CHAP. XLIV. That the Proofs, produced by Cardinal Bellarmine for Purga∣tory, are Weak, and Defective.
CArdinal Bellarmine, who hath undertaken to prove the contrary, cannot acquit himself, without being forced to shamefull shifts, and calling to his Assistance such Witnesses, as depose onely on the be∣half of Prayer for the Dead; as if that Prayer, which St. Epiphanius assures us to have been made, in his Time, for all the Saints, without exception, never either had, or could have had any other Ground, then the Purga∣tory held by the Church of Rome. He cites, to this purpose, Councels, almost all Latine, viz. the Third of Carthage, Assembled the first of September, 397. and the Fourth, held the sixth of November, 398. the Third of Orleans, celebrated the three and twentieth of June, 533. the First of Braga, convocated the first of May, 563. the Collection, compiled, at the same Time, by Martin, Bishop of Dumium, and afterwards Arch-Bishop of Braga; the First Councel of Chaalons upon the Saone, Assembled in the year 650. and that, which the Greeks held in the Trullum of Con∣stantinople, in the year 691. Nay, he makes accompt to put us off also with some Councels, Assembled by the Popes, for the maintaing of Abuses as well in Doctrine, as Discipline; as that of Lateran, under Innocent the Third, in the year 1215. that of Florence, under Eugenius the Fourth, in the year 1439. and that of Trent; under Pius the Fourth: as if the Autho∣rity of these last should have any other Effect, then to provoke the just disgust of the Protestants. Besides, to strengthen the Dose, he makes no small Stir with two Counterfeit Pieces, advanced by shameless Impostours, under the Names of the Sixth Councel of Rome, under Symmachus; and of that of VVorms, held, I know not when, nor by whom. Nay, to give us an Essay of his own Abilities, in such a Case, after he had cited the sixty ninth Canon of the Collection made by Martin of Braga, instead of the sixty eighth, he falsely pretends, that he took it out of the Synods of the Greeks; never considering, that in that Collection we have nine Canons of the First Councel of Toledo, and two out of the third and fourth of Carthage, with thirteen others, which are not to be found in any of the Councels now extant, either Greek, or Latine, and that the sixty eighth, which he places in the sixty ninth rank, is of that Number.
Next he cites the Liturgies, which go under the Names of St. James, St. Basil, St. Chrysostome, St. Ambrose, &c. and furnish us (as do also the Councels) onely with Prayer for the dead, which not onely hath nothing common with the Purgatory held by the Church of Rome; but presup∣poses what is directly contrary; as assuring us, that those, for whom it is made, are not in Torment, but in Rest, and Peace.
Thence he passes to the Greek Fathers, and, upon the first start, al∣leges unto us (as taking it from St. Clemens Romanus, St. Denys the Page 234Areopagite, and St. Athanasius of Alexandria) the Constitutions, forged un∣der the Name of the said St. Clement, about two hundred years after his Martyrdom; the Hierarchy, composed above four hundred years after the death of the said St. Denys; and the Answers to the Questions of An∣tiochus, written by Athanasius of Antioch, who was later, then him of Alexandria, by four hundred years. Then he produces St. Gregory Na∣zianzene, St. Cyril of Hierusalem, St. Chrysostome, and Theophylact, Arch-Bishop of Bulgaria, who lived after the year 1000. and, following the steps of those, who had preceded him, tells us onely of Prayer for the dead.
As for the Latines, he produces Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Ambrose, St. Hierome, St. Paulinus of Nola, St. Augustine, Gregory the Great, Isidore of Sevil, Victor, Bishop, not of Utica (as many conceive) but of Ucetia, and Bernard; not one of whom Treats of any thing, but Prayer. Which I observe, not to deny, that St. Gregory, and those of the Latines, who lived after him, might take the Opinion of Purgatory, whereof St. Gregory may be called the Father, or God-Father, for a Motive of their Prayers for the dead; but to advertise, that no such thing can be said of such, as were more antient, who founded their Prayers on other Motives; to wit, those, which have been represented already; whereof there is not any one compatible with Purgatory; such as it is at this day ima∣gined to be.