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there is no question but the observation of Ruffinus, who first 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 signify the burial of Christ, and those which had only the burial in their Creed, did confess as much as those which without the burial did express the descent; yet since the Roman Creed hath added the descent unto the burial, and expressed that descent by words signifying more properly hell, it cannot be imagined that the Creed, as it now stands, should signify 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,Ruffinus makes mention of his descent into hell, beside, and distinct from, his sepulture;" being those who in after-ages added it to the burial, did actually believe that the soul of Christ descended: it followeth that, for the exposition of the Creed, it is most necessary to declare in what that descent consisteth. in Orientis Ecclesiis habetur hic ser- having cited those particularly mo: vis tamen verbi eadem videtur which did belong unto his burial, he esse in eo quod sepultus est.' Expos. passes farther to his descent, in these Symb. 9. 20. The same may also be words : ' Sed et quod in infernum observed in the Athanasian Creed, descendit, evidenter prænuntiatur in which has the descent, but not the Psalmis, ubi dicit, Et in pulverem sepulture: Who suffered for our sal- mortis deduxisti me ; et iterum, Quæ vation, descended into hell, rose again utilitas in sanguine meo dum descendo the third day from the dead. Nor is in corruptionem; et iterum, Descendithis only observable in these two, but sti in limum profundi, et non est subalso in the Creed made at Sirmium, stantia. Sed et Matthæus dicit, Tu and produced at Ariminum, in which es qui venturus est, an alium exspectathe words run thus : oravpwdévta, kai mus? Unde et Petrus dixit, Quia παθόντα, και αποθανόντα, και εις τα κα- Christus mortificatus carne, vivificatus Tax@óvia kateldóvra. Socrat. Hist. Ec- autem spiritu. In ipso, ait, et eis qui cles. I. ii. c. 37. Where, though the de- in carcere inclusi erant in diebus Noe? scent be expressed, and the burial be in quo etiam quid operis egerit in innot mentioned, it is most certain, those ferno declaratur. Sed et ipse Domen which made it (heretics, indeed, minus per Prophetam dicit tanquam but not in this) did not understand de futuro, Quia non derelinques anihis burial by that descent; and that mam meam in inferno, nec dabis sanappears by addition of the following ctum tuum videre corruptionem : quod words: cis tà karaxbóvia kateldóvra, rursus propbetice nihilominus ostenxai Tà ÉKToe olkovouñoavra, öv mulwpoi dit impletum, cum dicit, Domine, adov idóvtec šppišav. For he did not eduxisti ab inferno animam meam, saldispose and order things below by vasti me a descendentibus in lacum.' his body in the grave: nor could the Expos. Symb. §. 27. Whence it apkeepers of the gates of hell be affright- peareth, that though Ruffinus thought ed with any sight of his corpse lying that the sense of descendit ad inferna in the sepulchre.
was expressed in sepultus est ; yet he * For having produced many places diddistinguish the doctrine of Christ's of Scripture to prove the circum- descent into hell from that of his stances of our Saviour's death, and burial.
