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turgy, (as if it were not sufficiently spiritual,) and thus gradually excite aversion to this form of sound words and eventually to the church itself.This opinion is confirmed by the present work, for it informs us that although the liturgy was greatly valued by Wesley, and is so by some of his disciples, there are others "who have been so sagacious as to discover that the forms of devotion in which methodism was nursed are innovations ;and they are become spiritual in so high a degree above the founder of methodism himself, that what be through life continually observed and enforced, appears to them but a barren formality." It is gratifying to find that the work before us, in correspondence with the sentiments often expressed by Wesley, gives its decided approbation to our liturgy. "The plan of pacification (I quote from the book) recommended, and that strongly, the use of the liturgy. But the fault lay in not making the latter the sole and peremptory rule, a measure which then would have been gladly accepted, as a condition of opening the chapels, and by this time it would have become the established custom of the body. The publick opinion among us* in favour of the use of the liturgy is so much increasing, that the probability is, that in a few years it will become the general mode of our forenoon service in all the large chapels. That improvement is indeed greatly to be desired; for the liturgy secures the reading, of a large portion of the scriptures; it secures also what Mr. Wesley has properly called the four grand parts of publick worship, (namely, deprecation, petition, intercession and thanksgiving ;) it makes the service of God's house appear more like our true business on the Lord's
This is a statement which we could not
have expected, considering the sentiments or the customs of the methodists on this side of the Atlantick.
day; and beside the aid it affords to the most devout and spiritual, a great body of evangelical truth is by constant use laid up in the minds of children and ignorant people, who, when at length they begin to pray under a religious concern, are alrea dy furnished with suitable, sanctifying, solemn, and impressive petitions. Persons well acquainted with the liturgy are certainly in a state of important preparation for the labours: of the preacher; and their piety often takes a richer and more sober character from that circumstance."
This is well said, and we cannot avoid expressing a wish that all the members of our church would appreciate as highly their privilege in possessing their instructive and animating liturgy, and that the disciples of Wesley in our country would concur in opinion with their friends in England, that the use of this liturgy is “ provement" in publick worship, "greatly to be desired."
In the present book it is explicitly declared that there would have been no occasion for methodism had the condition of the church of England been what it now is. From this concession some might be led to question the expediency and indeed the lawfulness of continuing this institution, and especially when it exists no longer as an appendage to the church, but in separation from it. Every churchman, however, must respect the candour and good feeling which dictated the following remarks: "To judge of Mr. Wesley's conduct, we must consider the state of the church of England and of the nation, when his publick life commenced. That church was not in its present state of light and of zealous activity. It had not then a ministry so well instructed, nor an equal number of faithful and truly evangelical clergy; and any standard taken from the present state of the church or of the country to determine the merits of the conduct of a clergyman
who should now commence a career as clerically irregular as that of Mr. W. would be obviously erroneous, if applied to him." We will not dwell on the obvious remark that if clerical irregularity be improper, it is not to be justified by circumstances, unless we resort to the false maxim that the end sanctifies the means; or admit what Mr. W. and many of his followers often intimate, and perhaps unconsciously, that he was specially directed by heaven to pursue that course which he adopted, and which we here see in this official book is called "irregular." But to return to our author, "that a great and most gratifying alteration has faken place within a few years both in the doctrine and lives of the national clergy is certain."
May our author and his friends act up to the spirit of the following declaration. Alluding to our church, he says, "I would not forget that she is the mother of us all, and I can never contemplate, without the deepest admiration, her noble army of confessors and martyrs, and the illustrious train of her divines, whose writings have been and continue to be the light of Christendom." This is af. fecting and magnanimous.
It is very remarkable, and it ought to be known by his admirers, that Mr. Wesley disapproved of extempore preaching, strictly so called. In his
sermon he says concerning enthusiasts, "Such are they, who designedly speak in the publick assembly without any premeditation. I say design edly, because there may be such circumstances as, at sometimes, make it unavoidable. But whoever de spises that great mean of speaking profitably is so far an enthusiast."
To conclude the controversy ex
cited by Mr. Southey's work will probably do good among the methodists by leading them to a review of
*This is a remarkable concession.
their tenets and customs, and affording them an opportunity of hearing the sentiments of other Christians. It will have the effect of confirming, if it does not finally settle, some important principles both of faith and discipline, and it will naturally enforce the lesson of inspiration: "Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest to your souls." It can scarcely fail that by this controversy some truths will be elicited, and some errours in opinion and practice corrected.
