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which he raised himself from the dead), to those who were in the prison of the flesh—to those Gentiles who were in captivity to sin and Satan, and held in the chains of their own lusts, and the bonds of their own iniquity. It may allude even to that divine spirit wherewith he inspired Noah to preach repentance and reformation to the wicked people before the flood, as appears from the following verse: Which sometime (says the Apostle) were disobedient when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing. To show you
how justly the phrase of preaching to them in prison, is applied to sinful men in the body, the evangelical Prophet Isaiah often uses the expression; and, in chap. xlii. ver. 6,7, he says, speaking of Christ, I gave thee for a light to the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes, to bring the prisoners out of PRISON, and them that sit in darkness out of the PRISON-HOUSE. Again (xlix. 9), That thou mayest say to the PRISONERS, Go forth; that is, that they may break the chain of their sins: and, further (lxi. 1), the Spirit of the Lord is represented as proclaiming liberty to the captives; i. e. the glorious liberty of the sons of God, who are redeemed from the slavery of sin by the Spirit of grace; or, as he differently expresses it, the OPENING the PRISON to those that are bound (whence the expression is derived as inserted in forming part of one of our liturgical prayersbound by the chain of our sins). From this passage, not duly considered, some good men have thought that our Saviour, after his death, did, in the mean time between that and his resurrection, preach to the souls in a state of separation. But it is very clear, these words of the Apostle do not signify any such thing, because the spirit by which he was said to preach, was not the soul of Christ, but that Spirit by which he was quickened, or raised again, as is evident from the connexion of the verse, which runs thus: He was quickened by THAT Spirit by which he went and preached in prison; that is, by the eternal Spirit of God, who is the author of the resurrection. But it has been plainly shown, that the persons to whom he preached by the SPIRIT, were only such as were disobedient in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing; i. e. during the long period that God gave them for repentance, striving with them, for that end, with his Spirit, in his Prophets Enoch and Noah. And, as God also adds, that his Spirit should not ALWAYS STRIVE WITH THEM, it is utterly impossible we can, with any consistency or connexion, understand St. Peter as speaking of Christ's preaching the Gospel to the Jews and Gentiles, then in a separate state of existence (or Hades, as the Greek word expresses it), since it so plainly relates to the long suffering of God towards men before the flood.
To sum up all, and state the essence of our belief in this latter part of the article in few words, and without danger of mistake as to the circumstance of our Saviour's death, we do truly assent unto this, as a fundamental truth, that the only begotten and eternal Son of God, for the working of our redemption, did, in our nature, which he took upon him, really and truly die, so as, by the violence of the torments, actually to separate his soul from his body; and, though neither his soul nor body was separated from his divine nature, yet the human body being deprived of the agency of the human soul, was left without the least life: further, that, for the confirmation of his death, and the reality of his resurrection soon to follow, the same blessed Person had his body prepared for funeral, bound up and laid in spices, and buried after the custom of the Jews, and in a sepulchre in which never man was before laid: and, lastly, when all the sufferings of Christ were finished on the cross, and his soul separated from his body, yet it died not, though his body was dead, but underwent the condition of the souls of such as die, and so did entirely undergo the law of death. His soul went to a place of separation, where the souls of the faithful are in joy and felicity; i. e. to paradise, where they are kept
till God's good pleasure to restore them to the body; but, because there was no sin in him, therefore God suffered not his Holy One to see corruption, neither left he his soul in this imperfect, though painful state of separation : by which he affords sufficient security to all who die in the Lord Jesus, and who consequently belong to Christ, of never coming under the power of Satan, or suffering in the place prepared for evil spirits. And thus, and for these purposes, may every Christian say, in that qualified and limited sense only in which the expression has been illustrated and explained, “I be“ lieve that Christ died, and descended into hell." Now to God, &c.
FIFTH ARTICLE OF THE CREED
“ The third day he rose again from the dead."
1 Cor. xv. 20. Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become
first fruits of them that slept.
ROMANS, 1. 4. And declared to be the Son of God, with power
according to the spirit of holiness, by the re
surrection from the dead. This, my brethren, is the Christian's triumphour hope of glory. Hereby have we assurance to build up our faith in the promises of the Gospel. This is the pledge, the earnest of all good things to come: Christians, without this, would be of all others the most miserable, since the necessity that is laid upon us to take up our cross daily, would not only subject us to comfortless tribulation and doubt during our mournful pilgrimage through life; but without prospect of