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these form a comparative few; so that the great mass of departed Christians are believed by them to be necessarily obliged to spend a longer or a shorter period in the dreadful torments of these purgatorial flames, until satisfaction is rendered to the justice of God for their venial sins, as well as for the temporal punishment due to their mortal sins, after their guilt has been absolved and forgiven.
This brings us, brethren, to the doctrine of Satisfaction; a doctrine peculiar to the Church of Rome, out of which is constructed the marvellous system of works performed by the living for the benefit of the dead, and applied to them in certain forms by the priests, the bishops, and the saints, but most extensively by the popes in what are usually termed Indulgences.
The explanation of this doctrine I shall give you in the words of Dr. Wiseman:
"We believe," saith he, "that upon the forgiveness of sins, that is, after the remission of that eternal debt, which God, in his justice, awards to transgressions against his law, he has been pleased to reserve a certain degree of inferior or temporary punishment, appropriate to the guilt which had been incurred, and it is on this part of the punishment, according to the Roman Catholic doctrine, that satisfaction can be made to God.”—“Herein consists that self-sufficiency, that power of self-justification, which has been considered sufficient to account for the Roman Catholic's subjecting himself to the painful work of repentance, (or rather penance,) imposed upon him by his religion." (Vol. II. 31.)
"This," saith our author a little farther on, "is the basis of the system known by the name of the penitential canons; in which those who had transgressed were condemned to different punishments, according to the measure of their offences; some being obliged to lie prostrate for a certain term of months or years before the doors of the Church, after which they were admitted to different portions of the divine service; while others
were often excluded through their whole lives from the liturgical exercises of the faithful, and were not admitted to absolution until they were at the point of death."—" And what is all this," asks Dr. Wiseman, "but the doctrine of SATISFACTION, the belief in the power of man to make some reparation or atonement to God, by his own voluntary sufferings?" Mark this, brethren, I beseech you, because it is a clear avowal of the principle, which is elsewhere ingeniously concealed. We shall show, I trust, the utterly dangerous and unscriptural nature of this principle by and by: but we wish you, meanwhile, to carry it in your memory, as the fundamental error which supports the whole. And we shall now proceed to the mode, in which, according to our author, this is applied to the doctrine of Indulgences
"What then," asks Dr. Wiseman, "is an indulgence? It is no more than a remission by the Church, in virtue of the keys, or the judicial authority committed to her, of a portion, or the entire of the temporal punishment due to sin. The infinite merits of Christ form the fund whence this remission is derived but besides this, the Church holds, that by the communion of saints, penitential works performed by the just, beyond what their own sins might exact, are available to other members of Christ's mystical body; that, for instance, the sufferings of the spotless mother of God, afflictions such as probably no other human being ever felt in the soul-the austerities and persecutions of the Baptist, the friend of the Bridegroom, who was sanctified in his mother's womb, and chosen to be an angel before the face of Christ-the tortures endured by numberless martyrs, whose lives had been pure from vice and sin-the prolonged rigours of holy anchorites, who, flying from the temptations and dangers of the world, passed many years in penance and contemplation-all these, made consecrated and valid through their union with the merits of Christ's passion, were not thrown away, but formed a store
of meritorious blessings, applicable to the satisfaction of other sinners." Here, brethren, we have, what in the language of divines is called, the doctrine of works of supererogation; that is, the notion that the saints did and suffered a vast deal which was not required for their own sake, but which forms a sort of stock of merits, for the benefit of others, of which the pope has the supreme right of disposing to those believers who have not sufficient merits of their own; thus enabling them to satisfy the justice of God for all the temporal punishment which remains due to their sins, after the eternal punishment has been forgiven.
