Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

entrusted with an important political mission. The system of gove ernment in Spain; its constitutional history, epochs, and parties; its jurisprudence and press; the social customs and entertainments of the large cities; its literature, education, fine arts, systems of instruction and ecclesiastical orders and customs; the taxation of the people, the agricultural and mineral wealth of the nation, internal improvements and police, are sketched, not with fulness, of course, but with discrimination, conciseness, and the clearness of accurate knowledge. The book does not seem to be a hasty production manufactured to sell, but a well prepared statement of wide information and mature ideas. The style of the book is clear, manly, simple, and pure.

31. The Poetical Works of Henry Alford, Vicar of Wymeswold, Leicestershire. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields. 1853. 12mo. pp. 424.

If this volume were 'only half as large, we could say more in its favor. But one gets tired in wading through so many sheets of elegant, meditative, pious and monotonous commonplaces. Now and then, a poem meets us that dresses a beautiful thought or devout sentiment in delicate rhythm, but Mr. Alford has no right to claim four hundred pages as his allowance in modern poetic literature. As Goethe said, he puts too much water in his ink.”

K. 32. Voices from the Mountains and from the Crowd. By Charles Mackay. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields. 1853. 12m. pp. 373.

The first reprint in America of any of Mr. Mackay's volumes of spirited verse. The author is essentially a reform poet, a ready and vigorous versifier of progressive ideas and generous hopes. Some of his descriptions of nature in the “ Voices from the Mountains” are true, and betray the living poetic sympathy, but his muse is most at home in the Crowd. The poet's heart beats strong and full for man, and his genius has amplest room, and his marvellous command of rhythmical expression displays itself most freely in denunciations of social wrong, in sympathy with the oppressed, in pity for the fallen, and in jubilant prophecies of "the good time coming."

33. The Deck of the Crescent City; a Picture of American Life. By William Giles Dix. New York: George P. Putnam & Co. 1853. 16mo. pp. 120.

A singular mixture of prose and poetry, in which there are passages powerfully written. There is little unity to the book, however, and one cannot understand precisely for what purpose, either of instruction or amusement, it was published.


[ocr errors]

Art. XV.

Historical Sketch of Interpretations of 1 Pet. iii. 18-20,

and iv. 6. “ For Christ also hath once suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by [rather, in the spirit, by which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient, when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing; wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” 1 Pet. iii. 18-20.-[With this we ought also to take the verse in the next chapter, since it evidently relates to the same thing: “For, for this cause was the gospel preached also to those that are dead, (literally, to the dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” iv. 6.]

A READER, coming to this passage with no predilections on the subject, would not suspect there was any difficulty in understanding it, so far at least as respects its general meaning. He might not indeed have a very definite no. tion of what St. Peter meant by the word 6 prison," in such a connexion as this. He would, of course, infer, from the obvious nature of the case, that the term must here have been used figuratively; but whether it thus denoted a state simply of confinement, or a state also of suffering, might not be so clear to him. As to the general fact, however, which the apostle is here speaking of, he would not be aware of any want of explicitness in the text; he would take it for a perfectly plain sentence, and suppose its only purport to be, that Christ went in spirit, after he

1 We have been favored with the use of the following works on this subject:

1. Dogmatis de Descensu Jesu Christi ad Inferos Historiam biblicam atque ecclesiasticam composuit variisque Observationibus critico-philologicas illustravit Johannes Clausen Theologiæ Doctor & Sacrorum apud Stubbecopienses in Falstria primarius Antistes. Hafniæ. 1801. 12mo. pp. 87.

2. Epistolæ Catholicæ Græce perpetua Annotatione illustratæ a D. Davide Julio Pott. Vol. ii. Gottingæ. 1810. Excursus iii. p. 28) et seqq. (Second Part of Vol. ix. of Koppe's Nov. Test. Græce.]

3. Die Lehre von Christi Höllenfahrt nach der heil. Schrift, der ältesten Kirche, der Christlichen Symbolen, und nach ihre vielumfassenden Bedeutung dargestellt von Joh. Ludwig König, K. Preus. Garnisunprediger zu Mainz. Frankfurt a. M. 1842. 12mo. SS. 282.

VOL. X. 19

was put to death in the flesh, and preached, or ministered the gospel, to the spirits of those men who had been dis. obedient in the days of Noah; and he would naturally infer that the preaching was intended to do them good, to make them live according to God in the spirit, though they were to be judged by the same universal law that holds over men in the flesh. Suppose him to be tho. roughly acquainted with the figures of speech in ancient and modern, in oriental and occidental, usage ; suppose him to be familiar with the prophetic and poetical forms of expression in the sacred writings; and suppose him to allow all these their natural play in his mind, to the ut. most extent within the acknowledged laws of human language; yet, in such a sentence as this, all these would never suggest to him any interpretation essentially different from the historico-grammatical one,we mean, unless he had some contrary prepossessions to lead him off.

