Answer to a Jesuit. Chapter 6: Of Purgatory
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For extinguishing the imaginary flames of Popish Purgatory, we need not go far to fetch water; seeing the whole current of God’s word runneth mainly upon this, that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1.7); that all God’s children die in Christ (1 Cor 15:18, 1 Thess 4:16), and that such as die in him (Rev 14:13), do rest from their labours: that, as they be absent from the Lord while they are in the body, so when they be absent from the body they are present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6, 8); and in a word, that they come not into judgment, but pass from death unto life (John 5:24). And if we need the assistance of the ancient Fathers in this business, behold they be here ready with full buckets in their hands.
Tertullian, to begin withal, counteth it injurious unto Christ, to hold that such as be called from hence by him are in a state that should be pitied (Tertul. lib. de Patient, cap. 9). Whereas they have obtained their desire of being with Christ, according to that of the Apostle Philip, 1:23, I desire to depart, and be with Christ. What pity was it, that the poor souls in purgatory should find no spokesman in those days to inform men better of their rueful condition; nor no secretary to. draw up such another supplication for them as this, which of late years Sir Thomas More presented in their name: “To all good Christian people. In most piteous wise continually calleth and crieth upon your devout charity and most tender pity, for help, comfort and relief, your late acquaintance, kindred, spouses, companions, playfellows, and friends, and now your humble and unacquainted and half forgotten suppliants, poor prisoners of God, the silly souls in purgatory, here abiding, and enduring the grievous pains and hot cleansing fire,” (Thomas More, The Supplication of Souls) &. If St Cyprian had understood but half thus much, doubtless he would have strucken out the best part of that famous Treatise which he wrote of Mortality, to comfort men against death in the time of a great plague, especially such passages as these are, which by no means can be reconciled with purgatory:
“It is for him to fear death, that is not willing to go unto Christ : it is for him to be unwilling to go unto Christ, who doth not believe that he beginneth to reign with Christ. For it is written, that the just doth live by faith. If thou be just, and livest by faith, if thou dost truly believe in God, why, being to be with Christ, and being secure of the Lord’s promise, dost not thou embrace the message whereby thou art called unto Christ, and rejoicest that thou shalt be rid of the devil? Simeon said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation:” (Cyprian, on Mortality. Chapter 2 & 3) “proving thereby and witnessing, that the servants of God then have peace, then enjoy free and quiet rest, when being drawn from these storms of the world, we arrive at the haven of our everlasting habitation and security, when this death being ended, we enter into immortality.” (Ibid) “The righteous are called to a refreshing, the unrighteous are haled to torment : safety is quickly granted to the faithful, and punishment to the unfaithful.” (Ibid. Chapter 15) “We are not to put on black mourning garments here, when our friends there have put on white.” (Ibid. Chapter 20) “This is not a going out, but a passage; and, this temporal journey being finished, a going over to eternity.” (Ibid. Chapter 20) “Let us therefore embrace the day that bringeth every one to his own house; which having taken us away from hence, and loosed us from the snares of this world, returneth us to paradise, and to the kingdom of heaven.” (Ibid. Chapter 26)
The same holy Father, in his Apology, which he wrote for Christians unto Demetrian, the Proconsul of Africa, affirmeth in like manner, that “The end of this temporal life being accomplished, we are divided into the habitations of everlasting, either death or immortality.” (Treatise 5. An Address to Demetrianus. 19) “When we are once departed from hence, there is now no further place for repentance, neither any effect of satisfaction. Here life is either lost or obtained.” (Ibid. Sect 25) But if “thou,” saith he, “even at the very end and setting of thy temporal life, dost pray for thy sins, and call upon the only true God with confession and faith, pardon is given to thee confessing, and saving forgiveness is granted by the divine piety to thee believing; and at thy very death thou hast a passage unto immortality. This grace doth Christ impart, this gift of his mercy doth he bestow, by subduing death with the triumph of his cross, by redeeming the believer with the price of his blood, by reconciling man unto God the Father, by quickening him that is mortal with heavenly regeneration.” (Ibid)
