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at his resurrection, then his soul was in hell before his resurrection : but it was not there before his death; therefore
upon or after his death, and before his resurrection, the soul of Christ descended into hell ; and consequently the Creed doth truly deliver, that Christ being crucified, was dead, buried, and descended into hell. For as his fesh did not see corruption by virtue of that promise and prophetical expression, and yet it was in the grave, the place of corruption, where it rested in hope until his resurrection ; so his soul, which was not left in hell, by virtue of the like promise or prediction, was in that hell, where it was not left, until the time that it was to be united to the body for the performing of the resurrection. We must therefore confess from hence that the soul of Christ was in hell; and no Christian can deny it, saith St. Augustin, it is so clearly delivered in this prophecy of the Psalmist and application of the apostle.*
The only question then remains, not of the truth of the proposition, but the sense and meaning of it. It is most certain that Christ descended into hell; and as infallibly true as any other Article of the CREED : but what that hell was, and how he descended thither, being once questioned, is not easily determined. Different opinions there have been of old, and of late more different still, which I shall here examine after that manner which our subject will admit. Our present design is an exposition of the "Creed as now it stands, and our endeavour is to expound it according to the Scriptures in which it is contained : I must therefore look for such an explication as may consist with the other parts of the Creed, and may withal be conformable unto that Scripture upon which the truth of tbe Article doth rely: and consequently, whatsoever interpretation is either not true in itself, or not consistent with the body of the CREED, or not conformable to the doctrine of the apostle in this particular, the expositor of that Creed by the doctrine of the apostle must reject.
First, then, we shall consider the opinion of Durandus, who, as often, so in this, is singular. He supposeth this descent to belong unto the soul,t and the name of hell to signify the place where the souls of dead men were in custody : but he maketh a metaphor in the word descended, as not signifying any local motion, nor inferring any real presence of the soul of
Dominum quidem carne morti Christum ?' Epist. 99. al. 164. §. 3. ficatum venisse in infernum satis con t.Cum Articulus sit, Christum ad stat. Neque enim contradici potest vel inferos descendisse, et non possit intelprophetiæ quæ dixit, Quonium non dere ligi ratione Divinitatis, secundum quam linques animam meam in inferno (quod ne est ubique ; nec ratione corporis, secunaliter quisquam sapere auderet, in Actibus dum quod fuit in sepulcro ; restat quod A postolorum idem Petrus exponit), vel intelligatur ratione animæ : ejusdem Petri illis verbis, quibus eum as posito, videndum est qualiter anima Berit solvisse inferni dolores, in quibus im
Christi descendit ad infernum.' Durand. possibile erat eum teneri. Quis ergo nisi in Sent. Theol. 1. iii. dist. 22. q. 3. infidelis negaverit fuisse apud inferos
Christ in the place where the souls of dead men were ; but only including a virtual motion, and inferring an efficacious presence, by which descent the effects of the death of Christ were wrought upon the souls in hell: and because the merits of Christ's death did principally depend upon the act of his soul, therefore the effect of his death is attributed to his soul as the principal agent; and consequently, Christ is truly said at the instant of his death to descend into hell, because his death was immediately efficacious upon the souls detained there. This is the opinion of Durandus, so far as it is distinct from others.
But although a virtual influence of the death of Christ may be well admitted in reference to the souls of the dead, yet this opinion cannot be accepted as to the exposition of this Article ; being neither the Crees can be thought to speak a language of so great scholastic subtilty, nor the place of David, expounded by St. Peter, can possibly admit any such explication. For what can be the sense of those words, Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell," if his being in hell was only virtually acting there? If the efficacy of his death were his descent, then is he descended still, because the effect of his death still remaineth. The opinion therefore of Durandus, making the descent into hell to be nothing but the efficacy of the death of Christ upon the souls detained there, is to be rejected, as not expositive of the Creed's confession, nor consistent with the Scripture's expression.
The next opinion, later than that of Durandus, is, that the descent into hell is the suffering of the torments of hell ;* that the soul of Christ did really and truly suffer all those pains which are due unto the damned; that whatsoever is threatened by the Law unto them which depart this life in their sins, and under the wrath of God, was fully undertaken and borne by Christ; that he died at true and natural death, the death of Gehenna, and this dying the death of Gehenna was the descending into hell; that those which are now saved by virtue of his death, should otherwise have endured the same torments in hell which now the damned do and shall endure, but that he, being their surety,I did himself suffer the same for them, even all the torments which we should have felt, and the damned shall.
This interpretation is either taken in the strict sense of the words, or in a latitude of expression; but in neither to be admitted as the exposition of this Article. Not if it be taken
"Si Christus ad inferos descendisse 'Quid igitur ? Christus persona sua dicitur nibil mirum est, cum eam mortem secundum humanitatem pænam geben. pertulerit quæ sceleribus ab irato Deo in. palem nobis debitam passus est, anima fligitur :' which he expresseth presently principaliter, corpore secundario, utroque in another phrase : Cum diros in anima causaliter ad merendum, ad nos suo ipcruciatus damnati ac perditi bominis sius merito liberandos.' Parkerus de pertulerit.' Calvin. Instit. I. ii. c. 16. §. 10. Descensu. I. ii. §. 48. Et statim, $49.
