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and more practical in consequence) I should be willing al- SERM. together to wave this obscure and perplexed subject; yet XXVIII. however somewhat to comply with expectation, I (hall touch briefly upon some things seeming conducible to the clearing, or to the ending of the controversies about it.

Now whereas there may be a threefold inquiry; one, concerning the meaning of these words {he descended into hell) intended by those who inserted them; another, concerning the most proper signification of the words themselves; a third, concerning the meaning they are in consistency with truth capable of;

i. The first I resolve, or rather remove, by saying, it seems needless to dispute, what meaning they, who placed the words here, did intend; since, I. It is possible, and by many like instances might be declared so, and perhaps not unlikely, that they might both themselves upon probable grounds believe, and for plausible ends propound to the belief of others, this proposition, without apprehending any distinct fense thereof; as we believe all the Scriptures, and commend them to the faith of others, without understanding the fense of many passages therein: and since, 3. Perhaps they might by them intend some notion not certain, or not true, following some conceits then passable among divers, but not built upon any sure foundation, (like that of the millennium; and the necessity of infants communicating, &c. which were anciently in great vogue, but are now discarded:) and since, 3. To speak roundly, their bare authority, whoever they were, (for that doth not appear,) could not be such, as to oblige us to be of their minds, whatever they did mean or intend; they perhaps were such, to whom we might owe much reverence, but should not be obliged to yield entire credence to their opinions. But farther, 4. Were I bound to speak my sense, I should say, that, supposing they had any distinct meaning, they did intend to affirm, that our Saviour's soul did, by a true and proper kind of motion, descend into the regions infernal, or beneath the earth; where they conceived the souls of men were detained: for this appears to have been the more general and current opiSERM. nion of those times, which it is probable they did comply XXVIII. with herein, whencesoever fetched, however grounded.

3. As to the second inquiry, concerning the signification of the words, what may be meant by he descended; whether our Saviour himself, according to his humanity, or his foul, or his body, called he by synecdoche: what by descended, whether (to omit that sense, which makes the whole sentence an allegory, denoting the sufferance of infernal or hellish pains and sorrows, as too wide from the purpose; whether, I say) by descending may be signified a proper local motion toward such a term, or an action so called in respect to some such motion accompanying it; or a virtual motion by power and efficacy in places below: what by hell, whether a state of being, or a place; if a place, whether that where bodies are reposed, or that to which souls do go; and if a place of fouls, whether the place of good and happy fouls, or that of bad and miserable ones; or indifferently, and in common of both those; for such a manifold ambiguity these words have, or are made to have; and each of these senses are embraced and contended for: I (hall not examine any of them, nor farther meddle in the matter, than by faying, Kobisinfe- i. That the Hebrew word sheol (upon the true notion

teTMnet°in° of which the sense of the word heU (or hadeS) in this altovafti- place is conceived to depend) doth seem originally, most

fis Wceri- properly, and most frequently (perhaps constantly, except busejusab-wnen it js translated, as all words sometimes are, to a fifunditas. gurative use) to design the whole region protended downsUfbJ* ward from the surface of the earth to a depth (accord'hrixum.. ing to the vulgar opinion, as it seems anciendy over the , ,rov'xv' world) indefinite and unconceivable; vastly capacious in Ai*?».;«. > extension, very darksome, desolate, and dungeon-like in Qo. quality, (whence it is also frequendy styled the pit, a the

■ Isa.. lowest, pit, b the abyss, c the depths of the earth, d the darkP(. lxxxviii! 1iess> c die depths of hell.) I need not labour much to *• . confirm the truth of this notion, since it is obvious, that

io. ih\s sheol (when most absolutely and properly taken, the

2oPs *"' circumstances of discourse about it implying so much) is John ii. 6. Rom. x. 7. c Psal. lxxi. 30. <■ Job xvii. 13. Psal. exliii. 3. Ecclcs. vi. 4. l Sam. ii.9. c Prov. ix. 18.

commonly opposed to heaven, not only in situation, but in SERM. dimension and distance; as when Job, speaking of the un- AAV1 "• searchableness of the divine perfections, faith, // is as Job xi. e. high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? and the prophet Amos; Though Amos ir. 9. they dig into hell, thence Jhall mine hand take them;Bj' though they climb into heaven, thence will I brine them (Deut.

j XXXII. 22.

down. Ka. Mi. 9.)

2. I say farther, because the bodies (or visible remainders) of persons dying do naturally fall down, or are put into the bosom of this pit, which is therefore an universal grave and receptacle of them, therefore to die is frequently termed xaTctSotlvstv si; aSoo, or xarayeQeq eif ix&ou, to descend, or to be brought down into this hell; which happening to all men without exception, (for, as the Psalmist says, there is no man that Jliall deliver his foul (or his life, or himself) from the hand of this all-grasping hell,) there- Ps. Ixxxix. fore it is attributed promiscuously to all men, good and48bad alike; / will go down, faith good Jacob, unto the Gen. grave, unto my son mourning, (xaraSrjo-oiMti tl$ SSa, I will"iT.V293ai. go down to slieol, this common grave of mankind,) and so frequently of others. Whence this hell is apt figuratively to be put for, and to signify equivalents with, death itself; and it is once by the LXX. so translated, (and St. Peter seems to use the phrasef after them;) for death, I say, orsa Sam. for the law, condition, and state of death: as in that of Acts'if. 24. Hezekiah in the prophet Isaiahs; Sheol cannot praise thee;'*}*7"'*"death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit sorrows of cannot hope for thy truth: where 0! Iv «8», and 0! airoSavov- p^j0"1" T«j, (as the Greek renders sheol and death,) are the fame, about, and opposed to the living, of whom it is said, The living, XXXyj;j. 18_ the living he Jhall praise thee. Dta,h and

