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it the appearance of an original invention, enlarged from the gradual suggestions of previous advantages.”
The former tenet to which he refers is that respecting indulgences. The passage now before us is one which it is not easy to refute, because it asserts so little, and it assumes so much: some of its assertions also are perfectly true, though the conclusions for whose insinuation they are constructed are false. Thus, when he asserts that the harmony of our doctrinal system is striking, he states only an obvious fact. It is one of the great characteristics of truth to be perfectly consistent in all its parts, as it is of error to exhibit multifarious inconsistencies. Surely our blessed Saviour did not reveal to the world a system of contradictions as the truth which descended from heaven, nor were his institutions either at their origin, or to become at any future period, inconsistent with his doctrines. As there was but one God, so there could be but one code of his true doctrine; and to say the least, the very exact accordance of principles and practices, of doctrines and institutions in a Church professing to be that of Christ the God of truth, must create a strong presumption in favor of her claim. “Not so,” however, says White, “The whole system is, indeed, surprisingly linked together, and the very connexion of its parts, tending to secure the influence and power of the source from whence it flows, gives it the appearance of an original invention, enlarged from the gradual suggestions of previous advantages." Mark the dilemma which would arise from the admission of White's principle. “If Catholics are at variance with each other in their doctrines, or if their doctrines and institutions are discordant, they cannot be professors of the true faith, because the true faith is consistent and not contradictory; if their professions and practice agree, and they exhibit unity of faith and consistency of practice, their system must be an invention of their own, gradually suggested, and not the doctrine of Christ.” Thus in no case will White allow any Christian Church to have the doctrine of Christ; because, if there existed inconsistencies, her doctrine cannot be truth; and if there be none, it must be an invention. Such is the miserable retreat to which he is driven. It is indeed an unenviable position.
Now, we adduce on our own part the fact of our unity of faith and consistency of practice, as a strong and striking presumption, that our doctrine has been given to us by a God of truth, not invented by ourselves; and that our practice is consistent with his law. We say our conclusion is, upon this ground, more philosophical than his.
His next insinuation is, that our system must have been a gradually suggested invention, “because it tends to secure the influence and power of its source.” What is its source? We say God is its source. Is it then an evidence of its falsehood, that our religious system tends to secure the influence and power of God-of our Saviour? No; he says that our system is not derived from God, but invented by ourselves; and he says that the doctrine of Purgatory is one of our inventions. Let us examine the charge to see its nature, and the facts to see its grounds. “Tradition brought Purgatory to light about the time that penitential discipline ceased.” This proposition does not charge that the doctrine of Purgatory is an invention in that sense which would render it untrue, that it was a doctrine of Christ; most of White's fallacy consists in the studied ambiguity of his phrases, of which this is a notable example. When we say that any thing is brought to light, we usually mean that what is thus brought to light previously existed, though not manifestly and generally exhibited, thus what is so brought out is not an invention of imposture, but a finding of fact. What is discovered by tradition is not an invention, for the first time, but is receiving the testimony of a long-existing fact, which had been perhaps nearly or altogether overlooked. Thus when White charges that tradition brought Purgatory to light, his charge does not assert, but it insinuates, that the doctrine was an invention of folly or of imposture added to the doctrine of Christ, and this insinuation alone would be profitable for his object, hence this is the meaning which I attach to his words, for this must be what he intended. We have now only to fix the time of this invention. Here, like all other opponents of our Church, and in almost all their charges, he is cautiously vague and indistinct; "the time of the cessation of penitential discipline" is a space spread over some two or three centuries, and “about the same time” will give two or three centuries more ; here then is a space of about six hundred years, whose precise commencement or termination is not fixed, and we are told that this vague period was the era of the introduction of this doctrine. The penitential canons had their origin in the days of the Apostles, but were not arranged in their regular form of full perfection, before the middle of the third century; and at the close of the next century, public penance was abolished by Nectarius the Bishop of Constantinople, and by his successor, St. John Chrysostom; their example was followed pretty generally in the eastern portion of the Church, but it was not until the commencement of the eighth century that the penitential discipline became considerably relaxed in the west, and it had not altogether ceased in the tenth century; and it is about this period so vague and so undefined, that White informs us that the doctrine of Purgatory was introduced.
Let us now see what is the doctrine itself. All that we are required as Roman Catholics to believe upon the subject, consists in two propositions, viz.
1st. “That there is a Purgatory." 2d. “That the souls therein detained may be aided by the prayers and suffrages of the faithful." Upon the first of these propositions, a question naturally presents itself. “What is meant by Purgatory?” Confining myself strictly to what is of doctrine, I answer, that it is a place in which some souls suffer for a time before they can enter heaven; but where that place is, or what is the exact nature or duration of the suffering, or what is the exact amount of relief which is received from the suffrages of the faithful, are all topics of conjecture and of opinion, upon which no doctrine is delivered; there is, indeed, a very general belief, that the suffering is from the action of fire, but this is not an article of faith. The souls which are liable to this punishment are those, which, being reconciled to God through the merits of Christ, and thus saved from the punishment of hell, have been subsequently stained with the filth of minor offences, or venial sins, which his mercy does not deem worthy of hell, but his justice deems worthy of punishment: also, those souls which, being saved from perdition by repentance and mercy, yet like the ancient penitents, Moses, and David, and others, had a temporary punishment substituted for the eternal, and not having through life endured or expiated what divine justice thus imposed, are after death, subjected to the temporary endurance equivalent to what remains.
