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His fpirit did after this defeend
Of them that long in darkness were
But in the Synod ten Years after, in the Days of Queen Elizabeth, the Articles, which continue still in force, deliver the fame Descent, but with
out any the least Explication or reference to any particular place of Scripture, Article 3. in these Words; As Christ died for us and was buried, fo also it is to be 1562. believed that he went down into Hell. Wherefore being our Church hath
not now imposed that Interpretation of S. Peter's Words, which before it intimated; being it hath not delivered that as the only place of Seripture to. found the Descent into Hell upon ; being it hath alledged no other place to ground it, and delivered no other Explication to expound it: we may with the greater liberty pass on to find out the true Meaning of this Article, and to give our particular Judgment in it, so far as a Matter of so much Obfcurity and Variery will permit.
Firft then, It is to be observed, that as this Article was first in the Aquileian Creed, so it was delivered there not in the exprefs and formal Term of Hell, but in such a Word as may be capable of a greater Latitude, Defcen
dit in inferna : which Words as they were continued in * other Creeds, so * Defcendit in did they find a double Interpretation among the Greeks; some translating Inferna, or ad Inferna, Hell ; others, the lower parts: the first with relation to S. PeInferna,is the general writer's Words of Chrift, a Thou shalt not leave my foul in Hell; the second
referring to that of $. Paul, He defcended into the lower parts of the Ancient MSS. as the learned earth. Archbishop teftifeth of those in the Benedi&ine and Cottonian Libraries; to which I may add those in the Library at Westminster : we see the same likewise in that of Elipandus, Descendit ad inferna. Which words are so recited in the Creed delivered in the Catechism set forth by the Authority of Edw. VI. An. Dom. 1553. * . So the ancient Mss. in Bennet-College Library, Ka7c20617a dis ta xalárule. and the Confession made at Sirmium, kis tá xa7cxBóvier x78206v7c. Since that it is Descendit ad inferos, and xaladóna sis ads, or Descendit ad inferum, as Venantius Fortunatus. For tá xalatula is a fit Interpretation, if we take Inferna according to the Vulgar Etymology; as S. Auguftine, Inferi eò quòd in frà fint, Latinè appellantur, De Gen. ad lit. I. 12. 6.34. or as Nonius Marcellus, Inferum ab imo di&tum, unde inferi, quibus inferius nihil. Again, Inferna may well be translated cons, if it be taken according to the true Origination, which is from the Greek #vegi, with the Æolick digamma, from which Dialect most of the Latine Language came, "E»Feegl, Inferni. Now ve@g, according to the Greek composition, is nothing else but wooxdórios, Etym. "Eveegi, oi vexegi, do ci ra égą, xétat, ő is, o qñ añ and Suid. 'Evéegis, vexegis, dini 78 cv tñ igą xray. "Eeg is anciently the Earth, from whence čeg se, zapãže, to the Earth : éve@g, then are in the Earth, as they supposed the Manes or Spirits of the Dead to be; from whence Homer, Iliad. ó'. 'aidns evéegion divdaar, of Pluto; and Hesiod. Teror' 'Aidns créeglar xalapos púolts ανάοσων" and im imitation of the Eichylus in Peris, Γήτε, και Ερμή, βασιλεύς τ' ανέρων, Πέμψα έρθεν ψυχαν εις φάος. Thus ve ogl are those which Æschylus elsewhere calls tos nãs regley & res nos 'uselev. And as rregl, the Souls of the Dead in the Earth, so are Inferi in the first acception, that is Manes.' Pomponius Mela, Augilæ manes tantùm Deos putant; which Pliny delivers thus, Augilæ inferos tantum colunt, and Solinus, Augilæ verò folos colunt inferos. Inferi were then first eve@gly the Souls of Men in the Earth : and as Manes is not only put for the Souls below, but also for, the Place, as in the Poetj.
Manesque profundi, and Hæc manes veniat mihi fama fub imos ; so Inferi is most frequently used for the place under Ground where the souls departed are, and the Inferna muft then be those Regions in which they take up their Habitations. And so Descendit ad Inferna, xañadev sis ads, and Delcendit ad Inferos, are the same. " . a Acts 2. 27., 6 Ephef. 4.9. * So are the Secondly, I obferve that in the Aquileian Creed, where this Article was firft Ruffinus, expressed, there was no mention of Christ's Burial; but the Words of their Crucifixus Confession ran thus, * crucified under Pontius Pilate; he defcended in inferna. sub Pontio Pi- from ih lato, descendit."?