It may not be irrelevant to remark, that to readers in general Mr. Southey's life of Wesley cannot be otherwise than interesting. It is history. It is the biography of an individual rendered illustrious by his talents, his virtues and his achievements. It is philosophy, for it traces conduct to its motives, and effects to their causes, however remote, and we may add it has both in sentiment and style many of the fascinations of poetry. But it is particularly valuable to the religious world, for it corroborates those views, which the scriptures afford, of the character of that strange being, man; of the nature of the Christian church; and of an overruling Providence, whose constant operation "orders the unruly wills and affections of sinful men," causes the returning light, and extracts good from every event.
To the Editor of the Gospel Advocate.
THE descent of our blessed Saviour into hell is a truth so important; and so the church have inserted it among the clearly revealed, that the reformers of articles of our religion, and we are taught to repeat it from our infancy in the apostles' creed. One would suppose it, therefore, to be generally understood. But as, on the contrary, many persons attach to it no distinct meaning, or what is worse, one that is false, it may be useful to explain the
meaning of the term as it is used in the scriptures, and by our church. St. Peter says, "Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell."* This text the apostle cites from the Psalms of David, originally written in Hebrew, in which language the word sheól, rendered e in our English version hell, but denoting the region allotted to the residence of departed spirits, is derived from the verb sha-al quæsivit, postulavit, which signifies in one sense of the term to demand or crave as a loan. It therefore implies, says Dr. Magee, that what is sought for, is to be rendered back. In this view of the case it is not simply to be understood as the region of departed spirits, but as the region which is to form their temporary residence, and from which they are at some future time to be released. It was the opinion of the Jews, that the soul of man, on leaving his body, passed into a vast subterraneous region, as a common receptacle, but with different mansions, according to the different qualities of its inhabitants. This assertion, says the learned Vitringa, is confirmed by various parts of scripture, and particularly by the history of the witch of Endor; inasmuch as, let the illusion in that transaction be what it might, it goes to establish the fact of the opinion then commonly received.
The Hebrew word be, cannot with justice to the sense of the scriptures be translated grave. Take, for instance, the expressions of Job, "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell (b, sheól,) what canst thou know?"Now if sheól,or hell,in this place be nothing more than a grave, the expression of Job would convey no distinct meaning. He would be made to say, you can no more discern the Almighty to perfection, than you can ascertain the height of heaven, or the depth of a grave. Hell is used in con
*Acts ii. 27.
+ Magee on Atonement, p. 348. Note.
trast with heaven to convey an idea of immensity and of boundless depth. How absurd would it have been for Job, when he might have used the extent of the earth and the ocean, which at that time were not only unknown, but were supposed to be unknowable, to have used as one of the immeasurables the depth of a sepulchre, which seldom exceeds ten or twelve feet, and which being the work of man was perfectly known.* Other reasons, which convince us that the Hebrew word sheol translated hell, seldom means a grave, is that another word, employed to signify a grave in the Hebrew language, is never translated by the word hades,hell, but by some other word, taken in the limited sense of a sepulchre; and that moreover the word sheol is never connected with a verb signifying to bury. We know that it cannot always signify the place of torment, because Jonah used the same word, when he called the belly of the fish, the belly of hell. We feel a certainty then from the origin of the word sheol, from its application in various passages of the old testa. ment,and from the prevailing sentiments respecting it among the Jews, that it signifies the invisible region of the souls of the dead.
Let us now see the meaning, which the Greek translators of the old testament and the authors of the new testament affixed to the word sheôl. The former almost invariably translate it ads, hades, and St. Peter gives the same version of it. That version we shall upon examination find to have the same meaning as the Hebrew word from which it is translated. 'Adr, hades, is a Greek word, signifying invisible, and is defined to be the invisible place or state of separate souls, between death and judgment. For proof of this, we shall cite a passage from the Apocalypse, "I looked and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was death, and hell followed with him
*Campbell on the Gospels, Vol. I. Dissert. vi sec. 7.
The wicked are sent into that part of hell called tartarus, and are doomed to suffer remorse, anxiety and despair.
-death and hell delivered up the feast. This figurative expression shows dead which were in them-death and the happy condition of the poor man. hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." Here we have the commencement and duration of hades. It succeeds death, and is destroyed with it at the day of judgment. Death, that is the separation of the soul from the body, shall be followed by hades, the state of the soul after death and before judgment: after judgment death and hell shall be no more. To the wicked these shall be succeeded by a more terrible death, the death of gehenna,or the torments of hell in the common acceptation of that term.* Hades cannot be translated grave or death, since it follows death; and it cannot be translated hell in the common use of that word, for the whole passage would be kept till the day of judgment; and it be nonsense. Hell would be represented as being cast into hell. Hades must therefore be the state of the soul between death and judgment.