Thirdly, I observe again, that whatsoever is delivered in the CREED, we therefore believe, because it is contained in the Scriptures, and consequently 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 descended into hell, are no where formally and expressly delivered in the Scriptnres; 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 he descended 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 same doctrine, in what words soever, which is contained, and to be understood in this ex. pression, He descended 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 bave been always thought of greatest validity to confirm this Article. First, that of St. Paul to the Ephesians seems to come very near the words themselves, and to express the same almost in terms:* “Now that he ascended, what is it but that he first descended into the lower parts of the earth ?” (Eph. iv. 9.) This many of the ancient fathers understood of the descent into hell,+ as placed in the lowest parts of the earth : and this exposition must be confessed so probable, that there can be no argument to disprove it. Those “ lower parts of the earth” may signify hell, and Christ's descending thither may be, that his soul went to that place when his body was carried to the grave. But that it was actually so, or that the apostle intended so much in those words, the place itself will not manifest. For we can
• For the first expression which we of this place to prove, or express, the find in Ruffinus, descendit in inferna, descent into hell, as Irenæus does, comes most near to this quotation; l. v. c. 31. Origen. Hom. 35, in Matt. especially if we take the ancient Greek al. §. 132. Athanasius, Epist. ad Epitranslation of it: Kate Bóvta els rà ctetum, and Orat. i. contr. Arian. §. 45. Katúrara. For if we consider that Hilarius in Psal. Ixvii. §. 19. St. JeKarúrepa may well have the significa- ronie upon the place : Inferiora au. tion of the superlative, especially be- tem terræ infernus accipitur, ad quem ing the LXX, hath so translated Dominus noster Salvatorque descen: Psalm Ixiii. 9. cioekvoovt at sig tå ra- dit.' So also the Commentary attri. tórara rñs yas' and Psalm cxxxix. buted to St. Ambrose and St. Hilary: 15. και η υπόστασίς μου εν τοις κατω- “Si itaque haec omnia Christus unas τάτοις της γης what can be nearer est, neque alius est Christus mortuus, than these two, katedgwo eis od katú, alias sepultus, aut alius descendens tara, and karaßàs eis td karúrata; or ad inferna, et alius ascendens in coe, these two, kateldóvta eis rá kapaxfó- los, secundum illud Apostoli, Ascen.. via, and karaßávta sig tà Karótepa népn dit autem quid est, &e.' De Trinit. l. x. της γης και ;
9.66. + This appeareth by their quotation
not be assured that the descent of Christ, which St. Paul speaks of, was performed after his death; or if it were, we cannot be assured that the “lower parts of the earth” did signify hell, or the place where the souls of men were tormented after the separation from their bodies. For as it is written, “ No man ascended up to heaven, but he that descended from heaven;” (John iii. 13.) so this may signify so much, and no more, “In that he ascended, what is it but that he descended first ?" And for “ the lower parts of the earth,” they may possibly signify no more than the place beneath: as when our Saviour said, “Ye are from beneath, I am from above; ye are of this world, I am not of this world;" (John viii. 23.) or as God spake by the prophet, “ I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath.” (Joel ii. 30.) Nay, they may well refer to his incarnation, according to that of David, "My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lower parts of the earth;” (Psal. cxxxix. 15.) or to his burial, according to that of the prophet, “Those that seek my soul to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth :” (Psal. Ixiii. 9.) and these two references have a great similitude according to that of Job, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and paked shall I return thither.” (Job i. 21.)
The next place of Scripture brought to confirm the descent is not so near in words, but thought to signify the end of that descent, and that part of his humanity by which he descended. For Christ, saith St. Peter, was “pat to death in the flesh, and quickened by the Spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison :” (1 Ep. iii. 18, 19.) where the Spirit seems to be the soul of Christ, 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 proof and illustration of the descent, and the ancient Fathers did apply the same in the like manner to the proof of this Article. But yet those words of St. Peter have no such power of probation; except we were certain that the Spirit there spoken of were the soul of Christ, and that the time intended for that preaching were after his death, and before his resurrection. Whereas if it were so interpreted, the difficulties are so many, that they staggered St. Augustin,t and
