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The clearing one's self of an offence charged, by denying the guilt on oath or affirmation.
There were two sorts of purgation, the vulgar, and the canonical.
Vulgar purgation consisted in superstitious trials by hot and cold water, by fire, by hot irons, by batell, by corsned, etc., which modes of trial were adopted in times of ignorance and barbarity, and were impiously called judgments of God.
Canonical purgation was the act of justifying one's self, when accused of some offence in the presence of a number of persons, worthy of credit, gen-erally twelve, who would swear they believed the accused.
In modern times, a man may purge himself of an offence, in some cases where the facts are within his own knowledge; for example, when a man is charged with a contempt of court he may purge himself of such contempt by swearing that in doing the act charged he did not intend to commit a contempt.