We seem to have satisfactory proof from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, that hades means the place of departed spirits. "The beggar died and was buried, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried, and in hell he lift up his eyes being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom." Here we find that hell is something wholly distinct from the grave; that it is a place of thought, activity and feeling. We find too that the virtuous inhabit this region,as well as the vicious; for Lazarus, though inAbraham's bosom, was not so remote from the rich man in torments, but that they were able to converse. We find too that the virtuous are separated from each other in the same region, and experience very different degrees of happiness. The good are received into Abraham's bosom; a phrase taken from the ancient custom of reclining at meals, when the most honourable and beloved leaned upon the bosom of the master of the
*Campbell on Gospels, Vol. I. Dissert. vi.
The distress of the rich man in this parable may seem to countenance the opinion, that hades means the torments of the damned. This is the only passage however, in which hades suggests such a construction. But the ablest criticks think, it cannot bear that sense. They argue that the parable was accommodated to the vulgar notions of the Jews and pagans, who considered hades as divided into two parts, that one part was called paradise or elysium, for the residence of the virtuous; and the other,tartarus, where criminals were to
is most reasonable to infer that the rich man was not cast into hell, but consigned to the society of wicked spirits, and condemned to suffer torment in anticipating his sentence at the day of judgment.
We might adduce many instances to prove that hades which is translated hell means the invisible region of departed spirits. The word occurs only eleven times in the new testament; and except in one or two instances, where it is used figuratively, it has decidedly the meaning which we have affixed to it.
This opinion is confirmed by the best Greek writers, by the Jews, and the early fathers of the church. The Greeks always considered hades a place into which the souls of men were conveyed, distinct and separate from the one in which we live; and this is evinced by their different opinions, some placing it in the earth, some under it, some in one unknown situation, and some in another. They observed so notorious a distinction between the grave and hades, that they believed many persons admitted to the former, had not been admitted to the latter.Homer tells us that the soul of Elpenor
*Pearson on the Creed. Article 5.
could gain no admittance to hades, while his body remained unburied, (Odyss. xi. 51) and that the shade of Patroclus lingered upon the banks of Acheron till Achilles had paid to his remains the rites of sepulture. (Iliad. xxiii. 1. 72) Plutarch in his commentary upon a line of Homer, which mentions the descent of a soul into hell, says, "It went into an obscure and invisible place."
The same opinion prevailed among the Jews and the early fathers. Josephus says, that the soul of Samuel was evoked from hades, which he in another place represents as beyond the sea. St. Ambrose informs us that the pagans stole their notion of the state of departed souls from the Jews, and from the books of the old testament; and wishes that they had not mingled other superfluous and unprofitable conceits with them, but had been content with that single opinion, that souls, delivered from their bodies, go to hades or hell, that is a place not seen. Andrew, archbishop of Cesarea, who wrote in Greek,also makes a distinction between death and hades. The former he defines to be the separation of soul and body, the latter a place unseen, unknown, and invisible to us, which receives our souls when we die.
But it will naturally be inquired if the original Hebrew word sheol and the Greek version hades mean the receptacle of departed spirits, why are they translated by the word hell, which conveys to most readers a very different and a very awful sense? But the fact is, that the word hell in its original and true meaning signified nothing more than the unseen and cov ered place. It is derived from the old Saxon verb hil, to hide, or from the participle helled, hidden or covered. But the word is so often used in com. mon conversation, and in our English translation of the new testament, for the place of torment, that its genuine meaning is almost forgotten. The unlearned seldom bear of bell, but
their thoughts are carried to that dismal place, where the fallen angels are kept in everlasting chains.* Such a place the bible tells us exists, and that it will burn forever; but it is mentioned by the name of gehenna, and is not called hades. Some eminent translators of the holy scriptures think that the word hell had better be limited to the sense of the place of torment, and that some other term should be given to the place of departed spirits, into which our Saviour descended. Bishop Lowth, Dr. Campbell, and several other able translators of the bible have used the Greek word hades, and made it an English word.
Having proved that the words sheol and hades and hell mean the resi dence or the mansion of departed spirits, it remains to prove, for the defence of our creed, that our blessed Saviour actually descended into hell. "As Christ died for us," says our third article, "and was buried, so also is it to be believed, that he went down into hell."
The first passage we shall adduce in support of this doctrine is one that has already been cited from the Acts: "Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption." St. Peter shows that this verse is wholly inapplicable to the monarch David, who used it, since he had been long dead, and buried, and had seen corruption; and as his sepulchre was publickly known. He then states that David, being a prophet, foreseeing the Lord always before his face, foresaw and predicted his resurrection in those remarkable words, that his soul should not be left in hell, neither should his flesh see corruption. If the soul of Christ, says bishop Pearson, 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
Bishop Horsely's Sermon on Christ's descent into hell.