• As Hermes, 1. jäi. Simil. 9. Irc- alibi sæpius. Auctor Comment. Amnæus, I. iv. c. 45. Clem. Alexand. bros. ascript. ad Rom. x, Ruffin. in Strom. I. vi, c. 6. Orig. Hom. 35. in Expos. Symb. 6. 27, Mat. al. $. 132. Atbanas. I. de En # For in his answer to Euodius, carr. et Epist. ad Epictetum, $. 6,6. Epist. 99. al. 164. he thus begins Epiphan. Hæres. Ixxvii. Ş. 7. Cyril 'Quæstio, quam mihi proposuisti ex de recta fide ad Theodosium, p. 20. in Epistola Apostoli Petri, solet nos, ut Joan. 1. xii. p. 1068. Orat. Pasch. et te latere non arbitror, vehementissime
caused him at last to think that these words of St. Peter belonged not unto the doctrine of Christ's descending into hell. But indeed the Spirit by which he is said to preach was not the soul of Christ, but that Spirit by which he was quickened ; as appeareth by the coherence of the words, “being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” Now that Spirit by which Christ was quickened is that by which he was raised from the dead,* that is, the power of his Divinity, as St. Paul expresseth it, “Though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God:” (2 Cor. xiii. 4.) in respect of which he preached to those that were disobedient in the days of Noah, as we have already shewn.t
The third, but principal text, is that of David, applied by St. Peter. “For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face ; for he is on my right hand, that I sbould 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, neither wilt thou sufferthine Holy One to see corruption.” Thus the apostle repeated the words of the Psalmist, (xvi. 8–10.) and then applied them: he“ being a prophet, and seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” (Acts ii. 25, 26, 27. 30, 31.) Now from this place the Article is clearly and infallibly deduced thus: If the soul of Christ were not left in hell 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 decommovere, quomodo illa verba acci- peccatum, a quo ille omnino immunis pienda sint tanquam de Inferis dicta. fuit, cum pro nobis carne mortificareReplico ergo tibi eandem quæstionem, tur. S. August. Epist. 99. al. 164. §. ut, sive ipse potueris, sive aliquem qui 18, 19. And: 'Certe anima Christi non possit inveneris, auferas de illa atque solum immortalis secundum cæterafinias dubitationem meam.'§.1. Then rum naturam, sed etiam nullo mortisetting down in order all the difficul- ficata peccato vel damnatione punita ties which occurred at that time in est; quibus duabus causis mors anithe exposition of the descent into hell, mæ intelligi potest ; et ideo non sehe concludes with an exposition of cundum ipsam dici potuit, Christus another nature: “Considera tamen, vivificatus spiritu. In ea re quippe ne forte totum illud quod de conclu- vivificatus est, in qua fuerat mortifisis in carcere spiritibus, qui in diebus catus: ergo de carne dictum est. Ipsa Noe non crediderant, Petrus Aposto- enim revixit anima redeunte, quia lus dicit, omnino ad Inferos non per- ipsa erat mortua anima recedente. tineat, sed ad illa potius tempora, quo- Mortificatus ergo carne dictus est, rum formam ad hæc tempora trans- quia secundum solam carnem mortulit.' ş. 15.
tuus est: vivificatus autem spiritu, 'Quid est enim quod vivificatus quia illo spiritu operante, in quo ad est spiritu, nisi quod eadem caro, qua quos volebat veniebat et prædicabat, sola fuerat mortificatus, vivificante etiam ipsa caro vivificata surrexit, in spiritu resurrexit? Nam quod fuerit qua modo ad homines venit.' Ibid. anima mortificatus Jesus, hoc est, eo . 20. spiritu qui hominis est, quis audeat + Page 192. sqq. dicere! cum mors animæ non sit nisi
scended into hell; and consequently, the CREED doth truly deliver, that Christ, being crucified, was dead, buried, and descended 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 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 expli: cation as may consist with the other parts of the CREED, and may withal be conformable unto that Scripture upon which
the truth of the Article doth rely: and consequently, whatso• ever 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, † 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 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
* Dominum quidem carne morti- Epist. 99. al. 164. §. 3. ficatum venisse in infernum satis con + Cum Articulus sit, Christum ad stat. Neque enim contradici potest inferos descendisse, et non possit invel prophetiæ quæ dixit, Quoniam non 'telligi ratione Divinitatis, secundum derelinques animam meam in inferno quam est ubique; nec ratione corpo(quod ne aliter quisquam sapere au- ris, secundum quod fuit in sepulcro; deret, in Actibus Apostolorum idem restat quod intelligatur ratione aniPetrus exponit), vel ejusdem Petri il- mæ: quo supposito, videndum est lis verbis, quibus eum asserit solvisse in- qualiter anima Christi descendit ad ferni dolores, in quibus impossibile erat infernum. Durand. in Sent. Theol. eum teneri. Quis ergo nisi infidelis ne- 1. iii. dist. 22. q. 3, gaverit fuisse apud inferos Christum?'