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stitious visions of the dark ages, cultivated diligently by the priesthood, so as to enlarge and fortify their power over the fears and terrors of mankind. And here I shall quote from the famous cardinal Bellarmine his account of the matter, which will show you, on the highest modern authority, the evidence as well as the position belonging to the doctrine. The extract must be long, brethren, but you will find it, I doubt not, more than usually interesting.

"Since many persons," saith Bellarmine, "will not believe what they have never seen, it has pleased God sometimes to raise his servants from the dead, and to send them to announce to the living what they have really witnessed." (Philpot's Letters to Butler, p. 121, &c.) “A pious father of a family in Northumberland died, but came to life again at the dawn of the following day. All but his faithful and affectionate wife fled at the sight of him, and to her he communicated the peculiar circumstances of his case, that he had indeed been dead, but was permitted to live again upon earth, though by no means in the same manner as before. In short, he sold all his property, divided the produce equally between his wife, his children, and the poor, and then retired to the monastery at Melrose. He there lived in such a state of unexampled mortification, as made it quite evident, even if he had not said a word upon the subject, that he had seen things-which no one else had been permitted to behold. He explained it all, however, in the following manner:-One, said he, whose aspect was as of light, and his garment glistening, conducted me to a valley of great depth and width, but of immeasurable length; one side of which was dreadful beyond expression for its burning heat, and the other as horrible for its no less intolerable cold. Both were filled with the souls of men, which seemed to be tost, as by the fury of a tempest, from one side to the other; for being quite unable to endure the heat on the right hand, the miserable wretches kept throwing themselves to the oppo

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site side into the equal torment of cold, and thence back again into the raging flames. This, thought I, must be hell; but my guide answered to my thought that it was not so. This valley, saith he, is the place of torment for the souls of those, who, after delaying to confess and expiate their sins, have at length, at the moment of death, had recourse to penance, and so have departed. These, at the day of judgment, will all be admitted into the kingdom of heaven, by reason of their confession and penance, late as it was. But, meanwhile, many of them may be assisted and liberated before that day, by the prayers, alms and fastings of the living, particularly by the sacrifice of the mass."

From this narrative, in which cardinal Bellarmine states his full belief, he proceeds to another of a higher claim, because it is the history of St. Christina, one of the saints placed in the dark ages upon the Roman calendar, where she is called a virgin and a martyr, and has a festival appointed in her honour on the 24th of July. The learned cardinal gives the relation in the words of St. Christina herself, (Philpot's Letters to Butler, p. 125) as follows:—

"Immediately upon my departure from the body," saith she, "my soul was received by ministers of light and angels of God, and conducted to a dark and horrid place filled with the souls of men. The torments which I there witnessed are so dreadful, that to attempt to describe them would be utterly in vain; and there I beheld not a few who had been known to me when they were alive. Greatly concerned for their hapless state, I asked what place it was, thinking it was hell; but I was told that was purgatory, where are kept those who in their life-time had repented indeed of their sins, but had not paid the punishment due for them. I was next taken to see the torments of hell, where also I recognized some of my former acquaintances upon earth. Afterwards I was translated to paradise, even to the throne of the divine Majesty; 2 G

and when I saw the Lord congratulating me, I was beyond measure rejoiced, concluding, of course, that I should henceforward dwell with him for evermore. But he presently said to me, 'In very deed, my sweetest daughter, here you shall be with me; but for the present I offer you your choice. Will you stay for ever with me now? or will you return to the earth, and there, in your mortal body, but without any detriment to it, endure punishments, by which you may deliver out of purgatory all those souls whom you so much pitied, and may also, by the sight of your penance, and the example of your life, be a means of converting to me some who are yet alive in the body, and so come to me at last with a great increase of your merits?' I accepted, without hesitation, the return to life on the condition proposed; and the Lord, congratulating me on the promptitude of my obedience, ordered that my body should be restored to me. This is an account of my death and my return to life. I am recalled to life for the correction and improvement of men; I entreat you, therefore, not to be disturbed at what shall happen to me. I say this, because the things which you shall see wrought in me by the will of God, will far exceed human comprehension.”