Where Solomon saith, Ecclesiastes 12:5, that man goeth to his everlasting house, and the mourners go about in the street, St Gregory of Neocaesarea maketh this paraphrase upon those words: “The good man shall go rejoicing unto his everlasting house, but the wicked shall fill all with lamentations.” (Greg. Neocaesar. Metaphras. in Ecclesiast) Therefore did the Fathers teach, that men should “rejoice” (Anton. Meliss. part. 1. Serm. 58 &c) at their death; and the ancient Christians framed their practice accordingly, “not celebrating the day of their nativity,” which they accounted to be “the entry of sorrows and temptations,” but “celebrating the day of death, as being the putting away of all sorrows, and the escaping of all temptations.” (Auctor lib. 3 in Job. inter Opera Origenis. Vide 8. Basil. Hom. in Psal. 115) And so being filled with “a divine rejoicing, they came to the extremity of death as unto the end of their holy combats;” (Dionisius the Areopagite. Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. Chapter 7. Section 1) where they did “more clearly behold the way that led unto their immortality, as being now made nearer; and did therefore praise the gifts of God, and were replenished with divine joy, as now not fearing any change to worse, but knowing well that the good things which they possessed shall be firmly and everlastingly enjoyed by them.” (Ibid. Section 2)
The author of the Questions and Answers attributed to Justin Martyr, writeth thus of this matter: “After the departure of the soul out of the body, there is presently made a distinction betwixt the just and the unjust. For they are brought by the angels to places fit for them; the souls of the righteous to paradise, where they have the commerce and sight of angels and archangels & the souls of the unjust to the places in hell.” (Justin Martyr, Respons. Ad Orthodox. Quaest 75) That “is not death,” saith Athanasius, that befalleth “the righteous, but a translation; for they are translated out of this world into everlasting rest: and as a man would go out of a prison, so do the saints go out of this troublesome life unto those good things that are prepared for them.” (Athanas. de Virginitate) St Hilary, out of that which is related in the Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus, observeth, that as soon as this life is ended, every one without delay is sent over either to Abraham’s bosom, or to the place of torment, and in that state reserved until the day of judgment (Hilar. In Psalm 2). St Ambrose, in his book of the Good of Death, teacheth us that death “is a certain haven to them who, being tossed in the great sea of this life, desire a road of safe quietness;” (Ambrose, Death as a Good. Chapter 4) that ” it maketh not a man’s state worse, but such as it findeth in every one, such it reserveth unto the future judgment, and refresheth with rest;” that thereby “a passage is made from corruption to incorruption, from mortality to immortality, from trouble to tranquillity.” (Ibid) Therefore he saith, that where “fools do fear death as the chief of evils, wise men do desire it as a rest after labours, and an end of their evils:” (Ibid. cap 8) and upon these grounds exhorteth us, that “when that day cometh, we should go without fear to Jesus our Redeemer, without fear to the council of the patriarchs, without fear to Abraham our father; that without fear we should address ourselves unto that assembly of saints and congregation of the righteous. Forasmuch as we shall go to our fathers, we shall go to those schoolmasters of our faith; that albeit our works fail us, yet faith may succour us, and our title of inheritance defend us.” (Ibid. cap 12)
Macarius, writing of the double state of those that depart out of this life, affirmeth, that when the soul goeth out of the body, if it be guilty of sin, the devil carrieth it away with him unto his place; but when the holy servants of God “remove out of their body, the quires of angels receive their souls unto their own side, unto the pure world, and so bring them unto the Lord.” (Macarius of Egypt, 50 Spiritual Homilies. Homily 22.1) And in another place, moving the question concerning such as depart out of this world sustaining two persons in their soul, to wit, of sin and of grace, whither they shall go that are thus held by two parts? He maketh answer, that thither they shall go where they have their mind and affection settled. For “the Lord,” saith he, “beholding thy mind, that thou fightest, and lovest him with thy whole soul, separateth death from thy soul in one hour, (for this is not hard for him to do), and taketh thee into his own bosom and unto light. For he plucketh thee away in the minute of an hour from the mouth of darkness, and presently translateth thee into his own kingdom. For God can easily do all these things in the minute of an hour; this provided only, that thou bearest love unto him.” (Ibid. Homily 26.18) Than which what can be more direct against the dream of Popish purgatory? “This present world is the time of repentance, the other of retribution; this of working, that of rewarding; this of patient suffering, that of receiving comfort,” (Basil. Proaem. In Regulas fusius Disputat) saith St Basil.
