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AND THE PRACTICE OF
PRAYING FOR THE DEAD
AS MAINTAINED BY
THE ROMISH CHURCH,
REV. WILLIAM JOHN HALL, M. A.
RECTOR OF THE UNITED PARISHES OF ST. BENET AND ST. PETER.
Qui mandatum Dei rejiciunt, et traditionem suam statuere conantur,
firmiter à vobis et fortiter respuantur.-CYPRIAN, Ep. 40.
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE
SIR HERBERT JENNER FUST, LL.D.
DEAN OF THE ARCHES
JUDGE OF THE PREROGATIVE COURT OF CANTERBURY
A MEMBER OF HER MAJESTY'S MOST HONORABLE PRIVY COUNCIL
IS WITH PERMISSION
MOST RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED
It is important to the present happiness of the Christian to ascertain, if possible, the truth or falsehood of the Romish doctrine of Purgatory, in order that, if true, he may adopt such means as may enable him to escape its horrors ; if false, that he may seek that effectual method of purification which the Bible declares can take place in this life only, before “man goes hence and is no more seen.”
The Council of Trent, upon whose decision this doctrine is chiefly received by the Romanist as an article of faith, expresses itself upon this subject, among others, in a manner purposely vague and ambiguous. It merely states that “there is a Purgatory, and that the souls therein detained are assisted by the suffrages of the faithful, and most especially by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar.” What Purgatory really is,—where it is placed, who are its inhabitants,—what are the punishments there inflicted,—what their duration,--and what their result :these are points which are altogether unsettled and undefined. As far as the words themselves have any meaning, they do not necessarily indicate a place of torture, but merely of detention and purification.
Where then is the Christian to seek for a reply to his natural and anxious inquiries respecting this ideal prison ? By what rules is he to be governed in searching for the desired information? Unquestionably he must be guided, as he would be in the pursuit of any other inquiry under parallel circumstances of doubt or difficulty. If he desired to ascertain the meaning of a particular statute of the realm, he would abide by the interpretation