My object now is to show that the belief of the existence of Purgatory was openly professed in the Christian Church after, together with and before, the existence of the penitential discipline, upon the cessation of which, White says it was brought to light, or invented; and, therefore, that his assertion is untrue.
The Latin Church believed in its existence in the thirteenth century, as no one will question; and, although the general opinion then amongst the Greeks was, that the suffering was not by fire, but by the endurance of darkness, labor, and affliction: all those Greeks united with the Catholic Church, and the vast majority of those separated from it, believed as of faith, the two propositions which form the whole substance of our doctrine, and the existence amongst the eastern Christians of a few, who denied their truth, would as little tend to prove the rejection of the doctrine by the Greeks, as the existence of the Albigenses and Vaudois, in the west, would tend to prove that it was rejected by the Latins.
I shall now adduce a few passages from the works of eminent witnesses of the Christian faith, in several of the previous centuries, and it will be manifat, from their testimony, that the doctrine of the Church, which in those centuries was conformable to that of those witnesses, was that, of our propositions.
1. St. Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, in France, who died, aged 63 years, on the 20th of August, 1153, in his Sermon on the Death of Humbert, has the following passage:
“My brethren the irrevocable time flies rapidly away, and whilst you guard against a trifling endurance, you incur a much greater punishment. For be aware of this, that after this present life, those things which we shall have neglected here, will be repaid to us a hundred fold in the places of purgation ; yea, even to the last farthing. I know what a hard thing it is for a dissolute man to undergo discipline, for a talkative man to endure silence, for one accustomed to roving to remain stationary, but it will be harder, much harder to endure future afflictions."
2. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, in England, was born in Piedmont, in the year 1033, and died in 1109; in his Commentaries upon chapter iii of I Corinthians, he writes,
“For we are to believe that for certain lighter offences there is a purging fire before the resurrection of the bodies.”
3. Cardinal Peter Damian, Bishop of Ostia, born at Ravenna, about the year 988, and died on the 22d of February, 1072; in his Second Sermon on St. Andrew, (writes),
"Do not deceive yourself because a lighter penance is imposed upon you, for a grievous fault, by a mild or a partial person, since what you shall have here omitted must be supplied in the purging fires, because the Most Iligh demands worthy fruits of penance.”
4. Venerable Bede, a Priest in the province of York, in England, born about the year 673, died in 735, on the the 26th of May: in his Commentary on l'salm xxxvii he has left the following passage — (Prat. Bib. Psalm xxxviii.)
“Some persons commit venial sins more or less grievous, and therefore it is necessary that they should be rebuked in wrath, that is in the fire of l'urgatory; now they are so placed before the day of judgment, that whatsoever is unclean in them might be thereby burned away, and so at length, they might be found fit to be with those who are to be crowned on the right hand."
5. St. Isidore, Bishop of Seville, in Spain, succeeded to Leander, Bishop of that see, who died in the year 600: Isidore died in 636: in his chapter wil of the first book Of Divine Officcs, he writes,
"For when the Lord saith (Watt, xii) whosoever shall commit a sin against the Holy Ghost it will not be forgiven to him neither in this world, nor in that which is to come, he demonstrates that sins are to be forgiven to some persons, and to be purged away by some fire of purgation."
6. St. Gregory, the Great, was born at Rome, about the year 540, and in 574 was made prætor of the city by the Emperor Justin the younger: the subsequent year he became a monk, and about five years after he was sent by Pope Pelagius II as nuncio to Constantinople; he was recalled in 584, and in 590, upon the death of Pelagius, was advanced to the papacy. He had the faith established in England, and died on the 12th of March, 604. In his Dialogues, Book iv, chapter 39, we read,
“It is to be believed that there is a purgatory fire for some lesser faults before the final judgment."
And in his Comment on the third penitential Psalm, (Psalm xxxvii) he writes,
“I know that after the termination of this life, it will happen that some persons will make expiation in purging fires, others will undergo the sentence of eternal condemnation."
7. Boetius, the learned, the good, the honored and the afflicted, master of the palace and Secretary of State to Theodoric, was born in Rome in 470; deeply versed in science, and anxious for the promotion of learning, besides his own discoveries, he gave to the world his translations from the Greek of Euclid, of Plato, of Strabo, of Archimedes, and other authors of the ancient school. He was also a zealous defender of the purity of faith, with whose doctrines he was intimately acquainted. He was put to death by an unjust' order of the barbarian to whom he was endeavoring to teach the art of ruling with Christian justice and moderation : he died on the 23d of October, 585, at a castle, about midway between Pavia and Rome. In his Works, Book iv, Prosa 4, is the following passage
“Do you leave no punishment of souls after the death of the body? Yes, indeed, and very grievous, some of which I look upon as having the bitterness of punishment, but others are inflicted with a clemency of purgation.”
8. Theodoret was born near the close of the fourth century in Syria, and having received a most extensive and liberal education, he bestowed his property in alms and entered a monastery near Apamea, now Hems, not far from Aleppo. In 423, he was at an unusually early period of life consecrated Bishop of Cyrus, a small and poor town about eighty miles from Antioch and one hundred and twenty from