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when once we shall have departed this life, there is no room for us in another, either to confess or to repent.*

Why did Polycarp avowedly discuss the resurrection of the dead, and yet wholly pretermit the doctrine of purgatory?†

Why did Ignatius assert, that two states only in the future world, a state of death and a state of life, are set before us; so that every one, who departs, shall depart to his own proper place: and why did he not set forth that yet additional third state, which, under the name of purgatory, makes so conspicuous a figure in the theology of the Latin church?

Why did Irenæus, without presuming to say a word about purgatory, content himself with simply intimating, that the souls of the dead shall depart into an invisible place prepared of God for them, where they shall abide in constant expectation of the resurrection and reunion of the body?§

Why did the old writer, in the works of Justin Martyr, pursue a train of reasoning, on the pardon of the lapsed under the dispensation of grace, which is wholly incompatible with a belief in the doctrine of purgatory?||

Why did Athenagoras professedly write an entire treatise on the resurrection of the dead; and yet, notwithstanding the nature of his subject, leave the state of purgatory wholly unnoticed and unmentioned?¶

But I forbear. The English laity will ere now, I trust, be sufficiently convinced, that ALL antiquity does not speak of an intermediate place, where souls, before they enter into heaven, must be cleansed from their smallest pollutions in the fire of purgatory.

* Ibid. ii. § 8.

†Polycarp. Epist. ad Philip. § ii. vii. Ignat. Epist. ad Magnes. § v.

§ Iren. adv. Hær. lib. v. c. 26. § 2, 3.

Quæst. et Respons. ad Orthod. in Oper. Justin. queæst. xcvii. p. 350, 351.

Athenag. de Resurr. Mort. in Oper. p. 143-219.


The Difficulties of Romanism in respect to prayers for the Dead.

RESPECTING the existence of purgatory, by the bishop of Aire's very candid acknowledgment, Holy Scripture is perfectly silent. Equally silent also is it respecting the obligation or the benefit of prayers for the dead offered up by the living. Neither the one nor the other does it mention: to neither the one nor the other does it even make so much as the very slightest allusion. Concerning both, on the supposition of the truth of the one and the duty of the other, it maintains a reserve most singularly unnaccountable.*

It is true indeed, that, from the few and indistinct notices of a future state which occur in the Hebrew Scriptures, we might not have much reason to be surprised at their silence on the present topics: but, when we recollect that it was a special office of Christ to illuminate life and immortality through the Gospel, it is utterly incredible, that the light-giving Saviour should have vouchsafed us no sort of revelation concerning purgatory and prayers for the dead, had the former really existed, and had the latter been a pious and profitable duty.

On the awful truths of the next world, our Lord is copious and distinct, alarming and consolatory. We have the whole fearful machinery of the last day placed, as it were, visibly before our very eyes: the sheep on the right hand of the Judge; the goats † 2 Tim. i. 10.

* Discuss. Amic. Lett. xiii.


on the left hand. We hear, as it were with our very ears, the irreversible doom of weal or woe. The doors of the adytum are thrown open: the mystery, hidden or but dimly perceived through a long succession of ages, is unreservedly declared to the whole universe. Yet, respecting purgatory and prayers for the dead, the great and all-knowing hierophant is profoundly silent.

I. In place of any proof, either from the Hebrew Scriptures, or from the Scriptures of the New Testament, that prayers for the dead are the duty of the living, the bishop produces a meagre and scanty attestation from the apocryphal history of the Maccabees, which his church has taken upon herself to pro

nounce canonical.

"If Judas had not hoped," says the author of that history, "that they who were slain should have ' risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray 'for the dead."*

The poverty of the bishop I blame not. He has done what he could: and mortal man can do no more. Proof from the genuine Scriptures he was unable to bring: and we cannot reasonably censure him for not accomplishing an impossibility; we cannot equitably impeach him for not producing a nonentity. Christ, it is true, is silent on the subject: but what Christ has not taught, we may learn from Judas Maccabeus.

This is no time for discussing the canon of Holy Scripture: nor shall I enter upon a topic, which has already been handled most sufficiently by persons far more competent than myself. Yet, since the bishop has thought it good to inform the English laic, that the reformers of the sixteenth century removed the Maccabæan history from the canon, purely to rid themselves of the evidence which it bears to mortuary supplications, and thence implicatively to the doctrine of purgatory :† it may not be improper to † Discuss. Amic. vol. ii. p. 246.

* 2 Macc. xii. 44.

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remind his lordship of the language employed by an author, with whom he is intimately acquainted, and who certainly had no concern in the evil deeds of the sixteenth age.

"Have nothing in common with the Apocrypha," said Cyril of Jerusalem, in the fourth century, to the Competentes, who were preparing themselves for baptism: "Have nothing in common with the Apocrypha, but study those books which we read in the church. The apostles and the ancient bishops, 'who delivered those books to us, were much wiser than you. As children, therefore, of the church, set 'not upon her authorized documents the adulterat6 ing seal of a false impression."*

The canon of the Old Testament, as propounded by Cyril to his pupils, differs not from the canon received by the innovators of the sixteenth century, save that it inserts the book of Baruch; which book, as it exists not in the Hebrew, the Jews, who might be supposed to have some slight acquaintance with their own canon, have never recognised. Subsequent more careful examination led Augustine, and the Greek church, and the Councils of Carthage and Laodicea, to reject from the canon this book, which Cyril's list includes in it: the fathers of the Council of Trent best know the grounds on which they reinstated that composition. As for the Maccabæan history, which has rendered such essential service to the bishop of Aire, it is among those proscribed apocryphal books, which the archbishop of Jerusalem exhorts the illuminated most diligently to renounce, on the ground that it was not delivered to the church by the apostles and the ancient bishops.

II. His lordship, however, meets us with a negative, as well as with a positive argument.

If Christ did not teach us the duty of praying for the dead by his words, he assuredly taught it no less forcibly by his silence.

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This is not so great a paradox, as, at first sight, it might well be deemed: and the bishop has contrived to make out a very plausible case from very unpromising materials.

"The language of Judas Maccabeus, or of his his'torian," argues the bishop, "proves indisputably that the practice of praying for the dead prevailed among the Jews. Now Christ never censures this practice; 'THEREFORE he tacitly sanctions it."*

We must confess, I fear, that Christ never censured the practice in so many precise words; yet his apostle John received a communication, which can scarcely be reconciled with the ordinance of praying for the dead, that their souls might be liberated from the fire of purgatory.

I heard a voice from heaven, 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 labours; and their works do follow them.t

The dead in the Lord, then, are blessed: and, whensoever they depart hence they rest from their labours. Now, if it were necessary for them to enter into purgatory, ere they were admitted into a state of beatitude; which according to the bishop, ALL must do, since the fire of purgatory must cleanse us even from our slightest stains: they would not, immediately after death, rest from their labours; for his lordship himself being judge, purgatory does not hold forth to its inmates the accommodation of a bed of roses. Therefore, by an inevitable consequence from the plain words of Holy Writ, they enter not into a purgatory, from which they may be prematurely liberated by the suffrages of the living.

III. What the bishop cannot prove from Scripture either positively or negatively, he hopes to prove from the respectable human authority of the old fathers.

* Discuss. Amic. vol. ii. p. 248. † Rev. xiv. 13.

Doivent être purifiées de leurs moindres souillures. Discuss. Amic. vol. ii. p. 243. Note.

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