Stronair From whence there is no queftion but the Observation of Ruffinus, who first in inferna.
.. . And his Observation upon them is this; Sciendum fane eft, quòd in Ecclefiæ Romanæ Symbolo non habetur additum, Descendit ad inferna; sed neque in Orientis Ecclefiis habetur hic sermo : vis, tamen verbi eadem videtur effe in eo quod sepultus est. Expof.Symb. The same may also be observed in the Athanafian Creed, which has the Descent, but not the Sepulture; Who suffered for our Salvation, descended into Hell, rose again the third day from the dead. Nor is this only obfervable in these two, but also in the Creed made at Sirmium, and produced at Ariminum, in which the words run thus, sangabérles, as w.abosla, rj ambayóv?«, iš eis Trà xa7a7c8ávocc xa7e2b67a. Where though the Descent be expressed, and the Burial
be not mentioned, it is most certain, those Men which made it (Hereticks indeed, but not in this) did not understand his Burial by that Descent : and that appears by addition of the following words; es ta xa7cxcoóvoce xc7e2@óv7a, y tá entro eixovouýture, or sunwegi ádo idós?€5" Feržuv. For he did not dispose and order things below by his Body in the Grave : nor could the Keepers of the Gates of Hell be affrighted with any sight of his Corps lying in the Sepulchre. expounded it, was most true, that though the Roman and Oriental Creeds had not their words, yet they had the sense of them in the word buried. It appeareth therefore that the first intention of putting these words in the Creed was only to express the Burial of our Saviour, or the Descent of his Body into the Grave. But although they were first put in the Aquileian Creed, to signifie the Burial of Christ, and those which had only the Burial in their Creed, did confefs as much as those which without the Burial did express the Descent; yet since the Roman Creed hath added the Descent anto the Burial, and expressed that Descent by words signifying more properly Hell, it cannot be imagined that the Creed, as it now' stands, fhould fignifie only the Burial of Christ by his Descent into Hell, But rather, being the ancient Church did certainly believe that Christ did some other way descend beside his Burial; being though he interpreted those words of the Burial only, yet in the relation of what was done at our Saviour's Death, he makes mention of his Descent into Hell, beside, and * distinct from, his * For having Sepulture ; being those who in After-Ages added it to the Burial, did actual
w produced ma
uala ny places of ly believe that the Soul of Christ descended : it followeth that, for the Scripture to Exposition of the Creed, it is moft necessary to declare in what that De-prove the cir
cumstances of fcent consistech.
Death, and having cited those particularly which did belong unto his Burial, he passes farther to his Descent, in these words; Sed & quòd in infernum defcendit, evidentèr prænuntiatur in Psalmis, ubi dicit, Et in pulverem mortis deduxifti me; & iterùm, Qua utilitas in sanguine meo dùm defcendo in corruptionem; & iterùm, Descendisti in limum profundi, o non ect fubftantia, Sed & Matthæus dicit, Tu es qui venturus eft, an alium exspectamus? Undè & Petrus dixit, Quia Chriftus mortificatus carne, vivificatus autem fpiritu. In ipfo, ait, o eis qui in carcere inclus erant in diebus Noe : in quo, etiam quid operis egerit in inferno declaratur, Sed & ipfe Dominus per Prophetam dicit tanquam de futuro, Quid non derelinques animam neam in inferno, nec dabis fanétum tuum videre corruptionem : quòd rurfus propheticè nihilcminus oftendit impletum, cùm dicit, Domine, eduxisti ab inferno animam meam, salvâsti me à defcendentibus in lacum. Whence it appeareth, that though Ruffinus thought that the sense of descendit ad inferna was expressed in sepultus eft; yet he did distinguish the Doctrine of Christ's Descent into Hell from that of his Burial:
· Thirdly, I observe again, that whatsoever is delivered in the Creed, we therefore believe because it is contained in the Scriptures, and confequently must so believe it as it is contained there; whence all this Exposition of the Whole is nothing else but an Illustration and Proof of every particular Part of the Creed by such Scriptures as deliver the same, according to the true Interpretation of them and the general Consent of the Church of God. Now these Words, as they lie in the Creed, He defcended into Hell, are no where formally and expressly delivered in the Scriptures; nor can we find any one place in which the Holy Ghost hath said in express and plain Terms that Christ as he died and was buried, so be defcended into Hell. "Wherefore being these Words of the Creed are not formally expressed in the Scripture, our Inquiry must be in what Scriptures they are contained virtually; that is, where the Holy Ghost doth deliver the fame Doctrine, in what Words foever, which is contained, and to be understood in this Expression, He defcended into Hell.
