Purgatory (Lat.purgatorium, from purgo, I cleanse) is the name given in ecclesiastical language to the place of durance which the Church of Rome and the Eastern Church teach holds the departed souls until fitted for the divine presence. According to the teachings of these churches, the Protestant is wrong in declaring that Christ brings a full and perfect pardon for all the sins of man. Before man can be received into heaven, his soul must be purged by fire from all carnal impurities. Christ only affords a way whereby eternal punishment may be escaped, and though contrition (q.v.) secures forgiveness of sins, the ordinary experiences of peniennce, attrition, must be supplemented by penance. In other words, it is necessary, according to Romish theology, to complete salvation and purification, that the soul should suffer a part of the penalty of its sins; and if these are not voluntarily borne in penances in this life, they will be inflicted in purgatory in the life to come, except when special suffering, inflicted by Divine Providence, serves the same purifying purpose. The doctrine of purgatory does not, therefore, involve the idea of the future redemption of the impenitent. "The souls who go to purgatory are only such as die in the state of grace, united to Jesus Christ. It is their imperfect works for which they are condemned to that place of suffering, and which must all be there consumed, and their stains purged away from them before they can go to heaven." The Council of Trent decides thus: "If any one say that after the grace of justification received the fault is so pardoned to every penitent sinner, and the guilt of temporal punishment is so blotted out that there remains no guilt of temporal punishment to be done away in this world, or that which is to come in purgatory, before the passage can be opened into heaven, let him be accursed." Elsewhere it is said, "There is a purgatory, and the souls detained there are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the sacrifices of the acceptable altar" — a statement obviously vague and indefinite. It leaves the most important inquiry undetermined — viz. whether the souls in purgatory are in a state of happiness or misery: they are "detained," but nothing more as defide is stated. By referring, however, to the Catechism of the Council of Trent, drawn up by order of the fathers there assembled, we get a clearer and more explicit definition: "There is a purgatorial fire, where the souls of the righteous are purified by a temporary punishment [ad definitum termpus csruciatce expiantur'], that entrance may be given them into their eternal home, where nothing that is defiled can have a place. And of the truth of this doctrine, which holy councils declare to be confirmed by the testimony of Scripture and of apostolic tradition, the pastor will have to declare more diligently and frequently, because we are fallen on times in which men will not endure sound doctrine" (Conc. 'Trident. sess. 6 can. 30; sess. 25:§ 1; Catech. Trident. c. 6 qu. 3). Thus a definite meaning is given to the vague teaching of the council: there is a purgatorial fire, and the souls of the faithful are punished for a defined period till their sins are expiated. The almost universal belief prevailing among Roman Catholicsthough they do not consider torment by fire as being de fide, but only the most probable opinion — is that purgatory is a place of suffering or punishment for imperfect Christians. Thus Dr. Vilmer, though he says that "in the Council of Trent all is contained that is necessary to be believed on this subject," yet afterwards defines purgatory "as a place of temporary punishment," which is not asserted by, and goes beyond, the decree of the council (End of Controversy, p. 173, 174). Bellarmine says, "Purgatory is a certain place in which, as in a prison, the souls are purged after this life which were not fully purged in this life — to wit, so that they may be able to enter into heaven, where no unclean thing can enter;" and elsewhere, "that the fathers unanimously ['sic] teach that the pains of purgatory are most severe or terrible" (De Purgactorio, ii, 14).
The arguments advanced for purgatory are these:
1. Every sin, how slight soever, though no more than an idle word, as it is an offence to God, deserves punishment from him, and will be punished by him hereafter, if not cancelled by repentance here.
2. Such small sins do not deserve eternal punishment.
3. Few depart this life so pure as to be totally exempt from spots of this nature, and from every kind of debt due to God's juistice.