Gregory Nazianzen, in his funeral Orations, hath many sayings to the same purpose; being so far from thinking of any purgatory pains prepared for men in the other world, that he plainly denieth that after the night of this present life “there is any purging” to be expected. And therefore he telleth us, “that it is better to be corrected and purged now, than to be sent unto the torment there, where the time of punishing is, and not of purging.” (Nazianz. Orat. 32. in Pascha) St Jerome comforteth Paula for the death of her daughter Blaesilla in this manner: “Let the dead be lamented, but such a one whom Gehenna doth receive, whom hell doth devour, for whose pain the everlasting fire doth burn. Let us, whose departure a troop of angels doth accompany, whom Christ cometh forth to meet, be more grieved if we do longer dwell in this tabernacle of death; because, as long as we remain here, we are pilgrims from God.” (Jerome, Epistle 25)
By all that hath been said, the indifferent reader may easily discern what may be thought of the cracking Cardinal, who would face us down that ” all the ancients, both Greek and Latin, from the very time of the Apostles, did constantly teach that there was a purgatory.” (Bellarmin. de Purgat. lib. 1. cap. 15) Whereas his own partners could tell him in his ear, that “in the ancient writers there is almost no mention of purgatory, especially in the Greek writers; and therefore that by the Grecians it is not believed until this day.” (Alphons. de Castro advers. Haeres. lib. 8. tit. Indulgentia; Jo. Roffens. Assert. Lutheran. Confutat. Artie. 18; Polydor. Virgil. de Invent. Rer. lib. 8. cap. 1.) He allegeth, indeed, a number of authorities to blear men’s eyes withal, which being narrowly looked into will be found either to be counterfeit stuff, or to make nothing at all to the purpose, as belonging either to the point of praying for the dead only, (which in those ancient times had no relation to purgatory, as in the handling of the next article we shall see,) or unto the fire of affliction in this life, or to the fire that shall burn the world at the last day, or to the fire prepared for the devil and his angels, or to some other fire than that which he intended to kindle thereby. This benefit only have we here gotten by his labours, that he hath saved us the pains of seeking far for the forge, from whence the first sparkles of that purging fire of his brake forth. For the ancientest memorial that he bringeth thereof, the places which he hath abused out of the canonical and apocryphal Scriptures only excepted, is out of Plato (Bellamin. de Purgator. lib 1. cap 11) in his Gorgias and Phaedo, Cicero in the end of his fiction of the Dream of Scipio, and Virgil in the sixth book of his Aeneids; and next after the Apostles’ times, out of Tertullian in the seventeenth chapter of his book de Anima (Ibid. cap 7 & 10), and Origen in divers places. Only he must give us leave to put him in mind, with what spirit Tertullian was led when he wrote that book de Anima; and with what authority he strengtheneth that conceit of men’s paying in hell for their small faults before the resurrection, namely, of the Paraclete (Tertullian, Concerning the Soul, Chapter 58); by whom if he mean Montanus the arch-heretic, as there is small cause to doubt that he doth, we need not much envy the Cardinal for raising up so worshipful a patron of his purgatory.
