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was not publicly rehearsed before : but only, that the first Book we find it in is Ruffin's exposition; which indeed is rightly expressed by Bishop Burnet afterwardsa ; where he owns, that Ruffin found the doctrine in the Creed of his own Church.-The same Prelate speaks" as if Ruffinus confounded the Descent with the burial in his own opinion, whereas he held them to be distinct events; only he thought, that when any Church, which had the descent, omitted the burial, it was because that Church confounded the two together.— Bishop Burnet also says, that though the descent was in the Aquileian Creed, “there was no other Article in that Symbol, that related to Christ's burial,” which does not seem accurate; as the word sepultus is in capital Letters, as part of the Creed expounded.
The Doctrine under consideration was at first founded on some texts, which have since been thought not intended to support it.-Eph. iv. 9. Col. ii. 15.—1 Pet. iii. 19.—The only Pillar, on which it now rests, is Acts ïi. 24–31. But, when we come to our Proof, I hope that we shall find that Pillar sufficiently strong:- It is probable, that controversy and discussion have reduced it into its present shape. And I think there is an appearance of ingenuousness and fairness in dismissing texts, as it were, and retaining only one, at the same time that the Doctrine is thought so essential a part of the History of our Lord, that it is not to be omitted even in our shortest Creed.
The more settled the general doctrine of Christ's Descent into hell was in the mind of any one, the
* Art. iii. opening.
b Art. iii, end. · See Bp. Pearson, p. 472, first Edit. or 332, sixth Edit. d Burnet on Art. 3. first paragraph.
* See also Bingham; who gives “sepultus, et descendit ad Inferna.”
more he suffered his imagination to wander in search of particulars: the idea of Marcion' was, that Christ preached in Hell to the good spirits without success, as they suspected him; but that the damned spirits, confined by the Creator, Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, heard him, and were rescued. Other Divines asked questions, and answered them according to their own fancies. Did Christ really descend? to what place? in what manner? to what beings ? with what views? these questions might admit a variety of answers. Philosophers had liberty to get wrong by taking popular words in a philosophical sense. Judaizers might follow the Jewish traditions about Paradise and another world :-and, to come nearer ourselves, we find, that men of gloomy and austere tempers, who conceived ill enough of the Deity to hold the Doctrine of absolute Reprobation, determined, that Christ went to the place of the damned, and suffered their pains ; and that it was highly proper he should do so, in order to complete the Redemption of Mankind.-Such were Calvin and Beza, and the other Divines of Geneva.-Those of milder dispositions (I suppose) held, that Christ went only to Paradise. And possibly it might be a noble turn of thinking, which set others on maintaining, that Christ descended to Hell in order to triumph over the Hosts of Satan and the powers of darkness.
But we should not entirely pass over the Limbus Patrum ; yet it is scarce worth while studying it, so as to get a precise idea, though it is irksome to lay down any thing incorrectly. Before the coming of Christ, there were the Patriarchs, and many wellmeaning men; they surely could not be all damned ; though we must not think, they were sent to absolute Paradise: nor could they reside amongst vulgar, ordinary spirits; they must be, then, in a Limbus,an outer border, in the suburbs, (at podoTELOV); the Purlieus of Paradise. And Christ must have descended to Hell, in order to transport them from thence to a better place.-It would be hard too, that harmless infants, when they die, should go into a place of torment: and therefore this Limbus may supply a suitable accommodation for them: though it be properly the Limbus Patrum.--So considerate and provident were some of the ancients in their pious reveries!
i Lardner's Hær. Marcion, Sect. 18.
