3. The site of Purgatory has never been determined, nor has the nature of the punishment endured therein ever been clearly defined. It was reserved for the new revelation to supply this lack by explaining the causes of the miseries of human life, the justice and aim of which can only be shown by the light that is thrown on the subject by the plurality of our existences.
Those miseries are necessarily a consequence of the imperfections of the soul; for, if the soul were perfect it would not do wrong, and would not have to undergo the sufferings which are the consequence of wrongdoing. Those, who, for instance, should be sober and moderate in all things, would not fall a prey to the maladies that are engendered by excess. Those who are unhappy are so, usually, through their own fault; but their imperfections are evidently a quality that they brought with them at birth, and which they must therefore have possessed before they came into the earthly life; they have, consequently, to expiate not only the faults they commit in their present life, but also the faults of their anterior lives for which they have not yet made reparation; they endure, in a life of troubles and trials, the wrongs they have caused others to endure in some previous existence. The vicissitudes that they undergo are for them, both a temporary punishment and a warning against the imperfections of which they must cure themselves, if they would avoid having to undergo similar vicissitudes in the future and advance on the road to perfection. The troubles of human life are so many lessons for the soul; lessons often hard to bear but that are all the more profitable for its future, in proportion to the depth of the impression left by them: they give rise to incessant struggles that develop its moral and intellectual faculties and strengthen it in the pursuit of goodness, and from which it always emerges victorious if it has had the courage to persevere in its efforts to the end. It reaps the reward of its victory in the spirit-life, into which it enters radiant and triumphant, like the soldier who returns from the battlefield to receive the conqueror’s palm.