But if Montanus come short in his testimony, Origen, I am sure, pays it home with full measure, not pressed down only and shaken together, but also running over. For he was one of those, as the Cardinal knoweth full well, “who approved of purgatory so much, that he acknowledged no other pains after this life, but purgatory penalties” (Bellamin. de Purgator. lib 1. cap 2) only; and therefore in his judgment hell and purgatory being the selfsame thing, such as blindly follow the Cardinal, may do well to look that they stumble not upon hell while they seek for purgatory. The Grecians profess, that they are afraid to tell their people of any temporary fire after this life, lest it should breed in them a spice of Origen’s disease, and put out of their memory the thought of eternal punishment; and by this means occasioning them to be more careless of their conversation, make them indeed fit fuel for those everlasting flames. Which fear of theirs we may perceive not to have been altogether causeless; when the purgatory of Origen resembleth the purgatory of the Pope so nearly, that the wisest of his Cardinals is so ready to mistake the one for the other. And, to speak the truth, the one is but an unhappy sprig cut off from the rotten trunk of the other; which sundry men long since endeavoured to graft upon other stocks, but could not bring unto any great perfection, until the Pope’s followers tried their skill upon it with that success which now we behold. Some of the ancient that put their hand to this work, extended the benefit of this fiery purge unto all men in general others thought fit to restrain it unto such, as some way or other bare the name of Christians others to such Christians only, as had one time or other made profession of the Catholic faith; and others to such alone as did continue in that profession until their dying day.
Against all these St Augustine doth learnedly dispute proving that wicked men, of what profession soever, shall be punished with everlasting perdition. And whereas the defenders of the last opinion did ground themselves upon that place in the third chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, which the Pope also doth make the principal foundation of his purgatory, although it be a probatory (1 Corinthians 3:13), and not a purgatory fire that the Apostle there treateth of St Augustine maketh answer (Augustin. de Fide et Operib. cap. 15), that this sentence of the Apostle is very obscure, and to be reckoned among those things which St Peter saith are hard to he understood in his writings, which men ought not to pervert unto their own destruction and freely confesseth (Ibid. cap. 16), that in this matter he would rather hear more intelligent and more learned men than himself. Yet this he delivereth for his opinion; that by wood, hay, and stubble, is understood that overgreat love which the faithful bear to the things of this life; and by fire, that temporal tribulation which causeth grief unto them by the loss of those things upon which they had too much placed their affections. “But whether in this life only,” saith he, “men suffer such things, or whether some such judgments also do follow after this life, the meaning which I have given of this sentence, as I suppose, abhorreth not from the truth.” (Ibid. cap. 16) And again: “Whether they find the fire of transitory tribulation, burning those secular affections, which are pardoned from damnation, in the other world only or whether here and there, or whether therefore here, that they may not find them there; I gainsay it not, because peradventure it is true.” (Id. City of God, Book 21. Chapter 26.) And in another place: “That some such thing should be after this life, it is not incredible, and whether it be so it may be inquired, and either be found or remain hidden; that some of the faithful by a certain purgatory fire, by how much more or less they have loved these perishing goods, are so much the more slowly or sooner saved.” (Id. in Enchirid. ad Laurent. cap. 69) Wherein the learned Father dealeth no otherwise than when, in disputing against the same men, he is content, if they would acknowledge that the wrath of God did remain everlastingly upon the damned, to give them leave to think that their pains might some way or other be lightened or mitigated. Which yet, notwithstanding, saith he, ” I do not therefore affirm, because I oppose it not.” (Id. City of God. Book 21. Chapter 24)