4. Therefore, few will escape without suffering something from his justice for such debts as they have carried with them out of this world, according to the rule of divine justice, by which he treats every soul hereafter according to his works, and according to the state in which he finds it in death. From these positions, which the advocates of the doctrine of purgatory consider as so many self-evident truths, they infer that there must be some third place of punishment; for since the infinite holiness of God can admit nothing into heaven that is not clean and pure from all sin, both great and small, and his infinite justice can permit none to receive the reward of bliss who as yet are not out of debt, but have something in justice to suffer, there must, of necessity, be some place or state where souls departing this life, pardoned as to the eternal guilt of sin, yet obnoxious to some temporal penalty, or with the guilt of some mortal sins (peccata amortalia), or some venial faults (peccata venalia), are purged and purified before their admittance into heaven. Those in purgatory are relieved by the prayers of their fellow-members here on earth, also by alms and masses offered up to God fot their souls. Such as have no relations or friends to pray for them, or give alms to procure masses for their relief, are remembered by the Church. which makes a general commemoration of all the faithful departed in every mass and in every one of the canonical hours of the divine office. Besides the above arguments, the following Bible passages are alleged by them in support of these views: 2 Maccabees 12:43-46 (on which they relyon the supposition of its being inspired); Mt 5:25 (the "prison" therein referred to being interpreted by them to mean purgatory); 12:32; 1Co 3:11-15; 1Co 15:29; Re 21:27; as well as on certain less decisive indications contained in the language of some of the Psalms, as 37 (in the A.V. 38), 1; 45:12 12; Isa 4:4; Isa 22:14; Mal 3:3. Respecting all these passages as containing the doctrine of a purgatory, arguments are drawn not alone from the words themselves, but from the interpretation of them by the fathers.
The direct testimonies cited by Roman Catholic writ ers from the fathers to the belief of their respective ages as to the existence of a purgatory are very numerous. We may instance among the Greeks, Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 7:12; Origen, Honr. 16:c. 5, 6, in Jeremiam; 6: Hom. in Exod.; 14: Hom. in Levit.; 28: Hom. in Numbers; Eusebius, De Vita Constantinii, 4:71; Athanasius, Quaest. 34: ad Antioch.; Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Mystcag. v, 9; Basil, Hom. in Psalm. 5:7; Gregory of Nazianzum, 41, Orclt. de Lacude Athanasii; Gregory of Nyssa, Orat. de Bapt.; as also Epiphanius, Ephraem, Theodoret, and others. Among the Latins, Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius, Lactantius, Hilary, Ambrose, and, above all, Augustine (from whom many passages are cited), Paulinus of Nola, and Gregory the Great, in whom the doctrine is found in all the fillness of its modern detail. The epitaphs of the catacombs, too, occasionally supply Romish controversialists with some testimonies to the belief of a purgatory, and of the value of the intercessory prayers of the living in obtaining not merely repose, but relief from suffering for the deceased; and the liturgies of the various rites are still more decisive and circumstantial. Beyond these two points, Romish faith, as defilned by the Council of Trent, does not go. The council expressly prohibits the popular discussion of the "more difficult and subtle questions, and everything that tends to curiosity or superstition, or savors of filthy lucre." Of the further questions as to the nature of purgatory, there is one of great historical importance, inasmuch as it constitutes one of the grounds of difference between the Greek and Latin churches. As to the existence of purgatory, both these churches are agreed, and they are further agreed that it is a place of suffering; but, while the Latins commonly hold that this suffering is "by fire," the Greeks do not determine the manner of the suffering, but are content to regard it as "through tribulation." The decree of union in the Council of Florence (1439) left this point free for discussion. Equally free are the questions as to the situation of purgatory; as to the duration of the purgatorial suffering; as to the probable number of its inmates; as to whether they have, while there detained, a certainty of their ultimate salvation; and whether a "particular judgment" takes place on each individual case immediately after death. Throughout the Eastern liturgies there is no express mention of the purgatorial suffering of souls in the intermediate state. In the apostolical constitutions and in the liturgy of St. Chrysostom, the Church prays for those who rest in faith (ὑπὲρ τῶν ἐν πίστει ἀναπαυσαμένων δεηθῶμεν, lib. 8 c. 13). In other liturgies, as of St. James, St. Mark, and St. Basil, there is prayer for the rest and forgiveness of the departed (τὰς ψυχὰς ἀνάπαυσον: St. Mark). Even in the Roman canon there is only a prayer for those resting in Christ, and a common inscription in the catacombs over the departed is In pace. Such statements are not, indeed, necessarily inconsistent with the departed Christian being in a state of suffering; for even then he would rest from the sorrows and trials of life, and have the assured hope of eternal life. Still, where there is no direct allusion (as in the Mozarabic and Gallican missals) to the suffering of the departed, we cannot fairly and reasonably suppose that a state of suffering is implied when the faithful departed are said to be at rest. Such an expression must be taken in its ordinary meaning as denoting a more or less perfect happiness. (The theory of the early Church, which may be called the "Judgmentday Purgatory," we treat of below.) See Bellarmine, De Purgatorio; Suaresius, De Purgatorio; and on the Greek portion of the subject. Leo Allatius, De Utrusque Ecclesies in Dogmat de Purgatorio Perpetua Consensione.
