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an infinite number of stains, which disqualify them for the society of the angels ; and who, in very many instànces, may be conceived to depart life in this state. Now what is to become of such as leave this world in this situation ; of those, for instance, who are hurried out of life by sudden death, without having time to call for mercy? Will the God of all sanctity, who cannot endure iniquity, admit such persons instantly to his eternal kingdom, and place them with the first class of the faithful here described ? That is utterly impossible, for we learn, that nothing defiled can enter the kingdom of heaven'. Will the God of all justice discard them from his presence for ever, and place them with the sinner and unbeliever? That is incompatible with the justice of him who will render to every man according to his works. What then remains to be done with respect to these good though imperfect individuals, but to confine them to the prison of purgatory, till their stains are washed away, and they are prepared for a purer abode? Of this confinement our Redeemer appears to speak, when he says, Verily I say to thee, thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the last farthing. St. Jerom, the great expounder of the sacred oracles, understands the passage in this sense. His words deserve to be cited : “ The meaning is, thou shalt not go out of prison till thou hast atoned for thy smaller sins.”—“ Hoc est, quod dicit, non egredieris de carcere, donec etiam minuta peccata persolvas'."

1 Rev. xxi 27.

• Matt. v. 26.

Our Redeemer, speaking of the sin against the Holy Ghost, makes a declaration which places the existence of a middle state, or a state of temporary purgation, beyond the smallest doubt For he says of this enormous crime, that it shall not be forgiven, neither in this world nor in the world to come? From these words we justly and inevitably infer, that some sins are forgiven in the next world; for it is clearly impossible that the eternal wisdom of the Father should have uttered any unmeaning declaration, or have added a significant clause to a sentence, without designing to convey any notion whatever. Hence St. Augustine justly remarks on this passage: " It could not be asserted with truth, that some sins would not be pardoned neither in this world nor in the world to come, unless there were some to which pardon would be granted, if not in this world, at least in the world to come 3.” Pardon of sin is therefore granted in the next life; but to whom ?-to those confined to the prison of hell? Out of hell there can be no redemption, To those who are before the throne of God? that is surely unnecessary. The pardon bestowed ture, and transmitted by the apostles to succes

رو 3

· St. Hier. ad 5 Matt. sup. hunc loc. 2 Matt, xi. 32.

3 St. Aug. de Civitat. Dei, lib. xxi. 24.

sive ages.

We have thus advanced some way in this discussion, by removing obstructions, and discountenancing that vulgar and illiterate prejudice, which exists in ordinary minds against a middle state. It is hence apparent that the catechist and his friends bear some resemblance to Moliere's rustic gentleman, who had been talking prose all his life without knowing what was meant by the term; and these good souls, God help them ! have been in the habit of admiring St. Peter's epistle, and of reciting the creed, without considering that the doctrine of a middle state is there clearly expressed.

Let us now advance a step farther, by asking, if the providence of God could detain the ancient just in a state remote from his sacred presence, till a Redeemer came to liberate them, is there not a similar reason for withholding the joys of heaven for a time from those, who depart life, unincumbered indeed with the weight of any grievous crime, but covered with a variety of stains, which, without degrading the soul to the situation of a reprobate, tarnish its beauty and splendour, and render it unworthy of enjoying its Maker? In plain language, let me ask what is to become of those who, at their departure hence, are too good for hell, and are not prepared for heaven

In this momentous question, the justice of God, that grand and peculiar attribute of the Deity, is deeply involved. It is repeated in various parts of the sacred oracles, that God will render to every one according to his works; and indeed this notion is dictated by the first prin: ciples of reason and religion. This clearly implies, that there exists a diversity of merit which God will treat with unerring justice; and on examining the state of those who are removed from the present stage of existence, we may safely rank three separate classes of persons. The first class consists of those who have preserved their baptismal innocence inviolate, as infants and others who, by a constant and unremitted co-operation with divine grace, have on all occasions persevered in the friendship of God; as also of those who have sealed the faith with their blood, or of the martyrs of penance, who have atoned for their misdeeds. The second class contains those who live with little regard for God and eternity; who freely indulge in the gratification of their passions, and who make no preparation for a future life. Of the professed unbeliever, and of him who trades in iniquity, I say nothing. The third class comprises such as have true faith, working by charity in Jesus Christ ; it includes those who love God and make a provision for eternity, but who are habitually guilty of a variety of venial offences; whose souls exhibit

an infinite number of stains, which disqualify them for the society of the angels; and who, in very many instànces, may be conceived to depart life in this state. Now what is to become of such as leave this world in this situation; of those, for instance, who are hurried out of life by sudden death, without having time to call for mercy? Will the God of all sanctity, who cannot endure iniquity, admit such persons instantly to his eternal kingdom, and place them with the first class of the faithful here described ? That is utterly impossible, for we learn, that nothing defiled can enter the kingdom of heaven? Will the God of all justice discard them from his presence for ever, and place them with the sinner and unbeliever? That is incompatible with the justice of him who will render to every man according to his works. What then remains to be done with respect to these good though imperfect individuals, but to confine them to the prison of purgatory, till their stains are washed away, and they are prepared for a purer abode? Of this confinement our Redeemer appears to speak, when he says, Verily I say to thee, thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the last farthing. St. Jerom, the great expounder of the sacred oracles, understands the passage in this sense.

. His words deserve to be cited : “ The meaning

1 Rev. xxi 27.

• Matt. v. 26.

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