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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

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a place in which, according to the church of Rome, the just, who depart out of this life, are supposed to expiate certain offences which do not merit eternal damnation. Broughton has endeavoured to prove that this notion has been held by Pagans, Jews, and Mohammedans, as well as by Christians; and that in the days of the Maccabees, the Jews believed that sin might be expiated by sacrifice after the death of the sinner. The arguments advanced for purgatory by the papists are these: 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 justice.

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 papist considers as so many self- evident truths, he infers 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 venial faults, are purged and purified before their admittance into heaven. And this is what he is taught concerning purgatory; though he know not where it is, of what nature the pains are, or how long each soul is detained there, yet he believes that those who are in this place are relieved by the prayers of their fellow members here on earth, as also by alms and masses offered up to God for their souls. And as for such as have no relations or friends to pray for them, or give alms to procure masses for their relief, they are not neglected 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. Beside the above arguments, the following passages are alleged as proofs: 2Ma_12:43-45; Matthew 12:31-32; 1 Corinthians 3:15; 1 Peter 3:19 . But it may be observed,

1. That the books of Maccabees have no evidence of inspiration, therefore quotations from them are not to be regarded.

2. If they were, the texts 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.

3. The Scriptures, in general, speak of departed souls going immediately, at death, to a fixed state of happiness or misery, and give us no idea of purgatory, Isaiah 57:2; Revelation 14:13; Luke 16:22; 2 Corinthians 5:8 .

4. It is derogatory from the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ. If Christ died for us, and redeemed us from sin and hell, as the Scripture speaks, then the idea of farther meritorious suffering detracts from the perfection of his sacrifice, and places merit still in the creature; a doctrine exactly opposite to the Scriptures.

Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Purgatory'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​wtd/​p/purgatory.html. 1831-2.
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