The mediaeval doctrine and practice regarding purgatory were among the leading grounds of the protest of the Waldenses and other sects of that age. The Reformers as a body rejected the doctrine.
In the modern Romish Church the doctrine of purgatory has led to others more directly injurious and corrupting. By the terror which it inspires it gives the priesthood power to impose penances; it leads to indulgences (q.v.) and prayers for the dead, for it is held that the sufferings in purgatory may be greatly mitigated and shortened by the prayers, the services, the masses, the charities, and other works of supererogation of their friends upon the earth. The extent to which this doctrine has been employed in increasing the income of the Church receives a significant illustration in one singular fact. There exists a purgatorial insurance company which, for a certain premium paid annually, insures the payor a given number of masses for his soul in the event of his death, and the certificates of this insurance company may be seen hung up on the walls in hundreds of rooms in the tenement-houses of our great cities, especially of New York.
Protestantism, in rejecting the doctrine of purgatory, takes the ground that it is inadmissible to depend upon any authority outside of the Bible and not in harmony therewith. It not only, however, refuses to admit the authority of tradition or the testimonies of the fathers, but, at the same time, alleges that most, if not all, of the passages quoted from the fathers as in favor of purgatory are in themselves insufficient to prove that they held any such doctrine as that now taught by the Roman Catholic Church, some of them properly relating only to the subject of prayer for the dead (q.v.), and others to the doctrine of Limbo (q.v.). That the doctrine of purgatory is the fair development of that which maintains that prayer ought to be made for the dead, Protestants generally acknowledge, but refuse to admit that the fathers carried out their views to any such consequence. For Origen says, "We, after the labors and strivings of this present life, hope to be in the highest heavens," not in purgatory. So Chrysostom, "Those that truly follow virtue, after they are changed from this life, are truly freed from their fightings, and loosed from their bonds. For death, to such as live honestly, is a change from worse things to better, from this transitory to an eternal and immortal life that hath no end." Macarius, speaking of the faithful, says, "When they go out of their bodies, the choirs of angels receive their souls into their proper places, to the pure world, and so lead them to the Lord." Hence Athanasius says, "To the righteous it is not death, but only a change, for they are changed from this world to an eternal rest. And as a man comes out of prison, so do the saints go from this troublesome life to the good things prepared for them." Certainly, these fathers were no purgatorians, since they unanimously affirmed that the souls of the saints go directly from earth to heaven, never touching upon purgatory. To these we may add Gennadius, who assures us that, "after the ascension of the Lord to heaven, the souls of all the saints are with Christ, and, going out of the body, go to Christ, expecting the resurrection of their body." Prosper tells us: "According to the language of the Scriptures, the whole life of man upon earth is a temptation or trial. Temptation is to be avoided until the fight is ended; and the fight is to be ended when, after this life, secure victory succeeds the fight; so that when all the soldiers of Christ, being helped by God, have to the end of this present life unwearily resisted their enemies, their wearisome travail being ended, they may reign happily in their country." Evidently they do not, according to Prosper, go from one fight here to another in purgatory, but immediately from the Church militant on earth to the Church triumphant in heaven. But whatever the views of some Church fathers on the subject, as a doctrine it was unknown in the Christian Church for the first 600 years, and it does not appear to have been made an article of faith until the 10th century, when "the clergy," says Mosheim, "finding these superstitious terrors admirably adapted to increase their authority and promote their interest, used every method to augment them; and by the most pathetic discourses, accompanied with monstrous fables and fictitious miracles, they labored to establish the doctrine of purgatory, and also to make it appear that they had a mighty influence in that formidable region" (Eccl. Hist. cent. 10 pt. ii, ch. iii, § 1). "Purgatory as a burning-away of sins," said Dollinger at the Bonn Conference of Old Catholics in 1875, "was an idea unknown in the East as well as the West till Gregory the Great introduced it. What was thought was that after death those who were not ready for heaven were kept for some time in a state of preparation, and that the prayers of the living were an advantage for them. SEE INVOCATION OF SAINTS. Gregory the Great added the idea of a tormenting fire. This the schoolmen gradually converted into doctrine which they associated with papal indulgence, till it came to apply to the dead generally, which, of course, made all seek indulgence. It went on to have degrees: some could receive indulgence for a few of their sins, others for all, and so on; so that eventually the pope, having already the keeping of heaven