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ceremonies, and many of their religious opinions. The existence of a purgatory is plainly taught in the writings of both poets and philosophers. In the sixth book of the Æneid, Anchises explains to his son, who had visited him in the Shades, the process which souls were doomed to undergo, before they could be admitted into the Elysian fields, that they might be freed from the stains of sin which adhered to them at death :
“ Ergo exercentur penis, veterumque malorum
Suplicia expendunt.”. Some, he says, are stretched out to the winds; others are purified by being plunged into an immense whirlpool or lake; and others are subjected to the operation of fire
“ Infectum scelus exuritur igni.”+
In his dialogue entitled Phædo, Plato informs us that when men enter into the invisible state, they are judged. Those who are neither truly virtuous, nor consummately wicked, are carried away to the Acherusian lake, where, having suffered the punishment of their unjust deeds, they are dismissed, and then receive the reward of their good actions. Those who, on account of the greatness of their sins, are incurable, are cast into Tartarus, from which they shall never escape. Those who have committed curable sins—acija ápapīruara—and have repented, must also fall into Tartarus, but after a certain period they will be delivered from it.
In both these passages, we have a very exact description of the Popish purgatory ; and, as there is no trace of it in the Bible, we conclude that this is the source from which it has been derived. The resemblance will appear more striking, if you reflect that, in both cases, it rests precisely upon the same foundation, the curable and incurable sins of Plato answering exactly to the venial and mortal sins of Papists. By mortal sins, they understand those which alienate men entirely from God, and are worthy of eternal death ; and they may be compared to those bodily wounds which, by their own nature, cause the destruction of life. Venial sins do not turn away the sinner altogether from God, although they impede his approach to him ; and they may be expiated, because their nature is so light that they do not exclude a person from grace, or render him an enemy to God. Mortal sins are few, if I rightly remember, only seven, and even these are so explained away by their casuists, the most unblushingly profligate that the world ever saw, that the number is still farther reduced, and scarcely one is left upon the list. All other sins are venial, or pardonable; or, in the language of Plato, ápapenuata waovua. They are expiated partly by penances in this life, and partly by the pains of purgatory, the place appointed for completing the atonement.
Another distinction has been contrived by the Church of Rome, with a view to support its doctrine concerning satisfaction for sin in the future state. The pardon of sin we understand to consist in the full remission of guilt or of the obligation to punishment, so that to the pardoned man there is no condemnation; but they take a different view. They affirm that there are two kinds of guilt, reatus culpæ, the guilt of the fault, and reatus pæna, the guilt of the punishment. The former is remitted, and the latter is retained; or in other words, the penitent sinner is absolved from the sentence of eternal death, but is still subject to temporal punishment. Thus speaks the Council of Trent: “If any man shall say, that after justification the fault is so remitted to a penitent sinner, or the guilt of eternal punishment is so blotted out, that there remains no guilt of temporal punishment to be endured, in this life or in the • Æneid. vi. 739, 740.
† Ib. 743
future life in purgatory, before he can be admitted into the kingdom of heaven.. let him be accursed."* Now, Purgatory has been fitted up as a great penitentiary, into which the half-pardoned culprits are sent, that they may undergo the painful but wholesome discipline, by which they will be qualified for full restoration to the favour of God.
The notion of purgatory is so gross and palpably false, that the common sense of every man would reject it, where it is not perverted and overpowered by authority and prejudice. Can a person have any idea in his mind, when he talks of souls being purified by fire? Might he not, with equal propriety, speak of a spirit being nourished with bread and wine! The soul is supposed to be a material substance, (upon which alone fire can act,) contrary to the belief even of the abettors of purgatory, who admit, as well as we, the spirituality of its essence. This single remark is sufficient. The whole fabric tumbles to the ground. Purgatory, as explained by the followers of Antichrist, is physically impossible.
It is unnecessary to enter into a minute refutation of an opinion which refutes itself, and is at variance with the dictates of reason as well as of revelation. It were easy to show that it is subversive of the atonement of Christ, of the doctrine of justification by faith, of the peace, and consolation, and hope of the people of God. The testimonies from Scripture, which have been already produced to prove that the souls of believers immediately pass into the presence of Christ, are all arguments against the purgatory of Papists. Yet, as those who profess to be Christians find it necessary, or at least expedient, to have some appearance of support from Scripture, they allege certain quotations from it, the sound of which seems to favour their sentiments.
They appeal, for example, to the words of our Lord concerning the sin against the Holy Ghost, that "it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come;"| from which it is inferred, that some sins are forgiven in the world to come. It is, however, a little hazardous to build a theory upon the slender foundation of a solitary expression, especially when it admits of a different interpretation. Our Lord may be conceived to have adopted the current language of the Jews, who called their own state, the present world, and that under the Messiah, the world to come ; and in this view he asserts, that the sin against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven under any dispensation of religion. It is plain that his design is to assert the unpardonable nature of the sin ; and for this purpose he uses a phraseology which excluded all hope, as we say, that a thing will not be done either now or hereafter. It shall never be done.