These were her own words. The author of her biography adds his account of the manner in which her enterprise was conducted. She walked into burning ovens, and though she was so tortured by the flames that her anguish extorted from her the most horrible cries, yet when she came out, there was not a trace of any burning to be found upon her body. Again, during a hard frost, she would go and place herself under the frozen surface of a river, for six days and more, at a time. Sometimes she would be carried round by the wheel of a water-mill, with the water of the river, and after having been whirled round in a horrible manner, she was as whole in body as if nothing had happened to her-not a limb was hurt. At other times she would make all the dogs in the town fall upon

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her, and would run before them like a hunted beast; and yet, in spite of being torn by thorns and brambles, and worried and lacerated by the dogs to such a degree that no part of her body escaped without wounds, there was not a weal nor a scar to be seen. And this mode of life she endured for fortytwo years, "during which time," saith the historian, "she brought many sinners to repentance, and wrought many miracles after her death."

There is yet a third example related by this celebrated Roman Catholic author, which he quotes from the Life of St. Ludgardis, written at the same period and by the same illustrious person who wrote the other. "About this time," saith he, "Innocent III. after having held the Lateran Council, departed this life, and shortly afterwards appeared to St. Ludgardis. She, as soon as she beheld him encircled with a vast flame, demanded who he was, and on his answering that he was pope Innocent, she exclaimed with a groan, 'What can this be? How is it that the common father of us all is thus tormented?' 'The reasons of my suffering thus,' he answered, are three in number, and they would have consigned me to eternal punishments, had I not, through the intercession of the most pious mother of God, to whom I founded a monastery, repented in my last hour. As it is, though I am spared from eternal suffering, yet I shall be tortured in the most horrible manner to the day of judgment; and that I am now permitted to come and pray for your suffrages, is a favour which the mother of mercy has obtained for me from her Son.' With these words he disappeared. Ludgardis not only communicated to her holy sisters the sad necessity to which the pope was reduced in order to obtain their succour, but she also submitted to astonishing torments on his account."


Here then, brethren, we have the real mode of sustaining the Roman doctrine of purgatory, not by Scripture, nor yet by the records of the primitive Church, which are speciously, indeed,

but most unwarrantably appealed to for the purpose, but by the influence of marvellous, horrible and absurd stories, gotten up in the dark ages, and greedily swallowed by the people, at a period when the popular credulity was sufficient for any thing. For these were the ages of the wildest romance, when all imaginable and monstrous tales of enchanters, giants, wizards, genii, and fairies, together with the daring extravagances of knight-errantry, were in full vogue; when the middling and lower classes of society were slaves to their lords, and when the higher orders divided their lives between war, love, and superstition.

The doctrine of indulgences took its regular form at the same time, and was an important part of the system, which extended the power of the priesthood over the unseen world, and promised its most certain and wonderful effects in that spiritual state from whence no counter-evidence could be brought to contradict them. Their first appearance in history was on the occasion of the crusades in the eleventh century; when the popes, for the encouragement of warriors to undertake the recovery of the holy land, proclaimed remission of all their sins to the soldiers of the cross. The great Council of Lateran, in the 13th century, applied them to the warriors who engaged to extirpate heresy by fire and sword; and after some time they became so extended, that very trifling sums of money, or personal services, were sufficient to obtain them. It was this which, under God, led to the Reformation. For Leo X. being desirous of raising a large sum of money in order to complete the magnificent Church of St. Peter at Rome, followed the advice of one of his cardinals; and, as a Roman Catholic historian expresses it, "spread throughout the world the amplest indulgences, not only for the benefit of the living, but also with power to loose the souls of the dead from purgatory; which things, having in themselves neither probability nor authority, it being notorious that they were granted solely to

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