and the dominion on earth, obtained also sovereignty under the earth." Certain it is, and beyond reasonable dispute, that the doctrine of purgatory, in all its representations and forms, is a variation from scriptural authority: divine revelation affords it no countenance. The doctrine of an intermediate state (q.v.), from which the merits of Jesus Christ cannot deliver man, is not only "grounded on no warranty of Scripture," but is so far positively "repugnant to the Word of God" as it is contrary to the absolute and unreserved offers of mercy, peace, and happiness contained in the Gospel, and as it derogates from the fuilness and perfection of the one expiatory sacrifice made by the death of Christ for the sins of mankind. For the Scriptures say, "The dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love and their hatred and their envy are now perished; neither have they any more a portion, forever, in anything that is done under the sun" (Ec 9:5-6); whereas this Romish doctrine of an intermediate state for purgation teaches, quite to the contrary, that when they are dead they have a part or portion in the prayers of the faithful and the sacrifices of the altar. Again, the Scripture makes mention but of a twofold receptacle of souls after death — the one of happiness, the other of misery (1Sa 25:29; Mt 7:13-14; Mt 8:11; Lu 16:22-23); whereas this doctrine brings in a third, called purgatory, between heaven and hell, half happiness and half misery. Again, Scripture says, "The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth [or purgeth] us from all sin" (1Jo 1:7); but this doctrine would persuade us there are some sins which are to be purged away by the prayers and good works of others. To name no more, the Gospel represents Lazarus as at once conveyed to a state of comfort and joy (Lu 16:22-23); Christ promised to the penitent thief upon the cross, "This day shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Lu 23:43); Paul exults in the prospect of a "crown of righlteousness after death" (2Ti 4:8); and he represents "to depart and to be with Christ" (Php 1:23), and "to be absent from the body and present with the Lord" (2Co 5:8), as states which were immediately to follow each other. On the contrary, this Romish doctrine about purgatory bids him not to be so hasty, for he might depart and yet not be with Christ; he might pass from death, and yet not to life; he might and must be absent from the body a good while before he can be present with the Lord; he might go from earth, yet not to heaven, but to purgatory, a place St. Paul never dreamed of.
The Bible passages quoted by Romanists as in direct support of the doctrine of purgatory, Protestants simnply set aside as a ridiculous attempt at malpractice in exegesis. First it is answered that the books of Maccabees have no evidence of inspiration, and that the second of these books, whence the support is purported to come, is far from being one of the best books of the Apocrypha (q.v.); besides, that the passage referred to would rather prove that there is no such place as purgatory, since Judas did not expect the souls departed to reap any benefit from the sin-offering till the resurrection. The texts quoted from the Scriptures have no reference to the doctrine, as may be seen by consulting the context, and any just commentator upon it; they relate to nothing more than prayer for the dead. The text Mt 12:32 is explained as relating to the final judgment; and 1Co 3:11,15, as relating to a trial of works, and not of persons; while 1Co 15:29 is regarded as having nothing more to do with the subject than any verse taken at random from any part of the Bible. (An excellent examination of all these passages was made in the Episcopalian, Feb. 16, 1867.) What is called the "historical" or critical view of the genesis of this doctrine is well given by Neander (Dogmengeschichte, vol. 1). This learned Church historian conceives that its source is to be sought for in the ancient Persian doctrine of a purifying conflagration which was to precede the victory of Ormuzd, and consume everything that was impure. From the Persians it passed with modifications to the Jews, and from them found its way into the ethical speculations of the more cultivated Christians. It harmonized admirably with the wide- spread philosophical notion borrowed by the Gnostic Christians from Neo- Platonism, that matter is inherently evil. If, then, the body was to rise, it must be purged of evil, and the instrument of purificationfire — was at hand for the purpose. Moreover, the high and pure conception of the character of God revealed in the New Testament, necessitating a corresponding moral excellence on the part of his worshippers — "without holiness shall no man see the Lord" — must have greatly assisted in the establishment of the doctrine; for how could men, only lately gross heathens, possessing yet but the rudiments of the new faith, and with most of their heathen habits still clinging about them, be pronounced "holy" or "fit for the presence of God?" Their "faith" in Christ was sufficient to save them, but the work of sanctification was incomplete when they died, and must go on. Probably it was a strong Christian feeling of this sort that determined the reception of the doctrine of purgatory into the creed of the Roman Church, rather than any Gnostic philosophizings, though the Neo- Platonic divines of Alexandria are the first to mention it.