3. I say farther, that this word, according to ancient frequently use, seems not to signify the place, whither men's souls doJ'omed ■* go, or where they abide; for that, mous.

1. It can hardly be made appear, that the ancient He- j^JTM\ brews either had any name appropriated to the place of souls, or did conceive distinctly which way they did go; otherwise than that, as the Preacher speaks, they returned Eccles. xii. SERM. unto God who gave them; and that they did abide in God's

XXVIII. hand; especially the souls of the just, according to that in

Wisd. Ui. i. tne hook of Wisdom; The fouls of the righteous are in

(Deut. the hand of God, and there fliall no torment touch them. xxxiii. a.) . i -r ,

And for that,

2. It seems, they did rather conceive the fouls of men,

when they died, to go upward than downward; as the

Preacher again intimates, when he differenceth the spirit

Ecdes. iii. of man dying from the soul of beasts; the foul of leasts

21 descending with its body to the earth; the spirit of man

ascending unto God, to be disposed by him according to

Gen. v. 24. his pleasure and justice. And by Enoch's being taken to

God, (whose special residence is expressed to be in heaven

a Kings ii. above,) and by Elias's translation up into heaven, (as it is

in the text of the history,) it is probable, they did rather

suppose the souls of the righteous to ascend, than to be

conveyed downward into subterraneous caverns, those /xo

wisd. xvii. xo) aSou, closets of hell, as the book of Wisdom calls them j

Ecclus.xxi.tnat po$po$ SSou, deep pit of hell, as it is in Ben-Sirach; to

Io, ii. ascend, I fay, whether into the supreme heaven, or no, is

iCxnt X'. not material; but somewhither above, nearer unto God's

Chrys. ad moft fpgcj^ residence, into a happy place.

Eph.iii. Is. 3. I add, that if those ancients had by Jheol meant the

xlf. a*!' 16 receptacle or mansion of fouls, it is not likely they would

Isa. xxxviii. have used such expressions as those: The grave {Jheol)

1S* cannot praise thee; death cannot celebrate thee; they that

go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth; so Heze

Psal. vi. 5. kiah spake: In death there is no remembrance of thee; m

slieol who shall give thee thanks P so David said: and,

Ecdes. ix. There is no works, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in

"'" slieol, whither thou goejl; so the Preacher; who hardly it

seems could fay so, if by Jheol he meant the place of

souls; except he should also mean, that souls after death

became deprived of all life and sense. The son ©f Sirach

likewise speaks in the fame manner: v^/km Tjj aiveVa hv

Ecclus. <x8»; Who shall praise the Mojl High in hell, instead os

3mua7,28'/Am which live and give thanks? Thanksgiving perijheth

from the dead, as from one that is not: the living and

found in heart shall praise the Lord.

I must confess, that afterwards (even before our Sa- SERM. viour's time) the word SSr^ was assumed by the Jews, to XXVIII. design (as it did among the Greeks) either the place of fouls in common, or more strictly the place of souls condemned to punishment and pain, for their bad lives here: Josephus doth often use the word in the first of these fenses; and in the New Testament it seems peculiarly applied to the latter; as in the parable of the rich man, who being h tw S85, in hell and torments, did thence lift up AwLukexvi. eyes, and behold afar off Lazarus in Abraham's bosom: but we cannot hence infer the fame concerning the ancient meaning of the word Jheol; especially considering how the Jews, after the prophetical days, in their dispersions becoming acquainted with the world, did borrow some notions and expressions from elsewhere; which expressions our Saviour and his Apostles might well retain, when they were suitable and accommodable unto truth.

3. But however it be determined concerning the proper fense in general of this principal word in the proposition, and of the rest depending thereon, as to their signification here; I do thus, as to the present case, and the last main question propounded about the meaning, whereof the words are capable with truth, answer briefly.

1. If we do interpret the descent into hell here affirmed of our Saviour's interment, or being laid in the bosom of that universal grave we before spake of; or if (in a notion little differing from that) we take these words for a phrase (taking its ground thence in the manner fore-mentioned) importing no otherwise than when it was spoken of Jacob and others, that our Saviour did really pass into the state of death; we are sure therein not to err; the proposition so understood being most certainly true: we shall also hereby be able fairly to satisfy the first and best (if not the only) reason of this proposition being commended to our belief. For that place in the Acts which seems to have been the occasion and the main ground of this proposition being asserted in these terms, doth not refuse, but commodioufly admits this interpretation: for our Saviour's soul not being lest in hell, and not seeing corruption,

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