What the Doctors of the next succeeding ages taught herein, may appear by the writings of St Cyril, Gennadius, Olympiodorus, and others. St Cyril, from those last words of our Saviour upon the cross, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, delivereth this as the certain ground and foundation of our hope: “We ought to believe, that the souls of the saints, when they are departed out of their bodies, are commended unto God’s goodness, as unto the hands of a most dear Father, and do not remain in the earth, as some of the unbelievers have imagined, until they have had the honour of burial; neither are carried, as the souls of the wicked be, unto a place of unmeasurable torment, that is, unto hell; but rather fly to the hands of the Father, this way being first prepared for us by Christ. For he delivered up his soul into the hands of his Father, that from it, and by it, a beginning being made, we might have certain hope of this thing, firmly believing that after death we shall be in the hands of God, and shall live a far better life for ever with Christ. For therefore Paul desired to be dissolved, and to be with Christ.” (Cyril of Alexandria. Commentary On The Gospel According To Saint John. Book 7. Section 30 on John 19:30) Gennadius, in a book wherein he purposely taketh upon him to reckon up the particular points of doctrine received by the Church in his time, when he cometh to treat of the state of souls separated from the body, maketh no mention at all of purgatory, but layeth down this for one of his positions: “After the ascension of our Lord into heaven, the souls of all the saints are with Christ, and departing out of the body, go unto Christ, expecting the resurrection of their body, that together with it they may be changed unto perfect and perpetual blessedness; as the souls of the sinners also, being placed in hell under fear, expect the resurrection of their body, that with it they may be thrust unto everlasting pain.” (Gennad. de Ecclesiastic. Dogmatib. cap, 79) In like manner Olympiodorus, expounding that place of Ecclesiastes, If the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be (Ecclesiastes 11:3), maketh this inference thereupon: “In whatsoever place therefore, whether of light or of darkness, whether in the work of wickedness or of virtue, a man is taken at his death, in that degree and rank doth he remain; either in light with the just and Christ the king of all, or in darkness with the wicked and the prince of this world.” (Olympiodorus the Deacon. On Ecclesasties 11)
The first whom we find directly to have held, that “for certain light faults there is a purgatory fire” (Greg. Dial. lib. 4. cap. 39) provided before the day of judgment, was Gregory the First, about the end of the sixth age after the birth of our Saviour Christ. It was his imagination, that the end of the world was then at hand, and that “as when the night beginneth to be ended, and the day to spring before the rising of the sun, the darkness is in some sort mingled together with the light, until the remains of the departing night be turned into the light of the following day; so the end of this world was then intermingled with the beginning of the world to come, and the very darkness of the remains thereof made transparent by a certain mixture of spiritual things.” (Id. ibid. cap. 41) And this he assigneth for the reason, “why in those last times so many things were made clear touching the souls, which before lay hid; so that by open revelations and apparitions the world to come might seem to bring in and open itself” (Id. ibid. cap. 40) unto them. But as we see that he was plainly deceived in the one of his conceits, so have we just cause to call into question the verity of the other; the Scripture especially having informed us, that a people for inquiry of matters should not have recourse to the dead, but to their God, to the law, and to the testimony (Isaiah 8:19,20); it being not God’s manner to send men from the dead (Luke 16:29,30) to instruct the living, but to remit them unto Moses and the prophets, that they may hear them. And the reason is well worth the observation, which the author of the Questions to Antiochus rendereth, why God would not permit the soul of any of those that departed hence to return back unto us again, and to declare the state of things in hell unto us; lest “much error might arise from thence unto us in this life. For many of the devils,” saith he, “might transform themselves into the shapes of those men that were deceased, and say that they were risen from the dead; and so might spread many false matters and doctrines of the things there, unto our seduction and destruction.” (Ad Antioch. Quaest. 35. Inter Opera Athanasii)