It remains for us to speak of the theory in the Christian Church regarding the preparation for final admission into the divine presence. Blunt is pleased to call it the "Judgment-day Purgatory." In its support are pleaded the words of the apostle Paul literally understood, that the "fire shall try every man's work," and that even he who has built wood, hay, straw, stubble, on the true foundation "shall be saved, vet so as by fire" (1
Corinthians 3:11-15). In proof of this doctrine is also quoted the frequent use of the word fire in connection with Christ's coming or the Day of Judgment (see Ps 1:3; Isa 4:4; Da 7:9; Zecharaih 12:9; Mal 3:2-3; Mal 4:1). Many of the Church fathers are cited in support of the belief that Christians must pass through the fire on the Day of Judgment, though all will not be injured by it — the highest saints passing through unhurt, and others suffering a punishment proportioned to their sins, till "the wood, hay, straw, and stubble" built on the true foundation be consumed. Among the fathers of the Western Church, St. Hilary thus speaks of the severity of the Judgment-day purgation by fire, through which all, even the Virgin Mary, must pass (Luc. 2, 35; Tract. in Psalm. 118, lib. iii, § 12); and St. Ambrose says: "We must all pass through the fire, whether it be John the Evangelist, whom the Lord so loved that he said to Peter, 'If I will that he remain, what is that to thee; follow thou me.' Of his death some have doubted, of his passing through the fire we cannot doubt; for he is in paradise, and not separated from Christ" (Jerome, in Psalm. 118i, serm. 20:§ 12, et rid. § 15). St. Jerome likewise compares the ten revolted tribes of Israel to heretics, and the other two "to the Church, and to sinners [members] of the Church, who confess the true faith, but on account of the defilement of vice [vitiorum sordes] have need of the purging fires" (Jerome, Comment. in Amos, lib. iii, c. 7). Again he says, "As we believe that the torments of the devil, and of all infidel [neqatorum] and wicked men who have said in their hearts 'There is no God,' are eternal, so of sinners, although Christians [the common reading is "sic peccatorum atque impiorum et tamen Christianorum." "In vetulstiori Ambrosiano MS. 'sic peccatorum et tamen Christianorum,' verius opinor ad Hieronymi mentem" (Note, Migne ed.)], whose works are to be tried and purged by fire [in iqne], we believe that the sentence of the Judge will be lenient [moderatam] and tempered with mercy." "Let me not be among those," says St. Augustine, "to whom thou wilt hereafter say, Go into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure, so that thou mayest cleanse me in this life, and make me such that I may after that stand in no need of the cleansing fire for those who are to be saved so as by fire. Why? Why, but because they build upon the foundation wood, stubble, and hay. Now, they should build on it gold, silver, and precious stones, and should have nothing to fear from either fire; not only that which is to consume the ungodly forever, but also that which is to purge those who are to escape through [per] the fire. For it is said, he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. And because it is said he shall be saved. that fire is thought lightly of. For all that, though we shall be saved by fire, yet will that fire be more grievous than anything that man can sutffer in this life whatsoever" (Augustine on the Psalms [Oxf. transl.], 2, 71). Again, "But if he shall have built on the foundation wood, hay, stubble, that is, have built worldly attachments on the foundation of his faith; yet if Christ be in the foundation, so that he have the first place in the heart, and nothing absolutely is preferred to him, even such are borne, even such