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proof likewise of the point in debate. The cases are quite different; and supposing that they preached in hades to the souls of patriarchs, and prophets, and holy men of old, or to all the souls that were then in hades; yet this does not prove that the souls of wicked Christians will repent in hades, or that the gospel will be any more preached to them; since it was preached to them all their life long, and they all their life long disobeyed it.
But because it may be suspected, that, if there ever were any preaching and repentance in hades, there may probably be something of the same kind still, I shall examine the texts of scripture on which that opinion is built. And they are (besides those that have been remarked on already in their respective places) principally two , viz. 1 Peter iii. 18, 19, 20. and chap. iv. 6. In the first of these the apostle says, that Christ, being put to death in the flesh, was quickened by the Spirit: (not kept or preserved alive in his human soul, or spirit, according to the harsh interpretation of some :) by which (Spirit) also he went and preached (going he preached, that is, he preached, which is the thing intended, without any regard to local motion) unto the spirits in prison : where allowing that spirits in prison mean spirits in hades, yet this notion of Christ's preaching to them there does not follow from this text. He preached, says St. Peter, to the spirits that were in prison, that is, in hades; but he says not a syllable that this preaching to them was after they came into that place. They were when he wrote his Epistle, and they are still, in hades; but the time of Christ's preaching to them by the Spirit was evi
* See Number LXXXIII.
dently in the days of their flesh; even then when they were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing. Noah was a preacher of righteousness to that generation, and their rejecting his admonitions, being a resisting of the Holy Ghost, was the great aggravation of their disobedience. It is impertinent in Mr. Whiston to talk, as from this text, about Christ's preaching in hades “ to the old pious “ patriarchs ;” because if the text had any relation to preaching in hades, it says not that this preaching was “ to the old pious patriarchs before the flood,” but to the old impious rebels that perished in it; that kéopos koeßõv, as St. Peter calls them, 2 Ep. ii. 5. who had so corrupted their ways, and filled the earth with such violence, that nothing could cleanse and restore it but an universal deluge. And though they were so wicked, that it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, yet his longsuffering waited in the days of Noah a hundred years, or more, (see Gen. vi. 3.5) before he destroyed them. And what good reason then is there to imagine, that Christ should preach in hades to such sinners as these ?
If this text does not contain the doctrine of preaching in hades, there is hardly any shadow of pretence left that the other does, viz. 1 Peter iv. 6. For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. That is, says Mr. Whiston, p. 44. “ though these old sinners were condemned
y See Saurin, Patrick, Biblioth. Biblica, in loc. and Revelation examined with Candour, vol. i. dissertat. 9.
“ to be drowned in the flood, as to their bodies, for “ their crimes; yet might they, by this preaching “ in hades, be brought afterward to eternal life, in " their spiritual part, or souls.” Here, we see, he makes the former text the key to the meaning of this: for otherwise this text says not a word about the “flood,” or “the old sinners” that were “drown“ ed” in it, or any thing to that purpose. Consequently here are two things implied, 1. That the former text relates to preaching in hades; 2. That the text in debate must be interpreted by it, and means the same. Neither of which Mr. Whiston has proved, and we are under no obligation to take for granted. It is evident that the former text has nothing to do with preaching in hades; but if it had, why must this last text, in another chapter, and upon another subject, mean the same thing? It is owned that the text is very obscure; and the sentiments of commentators upon it are so various, that I shall not pretend to recite them. If the dead here are only the · metaphorical dead, men dead in trespasses and sins, which at least is possible, the dispute is at an end. If they are the dead in a literal sense, it does not follow, nor does St. Peter say, that the gospel was preached to them after they were dead. There is a like form of expression in Ruth ii. 20. Blessed be he (viz. Boaz) who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead : that is, has continued to be kind to the relicts of Elimelech and his son, as he had been to them when they
? A metaphor not unfrequent in scripture, as every one knows: Let the dead bury their dead, Matt. viii. 22. She that liveth in pleasure is dead, 1 Tim. v. 6. See Eph. ii. 1. Col. ii. 13. and more instances in almost any coinmentator,
were alive. [Patrick in loc.] The latter part of the verse in St. Peter shews, that whether they were dead or not at the time of his writing, they were alive when the gospel was preached to them. For it was preached to them for this cause, iva kpılão! KLÈV κατά ανθρώπους σαρκι, ζώσι δε κατά Θεόν πνεύματι, that they might be judged, &c. If the words be taken actively, in some such sense as this “, that they might condemn, might strive against, might mortify those sensual lusts and appetites which they had indulged in time past, when they wrought the will of the Gentiles, &c. 1 Peter iv. 3. which is living according to, or after the manner of men in the flesh, i.e. carnal men; then it is plain the gospel must be preached to them in their lifetime. For it was preached to them for this reason, that they might reform their former vicious life, and lead a new and spiritual life, living according to God in the spirit. If the verb kproão, be taken passively, it may denote the judgment either of this world, or the judgment of God. In the former way, the sense may be to this effect; For this cause the gospel was preached to them, that they might, or though they might be, or were, judged or condemned indeed in the flesh, according to men, i. e. put to death by the judgment of men, as to the body b, they might nevertheless live to God in the spirit, being made partakers of eternal life. Or, the judgment here intended may be God's, in some such sense as the following; viz. For this cause was the gospel preached to them that are dead, (i. e. either spiritually dead, or literally so, at the time of St. Peter's writing,) that they
* See Whitby's note on the place.
hght be condemned who live according to men in sheni te flesh', (who indulge their fleshly lusts in opposi
time don to the light of the gospel, and though they know el mare judgment of God denounced against those who mfrbimmit such things, which renders their continu
ace in them quite inexcusable : For this is the If the mondemnation, that light is come into the world, this C. John iii. 19.) but that they might live (in a art pappy immortality) who walk according to God in wishe spirit ; who are spiritually minded, and lead a vel oly life. There are several other interpretations of
his difficult text: which consideration alone may s erve to shew how unfit it is to prove any doctrine,
which is not agreeable to the tenor of scripture, or Contained in some plain passages thereof.
The point before us is certainly not asserted in any one plain text; and that it is not agreeable to
the general doctrine and tenor of scripture, is evi"", dent. For that uniformly teaches us that this world 1. is our state of trial, and the present life the time in
which we are to work out our salvation, without giving us any hopes, that, if we neglect it, we may retrieve things in hades. There are several passages
• Subaudiendum of, ante κατά ανθρώπους, et ante κατά Θεόν, elleipsi admodum familiari, de qua vide Animad. 1 Cor. ii. 2. Ad hoc enim et mortuis prædicatum est sive evangelizatum, ut damnarentur qui erant secundum homines in carne, vivant autem qui erant secundum Deum in spiritu ; i. e. ut damnarentur qui incedebant vel vivebant év årpátwy étiOvulais, &c. in cupiditatibus hominum; salventur vero qui vivebant èy Deanuatı Oecī, in voluntate Dei, ut est ver. 2. phrasis est omnino eadem apud Paulum, Rom. viii. 5. Οι γάρ κατά σάρκα όντες, τα της σαρκός φρονούσιν" οι δε κατά πνεύμα, τα TOū aveúpatos. Qui enim sunt secundum carnem quæ carnis sunt sapiunt, qui vero sunt secundum Spiritum, ea quæ sunt Spiritus. Sir Norton Knatchbull in loc.