Now several places of Scripture have been produced by the Ancients as delivering this Truth, of which some without question prove it not: but three there are which have been always thought of greatest validity to confirm this Article. First, that of S. Paul to the Ephesians seems to come very near the Words themselves, and to express the same almost * in Terms: a Now that he * For the first
Expression Thich we find in Ruffinus, Descendit in inferna, comes most near to this Quotation ; especially if we take the ancient Greek Translation of it: ncc206v7a kis tá xc7a7a7a. For if we consider that xulotege may well have the signification of the Superlative, especially being the Lxx. hath fo translated Psalm 63. 9. vicinoúrovás ta xollára ta os rãs. and Psalin 139. 15. ve sizigaris kr á tois xu7o7oTois ma võs, what can be nearer than the 'e two, m47:18 w eis ta nalate]6, and Terrebos eis ta xalátata; or these two, x07786v706 vis ta xala xBónia, and medvjedis ta nu?“ TECQ Mégn ja yña; * Ephes, 4.9.
ascended, what is it but that he descended first into the lower parts of the * This appear-earth? This many of the ancient * Fathers understood of the Descent into eth by i heir quotation of Hell, as placed in the lowest parts of the Earth : and this Exposition must be this place to confessed fo probable, that there can be no Argument to disprove it. Those prove, or exprometa De lower parts of the earth may signifie Hell, and Christ's descending thither fcent’into Hell, may be, that his Soul went to that place when his Body was carried to the as Irenæus Grave. But that it was actually fo, or that the Apostle intended so much does, I. 5. c.
ñ. in those Words, the Place it felf will not manifest. For we cannot be afHom. 35. in sured that the Descent of Christ, which S. Paul speaks of, was performed Matt. Atha
eath ; or if it were, we cannot be assured that the lower parts of nasius, Epift. anter ad Epictetum, the earth did signifie Hell, or the Place where the Souls of Men were torHilarius in mented after the Separation from their Bodies. For as it is written, a No Psal. 67. 5. Jerome up- man ascended up to heaven, but he that descended from heaven; fo this on the place, may signifie fo inuch, and no more, In that be ascended, what is it but Inferior and that he descended first? And for the lower parts of the earth, they may tem terræ in-4 fernus accipi- possibly signifie no more than the Place beneath: as when our Saviour faid. tur, ad quem 6 Te are from beneath, I am from above ; ye are of this world, I am Dominus noHer Salvator- not of this world: or as God fpake by the Prophet, I will few wonders que descen- in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath. Nay, they may well dit. So also refer to his Incarnation, according to that of David, My substance was the Commen- 101
attribu- not hid from thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought ted to s. Am- lower parts of the earth; or to his Burial, according to that of the Prophet, brose and s. Hilary, Si ita- Those that seek my soul to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the que hæc om- earth: and these two References have a great Similitude according to that nia Chriftus of 706, e Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked mall I reunus eft, neq; alius eft Chri- turn thitber. ftus mortuus, alius fepultus, aut alius descendens ad inferna, & alius ascendens in cælos, secundum illud Apoftoli, Afcendit autem quid efl, &c. De Trinit. I. 10. a John 3. 13. b John 8. 23. Psalm 139. 15. dpsalm 63.9.
e Job 1. 21.
eht in the
The next place of Scripture brought to confirm the Descent is not so near in Words, but thought to signifie the End of that Descent, and that part of his Humanity by which he descended. For Chrift, faith S. Peter, was put to death in the flesh,' and quickned by the spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison: where the Spirit seems to be the Soul of Chrift; and the Spirits in prison, the Souls of them that were in Hell, or in some place at least separated from the Joys of Heaven : whither because we never read our Saviour went at any other time, we may conceive he went in Spirit then when his Soul
departed from his Body, on the Cross. This did our Church first deliver as the * As Hermes, Proof and illustration of the Descent, and the ancient * Fathers did apply the Ireneus, l. 4.
