« PreviousContinue »
Of Purgatory, and Prayer for the dead.
THE next point that offereth itself unto our consideration, is that of Purgatory. Whereof if any man do doubt; Cæsarius, a German monk of the Cistercian order, adviseth him for his resolution to make a journey into Scotland (the greater Scotland he meaneth) and there to enter into St. Patrick's purgatory, and then he giveth him his word, that "he shall no more doubt of the pains of purgatory." If Doctor Terry, who commendeth this unto us as the testimony of "ab most famous author," should chance to have a doubtful thought hereafter of the pains of purgatory, I would wish his ghostly father to enjoin him no other penance but the undertaking of a pilgrimage unto St. Patrick's purgatory; to see whether he would prove any wiser when he came from thence, than when he went thither. In the mean time, until he hath made some further experiment of the matter, he shall give me leave to believe him that hath been there, and hath cause to know the place as well as any (the island wherein it is seated, being held by him as a part of the inheritance descended unto him from his ancestors) and yet professeth, that he found nothing therein, which might af ford him any argument to think there was a purgatory. I pass by, that Nennius, and Probus, and all the elder
a Qui de purgatorio dubitat, Scotiam pergat, purgatorium sancti Patricii intret, et de purgatorii pœnis amplius non dubitabit. Cæsar. Heisterbach. Dialog. lib. 12. cap. 38.
b Cujus loci fama ita sparsim per omnes Europæ partes volare visa est; ut Cæsarius celeberrimus auctor, de eo nihil dubitans sic scribat. Guil. Thyræus, in Discurs. panegyric. de S. Patric. pag. 151.
writers of the life of St. Patrick that I have met withal, speak not one word of any such place; and that Henryc the monk of Saltrey, in the days of king Stephen, is the first in whom I could ever find any mention thereof; this only would I know of the doctor, what the reason might be, that where he bringeth in the words of Giraldus Cambrensis touching this place, as "and authentical authority;" he passeth over that part of his relation, wherein he affirmeth, that St. Patrick intended by this means to bring the rude people to a persuasion of the certainty "of the infernal pains of the reprobate, and of the true and everlasting life of the elect after death."
The Grecians allege this for one of their arguments against purgatory: that whereas "their fathers had delivered unto them many visions and dreams, and other wonders concerning the everlasting punishment," wherewith the wicked should be tormented in hell; yet none of them had "declared any thing concerning a purgatory temporary fire." Belike the doctor was afraid that we would conclude, upon the same ground, that St. Patrick was careful to plant in mens' minds the belief of heaven and hell, but of purgatory taught them never a word. And sure I am, that in the book ascribed unto
c Henr. Saltereyens. in lib. de Visione Oeni militis MS. in publica Cantabrigiensis academiæ bibliotheca ; et privata viri doctiss. M. Thomæ Alani Oxoniensis; et in Nigro libro Ecclesiæ S. Trinitat. Dublin.
d De posteriori non minus authentica videtur auctoritas Giraldi Cambrensis, rerum Ibernicarum diligentissimi investigatoris, qui taliter loquitur. Thyr. Discurs. Panegyric. pag. 153.
e De infernalibus namque reproborum pœnis, et de vera post mortem perpetuaque electorum vita, vir sanctus cum gente incredula dum disputasset: ut tanta, tam inusitata, tam inopinabilis rerum novitas rudibus infidelium animis oculata fide certius imprimeretur: efficaci orationum instantia magnam et admirabilem utriusque rei notitiam, duræque cervicis populo perutilem, meruit in terris obtinere. Giral. Cambrens. Topogaph. Hibern. distinct. 2. cap. 5.
' Οἱ τὸν ἰσάγγελον ἐπὶ γῆς πολιτευσάμενοι βίον ὅσοι οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν πολλαχοῦ καὶ πολλάκις δι ̓ ὀπτασιῶν καὶ ἐνυπνίων καὶ ἑτερων θαυμάτων τὰ περὶ τῆς αἰωνίου κολάσεως καὶ τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ ἀσεβῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν αὐτοίγε μυούμενοι καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους μυοῦντες, &c. περὶ καθαρτικοῦ προσκαίρου πυρὸς οὐδὲν οὐδαμῶς διεσάφησαν. Marcus Ephesius, in Græcorum apolog. de igne Purgatorio ad concil, Basileens.
him, De tribus habitaculis, which is to be seen in his Majesty's library, there is no mention of any other place after this life, but of these two only. I will lay down here the beginning of that treatise, and leave it to the judgment of any indifferent man, whether it can well stand with that which the Romanists teach concerning purgatory at this day. "Theres be three habitations under the power of Almighty God: the first, the lowermost, and the middle. The highest whereof is called the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven, the lowermost is termed hell, the middle is named the present world, or the circuit of the earth. The extremes whereof are altogether contrary one to another: for what fellowship can there be betwixt light and darkness, betwixt Christ and Belial? but the middle hath some similitude with the extremes. For in this world there is a mixture of the bad and of the good together, whereas in the kingdom of God there are none bad, but all good: but in hell there are none good, but all bad. And both those places are supplied out of the middle. For of the men of this world, some are lifted up to heaven, others are drawn down to hell. Namely, like are joined unto like, that is to say, good to good, and bad to bad: just men to just angels, wicked men to wicked angels; the servants of God to God, the servants of the Devil to the Devil. The blessed are called to the kingdom prepared for them from the beginning of
g Tria sunt sub omnipotentis Dei nutu habitacula: primum, imum, medium. Quorum summum, regnum Dei vel regnum Cœlorum dicitur, imum vocatur infernus, medium mundus præsens vel orbis terrarum appellatur. Quorum extrema omnino sibi invicem sunt contraria, et nulla sibi societate conjuncta (quæ enim societas potest esse luci ad tenebras, et Christo ad Belial ?) medium vero nonnullam habet similitudinem ad extrema, &c. Commixio namque malorum simul et bonorum in hoc mundo est. no autem Dei nulli mali sunt, sed omnes boni: at in inferno nulli boni sunt, sed omnes mali. Et uterque locus ex medio suppletur. Hominum enim hujus mundi alii elevantur ad cœlum, alii trahuntur ad infernum. Similes quippe similibus junguntur, id est, boni bonis, et mali malis; justi homines justis angelis, transgressores homines transgressoribus angelis; servi Dei Deo, servi Diaboli Diabolo. Benedicti vocantur ad regnum, sibi paratum ab origine mundi: maledicti expelluntur in ignem æternum, qui præparatus est Diabolo et angelis ejus. Patric. de trib. habitac. MS. in bibliotheca regia Jacobæa.
