Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

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 CREED can be thought to speak a language of so great scholastic subtilty, nor the place of Da. vid, 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 bell ;* 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 in a strict, rigorous, proper, and formal sense; for in that

* Si Christus ad jpferos deseen t 'Quid igitur? Christus persona disse dicitur nihil mirum est, cum eam sua secundum humanitatem poenam mortem pertulerit quæ sceleribus ab gehennalem nobis debitam passus est, irato Deo infligitur:' which he ex- anima principaliter, corpore secunpresseth presently in another phrase : dario, utroque causaliter ad meren* Cum diros in anima cruciatus da- dum, ad nos suo ipsius merito libemnati ac perditi hominis pertulerit.' randos. Parkerus de Descensu, l. iii. Calvin. Instit. 1. ii. c. 16. 9. 10. §. 48. Et statim, $. 49. · Descendisse

+ [Some Copies read: true superna- namque Servatorem, modo supra metural death, the second death, the morato, ad haden mortis gebonnalis, death of Gehenna.]

innumeris patet argumentis.'

acceptation 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, 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 consequently, 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 tormients 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 torments, 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 “flesh,” 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 into 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,*

* The Hebrew word is way and NeugeTAI. In the same manner the the Greek fux), Va aiyn x5 law for the high-priest, Lev. xxi. 11. -Νυ- ουκ εγκαταλείψεις την ψυχήν « Neither shall he go in to any dead uov eis qony, Psal. xvi. 10. But both body,” x's no nwa ba syn 25 and ψυχή, areused for the body και επί πάση ψυχή τετελευτηκυία ουκ of a dead man, Numb. vi. 6. and it is eigelevoetat. And the general law, so translated; for Moses speaking Lev. xxii. 4. “And whoso toucbeth there of a Nazarite, gives this law, any thing that is unclean by the “ All the days that he separateth him- dead," VDJ Nou boa yauti kai ó self into the Lord, he shall come at απτόμενος πάσης ακαθαρσίας ψυχής. no dead body," in the original by which is farther cleared by that of

2 sb ne us, and in the LXX. Numb. xix. 11.“ He that touches the Émi náoy yuxõ TETENEUTnKviq oủk eige- dead body of any mạn," qui tetigerit,

flesh any

[ocr errors]

which the 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 cutting for a soul, that is, “ for the dead.” (Lev. xix. 28.)

For à 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,

[ocr errors]

cadaver hominis ; and ver. 13. “Who- coronant, (Virg. Æn. vii. 147.) cum cosoever toucheth the dead body of any ronarentur vasa vinaria; vinum enim man that is dead," Omnis qui teti- continetur, et vas continet. Sicut gerit humanæ animæ morticinum. ergo appellamus Ecclesiam BasiliTherefore the wa) and yuxr in Lev. cam, qua continetur populus, qui vere xxix. 4. do' signify the cadaver or appellatur Ecclesia, ut nomine Ecmorticinum ; as also Numb. v. 2. clesiæ, id est, populi qui continetur, “ Whosoever is defiled by the dead,” significemus locum qui continet: ita B55 Nρο 55 πάντα ακάθαρτον επί quod animae corporibus continentur, yuxõ, pollutum super mortuo. And intelligi corpora filiorum per nomiWIJ NO2 árábapros émi Yuxi, Hag: lius accipitur etiam illud, quod Lex

natas animas possunt. Sic enim me13. is rightly translated, one that is unclean by a dead body. Thus several inquinari dicit eum, qui intraverit times wój and Yuxñ are taken for super animam mortuam, hoc est, super the body of a dead man ; that body defuncti cadaver; ut nomine animæ which polluted a man under the Law mortuæ mortuum corpus intelligatur, by the touch thereof. And Maimo- quod aniniam continebat, quia et nides hath observed, that there is no absente populo, id est Ecclesia, locus pollution from the body till the soul tamen ille nihilominus Ecclesia nunbe departed. Therefore we and cupatur. Epist. 157. al. 190. ad Oyux) did signify the body after the ptatum, de Animarum Origine, c. 5. separation of the soul. And this was

§. 19. anciently observed by St. Augustin,

* The Hebrew word is Syaw, the that the soul may be taken for the Greek Qons. Ya dryn Byg body only: Animæ nomine corpus Syaw's "Ori o'k' &ykarakeifeis fuxív solum posse significari, modo quodam uov eis qonu, (or eis çdov, as it is read locutionis ostenditur, quo significatur in the Acts and in the Psalms, also per id quod continetur illud quod by the ancient MS. at St. James's). continet; sicut ait quidam, Vina And these generally run together, and

and the apostle in Greek, and is translated hell, doth certainly in someother places signify no more than the grave, and is translated so. As where Mr. Ainsworth followeth the word, * For I will go down unto my son mourning to hell;' our translation, aiming at the sense, rendereth it, “ For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning.”(Gen. xxxvii. 35.) So again he, ‘Ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow unto hell,' that is, “to the grave." (Gen. xlii.38.) And in this sense we say,

• The Lord killeth and maketh alive: be bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.” (1 Sam. ii. 6.)

Now being the soul is sometimes taken for the body deserted by the soul, and hell is also sometimes taken for the grave, the receptacle of the body dead : therefore it is conceived that the prophet did intend these significations in those words, “ Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell;" and consequently, the Article grounded on that Scripture must import no more than this : Christ in respect of his body bereft of his soul, which was recommended into, and deposited in, the hands of his Father, descended into the grave.

This exposition hath that great advantage, that he which first mentioned this descent in the CREED, did interpret it of the burial ; and where this Article was expressed, there that of the burial was omitted. But notwithstanding those advantages, there is no certainty of this interpretation : first, Because he which did so interpret, at the same time, and in the tenor of that expression, did acknowledge a descent of the soul of Christ into hell;* and those other Creeds which did likewise omit the burial, and express the descent, did shew, that by that descent, they understood not that of the body, but of the sometimes signify no more than the the Jerusalem Targum and that of Jograve, as Gen. xxxvii. 35. where Ja. nathan have it again xylapish; cob thinking that his son Joseph had and the Persian again 19 in sepulbeen dead, breaks out into this sad

crum; the Arabic bayad pulve,

rem, or ad terram. And it is observed ΠhΝ “Οτι καταβήσομαι προς τον υιόν by the Jewish commentators that MOU Trevbūv eis qdov, which we translate, those Christians are mistaken who For I will go down into the grave unto interpret those words spoken by Jamy son mourning, upon the authority cob, I will go down into sheot, of hell ; of the ancient Targums. For although declaring that sheol there is nothing that of Onkelos keeps the original else but the grave. word by wb, yet the Jerusalem Tar * Ruffinus, wbo first mentioned gum and that of Jonathan render it this Article, did interpret it of the xnyap35, in domum sepuleri: but yettre did believe a descent dis

grave, as we have already observed ; and the Persian Targum, to the same tinct from that, in the Exposition of purpose, 9122; as also the Arabic translation, Imo descendam ad prelve descendit, evidenter prænunciatur in

the Creed: 'Sed et quod in infernum rem moestus de filio meo. So Gen. xlii. Psalmis, ' &c. and then citing that of 38. na now ng WATOMI St. Peter : . Unde et Petrus dixit,

box kai karáteré pov to yñpas perd Quia Christus mortificatus carne, viviXúans eis adoũ" which we translate, ficatus autem spiritu: in ipso, ait, et eis Then shall ye bring down my gray qui in carcere inclusi erant in diebus hairs with sorrow to the grave : where Noe, in quo etiam quid operis egerit

אבל ,expression

כי ארד אל־בני

« ZurückWeiter »