+ [Some Copies read : true superna • Descendisse namque Servatorem, modo tural death, the second death, the death supra memorato, ad haden mortis geben. of Gehenna.]
nalis, innumeris patet argumentis.'
in a strict, rigorous, proper, and formal sense ; for in that acceptation it is not true. It must not, it cannot, be admitted that Christ did suffer all those torments which the damned sutier; and therefore it is not, it cannot, be true, that by suffering them he descended into hell. There is a worm that never dieth, which could not lodge within his breast; that is, a remors of conscience, seated in the soul, for what that soul hath done: but such a remorse of conscience could not be in Christ, who though he took upon himself the sins of those which otherwise had been damned, yet that act of his was a most virtuous, charitable, and most glorious act, highly conformable to the will of God, and cor sequently could not be the object of remorse. The grief and horror in the soul of Christ, which we have expressed in the explication of his sufferings antecedent to his crucifixion, had reference to the sins and punishment of men, to the justice and wrath of God; but clearly of a nature different from the sting of conscience in the souls condemned to eternal flames. Again, an essential part of the torments of hell is a present and constant sense of the everlasting displeasure of God, and an impossibility of obtaining favour, and avoiding pain; an absolute and complete despair of any better condition, or the least relaxation : but Christ, we know, had never any such resentment, who looked upon the reward which was set before him, even upon the cross, and offered up himself a sweet-smelling sacrifice ; which could never be efficacious, except offered in faith. If we should imagine any damned soul to have received an express promise of God, that after ten thousand years he would release him from those torments and make him everlastingly happy, and to have a true faith in that promise and a firm hope of receiving eternal life: we could not say that man was in the same condition with the rest of the damned, or that he felt all that hell which they were sensible of, or all that pain which was due unto his sins: because hope and confidence, and relying upon God, would not only mitigate all other pains, but wholly take away the bitter anguish of despair. Christ then, who knew the beginning, continuance, and conclusion of his sufferings, who understood the determinate minute of his own death and resurrection, who had made a covenant with his Father for all the degrees of his passion, and was fully assured that he could suffer no more than he had freely and deliberately undertaken, and should continue no longer in his passion than he had himself determined, he who by those torments was assured to overcome all the powers of hell, cannot possibly be said to have been in the same condition with the damned, and strictly and properly to have endured the pains of hell.
Again, if we take the torments of hell in a metaphorical sense, for those terrors and horrors of the soul which our Saviour felt, which may therefore be called infernal torn.ents,
11. “Neither shall be go in to any dead whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean
any man," qui tetigerit cadaver hominis;
because they are of greater extremity than any other tortures of this life, and because they were accompanied with a sense of the wrath of God against the unrighteousness of men; yet this cannot be an interpretation of the descent into hell, as it is an Article of the CREED, and as that Article is grounded upon the Scriptures. For all those pains which our Saviour felt (whether as they pretend, properly infernal, or metaphorically such) were antecedent to his death; part of them in the garden, part on the cross; but all before he commended his spirit into the hands of his father, and gave up the ghost. Whereas it is sufficiently evident that the descent into hell, as it now stands in the CREED, signifieth something commenced after his death, contradistinguished to his burial; and, as it is considered in the apostle's explication, is clearly to be understood of that which immediately preceded his resurrection; and that also grounded upon a confidence totally repugnant to infernal pains. For it is thus particularly expressed, “ I foresaw the Lord always before my face ; for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore did my heart rejoice and my tongue was glad: moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope; because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.” (Psal. xvi. 9, 10.) Where the faith, hope, confidence, and assurance of Christ
' is shewn, and his "Aesh,” though laid in the grave, the place of corruption, is said to "rest in hope," for this very reason, because God would not “ leave his soul in hell.” I conclude, therefore, that the descent into hell is not the enduring the torments of hell: because, if strictly taken, it is not true; if metaphorically taken, though it be true, yet it is not pertinent.
The third opinion, which is also very late, at least in the manner of explication, is, that in those words “ Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell,” the soul of Christ is taken for his body, and hell for the grave; and consequently, in the CreeD, He descended into hell, is no more than this, that Christ in his body was laid in the grave. This explication ordinarily is rejected, by denying that the soul is ever taken for the body, or hell for the grave; but in vain : for it must be acknowledged, that sometimes the Scriptures are rightly so, and cannot otherwise be understood. First, The same word in the Hebrew, which the
The Hebrew word is way and the ner the law for the high-priest, Les, xxi. Greek fuxna bixw'y vo anyn xy oux éyxaταλείψεις την ψυχήν μου εις άδην, Psal. xvi. ,” mai foi 10. But both voy and fuxn, are used ψυχή τετελευτηκυία ουκ εισελεύσεται. And for the body of a dead man, Numb. vi. 6. the general law, Lev. xxii. 4.