2. fame in the like manner to the Proof of this Article. But yet those words of c. 45. Clem. S. Peter have no such Power of Probation; except we were certain that the Alexander Spirit there fpoken of were the Soul of Christ, and that the Time intended for Strom. 1.6. Ji Orig. Hom.35. That Preaching were after his Death, and before his Resurrection. Whereas if in Maf. s. A- it were so interpreted, the Difficulties are so many, that they + staggered S. Authanaf. I. de Incarn. con- gustine, and caused him at last to think that these Words of S. Peter belonged pist. ad Epic- not unto the Doctrine of Christ's descending into Hell. But indeed the spirit terum. Epiph. by which he is said to preach' was not the Soul of Christ, but thar Spirit by Hares. 77. s. Cyril. de which he was quickned; as appeareth by the coherence of the Words, being recta fide ad Theodofium. l. 12. in Johan. Orat. Pasch. o alibi fæpius. Author. Comment. Ambrof. ascript. ad Rom. 10. Ruff. in Explic. Symb. | For in his Answer to Euodius, Epift. 99. he thus begins ; Quæftio quam mihi proposuisti ex Epiftola Apostoli Petri folet nos, ut te latere non arbitror, vehementiffimè commovere, quomodo illa verba accipienda fint tanquam de inferis dicta. Replico ergò tibi eandem quæftionem, ut, five ipse potueris, five aliquem qui possit inveneris, auferas de illa atque finias dubitationem meam. Then setting down in order all the Difficulties which occurred at that time in the Exposition of the Descent into Hell, he concludes with an Exposition of another nature : Considera tamen, nè fortè totum illud quòd de conclusis in carcere spiritibus qui in diebus Noe non crediderant Petrus Apoftolus dicit, omninò ad inferos non pertineant, sed ad illa potius tempora quorum formam ad hæc tempora transtulit.
put put to death in the flesh, but quickned by the spirit, by which also be went and preached unto the spirits in prison. Now that Spirit by which Christ was quickned is * that by which he was raised from the dead, that is the
1 * Quid est ePower of his Divinity; as St. Paul expresseth it, a Though he was crucified nim quod die through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God: in respect of which vificatus eft he preached to those which were disobedient in the Days of Noah, as we proud badem have already b shewn.
caro qua foá
fuerat mortis ficatus, vivificante fpiritu resurrexit? Nam quod fuerat animâ mortificatus Jesus, hoc est, eo fpiritu qui hominis eft auis audeat dicere ? cùm mors animæ non fit nifi peccatum, à quo ille omnino immunis fuit cum pro nobis carne mortificaretur. S. Aug. Epift. 99. Et alibi. Certè anima Chrifti non folùm iminortalis secundùm cæterarum naturam. quisando cerca uomo nos animation fed etiam nullo mortificata peccato vel damnatione punita est; quibus duabus caufis mors animæ intelligi poteft. & ideo non fecundùm ipfam dici potuit. Christus vivificatus Spiritu. In ea re quippe vivificatus eft in qua fuerat mottificatus. Ergo de carne dictum est : ipfa enim revixit animâ redeunte, quia ipsa erat mortua animâ recedente. More tificatus ergo carne dictus est : quia fecundùm solam carnem mortuus est, vivificatus autem Spiritu, quia illo Spiritu operante in quo ad quos (leg. eos) veniebat & prædicabat, etiam ipsa caro vivificata furrexit, in qua inodò ad homines venit. a 2 Cor. 13. b Pag. 112.
The third, but principal, Text is that of David, applied by St. Peter. For David speaketh concerning him, I forefaw the Lord always before my face ; for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore did my heart rejoyce, and my tongue was glad : moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope. Because thou wilt not leave my Soul in hell, neither wilt thou faffer thine holy One to see corruption. Thus the Apostle repeated the Words of the Pfalmift, and then applied chem: He being a Prophet, and feeing this before, pake of the refurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in Hell, neither his flesh did fee corruption. Now from this place the Article is clearly and infallibly deduced thus : If the Soul of Christ were not left in Hell at bis 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 Refurrection, the Soul of Christ descended into Hell ; and confe. quently the Creed doth truly deliver that Christ, being crucified, was dead, buried, and defcended into Hell. For as his Flesh 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 Resurre ction: fo his Soul, which was not left in Hell, by virtue of the like Promife 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, faith St. Augustin, * it is so clearly delivered in * Dominium
quidem carne this Prophecy of the Psalmist and Application of the Apostle.
