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his resurrection, the soul of Christ descended into hell.
Some may say that leaving the soul in hell, and suffering the flesh to see corruption, mean the same thing, and are only different modes of expressing the continuance of a body in the grave. But this we cannot grant. We can see no reason, no advantage in such tautology; we cannot be assured that hell means nothing more than grave, and the expression leaving the soul in the grave" would be untrue and therefore improper.David seems to have been very cautious in distinguishing the different places of our Saviour's soul and body after death. St. Peter, when applying the prediction to the Messiah, speaks of the release of his soul from hell, and of his body from the grave, with marked precision and distinction. Dr. Campbell says that the writer in using two expressions, the one regard. ing the soul, the other regarding the body, would undoubtedly adapt his language to the received opinion concerning each; and, if so, hades was as truly in this account the soul's destiny after death, as corruption was the body's. St. Austin asserts that St. Peter understood this text, which he has cited from the Psalms, according to the explanation that has been given, and adds, that on account of such testimony, none but an infidel can deny, that Christ descended into hell. Luther, in his commentary on the same verse, calls every exposition of it, in which the descent of Christ into hell is denied, frivolous and impi ous trifling. The expressions of the psalmist respecting our Lord's resurrection are indeed remarkably striking. David seems not satisfied with simply telling us that the body of Christ shall be raised from the dead; for we should then have been ignorant whither the soul of Christ had gone at his death, and from what quarter it should come to re-animate his body; but the prophet adds that hell, the place of the
departed spirits of all who die, shall release the soul of Christ, never again to receive it, and shall permit it to revisit his body. His soul shall not be left in hell; his flesh shall not see corruption.
In the ninth verse of the fourth chap. ter of St. Paul's epistle to the Ephesians we also find a proof of Christ's descent into hell. "Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth." We do not say that the lower parts of the earth always signify hades, for we have instances to the contrary in the old testament. But we do say, that in the Greek language such a phrase is a circumlocution for hades, that it gener ally conveys this idea among the Greeks, and that the Ephesians would give it the same construction. It is so per. fectly equivalent to the word hell, says bishop Horsley, that we find it used instead of that word in some of the Greek copies of the creed. We know it to have been the opinion of Jews and Grecians that hell was some place under the earth, and we find the phrase "under the earth" used as synonimous with hell by Josephus and the best Greek writers. St. Jerome says that the lower parts of the earth are taken for the hades into which our Saviour descended. Since the lower parts of the earth are generally used in the sense of the place of departed spirits, among Jews and Greeks, and since the Ephesians must have so understood it, there is strong reason for arguing from this text that Christ descended into hell.
A very satisfactory proof that our Saviour went down into hell is derived from his promise to the penitent ̄ thief upon the cross. Verily to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise. Now no Christian can doubt, but that our Lord fulfilled his promise; that he actually descended into paradise on the day of his crucifixion, and took with him the soul of the converted malefac tor. The only question that arises then is, what is meant by paradise?
It must have been some place, where Christ and the thief were to be together after their dissolution. It could not have been the grave, for the thief knew that his body would be buried, and would be at rest, and that the same destiny would also await his impenitent fellow sufferer. The mere promise of a burial could have afforded him no new information, and very little comfort. Nor could our Saviour by the word paradise have meant heaven; for after he was risen from the dead he declared, that he had not then ascended to heaven. Nor can we suppose that by the word para dise, he meant hell in the common acceptation of the term; unless we would admit the extravagant assertion of Calvin, that our blessed Lord actually went down to the place of torment, and there sustained the pains of a reprobate soul in punishment; which is a suggestion too horrible to be admitted.* The idea of torment was never known on any occasion to be attached to the word paradise; and as our Saviour was a being of infinite compassion, we cannot suppose that he would afflict with menaces of torture, an expiring sinner, who condemned himself for his guilt, and whose dying words declared his belief in the innocence of his crucified Lord.
In ascertaining what our Saviour meant by paradise, we must take it for granted, that he intended to make himself understood by the robber, and that he would therefore use intelligible language. Now the Jew, on hearing the word paradise, would unquestionably understand it, according to the re
We apprehend that our correspondent has in some measure mistaken the sentiments of Calvin. That reformer imagined that the expression of Christ's descent into hell, was to be understood metaphorically,as denoting that he suffered during his crucifixion all the tortures of the damned, not that his soul went to the place of torments during its absence from the body. His opinion, however, was singular, and if ever adopted by any others, has been generally, we believe, given up as indefensible.-ED.
ceived opinion of his nation; who must have had a very distinct idea of it, as it was used even in the days of Solomon and ever afterwards. It was the common word for a garden, though it was more particularly used, as Grotius informs us, for that blissful garden, in which God placed Adam. The word was in fact so associated with every thing delightful as to be employed to express the joys of the virtuous in another life, and was universally considered by the Jews, as the place, into which all pious souls were received, on being separated from the body. Our Saviour and the Jew must have understood the word in this sense. It of course had the same meaning with hades, and the promise of our Lord to the penitent thief is a sufficient proof that they both actually descended into hell.
The most eminent fathers of the church entertained on this subject the same sentiment that we have exhibited, and saw no reason for disbelieving Christ's descent into the region of departed spirits. This appears not only from the testimonies of many writers, but from the doctrine's being used as an argument against Apollinaris, who maintained that Christ had no rational or intellectual soul, but that the word was his soul. The Apollinarians acknowledged Christ's descent into hell, and thence their adversaries proved that Christ must have had a human soul, otherwise neither his body nor the word could have gone down to hades. If the hereticks acknowledged Christ's descent into hell, and the catholicks urged it as an argument to prove the real distinction of the soul of Christ from his divinity and his body, such a doctrine must have been generally acknowledged.