Another passage, which is brought forward to support the notion of purgatory, is in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, where the Apostle, speaking of the different superstructures which men might erect upon the true foundation, says, “Every man's work shall be made manifest, 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 shall be burnt he shall suffer loss : but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."| But nothing more can be gained from this passage in favour of the doctrine than an empty sound. This fire is for trial; ihe fire of purgatory is for punishment. This fire tries the works of men; the fire of purgatory purifies their persons. This fire tries all works whether good or bad ; the fire of purgatory is kindled only for the latter. It is a figurative description of the effects of divine judgments, in sweeping away the false opinions which even good men may hold and publish in connexion with the great truths of the gospel ; or, of the future judgment, when every work shall be made manifest, and some of the views and practices even of genuine believers, into which, although they hold Christ the head, they were betrayed through ignorance and prejudice, will be disapproved, although they themselves shall receive the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls. The fire will consume the wood, hay, and stubble, but will not touch their persons. Other passages which are referred to are still less to the purpose.
* De Justificatione, Canon. XXX. † Matth. xii. 32. # 1 Cor. iii. 13, 15.
The best argument for purgatory is the immense gain which it brings to the worthless church that patronizes it. The satisfaction of Jesus Christ, and the surplus satisfaction of the saints who suffered more than their sins deserved, are dealt out by the Pope and his underlings for the benefit of the living and the dead. But, although freely they have received, they are not disposed freely to give. They, no doubt, think it reasonable, that a treasure so precious should not be thrown away, and that, if souls are to be relieved from excruciating sufferings, their friends on earth should pay for so valuable a favour. Great efficacy is ascribed to masses and prayers said for them; but if there are no wages, there will be no work. The miserable beings in prison may remain there, and be tormented for ever, for aught that the vicar of Christ and his servants will do in their behalf, if there is not a more powerful motive than charity. Great sums of money have therefore been given, and rich endowments have been founded, to secure the prayers and masses of the priests; and such was their influence in past ages, that, if the civil power had not arrested their progress, they would have engrossed the greater part of the property of Christendom. The delusion was supported by a train of false miracles, and visions, and revelations, with which the legends of the Church of Rome are filled, and which one does not know, whether to despise for their silliness, or to abhor for their impiety.
ON THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.
State of the Body after Death.—The Resurrection.-Proofs of it.—Believed by the Jews.
Universality of the Resurrection.—Identity of our Present and Future Bodies.- Resurrection, the work of Divine Power-Connexion between the Resurrection of Christ and that of the Saints.—The Nature of the Bodies of the Saints.—Opinion respecting a Partial Resurrection.
We have seen that all must die, the righteous as well as the wicked, for the grave is the house appointed for all living. Confining our attention to the former, we have inquired what becomes of their souls; and it has appeared, that as, being distinct from the body, they survive their separation from it, so they neither sink into sleep, nor enter into an intermediate state, but are made perfect in holiness, and immediately pass into heaven. Besides the explicit assurances which are contained in the Scriptures, we are led to this conclusion by the consideration, that the sleep of a disembodied spirit is inconceivable ; that the purgation of it by fire is physically impossible; and that to suppose a process of expiatory discipline, is derogatory to the perfection of the atonement of Christ.
The next subject of inquiry is the state of the body after death. It may seem sufficient to say, that it is committed to the grave, in which it putrefies, and after a certain time is reduced to dust. This is the popular view of the subject; and as the language commonly used is founded upon the words of Scripture, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,"* so it is sufficiently accurate for ordinary purposes. It is certain that all that is earthy in the
• Gen. üi. 19.
human body is reduced to earth ; but this is only an inconsiderable part of it. It is a vulgar error to suppose that the body is a solid mass of matter. On being subjected to an analysis, it is found to be a compound of different substances ; and, when the air involved in it is extricated, and the fluids are evaporated, the residuum is much less than is commonly imagined. It is enough to have adverted to this subject in passing. At death, the body is committed to the grave, or is disposed of in some other way; and what of man is mortal perishes to our apprehension.
When speaking of the death of the saints, the Scriptures say that they “ die in the Lord," and "sleep in Jesus ;'* and from these expressions it has been inferred, that, as there subsisted an intimate relation between him and them during life, the union is not dissolved by the separation of the two constituent parts of their nature. As the relation extended to their whole persons, to the body as well as to the soul, it is supposed to continue in reference to both. There is no difficulty in conceiving the continuance of the union of the soul, because it is still animated by the Spirit of Christ; but it is not so easy to understand the union of a piece of dead matter, of a heap of dust, of particles scattered hither and thither, to the living Saviour in heaven. Yet the notion is manifestly favoured by the expressions formerly quoted, and, perhaps too, by the assertion in another place, that the bodies of believers are “ the temples of the Holy Ghost.”+ If they once belonged to Christ, they do not cease in their new state to be a part of his property. He claims them as his own, because he shed his blood to redeem them: they are a part of his mystical body, the church, which is made up not of separate spirits, but of human beings; and they are therefore objects of his care, at the time when they most seem to be forsaken. It is a wonderful thought, that what to us is so disgusting that we cannot bear to look upon it, what is so worthless that we care not perhaps where it is laid, or to what use it is applied, what is confounded with the common earth, and accounted the vilest of all things, should be precious in the eyes of that great Being who looks upon ten thousand worlds as nothing !
