rest.
But they insert no condition. They are sure he is not at rest.
Well, if he is not at rest, how are their masses to give him repose ? Does the Bible say that they have that efficacy? I must be excused for being so oldfashioned as to appeal to the Bible. That book, since it says nothing about masses, cannot be supposed to say anything of their tranquilizing tendency. I always forget that the Catholics have another source of information on religion besides the Bible. Tradition they call it. They mean by it the talk of inspired men, when they had no pen in their hands; which being heard, was reported, and so has come along down by word of mouth. But I, for my part, am satisfied with what they wrote.
We, Protestants, cannot join the Roman Catholics in their solemn office for Lafayette. We hope there is no need of praying for the repose of his soul; and we are certain there is no use in it. We prayed for him while he was living. We did not wait for him to be dead first. Now that his spirit has returned to God who gave it, and the Judge has passed upon it, we leave it there. By the way, how do the Catholics know when to stop praying for the repose of a soul ? The Charleston Catholics had their mass for him on the 30th of June. But it seems it was of no avail, for the Philadelphia Catholics are called together to sing theirs on the 29th of July. How long is this thing
to go on? I am writing on the 31st of July. Is he at rest now? Was the mass of the 29th inst. more efficacious than that of the 30th ult.? Perhaps the next news from New-York will be that mass is to be performed there for the repose of the same soul some day in August. I hope the church is not infallible in regard to Lafayette, as in other matters. I should be sorry to think him all this time not at rest.
I remember an old Latin maxim, " Nil de mortuis, nisi bonum," say nothing but good respecting the dead-which, it seems to me, the Catholics have disregarded in the case of Lafayette. It is certainly not saying any good of a dead man, to say that he is not at rest. And it is cruel to sing about it. The Philadelphia mass was sung.
Is it kind to treat a suffering soul in purgatory with singing ?
47. Prayers for the Faithful Departed.
I have taken up again that little book, 6 The Christian's Guide to Heaven," published, as the title page assures us, with the approbation of the most reverend Archbishop of Baltimore. Parts of it I have heretofore reviewed, but I have not exhausted its contents. I find on page 198 of my edition, the title of this article, “Prayers for the Faithful Departed.” Faithful, said I to myself; and is it for the faithful dead that they pray? I was so ignorant as to suppose that it was for wicked Catholics, being dead, they were so
good as to pray. I thought there was no need of praying for deceased Christians-for the faithful departed. I got the notion somewhere, that good people, when they die, go where there is “fullness of joy," and "pleasures forevermore.”
I may have imbibed it from St. Paul, who says that when such are “absent from the body,” they are “present with the Lord;" or perhaps I caught it from St. John, who speaks of the dead that die in the Lord, as "blessed from henceforth,” and as resting from their labors. It is more likely, however, that I got the idea from our Saviour, who says to the church in Smyrna, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” It was natural that I should take up the idea in reading this, that prayers for the faithful departed were needless, since he says, if they were faithful unto death they should receive a crown of life. We are all liable to mistakes, that is, unless we are infallible. It seems, according to the Catholics, who profess to know all about these matters, that the faithful don't get the crown of life by being faithful unto death. No, they must be faithful a good while after death, before they receive it. That which they get at death is very different from the crown of life. They are a long time absent from the body before they are present with the Lord. They don't go to heaven, or paradise. They go to purgatory. This is the Catholic's creed. It don't seem to agree altogether well with the Savior's promise to the Smyrneans. A simple man would suppose that fidelity unto death was immediately followed by the crown of life. But they that cannot err tell us otherwise.
Somehow or other this doctrine of the faithful going
to purgatory after death, and needing to be prayed out of it, seems to have been always out of the mind of the apostle Paul, when he had his pen in his hand, or was dictating to the amanuensis. He speaks of it as gain to die; but surely, to exchange earth for purgatory is no gain. Air, however impure or sultry, is more agreeable than the element of fire. He tells of his desire to depart and be with Christ, just as if the one immediately followed the other. He overlooked purgatory ; otherwise I think he would not have had the desire to depart. Perhaps he thought he would fare as well as Lazarus, who made no stop in pargatory; or as the penitent thief, who could not have made a long one, since he was in Paradise the same day he died. It has always appeared to me, that according to the Catholic system, this man, of all others, should have gone to purgatory. He never did any penance on earth-never bought an indulgence-he repented only a few minutes before he died; and yet he goes direct to paradise! Who then may not?
But do they not give us chapter and verse for praying for the dead! It must be confessed they do. Here it is. “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosened from their sins.” 2 Macb. 12: 46. This looks like Scripture, though it does not sound much like it. It passes for Scripture with the Catholics; but it is Apocrypha. It is no more holy Scripture than the Koran is. I know the Catholics contend that it is as good Scripture as any. But ask the Jews if it is Scripture. them were committed the oracles of God.” Ask them if the books of Maccabees were committed to them. They tell you no. They were not even written in
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Hebrew. The New Testament abounds in quotations from the Old Testament Scriptures. I wonder some of the writers of the New Testament had not quoted Maccabees, if it had been Scripture. I would ask any one who reads it, if it strikes the ear as Scripture. It certainly does not. Besides, it is not in all cases good sense. The verse quoted in favor of praying for the dead is not good sense. They speak of praying for the dead as a holy thought, and of prayer as having an efficacy to loosen them from their sins. Now any child can see this to be no part of Scripture. But I hasten to the prayer.
for the suffering souls in purgatory.” It is a curious prayer. I should like to quote the whole of it. But some specimens must suffice. Here is one petition. mercy on those who suffer in purgatory. Look with compassion on the greatness of their torments; they are more keenly devoured by their ardent desire of being united to thee, than by the purging flames wherein they are plunged.” Observe, here are spirits in flames; and they are purging flames. Fire may refine and purify certain metals, but how it should act in that way on souls, is beyond my comprehension. The suffering occasioned by fire is very horrible; but it seems that it is nothing compared with what they suffer from the love of God, or the “ardent desire of being united to him." I wonder, if they have such desires after God, that they are kept in that suffering state. I wonder he does not take them up to himself. Why should they suffer so, since Christ has suffered for them, and they are the faithful who. believe on him? Did not Christ suffer enough? But the prayer proceeds: “With them I adore thy