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It was by virtue of this power, that English John, that great landlord, surnamed Lackland, by declaring himself the liegeman of pope Innocent III., and placing his kingdom under submission, delivered the souls of his parents, who had been excommunicated:-" Pro mortuo excommunicato, pro quo supplicant consanguinei.'
The Roman chancery had even its regular scale for the absolution of the dead; there were many privileged altars in the fifteenth century, at which every mass performed for six liards delivered a soul from purgatory. Heretics could not ascend beyond the truth, that the apostles had the right of unbinding all who were bound on earth, but not under the earth; and many of them, like at impious persons, doubted the power of the keys. It is however to be remarked, that when the pope is inclined to remit five or six hundred years of purgatory, he accords the grace with full power:"Pro potestate à Deo accepta concedit.".
Of the Antiquity of Purgatory.
It is pretended, that purgatory was, from time immemorial, known to the famous Jewish people, and it is founded on the second book of the Maccabees, which says expressly, "that being found concealed in the vestments of the Jews (at the battle of Adullam), things consecrated to the idols of Jamma, it was manifest that on that account they had perished; and having made a gathering of twelve thousand drachms* of silver, Judas, who thought religiously of the resurrection, sent them to Jerusalem for the sins of the dead."
Having taken upon ourselves the task of relating the objections of the heretics and infidels, for the purpose of confounding them by their own opinions, we will detail here these objections to the twelve thousand drachms transmitted by Judas; and to purgatory.
1. That twelve thousand drachms of silver was too
Book ii. chap. xii. 40, 43. and seq.
much for Judas Maccabeus, who only maintained a petty war of insurgency against a great king.
2. That they might send a present to Jerusalem for the sins of the dead, in order to bring down the blessing of God on the survivors.
3. That the idea of a resurrection was not entertained among the Jews at this time, it being ascertained that this doctrine was not discussed among them until the time of Gamaliel, a little before the ministry of Jesus Christ.*
4. As the laws of the Jews included in the Decalogue, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, have not spoken of the immortality of the soul, nor of the torments of hell, it was impossible that they should contain the doctrine of purgatory.
5. Heretics and infidels make the greatest efforts to demonstrate in their manner, that the books of the Maccabees are evidently apocryphal. The following are their pretended proofs :
The Jews have never acknowledged the books of the Maccabees to be canonical, why then should we acknowledge them?
Origen declares formally that the books of the Maccabees are to be rejected, and St. Jerome regards them as unworthy of credit.
The council of Laodicia, held in 567, admits them not among the canonical books. The Athanasiuses, the Cyrils, and the Hillaries, have also rejected them.
The reasons for treating the foregoing books as romances, and as very bad romances, are as follow:
The ignorant author commences by a falsehood, known to be such by all the world. He says:
"Alexander called the young nobles, who had been educated with him from their infancy, and parted his kingdom among them while he still lived."+
So gross and absurd a lie could not issue from the pen of a sacred and inspired writer.
* See Talmud, vol. ii.
+ Book i. chap. i. 7.
The author of the Maccabees, in speaking of Antiochus Epiphanes, says,
"Antiochus marched towards Elymais, and wished to pillage it, but was not able, because his intention was known to the inhabitants, who assembled in order to give him battle, on which he departed with great sadness, and returned to Babylon. Whilst he was still in Persia, he learned that his army in Judea had fled... and he took to his bed and died.”*
The same writer himself, in another place, says quite the contrary; for he relates that Antiochus Epiphanes was about to pillage Persepolis, and not Elymais; that he fell from his chariot; that he was stricken with an incurable wound; that he was devoured by worms; that he demanded pardon of the god of the Jews; that he wished himself to be a Jew: it is there where we find the celebrated versicle, which fanatics have applied so frequently to their enemies;-" Orabet scelestus ille veniam quam non erat consecuturus." wicked man demandeth a pardon, which he cannot obtain. This passage is very Jewish; but it is not permitted to an inspired writer to contradict himself so flagrantly.
This is not all: behold another contradiction, and another oversight. The author makes Antiochus die in a third manner,‡ so that there is quite a choice. He remarks that this prince was stoned in the temple of Nanneus; and those who would excuse the stupidity pretend that he here speaks of Antiochus Eupator; but neither Epiphanes nor Eupator was stoned.
Moreover, this authors says, that another Antiochus (the great) was taken by the Romans, and that they gave to Eumenes the Indies and Media. This is about equal to saying that Francis I. made a prisoner of Henry VIII., and that he gave Turkey to the duke of Savoy. It is insulting the Holy Ghost to imagine it capable of dictating so many disgusting absurdities.
*Macc. book i. chap. vi. 2, 3, and seq.
Book ii. chap. ii. 16.
The same author * that the Romans conquered the Galatians; but they did not conquer Galatia for more than an hundred years after. Thus the unhappy story-teller did not write for more than an hundred years after the time in which it was supposed that he wrote; and it is thus, according to the infidels, with almost all the Jewish books.
The same author observes, that the Romans every year nominated a chief of the senate. Behold a wellinformed man, who did not even know that Rome had two consuls! What reliance, say infidels, can be placed in these rhapsodies and puerile tales, strung together without choice or order by the most imbecile of men? How shameful to believe in them! and the barbarity of persecuting sensible men, in order to force a belief of miserable absurdities, for which they could not but entertain the most sovereign contempt, is equal to that of cannibals.
Our answer is, that some mistakes which probably arose from the copyists may not affect the fundamental truths of the remainder; that the Holy Ghost inspired the author only, and not the copyists; that if the council of Laodicea rejected the Maccabees, they have been admitted by the council of Trent; that they are admitted by the Roman church; and consequently that we ought to receive them with due submission.
Of the Origin of Purgatory.
It is certain that those who admitted of purgatory in the primitive church were treated as heretics. The Simonians were condemned who admitted the purgation of souls-Psuken Kadaron.‡
St. Augustin has since condemned the followers of Origen who maintained this doctrine.
But the Simonians and the Origenists had taken their purgatory from Virgil, Plato, and the Egyptians.
You will find it clearly indicated in the sixth book of
*Book i. chap. viii. 2, 3.
+ Ibid, 15, 16.
the Eneid, as we have already remarked. What is still more singular, Virgil describes souls suspended in air, others burned, and others drowned :
Aliæ panduntur inanis
Suspensæ ad ventos; aliis sub gurgite vasto
Eneid, Book vi. 740, 742.
For this are various penances enjoin'd,
And what is more singular still, pope Gregory, surnamed the great, not only adopts this doctrine from Virgil, but in his theology introduces many souls who arrive from purgatory after having been hanged or drowned.
Plato has spoken of purgatory in his Phedon, and it is easy to discover, by a perusal of Hermes Trismegistus, that Plato borrowed from the Egyptians all which he had not borrowed from Timæus of Locris.
All this is very recent and of yesterday, in comparison of the ancient Brahmins. The latter, it must be confessed, invented purgatory in the same manner as they invented the revolt and fall of the genii or celestial intelligences."
It is in their shasta, or shastabad, written three thousand years before the vulgar era, that you, my dear reader, will discover the doctrine of purgatory. The rebel angels, of whom the history was copied among the Jews in the time of the rabbin Gamaliel, were condemned by the Eternal and his Son to a thousand years of purgatory, after which God pardoned and made them men. This we have already said, dear reader, as also that the Brahmins found eternal punishment too severe, as eternity never concludes. The Brahmins thought like the abbé Chaulieu, and called upon the Lord to pardon them, if, impressed with his bounties, they could not be brought to conceive that they would be punished so
See article BRAHMINS.