« PreviousContinue »
will suffice :—" During which year of the jubilee, we mercifully give and grant in the Lord a plenary indulgence, remission, and pardon of all their sins, to all the faithful of Christ, of both sexes, truly penitent and confessing their sins, and receiving the holy communion, who shall devoutly visit the churches of blessed Peter and Paul, as also of St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major, of this city, (Rome,) for thirty successive, or uninterrupted, (whether natural or ecclesiastical,) days, to be counted, to wit, from the first vespers of one day, until the evening twilight of the day following, provided they be Romans or inhabitants of this city ; but if they be pilgrims, or otherwise strangers, if they shall do the same for fifteen days, and shall pour forth their pious prayers to God, for the exaltation of the holy church, the extirpation of here. sies, concord of Catholic princes, and the safety and tranquillity of Christian people.” Pope Leo, in the same bull, calls on all patriarchs, primates, archbishops, and bishops, to rouse their people to the meritorious undertaking; adding-—" To you it belongs to explain with perspicuity the power of indulgences; what is their efficacy, not only in the remission of the canonical penance, but also of the temporal punishment due to the divine justice for past sin; and what succour is afforded out of this heavenly treasure, from the merits of Christ and his saints, to such as have departed real penitents in God's love, yet before they had duly satisfied by fruits worthy of penance for sin of commission and omission, and are now purifying in the fire of purgatory, that an entrance may be opened unto them into the eternal country, where nothing defiled is admitted.”
It is not necessary to pursue this subject further. On reading the language of this and other similar papal bulls, it may well be asked—“ Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone ?” (Luke v. 21.) The church of England not only protests against the Popish doctrine of merit, as set forth in this chapter, in the Articles given above, but pronounces, in her 22nd Article, that “ The Romish doctrine, concerning purgatory, pardons, &c., is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God.”
Church of Rome. “ I strenuously maintain that there is a purgatory, and that the souls detained there are assisted by the prayers of the faithful.” - Trent. Profession, Art. vii.
Church of England. « The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, .... is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God.”-Art. xxii.
The Redeemer of mankind, in that glorious revelation which he made of himself to St. John, in Patmos, proclaimed his supreme authority in the following words :-" I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore ; and have the keys of hell (hades) and of death !” (Rev. i. 18.) This power belongs only to Christ; he has never delegated it to any one, whether man or angel; for any, therefore, to arrogate to themselves this power is an act of the grossest impiety, and an usurpation of the authority and glory of the Son of God. Of such impiety the pope is guilty when, representing himself as the vicar of Christ, he claims to be acknowledged as head of the universal church, and thereby arrogates to himself a distinction and an authority, which belongs only to the Saviour, who is “ head over all things to the church.” (Eph. i. 22.) By slow degrees the papacy advanced its pretensions, till at length it stretched its authority into the unseen world, and in an age of profound darkness and superstition, claimed to have the power of releasing souls from the fires of purgatory, and of opening for them the gates of paradise ! 'Twas,” says a devout writer, “a gainful contrivance of the priests of Rome, to erect a building between heaven and hell, where to dispose of good Christians after death, till they are completely fit for heaven :--this is
purgatory, a place where the remaining vices of the dying man are purged out with fire; the torments of it are said to be equal with the torments of hell, and differ only in the duration. Those souls for whom the priest is hired to say most masses, are soonest freed from the relics of iniquity, and get the speediest release to the heavenly regions. This fills the coffers of the clergy with the legacies of the dead; every one that leaves the world takes something away from his friends and his heirs to purchase prayers for himself, and to shorten the anguish of his purification. Even that excellent man, the Archbishop of Cambray, in his posthumous book, called his Spiritual Works, speaks of the necessity of this purifying fire for good Christians to burn out the remnant of self-love, by teaching them patience and entire resignation of the will and perfect contentment under the fiery discipline.” The doctrine of purgatory, as held by the church of Rome, both in former ages and at the present day, will appear from the following extracts from the decrees of the Council of Trent, and other writers and divines of that church who have stated and defended the views of their church on this point.
The Council of Trent, in the 25th Sess. thus decreed :-“ As the Catholic church, taught by the Holy Spirit, from the sacred writings, and the ancient tradition of the Fathers bath taught, in its sacred councils, and, lastly, in this æcumenical synod, that there is a purgatory, and that the souls there detained are relieved by the suffrages of the faithful, but more especially by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar ; this holy synod commands the bishops to do their diligent endeavours, that the sound doctrine of purgatory, as delivered by the holy Fathers and the sacred councils, be believed, retained, and every where preached by the faithful in Christ,” &c.*
In the Roman or Tridentine Catechism, edited by. Pope Pius V., the use of which was en
* Cum Catholica Ecclesia, Spiritu Sancto edocta, ex sacris litteris, et antiqua Patrum traditione, in sacris conciliis, et novissimè in hac æcumenica synodo docuerit, purgatorium esse ; animasque ibi detentas, fidelium suffragiis, potissimùm verò acceptabili altaris sacrificio juvari; præcipit sancta synodus episcopis, ut sanam de purgatorio doctrinam a sanctis Patribus, et sacris conciliis traditam, à Christi fidelibus credi, teneri, doceri, et ubique prædicari diligenter studeant, &c.-Sess. xxv.