'The article of our Saviour's descent into hell, according to Bishop Burnet, is simply this: "It imports that Christ was not only dead in a more common acceptation, as it is usual to
Bishop Burnet on the 3d article.
say a man is dead, when there appear no signs of life in him; and that he was not in a deep ecstacy or fit, that seemed death, but that he was truly dead; that his soul was neither in his body, nor hovering about it, as cending and descending upon it, as some of the Jews fancied souls did, some time after death; but that his soul was really moved out of his body, and carried to those unseen regions of departed spirits, among whom it continued, till his resurrection."
Many and curious have been the speculations relative to the object of our Saviour's descent into the invisible mansions of the dead. It has been supposed that he went and preached repentance and salvation to the damned, to open the gates of hell and let the prisoners go forth, and to triumph over satan and his kingdom. These notions have all been ably refuted, and the church now considers Christ's descent into hell only as the last act of his humiliation, in which he was required to suffer as man. Since he became our High Priest to redeem and save us it behooved him to be made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted. As he was born, lived, suffered, and died like a human being, it was necessary also that his soul should be separated from his body, and be admitted among the spirits of the departed.
The descent of Christ into hell confirms our belief in the existence of an intermediate state. The soul of Christ immediately on his death left his body and associated with the spirits of those who had died; and so we believe that our souls immediately after death shall quit our bodies and associate in some invisible mansion with disembodied spirits. Christ after death possessed life and activity, so may we hope in our intermediate state to be wakeful and active. Our Saviour said of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that they live unto God; in like manner shall we live between death and judgment. Death shall not be followed by a use.
less inactive slumber, but by scenes and occupations of delight or misery according to our deserts. Such scenes and occupations shallcontinue till the last trump shall sound; and then shall He, who is the resurrection and the life, who brought his own soul from the region of departed spirits, and uniting it with his lifeless body ascended to the throne of God, evoke our spirits from hades, and our bodies from the grave, shall unite forever, those long separated friends, and if we love him, shall make us partakers of his exaltation and glory.
For the Gospel Advocate.
He would not then, by pride and passion And boasting Greeks count wisdom's dicsway'd,
Trust to the dictates of his blinded mind.
That peace, which none can give nor take
And peace serene prepares the heart for joy, Joy unalloy'd with vain deceptive dreams, Which haunt the mind with pleasures ne'er possess'd.
Who seeks for joy exclusive to himself, Pursues a phantom which eludes his grasp. Pleasure unsocial is a dream of bliss. Selfish desires can ne'er be satisfied, And constant longing is a state of wo. The worldly wise man is the Christian's fool.
He seeks immortal joys in mortal weal,
Lays up for ending life, an endless fund,
And folly stamps on wisdom's blessed lore. "The ways of heaven are dark and intricate"
To none but minds blinded by worldly mists.
The scourge of war, and blessed fruits of peace,
Are messengers of him, who rules in love.
In every clime, and heard in every tongue.
Let then the faithless Jew stumble at truth, 25 ADVOCATE VOL. II.
The humble Christian will adore that power,
Thou who, tho' weigh'd by sleep, still hearest me,
Faithful have I obey'd with watchful care
Must Gabriel to each the hour have nam'd
Of higher, brighter aspect; since o'erthrown 'Mongst hills on which the wand'rer dare not rest,
The mansions of the holy spirit lie;
Thy dwelling place of might, that lies conceal'd
Since Eden's first creation. Should my soul Lost in pure pleasures cleanse each mundane thought
By dwelling on such seraphs as thyself, And fancying what the words, that angels hold,
O then bright Eloa hear me, whilst I sing Not the poor troubles of th' unquiet world, But raptur'd as the youth of heaven tell How earth was sav'd and God arose from dust,
While spirits gath'ring round me silent flit. Within the circle of the polar north, Unknown to mortal eye, there reigns around Still darkness, peaceful as the midnight hour, Clouds roll above ne'er ceasing, like the sea, White-foaming 'neath a rising tempest power, So lay in former time th' Egyptian stream, That stream that flows its fourteen banks between,*
When heaven-born darkness,† call'd by Moses down,
Shadow'd the land and hid those pyramids, "Neath which the pride of kings and heroes rest!
No eye horizon's limits there hath scann'd Or e'er shall scan amid those plains of night! No voice of mortal e'er hath sounded o'er them,
No death, no hallowed resurrection there!
As at the time of winter, when each tree
Depose their loads, and clouds and night re
So pass'd the seraph o'er those still dark heights,
And soon th' immortal foot had reach'd the gate
Which like the rush of cherub-wings undid
Slowly the solitary shores along;
*The Nile said to have 7 mouths or issues. + One of the plagues of Egypt brought down by the rod of Moses.
He pass'd-and soon within his view appear'd
Where'er th' etherial trod, bright beams of heaven;
Thus came he near th' abode of holiness! Just 'neath the vaulted centre of our earth There circulates around an atmosphere; Like heaven's soft gales, where hov'ring in the midst,
A softer sun than ours, and deck'd with beams
More chaste and milder, reigns around those depths;
From thence flows light and warmth thro'out the veins
Of thankful earth. With this soft help-mate's aid
Our upper luminary decks the spring
With flowers of variegated hue, and sheds O'er summer the rich harvest; autumn knows
From hence her vine-crown'd mounts. This nether sun
Ne'er sets! ne'er rises in its course around,
E'en thus to thee, O earth, he shows himself
Quick round him flock'd, angels of war and death
Who follow thro' the labyrinths of fate The clew that leads toward the hand that shap'd them;
'Tis they who secret rule o'er deeds of might, Deeds of proud triumph that cause kings to
And boast their own creation; guardians too
There, too, where brothers, hallowed by the blood
of the all sacred band, pour forth their souls In melodies to heaven; when the front