“ And and it is so translated; for Moses speaking there of a Nazarite, gives this law,
." ) ó “All the days that he separateth himself απτόμενος πάσης ακαθαρσίας ψυχής. Khich unto the Lord, he shall come at no dead is farther cleared by that of Numb. xix. ”
11. “He that touches the dead body of and in the LΧΧ. επί πάση ψυχή τετελευτηκυία ουκ εισελεύσεται. In the same man and ver. 13. Whosoerer toucheth the
על נפש מת לא יבא body
Psalmist used, and in the Greek, which the apostle used, and we translate the soul, is elsewhere used for the body of a dead man, and translated so. And when we read in Moses of a prohibition given to the high-priest or the Nazarite, of going to or coming near a dead body, and of the pollution by the dead; the dead body in the Hebrew and the Greek is nothing else but that which elsewhere signifieth the soul. And Mr. Ainsworth, who translated the Pentateuch nearer the letter than the sense, hath so delivered it in compliance with the original phrase; and may be well interpreted thus by our translation: ‘Ye shall not make in your flesh any cutting for a soul,' that is, “ for the dead.” (Lev. xix. 28.) “For a soul he shall not defile himself among the people,' that is, "there shall none be defiled for the dead among his people.” (Lev. xxi. 1.) 'He that toucheth any thing that is unclean by a soul,' that is, “ by the dead :” (Lev. xxii. 4.) Every one defiled by a soul,' that is, “ by the dead :” (Numb. v. 2.) 'He shall not come at a dead soul,' that is, “he shall come at no dead body.” (Numb. vi. 6.) Thus Ainsworth’s translation sheweth, that in all these places the original word is that which originally signifieth the soul; and our translation teacheth us, that though in other places it signifieth the soul, yet in these it must be taken for the body, and that body bereft of the soul.
Secondly, The word* which the Psalmist used in Hebrew, dead body of any man that is dead,” enim melius accipitur etiam illud, quod Omnis qui tetigerit humanæ animæ morti. Lex inquinari dicit eum, qui intraverit cinum. Therefore the vɔ and fuxn in super animam mortuam, hoc est, super de. Ler. xxix. 4. do signify the cadaver or functi cadaver ; ut nomine animæ mortuæ Horticinum; as also Numb. v. 2. “Who mortuum corpus intelligatur, quod anisoever is defiled by the dead,” xəU 52 inam continebat, quia et absente populo, Στο πάντα ακάθαρτον επί ψυχή, pollutιτη id est Ecclesia, locus tamen ille nibilo. Super mortuo.
minus Ecclesia nuncupatur.' Epist. 157. tuyo, Hag. ii. 13. is rightly translated, al. 190. ad Optatılm, de Animarum Orione that is unclean by a dead body. Thus gine, c. 5. §. 19. several times vo and fuxo are taken for * The Hebrew word is 5wxw, the Greek the body of a dead man; that body qonş. S8w'y aiyn x's 'J "Oti oix éyxawhich polluted a man under the Law by ταλείψεις ψυχής μου εις άδην, (or εις άδου, as the touch thereof. And Maimonides hath it is read in the Acts and in the Psalms, observed, that there is no pollution from also by the ancient MS. at St. James's.) the body till the soul be departed. There And these generally run together, and fore usa and fuxa did signify the body sometimes signify no more than the grave, after the separation of the soul. And this as Gen. xxxvii. 35. where Jacob thinking was anciently observed by St. Augustin, that his son Joseph had been dead, breaks that the soul may be taken for the body
,] only : · Animæ nomine corpus
πυκν» -ax “οτι καταβήσομαι προς τον υιόν significari, modo quodam locutionis osten pou nevôñv eis zdou, which we translate, ditur, quo significatur per id quod conti For I will go down into the grave unto my betur illud quod continet; sicut ait qui son mourning, upon the authority of the dam, Vina coronant, (Virg. Æn, vii. 147.) ancient Targums. For although that of cum coronarentur vasa vinaria; vinum enim continetur, et vas continet. Sicut yet the Jerusalem Targum and that of ergo appellamus Ecclesiam Basilicam,
, qua continetur populus, qui vere appel. sepulcri : and the Persian Targum, to the latur Ecclesia, ut nomine Ecclesiæ, id same purpose 772; as also the Arabic est, populi qui continetur, significemus translation, Inno descendam ad pulverem locum qui continet : ita quod animæ cor mæstus de filio meo. So Gen. xlii. 38. poribus continentur, intelligi corpora filio
xai rum per nominatas animas possunt. Sic μου το γήρας μετά λύπης εις άδού: which we
בי-ארד אל-בני ,ut into this sad expressionוס
,לשאול Onkelos keeps the original word
in domum ,לבי קבורתא Jonathan render it
was wardere והורדתם את-שיבתי ביגון שאולה