Purgatory

PURGATORY.

“With regard to purgatory,” says an old popish writer, “with regard to purgatory, I will not say  a great deal; but this much I think ,—that the Protestants may go farther, and fare worse.”

PURGATORY. A place in which souls are, by the Romanists, supposed to be purged from carnal impurities, before they are received into heaven. The Council of Florence, 1439, first gave an authoritative decree concerning Purgatory,—"If any who truly repent depart from this life before that by worthy fruits of repentance they have made satisfaction for their sins of commission and omission, their souls are purified after death, and to relieving these pains, the suffrages of the faithful who are alive, to wit, the sacrifice of masses, prayers, alms, and other pious works, are profitable. But whether purgatory is a fire, or a mist, or a whirlwind, or anything else, we do not dispute."

The idea of Purgatory was very early broached by individuals. St. Augustine, 398, speaks of it as a thing which "possibly may be found so, and possibly never;" the Venerable Bede says it is "not altogether incredible." Origen, in the 3rd century, is by some thought to have been the first to teach distinctly the doctrine of Purgatory, but his view differs altogether from the Roman. Article xxii. gives the view of the Church of England on this subject. "Purgatory… is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God." However, in the celebrated "Essays and Reviews" case, the point arose in respect of a doctrine, scarcely discernible from that of Purgatory, being taught by Mr. H. B. Wilson, and the Privy Council decided that there is no condemnation of it in the Anglican formularies. The teaching of Article xxii. is borne out by the following: Luke xxiii, 43; Phil. i 23; 2 Cor. v. 8; Rev. xiv. 13; and many other passages.