Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 92.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada

Q. Pray tell me, upon what do you ground your belief of purgatory?

A. Upon Scripture, tradition, and reason.

Q. What grounds have you for purgatory from Scripture?

A. First, because the Scripture in many places teaches us, that it is the fixed rule of God's justice to render to every man according to his works. See Psalm lxii. 12. St. Matt, xvi. 27, Rom. ii. 6. Rev. xxii. 12. So that according to the works which each man has done in the time of his mortal life, and according to the state in which he is found at the moment of his departure out of this life, he shall certainly receive reward or punishment from God. Hence, it evidently follows, that as by this rule of God's justice, they that die in great and deadly sins, not cancelled by repentance, will be eternally punished in hell; so, by the same rule, they who die in lesser, or venial sins, will be punished somewhere for a time, until God's justice be satisfied, and this is what we call Purgatory. Secondly, because the Scripture assures us, that we are to render an account hereafter to the great judge, even for every idle word, that we have spoken; Matt. xii. 36. And, consequently, every idle-word not cancelled here by repentance, is liable to be punished by God's justice hereafter. Now, no one can think that God will condemn a soul to hell for every idle word ; therefore, there must be another place of punishment for those, who die guilty of these little transgressions. Thirdly, because St. Paul assures us, that every man's work shall be made manifest. 1 Cor. iii. 13, 14, 15. For the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire. And the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon (that is, upon the foundation which is Jesus Christ), he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss : but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. Here, you see, St. Paul" informs us, that every man's work shall be made manifest by a fiery trial; and that they who have built upon the foundation, which is Christ, wood, hay, and stubble (that is to say, whose works have been very imperfect and defective, though not to the degree of losing Christ), shall suffer loss, but yet shall be saved so as by fire; that is, by a purging fire, as the fathers understand it; of which St. Augustine writes, they who have done things deserving temporal punishment, shall pass through a certain purging fire, of which the apostle St. Paul speaks. Hom. xvi. ex. L. 50 Hom. Again, on the 37th Psalm, n. 3. he says, this fire shall be more grievous than whatever man can suffer in this life. So he prays, purge me O Lord, in this life, and render me such, as may not need the mending fire. Being for them that shall be saved, yet so as by fire. Fourthly, because our Saviour says, that whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come. Matt. xii. 13. Which last words would be superfluous and absurd, if sins not forgiven in this world could never be forgiven in the world to come. Now, if there may be forgiveness of sins in the world to come, there must be a purgatory or third place, for in hell there is no forgiveness, and in heaven no sin. Besides, a middle place is also implied by the prison mentioned in St. Matthew, chapter v. 26. out of which a man shall not come till he has paid the uttermost farthing. And by the prison mentioned in St. Peter; where Christ is said by his spirit to have gone and preached to the spirits that were in prison, which sometimes were disobedient, etc. St. Pet. iii. 18, 19, 20. From this last text, it appears that at the time of our Saviour's death there were some souls in a state of suffering (in prison) in the other world, on account of lesser sins not deserving of damnation, for certainly our Saviour would not have gone and preached to them, had they not been capable of salvation. These souls, therefore, were not in heaven, where all preaching is needless, nor in hell, where all preaching is unprofitable; but in the middle state of suffering souls they were, which is the purgatory maintained, by the Catholic Church.

Q. Pray, what do you say to that text of Scripture, if the tree fall towards the south, or towards the north, in the place where the tree falleth there shall it lie? Eccles. xi. 3.

A. I say that it is no way evident that this text has relation to the state of the soul after death: but if it be so understood, as to have relation to the soul, it makes nothing against purgatory, because it only proves what no Catholic denies, viz. : That when once a soul is come to the south, or to the north, that is, to heaven or to hell, its state is unchangeable.

Q. But does not the Scripture promise rest, after death, to such as die in the Lord ? Rev. xiv. 13.

A. Yes, it does; but then we are to understand, that those are said to die in the Lord, who die for the Lord by martyrdom ; or at least, those who at the time of their death, are so happy as to have no debts nor stains to interpose between them and the Lord. As for others who die but imperfectly in the Lord, they shall rest indeed from the labors of this world, but as their works that follow them, are imperfect, they must expect to receive from the Lord according to their works.