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A Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for Any Christian Man
Set forth by the King’s Majesty of England
, &c.

The King’s Book, 1543

Introduction by the Reverend T.A. Lacey

London: R. Browning, 1895.
pp 155-156

Of Prayer for Souls Departed.

Forasmuch as due order of charity requireth, and the Book of Maccabees and divers ancient doctors plainly shew, that it is a very good and charitable deed to pray for souls departed: and forasmuch as such usage hath continued in the church so many years, even from the beginning, men ought to judge and think the same to be well and profitably done. And truly it standeth with the very order of charity, a Christian man to pray for another, both quick and dead, and to commend one another in their prayers to God’s mercy, and to cause other to pray for them also, as well in masses and exequies, as at other times, and to give alms for them, according to the usage of the church and ancient opinion of the old fathers; trusting that these things do not only profit and avail them, but also declare us to be charitable folk, because we have mind and desire to profit them, which, notwithstanding they be departed this present life, yet remain they still members of the same mystical body of Christ whereunto we pertain.

And here is specially to be noted, that it is not in the power or knowledge of any man to limit and dispense how much, and in what space of time, or to what person particularly the said masses, exequies, and suffrages do profit and avail: therefore charity requireth that whosoever causeth any such masses, exequies, or suffrages to be done, should yet (though their intent be more for one than for another) cause them also to be done for the universal congregation of Christian people, quick and dead; for that power and knowledge afore rehearsed pertaineth only unto God, which alone knoweth the measures and times of his own judgment and mercies.

Furthermore, because the place where the souls remain, the name thereof, and the state and condition which they be in, be to us uncertain, therefore these, with all other such things, must also be left to Almighty God, unto whose mercy it is meet and convenient for us to commend them; reserving the rest wholly to God, unto whom is known their estate and condition; and not we to take upon us, neither in the one part ne yet in the other, to give any fond and temerarious judgment in so high things so far passing our knowledge.

Finally, it is much necessary that all such abuses as heretofore have been brought in by supporters and maintainers of the papacy of Rome, and their complices, concerning this matter, be clearly put away; and that we therefore abstain from the name of purgatory, and no more dispute or reason thereof. Under colour of which have been advanced many fond and great abuses, to make men believe that through the Bishop of Rome’s pardons souls might clearly be delivered out of it, and released out of the bondage of sin; and that masses said at Scala Coeli and other prescribed places, phantasied by men, did there in those places more profit the souls than in another; and also that a prescribed number of prayers sooner than other (though as devoutly said) should further their petition sooner, yea specially if they were said before one image more than another which they phantasied. All these, and such like abuses, be necessary utterly to be abolished and extinguished.

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