But if the reader came to the passage with an adverse dogma in his faith, or with an adverse tendency of thought, he would have to do one of two things : he would be obliged either to change, or suspend, his own views, or else to find some way to bring the passage it. self around into apparent consistency with them. And, here, it is important to observe that, howsoever the case might be with some individuals, the whole history of dogmatics shows which of these two courses the generality would take. The text would have to yield.

Now, it is plain, on the face of the matter, that the following classes of Christians cannot accept the natural meaning of the text, without some restrictions. 1. Orthodox Protestants; we mean those who hold that there is no chance for repentance after death, and who therefore cannot admit that Christ, after his crucifixion, preached to the spirits of the Antediluvians, with intent to make them live according to God in the spirit. 2. The same is true of Roman Catholics, with their well known doctrine of Purgatory for believers who die imperfect, and with their equally well known doctrine that none who die faithless and impenitent, like the Antediluvians, have any further offers of mercy. 3. Materialists, who deny that there is any human soul, or spirit, between death and the resurrection, and who hold, at the same time, that the latter event had not taken place when St. Peter wrote. They cannot even admit that there were such spirits as the apostle mentions. 4. All who hold the complete salvation of every person at the instant of death, or at the instant of entering the future state.

While thus grouping these four classes together, we shall not, of course, be suspected of the unworthy aim to insinuate an odious comparison, and to play on vulgar prejudices. In one respect only, they happen to stand in similar relation to the passage before us. This accidental similarity between them, on so narrow a point, is a matter of no kind of consequence; but the relation in which they severally stand to the text itself will be found of some sig. nificance in the historical sketch that we are about to enter upon.

The history of interpretations and hypotheses on this passage is naturally divided into three periods. The first is that of the primitive church, and extends from the apostolic age into the early part of the fifth century, when the notion of Purgatory began to be broached, and the present Orthodox system of Election, with its attendant doctrines, arose. The second period reaches from this date, through the Dark Ages, down to the Reformation. The third, to our times.

First PERIOD. From A. D. 100 to A. D. 415. With respect to the future state, the doctrine of the primitive church was quite unsettled on several of those points which we, at present, should deem too important to be left in fluctuation. Different persons advanced different opinions, without blame; nor did they always take care to be consistent even with themselves, on questions which had never passed through the ordeal of controversy, and which therefore were not fenced around by party lines. So far, however, as our reading has gone, it appears that, for three or four centuries, the Christians were unanimous in holding that the soul of Christ went, after his death, to Hades, there to further the work of human salvation among the dead. This universal opinion was founded chiefly on the two passages in Peter, together with some other texts, as Ps. xvi. 10, (quoted in Acts ii. 27, 31,) Ephes. iv. 8–10, &c. But the capricious way in which they generally interpreted Scripture, allowed them, when

chicas there to the soulies, thing ha

they had once taken a hint from their text, to carry it out in any direction they pleased. There was consequently a wide license of hypothesis, as to who those spirits were, to whom Christ preached in Hades. Some thought them to be the souls of the patriarchs, prophets, and pious men, who died before the coming of Christ; others, that they , were the dead in general; and some adhered to. Peter's specification, but supposed that the spirits of the Antediluvians were mentioned only as a signal example of all impenitent sinners who had died in former times,-a part being put for the whole, by a well known figure. Howsoever they determined these points, they generally clothed them in the fantastic views of that age. Especially did their views of Hades, or the world of departed spirits, give a peculiar form to all their representations of this subject. İt may be well to premise that they regarded Hades as a subterranean realm, where the souls of all the deceased, both good and bad, remained from death till the resurrection, but in the possession of their faculties, and expecting the last judgement to complete their happiness or misery. We may admit such an intermediate state, without supposing it to have the locality and formal circumstances which they ascribed to it.

Second Century. Passing over some faint traces in the Apostolical Fathers, as well as in a few questionable remains of the first century, and of the early part of the next, we begin with the middle of the second century, where the regular series of ecclesiastical documents begins. What must have been the cornmon opinion at this time, will be seen, by every one versed in dogmatic history, from the example of the heretic Marcion, about A. D. 150. According to his usual method of perverting the doctrines of the Church to his Gnóstic fancies, he contend. ed that when Christ descended to Hades, the souls which he released were those of Cain, the Sodomites, the host of Pharaoh, and of the heathens who had opposed the God of the Old Testament; but that he excluded Abel, the Patriarchs and prophets, frorn his kingdom, for their obedience to the Maker of the world. That Christ went and preached to the spirits in Hades, was the doctrine which Marcion borrowed from the prevalent belief; the turn he

1 Irenæus Adv. Hæres. i. cap. 29. 93.

« AnteriorContinuar »