Neither is it to be passed over, that in those apparitions and revelations related by Gregory, there is no mention made of any common lodge in hell, appointed for purging of the dead, which is that which the Church of Rome now striveth for, but of certain souls only, that for their punishment were confined to “baths and other such places here upon earth; which our Romanists may believe if they list, but must seek for the purgatory they look for somewhere else. And yet may they save themselves that labour, if they will be advised by the Bishops assembled in the Council of Aquisgran, about 243 years after these visions were published by Gregory, who will resolve them out of the word of God, how sins are punished in the world to come. “The sins of men,” say they, “are punished three manner of ways; two in this life, and the third in the life to come. Of those two the Apostle saith, If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged of the Lord. This is the punishment wherewith, by the inspiration of God, every sinner, by repenting for his offences, taketh revenge upon himself. But where the Apostle consequently adjoineth, When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not he condemned with this world; this is the punishment which Almighty God doth mercifully inflict upon a sinner, according to that saying, Whom God loveth he chasteneth, and he scourgeth every soul that he receiveth. But the third is very fearful and terrible, which by the most just judgment of God shall be executed, not in this world, but in that which is to come, when the just Judge shall say, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Capitul. Aquisgran. Concil. ad Pipinum Miss. lib. 1. cap. 1) Add hereunto the saying of the author of the books de Vanitate Seculi, and de Rectitudine Catholicae Conversationis, wrongly ascribed to St Augustine: “Know, that when the soul is separated from the body, presently it is either placed in paradise for his good works, or cast headlong into the bottom of hell for his sins.” (Lib. de Vanit. Seculi, cap. 1, etde Rectitud. Catholic. Conversat. Tom. 9. Operum Augustini) As also of the second sermon de Consolatione Mortuorum: “When the soul departeth, which cannot be seen with carnal eyes, it is received by the angels, and placed either in the bosom of Abraham, if it be faithful, or in the custody of the prison of hell, if it be sinful, until the day appointed come wherein it is to receive the body, and render an account of the works thereof at the tribunal of Christ the true judge.” (Serm. 2 .de Consolat. Mortuor. ibid) And that in the days of Otto Frisingensis himself, who wrote in the year of our Lord 1146, the doctrine of purgatory was esteemed only a private assertion held by some, and not an article of faith generally received by the whole Church. (For why should he else write of it in this manner: “That there is in hell a place of purgatory, wherein such as are to be saved are either only troubled with darkness, or decocted with the fire of expiation, SOME do affirm”.” (Otto Fris. Chron. lib. 8. cap. 26)) And lastly, that the purgatory wherewith the Romish Clergy doth now delude the world, is a new device, never heard of in the Church of God for the space of a thousand years after the birth of our Saviour Christ.
For the Gregorian purgatory, which reached no further than to the expiation of “small and very light faults,” (Greg. Dial. lib. 4. cap. 39) would not serve these men’s turn, who very providently considered, that little use could be made of that fire if it had no other fuel but this to maintain it. For such peccadilloes as these, say they, may be taken away in this life “by knocking the breast, by receiving the Bishop’s blessing, by being sprinkled with holy water, and by such other easy remedies; that if this were all the matter to be cared for, men needed not greatly to stand in fear of purgatory. Yea, admit they should be so extremely negligent in their life time that they forgot to use any of these helps, they might for all this at the time of their death be more afraid than hurt; yea, this “fear alone,” if there were nothing else, might prove a means to “purge their souls, at the very departing, from those faults of the lightest kind,” (Gregor. Dialog, lib. 4. cap. 46) if Gregory may be credited. Nay, which is more, divers of their own elder divines, to whom we may adjoin Cardinal Cajetan also in these latter days, have taught, that all the remains of sin in God’s children are quite abolished by final grace at the very instant of their dissolution; so that the stain of the least sin is not left behind to be carried unto the other world.