But still we have not arrived at the link in the doctrine, which connects the temporal satisfaction for sin, and the indul. gence by which it is discharged, with purgatory. And therefore you must further observe, that this punishment, although called temporal, and in the case of the penitential discipline of the primitive Church always ended at death, has yet been carried beyond the grave by the Church of Rome, and extended to the whole period of the intermediate state, up to the day of judgment; so that whatever portion of this temporal satisfaction the believer may leave unpaid in this life, he must pay to the full, by suffering in purgatory. The Church of Rome however asserts, that this application of the superabundant merits of Christ and the saints may be made after death as well as before; and that the amount of the satisfaction thus rendered, will relieve the suffering soul from an equivalent amount of purgatorial torment. So that the power of the pope and the priesthood, is thus marvellously carried beyond the limits of the Church on earth, into the unseen world of spirits; and is even believed to exert there, its most surprising and important efficacy. This is evident from the simple consideration, that whereas the utmost stretch of ecclesiastical favour on earth, could only relieve from the satisfactory penances or punishments of the sinner's life-time, the Church
of Rome undertakes to commute, by her indulgences, the far more excruciating torments of the fire of purgatory, for hundreds and thousands of years, and even to put an end to them altogether by what she terms a plenary indulgence, or satisfaction in full.
The precise details and actual operation of these doctrines, brethren, must be reserved for another lecture; but I shall now proceed to examine the arguments by which they are sustained, commencing with their notion of satisfaction for sin, which Dr. Wiseman has well called the power of self-justification.
"The doctrine which is collected from the Word of God," saith our learned author in relation to this subject, "is reducible to these heads. 1. That God, after the remission of sin, retains a lesser chastisement in his power, to be inflicted on the sinner. 2. That penitential works, fasting, alms-deeds, contrite weeping, and fervent prayer, have the power of averting that punishment. 3. That this scheme of God's justice was not a part of the imperfect law, but the unvarying ordinance of his dispensation, anterior to the Mosaic ritual, and amply confirmed by Christ in his Gospel. 4. That it consequently becomes a part of all true repentance to try to satisfy this divine justice, by the voluntary assumption of such penitential works, as his revealed truth assures us have efficacy before him."
You will observe, brethren, as the great characteristics of this whole scheme, these two most objectionable propositions: First, that the satisfaction rendered to the divine justice is divided between Christ and the sinner;-the Saviour takes the eternal portion of this satisfaction, but the temporal portion is to be rendered by man. Secondly, that this satisfaction is not to be made by obeying the commands of God and submitting to his chastisements, but by voluntary works and sufferings, undertaken by the sinner. Both of these posi
tions we hold to be altogether opposed to Scripture, and without any authority amongst the best writers of the primitive Church. Our learned author, however, undertakes to sustain his doctrine, as usual, both by Scripture and tradition. And his Scriptural proofs are as follows:-That Moses and Aaron were not permitted to enter the promised land. That David was temporally punished for his sin, as well by the death of his child as by other calamities, notwithstanding the sin itself was forgiven. That Job, after he had transgressed, humbled himself in dust and ashes. That the men of Nineveh published a general fast for three days, from the king on his throne to the beasts in their stalls, saying: Who can tell if God will turn and forgive, and will turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not. Nay, Dr. Wiseman even refers to our first parents in paradise as an example, because he says that their sin was forgiven, and yet the most bitter consequences were entailed on them and their posterity.
The passages from the New Testament which our author eites in justification of his doctrine, are partly negative, and partly positive. Assuming that his system was the existing system of the Mosaic dispensation, he argues, that our Saviour introduced no change in this respect, but rather recommended penitential works, such as fasting, both by precept and example. And St. Paul, writing to the Colossians, declares, "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things which are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body which is the Church." “What is wanting of Christ's sufferings?" exclaims Dr. Wiseman, "and this to be supplied by man and in his flesh! What sort of doctrine call we this? Is it in favour of the completeness of Christ's sufferings, as to their application? Or rather does it not suppose that much is to be done by man, towards possessing himself of the treasures laid up in our Saviour's redemption; and that suffering is the means whereby this application is made?" Here, brethren,