veniffe in infernum fatis conftat. Neque enim contradici potest vel prophetia quæ dixit, Quoniam non derelinques, animam meam in Inferno, (quod ne aliter quisquam fapere auderet, in A&ibus Apoftoloruñ idem Petrus exponit, vel ejufdem Petri illis verbis quibus eum asserit folvisse Inferni dolores, in quibus impossibile erat eum tenori. Quis ergo mii infidelis negaverit fuiffe apud inferos Christum? Epift. 99.
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 eafi. ly 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 ftands, 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 un to that Scripture upon which the Truth of the Article doth rely :: And confequently, whatsoever Interpretation is either not true in it felf, or not confistent with the Body of the Creed, or not conformable to the Doctrine of the
fe, & non
Apostle in this particular, the Expositor of that Creed by the Doctrine of the
First then, we shall consider the Opinion of Durandus, who, as often, fo
in this, is fingular. He supposeth tħis Descent to belong *unto the Soul, * Cùm Arti- and the Name of Hell to signifie the Place where the Souls of dead Men culus fit, Chri- a fums and Infe- were in Custody: but he maketh a Metaphor in the Word defcended, as not ros descendif- fignifying any Local Motion, nor inferring any real Presence of the Soul of
: Christ in the place where the Souls of dead Men were ; but only including Patione Divi-a Virtual Motion, and inferring an Efficacious Presence, by which Descent nitatis, fecun- the Effects of the Death of Christ were wrought upon the Souls in Hell: and dùm quam eft
hima nec because the Merits of Christ's Death did principally depend upon the Act of ratione cor- his Soul, therefore the Effect of his Death is attributed to his Soul as the poris fecun
Igent; and consequently Christ is truly faid at the Instant of his it in fepul- Death to descend into Hell“ becaure
de scend into Hell, because his Death was immediately efficacious chro; restat upon the Souls detained there. This is the Opinion of Durandus, fo far as quòd intelligatur ratione it is distinct from others. animæ: quo fuppofito, videndum est qualiter aniina Chrifti descendit ad infernum. Durand. lib. 3. dift. 22. 9. 3.
dùm quod fu- principa
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 Creed can be thought to speak a Language of fo great Scholastick Subtilty, nor the Place of David, expounded by St. Peter, can posibly 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 defces 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 Calvin. In- The next Opinion, later than that of Durandus, is, That the Descent 5. 10. Si Chri- into Hell is the fuffering of the Torments of Hell; that the Soul of Christ ftus ad infe- did really and truly suffer all those Pains which are due unto the Damned; los delicion that whatsoever is threatned by the Law unto them which depart this Life nihil mirum in their Sins, and under the Wrath of God, was fully undertaken and born est, cùm eam by
hat he died a true and natural Death, the Death of Gehenná, tulerit quiet and this dying the Death of Gehenna was the descending into Hell; that those sceleribus ab which are now saved by Virtue of his Death, fhould otherwise have eniration Deo in, dured the same Torments in Hell which now the Damned do, and Ihall enhe expresseth dure, but that he, being their Surety, I did himself suffer the same for them, prefently in even all the Torments which we should have felt, and the Damned shall. another phrase, Cùm diros in anima cruciatus damnati ac perditi hominis pertulerit. Quid igitur? Christus personâ fuâ fecundùm humanitatem pænam gehennalem nobis debitam passus est, animâ principaliter, corpore secundariò, utroque causaliter ad merendum, ad nos suo ipsius merito liberandos. Parkerus de Descenju, L. 3. $.48. Et ftatim, $.49. Descendifle namque Servatorem, modo supra memorato, ad Haden mortis gehennalis, innumeris patet argumentis.
. 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 in a strict, rigorous, proper and formal Sense ; for in that Acception it is not true. It must not, it cannot, be admitted that Christ did suffer all those Torments which the Damned suffer ; 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 Remorse of Conscience, feated in the Soul, for what that Soul hath done : but fuch a Remorse of Conscience could not be in Chrift, who though