The Article of 1552 differs from our present one, in making the Doctrine more particular, and to be built upon a particular text ; so that no one could subscribe to it, who did not believe, that the Spirit of Christ, between the time of his Death and Resurrection, preached to the Spirits in Prison, and that i Pet. iji. 19. referred to Christ's descent into Hell. The Leaders of the Church in the time of Queen Elizabeth seem to have beeen very wise in the alteration they made; and in leaving the Doctrine grounded on the Scripture at large, and on the nature of the thing: more especially as the text, of which every subscriber to the Articles was supposed to form a judgment, is, by some", accounted one of the most difficult passages of Scripture. It is possible, that the Puritans may have contributed to the alteration, as they were Calvinists, and therefore probably adopted the notion of Calvin just now mentioned; that Christ went down to Hell, not to preach, but to redeem.
If we look into Strype’sb Life of Archbishop Whitgift, we shall see, that the notions of Calvin and the Geneva Divines continued to be popular, and occasioned some disturbance: occasioned a breach in
• See Poolc's Synopsis.
b Book iv. Chap. xxi.
the Unity of Doctrine :—Though no opinions appear there, but such as have been already mentioned, it may be interesting and useful to read a page or two, in which the disputes on this head are described. It may also afford a reason, why Bishop Pearson and Lord King treat so largely on this subject.
The Americans leave out this Article, in the Apostles Creed of their new Liturgy. 3.
I have now finished my History, and therefore will proceed to Explanation.-But, though our Article is expressed in general terms, and may therefore admit of several ineanings, yet I will confine myself to that, which seems to me the right one; as it is the one now generally received. It is here then declared, as what every Christian should believe and profess, that the Humanity of Christ was uniformly maintained, from the time of his death to the time of his Resurrection. As his Body was in the Grave, during that time, so every thing happened to his spiritual part, which is naturally incident to man.-Our Church avoids all particulars, as to the meaning of Hell, its inhabitants, &c.; nay, does not so much as mention the Soul of Christ, only says, “He went down,” &c.; yet, as it seems decisive, that the Descent is something distinct from the Burial, we may well suppose, that by “He" is meant his Soul. As Christ” “ was buried, so also"2" he went down into Hell.”
Were not the expression limited by the context, it might signify, either that his Body went down into the Grave, or that his Soul went into the usual habitation of departed Souls, or both : and » Yuxri autoū katéßn els tòv äònv, admits of all these senses; which is the thing that is now to be shewno. It does not seem to me to be said quite accurately, that yuxń means the Body, but it means the animal, the man', the same as ipse, or as He in our Article; and therefore it may denote either part of the man, according to the circumstances in which it is introduced. The case is the same of the word or noun man, and its pronouns. I saw a dead man,' does not mean a dead soul; I have been conversing with a wise man,' does not denote a wise body. So Yuxni TETENEUTnkvia, as it means a dead man, may mean a dead Body, but that is not quite the same as that Yuxn properly means a body :—we find eis yuxriv förar, Gen. il. 7. and i Cor. xv. 45. If it be said, yuxri primarily signifies soul, I do not deny it; it may signify first the animal Soul, then be put for the Man: Soul, in English, means the Man, in familiar language; when I went into Church, not a Soul was there.' See Lev. xxiii. 30. Indeed, body sometimes stands for the whole man, as when we speak of somebody and nobody: but this is not carried on, so that these familiar words denote either part of the man : that is, Body is not used to signify Soul, nor Soul to signify Body. In Syriac XuDj is used as a reciprocal pronoun, i. e. for myself, itself,
c Book iii. Chap. iv. Sect. 3. end. A. D. 1597. & Partic, the first halves of p. 502, and 504.
a Mentioned, Sect. 1.
6 This remark may seem to be contradicted by Lev. xix, 28. where émi yuxo signifies a dead body: (compare Deut. xiv. 1.) but my idea is this; the Jews had a number of things to observe with regard to the dead, or to dead men; and therefore the expression for a dead man would occur frequently; and expressions, which occur frequently, always get shortened: in a more formal way, the expression for one dead, or a dead man, was Yuxn τετελευτηκυία; but the long participle seems Sometimes to have been ommitted for convenience. € Masclef's Grammar, vol. II. p.
145. d Hence, by the word “ He,” in our Article, may be understood the Soul of Christ; though the word “us," i Cor. vi.