the world: the cursed are driven into the everlasting fire that is prepared for the Devil and his angels." Thus far there.
Hitherto also may be referred that ancient canon of one of our Irish synods, wherein it is affirmed, that the soul being separated from the body is "presented" before the judgment seat of Christ, who rendereth its own unto it, according as it hath done:" and that "neither the archangel can lead it unto life, until the Lord hath judged it, nor the devil transport it unto pain, unless the Lord do damn it;" as the sayings of Sedulius likewise, that after the end of this life," either death or life succeedeth," and that "death is the gate by which we enter into our kingdom" together with that of Claudius; that "Christ' did take upon him our punishment without the guilt, that thereby he might loose our guilt, and finish also our punishment." Cardinal Bellarmine indeed allegeth here against us the vision of Furseus, who "rising from the dead, told many things which he saw concerning the pains of purgatory," as Bede, he saith, doth write. But, by his good leave, we will be better advised, before we build articles of faith upon such visions and dreams as these, many whereof deserve to have a place among "the" strange narrations of souls appearing after death," collected by Damascius the heathen idolater, rather than among the histories and discourses of sober Christians.
h Custodit animam usque dum steterit ante tribunal Christi; cui refert sua prout gesserit propria. Nec archangelus potest ducere ad vitam, usque dum judicaverit eam Dominus ; nec Diabolus ad pœnam traducere, nisi Dominus damnaverit eam. Synod. Hibern. in vet. cod. canonum, titulorum 66. MS. in bibliotheca D. Roberti Cottoni. Cujus initium: Inter vetera concilia, quatuor esse venerabiles synodos, &c.
i Finem dixit exitum vitæ et actuum; cui aut mors, aut vita succedit. Sedul. in Rom. cap. 7.
k Mors porta est, per quam itur ad regnum. Id. in 1 Cor. cap. 3.
Suscepit Christus sine reatu supplicium nostrum ; ut inde solveret reatum nostrum, et finiret etiam supplicium nostrum. Claud. in Galat. cap. 3.
m Beda lib. 3. hist. Anglor. cap. 19. scribit, B. Furseum a mortuis resurgenfem narrasse multa, quæ vidit de purgatoriis pœnis. Bellarm. de Purgator. lib. 1. cap. 11.
Δαμασκίου, περὶ τῶν μετὰ θάνατον ἐπιφαινομένων ψυχῶν, παραδόžav dinynμáτwv Kepáλaιa pè. Phot. Bibliothec. num. 130.
As for this vision of Furseus: all that Bede relateth of it to this purpose, is concerning certain great fires above the air, appointed to "examine every one according to the merits of his works," which peradventure may make something for Damascius his purgatory in Circulo lacteo (for in that circle made he a way for the souls that went to the hades in heaven; and would not have us wonder, that there they should be purged by the way :) but nothing for the papists' purgatory, which Bellarmine by the common consent of the schoolmen determineth to be within the bowels of the earth. Neither is there any thing else in the whole book of the life of Furseus, whence Bede borrowed these things that looketh toward purgatory, unless peradventure that speech of the Devil may be thought to give some advantage unto it. "This man hath not purged his sins upon earth; neither doth he receive punishment for them here. Where is therefore the justice of God?" as if God's justice were not sufficiently satisfied by the sufferings of Christ; but man also must needs give further satisfaction thereunto by penal works or sufferings, either here, or in the other world, which is the ground, upon which our Romanists do lay the rotten frame of their devised purgatory.
The latter visions of Malachias, Tundal, Owen, and others that lived within these last five hundred years, come not within the compass of our present inquiry: nor yet the fables that have been framed in those times, touching the lives and actions of elder saints, whereof no wise man will make any reckoning. Such, for example, is that which we read in the life of St. Brendan: that the
• Etsi terribilis iste et grandis rogus videtur, tamen juxta merita operum singulos examinat: quia uniuscujusque cupiditas in hoc igne ardebit. Bed. lib. 3. cap. 19.
p ̔Ο ὁδός ἐστι τὸ γάλα τῶν διαπορευομένων τῶν ἐν οὐρανῷ ᾅδην. Damasc. apud Jo. Philoponum in 1. Meteor. fol. 104. b.
9 Καὶ οὐ θαύμαστον, εἰ καὶ ψυχαί καθαίρονται ἐν τούτῳ τῷ κύκλῳ τῆς ἐν οὐρανῷ γενέσεως. Id. ibid.
Hic homo non purgavit delicta sua in terra, nec vindictam hic recipit. Ubi est ergo justitia Dei? Lib. vitæ Fursei.