Now, purgatory, as Bellarmine describeth it, is a “certain place, in which as in a prison those souls are purged after this life which were not fully purged in this life; that being so purged, they may be able to enter into heaven, whereinto no unclean thing can enter. And of this,” saith he, “is all the controversy.” (Bellarmin. de Purgator. lib. 1. cap. 1) If that be so, their own doctors, you see, will quickly bring this controversy unto an end. For if the souls be fully purged here from all spot of sin, what need have they to be sent unto any other purgatory after this life? Yes, say they, although the fault be quite remitted, and the soul clearly freed from the pollution thereof, yet may there remain a temporal punishment due for the very mortal sins that have been committed; which, if relief do not otherwise come by the help of such as are alive, must be soundly laid on in purgatory. But why in purgatory, say we, seeing here there is no more purging work left? For the fault and blot being taken away already, what remaineth yet to be purged? The punishment only, they say, is left behind: and punishment, I hope, they will not hold to be the thing that is purged away by punishment. Again, we desire them to tell us, what Father or ancient doctor did ever teach this strange divinity, that a man being clearly purged from the blot of his sin, and fully acquitted here from the fault thereof, should yet in the other world be punished for it with such grievous torments, as the tongue of man is not able to express?
And yet, as new and as absurd a doctrine as it is, the Pope and his adherents have builded thereupon both their guile ful purgatory, with which it suiteth as evil-favouredly as may be, and their gainful indulgences; which, by their own doctrine, free not a man from the guilt of any fault, either mortal or venial, but only from the guilt of the temporal punishment, which remaineth after the fault hath been forgiven (Id. de Indulgent, lib. 1. cap. 7, Propos. 1).
When Thomas Aquinas and other friars had brought the frame of this new building unto some perfection, and fashioned all things therein unto their own best advantage, the doctors of the Greek Church did publicly oppose themselves against it. Matthaeus Quaestor by name wrote against Thomas herein, whose book is still preserved in the emperor’s library at Vienna. So Athanasius’s Disputation against Purgatory is, or lately was, to be seen in the French King’s library, and the like of Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, and others elsewhere. The Apology of the Grecians touching the same subject is commonly to be had, which was penned by Marcus Eugenicus, Archbishop of Ephesus, and presented to Cardinal Cusanus, and the deputies of the Council of Basil, in the year 1438, the 14th of June; ‘the very same day wherein Bessarion (Act. Concil. Florentin), Archbishop of Nice, disputed with the Latins of the same matter in the Council assembled at Ferrara. In that Apology, the Grecians begin their Disputation with this proposition: “A purgatory fire, and a punishment by fire which is temporal, and shall at last have an end, neither have we received from our doctors, neither do we know that the Church of the East doth maintain.” (Apolog. Gregor. de Purgator. a Bonav. Vulcan, edit. ) They add further: “Neither have we received it from any of our doctors; and, moreover, no small fear doth trouble us, lest, by admitting a temporary fire, both penal and purgatory, we should destroy the full consent of the Church.” And thereupon they conclude very peremptorily, “For these reasons, therefore, neither have we hitherto affirmed any such thing, neither will we at all affirm it.” (Ibid)
Yet, within a year after, the Pope and his ministers prevailed so far with them in the Council at Florence, that they were content for peace’ sake to yield, that “the middle sort of souls were in a place of punishment; but whether that were fire, or darkness and tempest, or something else, they would not contend.” (Concil. Florentin. Sess. 25) And accordingly was the pretended union betwixt them and the Latins drawn up, that, “if such as be truly penitent die in God’s favour before they have satisfied for their sins of commission and omission by worthy fruits of penance, their souls are purged after death with purgatory punishments;” (Eugenii 4. Bulla Unionis. Ibid.) neither fire, nor any other kind of punishment being specified in particular. But neither would Marcus, the Bishop of Ephesus, who was one of the legates of the Patriarchs of Antioch and of Jerusalem, consent to this union; neither could the Greek Church afterwards by any means be drawn to yield unto it. And so unto this day the Romish purgatory is rejected as well by the Grecians as by the Muscovites and Russians, the Cophtites and Abassines, the Georgians and Armenians, together with the Syrians and Chaldaeans, that are subject to the Patriarchs of Antioch and Babylon, from Cyprus and Palaestina unto the East Indies. And this may suffice for the discovery of this new-found creek of purgatory.