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This place then of St. Paul to the Colossians cannot prove that Christ descended into hell, to triumph over the devil there; and if it be not proper for that purpose of itself, it will not be more effectual by the addition of that other to the Ephesians. For, first, we have already shewn, that the descending into the lower parts of the earth, doth not necessarily signify his descent into hell, and consequently, cannot prove that either those things which are spoken in the same place, or in any other, are to be attributed to that descent. Again, if it were granted, that those words did signify hell, and this Article of our CREED were contained in them, yet would it not follow from that Scripture, that Christ triumphed over Satan while his soul was in hell; for the consequence would be only this, that the same Christ, who led captivity captive, descended first into hell. In that he ascended (and ascending led captivity captive), what is it but that he descended first? The descent, then, if it were to hell, did precede the triumphant ascent of the same person; and that is all which the apostle's words will evince. Nay, farther yet, the ascent mentioned by St. Paul cannot be that, which immediately followed the descent into hell, for it evidently signifieth the ascension, which followed forty days after his resurrection. It is not an ascent from the parts below to the surface of the earth, but to the heavens above, an ascending up on high, even far above all heavens. Now the leading captivity captive belongeth clearly to this ascent, and not to any descent which did precede it. It is not said, that he descended first to lead captivity captive; and yet it must be so, if Christ descended into hell to triumph there: it is not said, when he had led captivity captive, he ascended up on high; for then it might be supposed, that the captives had been led before: but it is expressly said, ascending up on high he led captivity captive ;* and consequently, that triumphant act was the immediate effect of his ascension. So that by these two Scriptures no more can be proved than this, that Christ triumphed over principalities and powers at his death upon the cross, and led captivity captive at his ascension into heaven. Which is so far from proving that Christ descended into hell to triumph there, that it is more proper to persuade the contrary. For why should he go to is, εν σταυρώ, or, εν αυτώ with the it thus; Christ did lead sin and death Latins in scipso, it is the same: for and Satan captive; and when he had be triumphed over the devil by bim- done so, ascended up on high: but self upon the cross, as in the same being it is written, åvaßàs eis útos, case it is written, Epb. ii. 16. Kaì that is, having ascended up on high, αποκαταλλάξει τους αμφοτέρους εν ενί ήχμαλώτευσεν αιχμαλωσίαν, he captigómari Tao Oeqo dià Toở cravpoñ, ảno- vated a captivity, the ascent must bere κτείνας την έχθραν εν αυτώ. .
precede the captivation, though not * The original words do manifestly in time (as it did the giving of gifts) shew, that this triumphant act did not yet in nature: so that it is not proper precede this ascent: for bad it been, to say, by captivating he ascended ; αιχμαλωτεύσας αιχμαλωσίαν ανέβη εις but it is proper to express it this, by öpos, we might well have expounded ascending he led captive a captivity.
hell to triumph over them, over whom he had triumphed on the cross? Why should he go to captivate that captivity then, which he was to captivate when he ascended into heaven?
