IT is not an opinion adopted lightly-this article of Purgatory. The Church has long maintained this belief to all and against all, and it seems that the first who impugned it was Aerius, an Arian heretic, as S. Epiphanius testifies (Haer. 75), and S. Augustine (Haar. 53), and Socrates (ii. 35) -about twelve hundred years ago. Afterwards came certain persons who called themselves Apostolics, in the time of S. Bernard. Then the Petrobusians, about five hundred years back, who also denied this same article, as S. Bernard (sermons 65 and 66 on the Cant. of Cant. and ep. 241) and S. Peter of Cluny (epp. I, 2, and elsewhere) record. This same opinion of the Petrobusians was followed by the Vaudois, about the year 1170, as Guidon says in his Summa; and some Greeks were suspected on this matter, justifying themselves in the Council of Florence, and in their apology presented to the Council of Basle. In fine, Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, and those of their party, have altogether denied the truth of Purgatory: for although Luther, in disputatione Lipsica, says that he firmly believed, yea certainly knew, that there was a Purgatory, still he afterwards retracted this in the book, De Abroganda Missa Privata. And it is the custom of all the factions of our age to laugh at Purgatory, and despise prayers for the dead. But the Catholic Church has strongly opposed all these, each in its time, having in her hand the Holy Scripture, out of which our forefathers have drawn many good reasons.
For (I.) she has proved that alms, prayers, and other holy actions can help the departed: whence it follows that there is a Purgatory, for those in hell can have no help in their pains, and into Paradise, all good being there, we can convey none of ours for those who are therein; wherefore it is for those who are in a third place, which we call Purgatory. (2.) She has proved that in the other world some of the departed have been delivered from their punishments and sins; and since this cannot be done either in hell or in Paradise, it follows that there is a Purgatory. (3,) She has proved that many souls, before arriving in Paradise, passed through a place of punishment, which can only be Purgatory. (4 .) Proving that the souls below the earth gave honour and reverence to Our Lord, she at the same time proved Purgatory, since this cannot be understood of those poor wretches who are in hell. (5.) By many other passages, with a variety of consequences, but all very apposite. In these one ought so much the more to defer to our doctors, because the passages which they allege now have been brought forward for the same purpose by those great ancient fathers, without our having to make new interpretations in order to defend this holy article; which sufficiently shows how candidly we act in this matter: whereas our adversaries draw conclusions from the Holy Scripture which have never been thought of before, but are quite freshly started simply to oppose the Church.
So our reasons will be in this order, (1.) We will quote the passages of Holy Scripture, then (2.) Councils, (3.) ancient Fathers, (4.) all sorts of authors. Afterwards we will bring forward reasons, and at last we will take up the arguments of the opposite party and will show them not to be sound. Thus shall we conclude by the belief of the Catholic Church. It will remain for the reader to avoid looking at things through the medium of passion, to think attentively over the soundness of our proofs, and to throw himself at the feet of the divine goodness, crying out in all humility with David: Give me understanding and I will search thy law, and I will keep it with my whole heart.(Psalm cxviii. 34) And then I doubt not that such men will return into the bosom of their grandmother the Church Catholic.