are tolerated. The furnace shall come; it shall burn the wood, the hay, the stubble: but himself, he saith, shall be saved, yet so as by fire.' This shall the furnace do; some it shall sever to the left, others it shall in a manner melt out to the right" (ibid. v, 105). To illustrate the doctrine of the Eastern Clurch, a passage may first be quoted from Clement of Alexandria: "We say that fire sanctifies not flesh, but sinful souls, speaking of that fire which is not all-devouring, such as is used by artisans (παμφάγον καὶ βάναδσον), but of that which is discriminative (φρόνιμον), pervading the soul which passes through the fire" (Clem. Alex. Stromata, lib. v, c. 6). Origen often speaks of the Judgment-day fire: thus he says that though Peter and Paul must pass through the fire, they shall hear the words, "When thou passest through the fire, the flame shall not harm thee" (Orig. Homii. 3, in Psalm 36; vid. Homil. 6 in Exodus). St. Basil, in his Commentary on Isaiah (4:4), says that baptism may be understood in three senses — in the one, of regeneration by the Holy Spirit; in another, of the punishment of sin in the present life; and in a third, "of the trial of judgment by fire." They who have committed deadly sins after they have received the knowledge of the truth, need the judgment which is by fire (τῆς ἐν τῶ καύματι κρίσεως) (Basil. Opera, t. i, ad loc. Gaume). In his work on the Holy Spirit, illustrating the passage "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire," he calls the trial of juldgment a "baptism of fire;" as the apostle says, "the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is" (ibid. iii, p. 40). Gregory of Nazianzum, speaking of the Novatians, says: "Perchance in the future world they shall be baptized with fire, the last baptism more severe and long continued, which devours as grass the stubble, and consumes every vestige of wickedness" (δαπανᾶ'/ πάσης κακίας κουφότητα) (Greg. Naz. Opera, t. ii, c. 358, Miigne). Also in one of his poems he speaks of standing in fear of the fiery river of judgment (μέσος φόβων ἕστηκα πυρωποτάμου) (ibid. t. iii, c. 1423). Gregory of Nyssa says, speaking of infants who die unbaptizeld: "How shall we judge of those who thus died? Shall that soul behold its Judge, and shall it be placed with others before his tribunal?
Shall its past life be judged, and will it receive a deserved recompense, purified by fire accordinlg to the teaching (φωνὰς) of the Gospel, or refreshed by the dew of benediction?" (Greg. Nyss. t. 3, c. 161). So he teaches, in another oration, that "we must either be purified in this present life by prayer and the love of wisdom (φιλοσοφίας), or after our departure hence in the furnace of the purging fire" (ibid. t. iii, c. 498). See Willet, Synopsis Papismi; Bull, On the Trinity; Haag, list. des Dogmes; Elliott, Delineation of Romanism, ch. xii; Cramp, Text-book of Popery; Knapp, Theoloqgy, p. 52; Neander, Hist. of Dogmas, p. 618 sq.; Doddridge, Lectures, lect. 270; Barnett, On the XXXIX Articles, art. 22; Edgar, Variations of Popery, ch. xiv; Faber. Difficulties of Romanismi, p. 157-192, 448-471, 2d ed.; and especially Hale, Doctrine of Purgatory and the Practice of Prayer for the Dead Examined (Lond. 1843); Alger, Hist. of the Doctrine of a Future Life; Hagenbach, Hist. o' Doctrines, ii, 126 sq., 130 sq., 326 sq.; Tracts for the Times, No. 79 and No. 90; Wetstein, De Vanitate Purgatorii; Allen, Defence of Purgatory; Marshall, Doctrine of Purgatory, Patriarchal, Papistical, and Rational; Valverde, Iqnis Purgatorius Assertus; Bellarmine, De Controversiis Fidei; Usher, Answer to a Jesuit's Challenge; Hall, Doctrine of Purgatory; Kitto, Journ. of Sacred Literature, i, 289 sq.; vol. xx Wesleyan Mag. 1843, p. 832 sq. SEE HADES; SEE INTERMEDIATE STATE.