As for the testimonies of the fathers, they will appear of small validity to confirm this triumphant descent as it is distinguished from the two former effects, the removal of the saints to heaven, and the delivering the damned from the torments of hell. In vain shall we pretend, that Christ descended into hell to lead captivity captive, if we withal maintain, that when he descended thither, he brought none away which were captive there. This was the very notion which those fathers had, that the souls of men were conquered by Satan, and after death actually brought into captivity; and that the soul of Christ descending to the place where they were, did actually release them from that bondage, and bring them out of the possession of the deyil by force.* Thus did he conquer Satan, spoil hell, and lead captivity captive, according to their. apprehension. But if he had taken no souls from thence, he had not spoiled hell, he had not led captivity captive, he had not so triumphed in the fathers' sense. Wherefore, being the Scriptures teach us not that Christ triumphed in hell; being the triumph which the fathers mention, was either in relation
* So St. Jerome on that place of τοίς αιχμαλώτους ελευθερίαν κηρύξας. the Ephesians: Inferiora autem Hom. de Resurr. And thus Macarius terræ infernus accipitur, ad quem supposeth Christ victoriously speaking Dominus noster Salvatorque de- unto hell and death: Kɛlɛów ooi qon kai scendit, ut Sanctorum animas, que σκότος, και θάνατε, έκβαλε τάς έγκεκλειibi tenebantur inclusæ, secum ad guévas buxás. Homil. xi. p. 62. Auclor coelos Victor abduceret.' And on libelli de Paschate, under the name Matt. xii. 29. Alligatus est fortis, of St. Ambrose : • Expers peccati et religatus in Tartarum, et Domini Christus cum ad Tartari ima descencontritus pede; et direptis sedibus deret, seras inferni januasque conTyranni, captiva ducta est captivitas.' fringens, vinctas peccato' animas, So Arnoldus Carnotensis is to be un- mortis dominatione destructa e diaderstood, De Unctione Chrismatis : boli faucibus revocavit ad vitam. • Passus est rex illudi, et vita occidi; Atque ita divinum triumphum æterdescendensque ad inferos captivam nis characteribus est conscriptum, ab antiquo captivitatem reduxit:' dum dicit, Ubi est, mors, aculeus tuus? applying it to the custom of the Ubi est, mors, victoria tua ?' cap. 4. Church: ‘Omnino convenit, ut eo tem- And the commentaries under the pore quo Christus captivos eduxit ab same name: Gratia Dei abundavit inferis, reconciliati peccatores ad Ec- in descensu Salvatoris, omnibus dans clesiam reducantur.' Ibid. Thus indulgentiam, cum triumpho subAthanasius, when he speaks of Christ's latis eis in coelum.' Ad Rom. v. 15. triumphing over Satan in hell, he ‘Secundum animam descendit ad inmentions: rdv (dnv okvlevdévra, hell ferna et spoliavit principes tenebraspoiled, to wit, of those souls which rum ab animabus electorum.’Egbert, before it kept in hold. Otherwise in Serm. 9. contra Catharos. Thus still the ' same oration, in Passionem et the fathers which speak of spoiling Crucem, he acknowledgeth the tri- hell, of leading captivity captive, of umph on the cross: "Edet ydp Tòv vicn- triumphing over Satan in his own TV Tòv Ipļaußevovra (not Oplaußeú- quarters, are to be understood in reσοντα) κατά του διαβόλου, μή άλλη συγ- spect to those souls which they thought xwpivall'avrò Baorá selv tò TPón alov. were taken out of the custody, posŜ. 20. Thus Leo the emperor: Xpie session, or dominion of Satan, wheGTÖS ávéorn tovýdnv aixuałwrioas, kai ther just or 'unjust.
to the damned souls which Christ took out of those tormenting flames as some imagined, or in reference to the spirits of tbe just, which he took out of those infernal habitations, as others did conceive; being we have already thought fit not to admit either of these two as the effect of Christ's descent: it followeth that we cannot acknowledge this as the proper end of the Article.
Nor can we see how the prophet David could intend so much, as if, when he spake those words in the person of our Saviour, “Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell," he should have intended this, Thou shalt not leave my soul separated from my body, and conveyed into the regions of the damned spirits, amongst all the principalities and powers of hell; I say, thou shalt not leave me there, battering all the infernal strength, redeeming the prisoners, leading captivity captive, and victoriously triumphing over death, and hell, and Satan. In sum, those words of the prophet cannot admit any interpretation, involving a glorious, triumphant, and victorious condition, which is not a subject capable of dereliction. For as the hope which he had of his body, that it should not see corruption, supposed that it was to be put in the grave, which could not of itself free the body from corruption; so the hope that his soul should not be left in hell, supposeth it not to be in such a state, as was of itself contradictory to dereliction.
