Socialism and the Pope
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With shams like these the giddy rout mislead,
Their folly and their superstition feed."
Oldham attacks the Church for publications on topics not less singular. The tales he has recounted, Oldham says, are only baits for children, like toys at a fair; but they have their profounder and higher matters for the learned and the inquisitve[sic]. He goes on (Satyr IV.):-
"One undertakes by scales of miles to tell
The bounds, dimensions and extent of HELL;
How many German leagues that realm contains!
How many caldrons Hell each year expends
In coals for roasting Hugonots and friends!
Another frights the rout with use stories
Of wild Chimeras, limbo's PURGATORIES:
Where bloated souls in smoky durance hung,
Like a Westphalia gammon or neat's tongue,
To be redeemed with masses and a song."
In the above lines Oldham alludes to actual publications of the Church.
"Treatises and topographical description of HELL, PURGATORY, and even HEAVEN," comments D'Israeli,
"were once the favourite researches among certain zealous defenders of the Romish Church, who exhausted their ink-horns in building up a Hell to their own taste, or for their particular purpose. We have a treatise of Cardinal Bellarmin, a Jesuit, on "Purgatory"; he seems to have the science of a surveyor, among all the secret tracks and the formidable divisions of the 'bottomless pit'."
Bellarmin states that there is, beneath the earth, a profound place divided into four parts. The deepest of these parts is Hell; it contains all the souls of the damned, there will be also their bodies after the resurrection, and likewise all the demons. The place nearest Hell is Purgatory, where souls are purged, or rather where they appease the anger of God by their sufferings. He says that the same fires and the same torments are alike in both these places, the only difference between Hell and Purgatory consisting in their duration. Next to Purgatory is the limbo of those infants who die without having received the sacrament; and the fourth place is the limbo of the fathers; that is to say, of those just men who died before the death of Christ. But since the days of the Redeemer the last division is empty, like an apartment to let!
The famous Catholic theologist Tillemont did not share this "larger hope" opinion. He condemns all the illustrious pagans to the eternal torments of Hell: because they lived before the time of Jesus, and therefore could not be benefited by the redemption!
I conclude this chapter with the following extract from D'Israeli:-
"Anthony Cornellius, a lawyer in the 16th century, wrote a small tract, which was so effectually suppressed, as a monster of atheism, that a copy is now only to be found in the hands of the curious. This author ridiculed the absurd and horrid doctrine of infant damnation and was instantly decried as an atheist, and the printer prosecuted to his ruin!"