To the bodies of believers, the grave is a place of rest. So far, indeed, as this rest implies exemption from toil, and pain, and weariness, it is equally so to the bodies of the wicked. Both have lain down, like the traveller at the end of his journey, and the hireling when he has fulfilled his day. In calling the grave a place of rest to the righteous, we unconsciously associate with the state of their bodies that of their souls, which are truly at rest in the peaceful abode of heaven; or we anticipate the result, when, awakened as from a long refreshing sleep, they shall rise with renovated life and vigour, to enjoy everlasting felicity.
“Go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."| In these words, death is presented to Daniel under the emblem of a state of repose ; and, at the same time, he is cheered with the hope of a happier lot, which will succeed at a distant period. Having considered at some length the death of the righteous and its consequences, we are led, in the next place, to speak of their resurrection.
I begin with remarking, That the resurrection of the body is a matter of pure revelation. Reason does not suggest it; or rather, to reason it seems incredible ; and to those who have no other teacher, it is unknown, or when proposed, is rejected by them. Two or three passages, indeed have been found in the writings of heathens, from which it appears that some of them had an idea of a resurrection; but their knowledge must have been derived from revelation, incidentally or in the channel of tradition, and their belief was confined to themselves. With a few exceptions, the wise men among the Gentiles were either ignorant of the resurrection, or derided it. In the dialogue of
• Rev. xiv. 13. 1 Thess. iv, 14. f 1 Cor. vi. 19. # Dan, xü. 13.
Minucius Felix which is entitled Octavius, Cæcilius, who personates a heathen, reproaches the Christians with contriving aniles fabulas, old wives' fables. “They tell us,” he says, “ that they shall be reproduced after death and the ashes of the funeral pile; and believe their own lies, so that you might think that they had already revived. O twofold madness! to denounce destruction to the heaven and the stars, which we leave as we found them, but to promise eternity to themselves, when dead and extinguished !". When Paul in Athens spoke of the resurrection of the dead, some of the philosophers mocked.* In the church of Corinth, there were persons who, influenced by their original opinions, affirmed that there was no resurrection of the dead ;t and, in the
second Epistle to Timothy, mention is made of Hymeneus and Philetus, who affirmed that the resurrection was already past;f that is, firding that the doctrine was explicitly taught by the Gospel, and that they could not retain the Christian name if they should flatly deny it, they explained it away, as expressive only of a resurrection from a state of ignorance and sin.
Since the resurrection of the dead has been made known by revelation, it has been attempted to establish it by the principles of reason; and an argument has been founded on the justice of God, which requires, that as men have obeyed or disobeyed him in their whole person, so, in their whole person they should be rewarded or punished. And it does seem agreeable to justice, that the body, which in this life is associated with the soul in all its actions, should share in its future recompense. But, whatever force there may be in this argument to us, who already believe the point which it is intended to prove, there is no reason to think that it would have led any man to the conclusion, who had no other means of arriving at it. Without revelation, our ideas of Divine justice would have been very imperfect. We could not have ascertained exactly what were its demands; nor do I see that reason could have objected if it had been said, that justice would be satisfied with the infliction of such punishment as the soul was capable of enduring in a separate state. The argument ascribed to the ancient philosopher Phocylides, one of the few who are understood to have entertained the idea of a resurrection, seems to be better : “ It is not good that the admirable harmony which appears in the constitution of men, should be entirely dissolved. We hope, therefore, that the remains of the dead will come forth from the earth, and return to the light.” What views led him to this observation, I cannot tell; but it may be turned into an argument from the wisdom of God, who it is not to be supposed will destroy a species of creatures, after having been induced by sufficient reasons to create it. Were the body of man to remain for ever in the grave, the human species would be destroyed; for there would be then no specific difference, that we know of, between men and angels, both being pure spirits unconnected with matter. That peculiar race, which united the visible and invisible worlds, was allied to earth by one part of its nature and to heaven by another, would disappear, and a link in the chain of being would be broken. We might conceive God to annihilate a species, in the exercise of his sovereignty, or in the exercise of his justice; but we could not so easily conceive him to change a species, or, in translating the inhabitants of this globe to a higher region, to retain only one half of their original nature, and consign the other to the unconscious elements for ever.
What, it might be asked, could be the reason for this change? Why did he give them bodies, and then take them away? I do not know that this argument, as I have now stated it, has been attended to before, nor do I affirm that it has any force. It is, however, fully as convincing as the argument from the justice of God; but it does not amoụnt to demonstration, and, at the best, can afford only a degree of probability, There are some analogies in the natural world, by which the subject has • Acts xvii. 32.
ti Cor. xv. + 2 Tim. ü. 17, 18, Vol. II.-40.