And this leads me to that end, which I conceive most conformable to the words of the prophet, and least liable to question or objection. We have already shewn the substance of the Article to consist in this, that the soul of Christ, really separated from his body by death, did truly pass unto the places below, where the souls of men departed were. And I conceive the end for which he did so, was, that he might undergo the condition of a dead man as well as of a living. He appeared here in the similitude of sinful flesh, and went into the other world in the similitude of a sinner. His body was laid in a grave, as ordinarily the bodies of dead men are ; his soul was conveyed into such receptacles as the souls of other persons use to be. : All, which was necessary for our redemption by way of satisfaction and merit, was already performed on the cross; and all, which was necessary for the actual collation and exhibition of what was merited there, was to be effected upon and after his resurrection : in the interim, therefore, there is nothing left, at least known to us, but to satisfy the law of death. This he undertook to do, and did: and though the ancient fathers by the several additions of other ends have something obscured this, yet it may be sufficiently observed in their writings,* and 'is certainly
* Irenæus so calls his descent: 'le- that which I intend very clearly: gem mortuorum servare.' Adv. Hæres. “Morte non interccptus est unigeni1. v. c. 26. and St. Hilary expresses tus Dei Filius; ad explendam quidem
most conformable to that prophetical expression, upon wbich we have hitherto grounded our explication, “Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.” (Psal. xvi. 10.)
Secondly, By the descent of Christ into hell, all those which believe in him, are secured from descending thither; he went into those regions of darkness, that our souls might never come into those torments which are there. By his descent he freed us from our fears, as by his ascension he secured us of our hopes. He passed to those habitations where Satan hath taken up possession and exerciseth his dominion;that having no power over him, we might be assured that he should never exercise any over our souls departed, as belonging unto him. “Through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;" (Heb. ii. 14.) and by his actual descent into the dominions of him so destroyed, secured all which have an interest in him of the same freedom which he had. Which truth is also still preserved (though among many other strange conceptions) in the writings of the fathers.* hominis naturam, etiam morti se, id tion of the Creed, descanting upon est, discessioni se tanquam animæ that place in the Psalms: Factus corporisque subjecit, et ad inferuas sum sicut homo sine adjutorio, inter sedes, id quod homini debitum videtur mortuos liber. Non dixit homo, sed esse, penetravit.' Tract. in Psal. liii. sicut homo. Sicut homo enim erat, §. 14. And before him Tertullian: quia etiam descenderat in infernum;
Christus Deus, quia et homo mor- sed inter mortuos liber erat, quia a tuus secuvdum Scripturas, et sepultus inorte teneri non poterat. Et ideo in secus easdem, huic quoque legi satis- uno natura bumanæ fragilitatis, in fecit, forma humanæ mortis apud in alio divinæ potestas majestatis ostenferos functus.' De Anima, c. 55. 'HXdev ditur.' §. 29. And yet more pertiαυτός ο των πάντων σωτήρ, και τας nently Fulgentius: “ Restabat ad pleημίν χρεωστουμένας τιμωρίας εις την ηum nostre redemptionis efectum, ut εξ ημών, ανθ' ημών, αναμάρτητον αυτού illuc usque homo sine poccato a Deo υπεδέξατο σάρκα. Καταφερόμεθα μετά susceptus descenderet; quousque ho-. τον θάνατον εις τον άδην' ανεδέξατο και mo separatus a Deo peccati merito TOūTO, kai karñ bev Èkovoiws eis aúróv. cecidisset, id est, ad infernun, ubi Gelas. Act. Conc. Nic. I. ii. c. 32. This solebat peccatoris anima torqueri, et St. Augustin calls proprietatem carnis, ad sepulcrum, ubi consueverat peccaCont. Felician. c. 11. Scio ad infe- toris caro corrumpi.' Ad Thrasim. 1. iii. ros Divinitatem Filii Dei descendisse c. 30. Ει ούν και αυτός είλετο, κύριος proprietate carnis; scio ad coelum ών του παντός, και δεσπότης, και φώς adscendisse carnem merito Deitatis.’ των εν σκότει, και ζωή των απάντων, And afterwards the calls it Injuriam θανάτου γεύσασθαι, και την εις άδου carnis: Erat uno atque eodem tem• Karáßaolv & idéarlar, is as kard pore ipse totus etiam in inferno, totus πάντα ημϊν ομοιωθή χωρίς αμαρτίας, in coelo, illic patiens injuriam carnis, &c. Andreas Cret. Serm, in vitam huhic non relinquens gloriam Deitatis.' manam, p. 241. I conclude this with c. 14. ^ Impleta est Scriptura quæ dicit, that exposition of St. Hilary upon et cum iniquis reputatus est. Quod et the words of the Psalmist, “ If I go altius intelligi potest,dicente de semet- down into hell, thou art there also :" ipso Domino, reputatus sum cum de- 'Humanæ ista lex necessitatis est, scendentibus in lacum: factus sum sic- ut consepultis corporibus ad inferos ut homo sine adjutorio, inter mortuos animæ descendant: quam descenliber. Vere enim reputatus est inter sionem Dominus ad consummationem peccatores et iniquos, ut descenderet veri hominis non recusavit.” Tract. in ad infernum.''Š. Hieron. in Isaiæ Psal. cxxxviii. . 22. c. liji. 12. Ruffinus, in his Exposi * As we read of the opinion in
Having thus examined the several interpretations of this part of the Article, we may now give a brief and safe account thereof, and teach every one how they may express their faith without any danger of mistake, saying: I give a full and undoubting assent unto this as to a certain truth, that when all the sufferings of Christ were “finished” on the cross, (John xix. 30.) and his soul was separated from his body, though his body were dead, yet his soul died not; and though it died not, yet it underwent the condition of the souls of such as die; and being he died in the similitude of a sinner, his soul went to the place where the souls of men are kept who die for their sins, and so did wholly undergo the law of death: but because there was no sin in him, and he had fully satisfied for the sins of others which he took upon him; therefore as God suffered not his Holy One to see corruption, so he left not his soul in hell, and thereby gave sufficient security to all those who belong to Christ, of never coming under the power of Satan, or suffering in the flames prepared for the devil and his angels. And thus, and for these purposes, may every Christian say, I believe that Christ DESCENDED INTO HELL.
He rose again. WHATSOEVER variations bave appeared in any of the other Articles, this part, of Christ's resurrection, hath been constantly delivered without the least alteration, either by way of addition or diminution.* The whole matter of it is so necessary and essential to the Christian faith, that nothing of it could be omitted; and in these few expressions the whole doctrine is so clearly delivered, that nothing needed to be added. At the first view we are presented with three particulars : First, The action itself, or the resurrection of Christ, he rose again. Secondly, The verity, reality, and propriety of that resurrection, he rose from the dead. Thirdly, The circumstance of time, or distance of his resurrection from his death, he rose from the dead the third day. Tertullian's time, thoagh not of him : * For though Eusebius Gallicanus Sed in hoc, inquiunt, Christus in- and Venantius Fortunatus leave out feros adiit, ne nos adiremus. Cæte- the last words, a mortuis, and some rum, quod discrimen Ethnicorum et copies in Ruffinus have it not; yet it is Christianorum,
si carcer mortuis generally expressed in all the rest, idem ?' De Anima, c. 55. Ergo aut which are more ancient than Euseipsius vox est hic, Et eruisti animam bius or Fortunatus: and therefore meam ab inferno inferiore, aut nostra that omission is to be imputed rather vox per ipsum Christum Dominum to negligence either of the author or nostrum ; quia ideo ille pervenit us- the scribe, than to the usage of the que ad infernum, ne nos remanere- Church in their age. • Quod die termus in inferno.'' S. August. in Psal. tio resurrexerit a mortuis Dominus 1xxxv. §. 17. Fáoxwv yào avròs ňuãs Christus, nullus ambigit Christianus." åvédaßɛ, kai helvūv"aúrós ý étpepe, S. August. in Vigiliis Pascha, iii. kai eistòvớony rataBaivov,vuăç å védepa. Serm. 79. al. 221. §. 1. S. Athanas. in Onnia mihi trad. &c. §. 2.