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“ He descended into hell.” Gehenna-Hades. the scriptures I have learned from hearing them read in the service.
“ This fact speaks for itself. It needs no enlargement, by way of comment.
ti Mr. R— then remarked-Thus far, I am satisfied, but still there are other explanations that I must have before all my difficulties are removed.—I wish to know what you un. derstand by this clause in the creed-He descended into Hell.' “In answer to this inquiry, I wish to call your
attention first to the rubric, or rule, giving direction in relation to the use of the creed, placed in smaller type just over it, which is as follows—Any church may omit the words, he descended into hell, or may instead of them use the words, he went into the place of departed spirits,' which are considered as words of the same meaning in the creed.
“ Secondly, I wish you to remember that the creed is a very ancient piece of composition. By some it is supposed to have been framed by the Apostles themselves, and thus to have derived its name - The Apostle's creed.' By others it is supposed to have been so called from the fact that it is a brief and comprehensive summary of the principal doctrines which the Apostles preached.
“Thirdly, the particular article to which your inquiry relates, is founded on St. Peter's exposition of a passage in the 16th Psalm—“Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. This, in Acts 11. 30, 31, Peter declares to be a prediction relating to Christ. Therefore, the patriarch being a prophet,' reasons the Apostle, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in Hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. You will see at a glance, that the same difficulty attends the exposition of this passage of scripture, as that of the article in the creed.
“ But there is no real difficulty in either case. There are two words in the original Greek, which in our translation, are called by the same name, hell. One of these words, Hades, means the place of the dead, or “a concealed place.' The other, Gehenna, denotes a place of punishment. AcRonianists and Restorationists. cording to the notions of the Hebrews, Hades was a vast subterranean receptacle where the souls of the dead existed in a separate state until the resurrection of their bodies. The region of the blessed, or paradise, they supposed to be in the upper part of this receptacle ; while beneath was the abyss of Gehenna, in which the souls of the wicked were subjected to punishment.*
" St. Peter uses the word Hades, as the mansion or coun. try of the dead. He says that Christ's soul was not left there. You will bear in mind, that our Saviour had not only a human body, bút a human soul, which existed in that body ; and which was also mysteriously united with the divine nature. When, therefore, the Saviour was put to death, that human soul, like the soul of any other dead person, left the body, and went into the place of departed spirits. I suppose this is all that was meant to be taught in the creed. The grand design of this article was to assert that Jesus was really dead—that his soul had left the body—that his repose in the grave was not a mere suspension of life that there was an actual severance of the soul from the body.t This being the fact, his resurrection would be a proof that he was divine.
“ There are two things here, which I wish you to ob
“ 1. That by no legitimate construction, can this expression be made to favor the idea, that the souls of men after death are in an undecided state, still capable of repentance, or susceptible of being cleansed through some fiery ordeal, to which they may be subjected. This idea which is held by the Romanists and Restorationists, is utterly at variance with the word of God. • As the tree falleth, so it shall lie.' Death closes the account, and settles the doom of every man for eternity. Perfectly preposterous, therefore, is the idea that Christ, during the absence of his soul from the body, went to preach to the imprisoned spirits, shut up within the dusky and adamantine walls of eternal woe.
“ 2. And again, you see in this instance, upon what liberal principles the church proceeds in all those matters that are
*See Robinson's Lexicon, p. 9.
+ Bishop White's Lectures on the Catechism, p. 32. Also Pearson on the Creed,
unessential. Does any church hesitate to use this article in the creed, he descended into hell,' through an apprehension of its being misunderstood—that church is at perfect liberty to dispense with the use of it; and I am acquainted with several churches, who, on this ground, omit this clause alto: gether, in the use of the creed.
“ There was an intelligent looking young man, who during all this conversation, had sat by himself in the corner of the room, and listened in silence. After the above explanation, a pause of a few moments ensuing, he modestly said,
6. You think there are good reasons for repeating this creed, on every occasion of public worship, I presume!
Certainly we do_was the reply. You will observe that this confession of our faith comes in, after the lessons or chapters from the Old and New Testament have been read. Our faith is founded on the word of God. The great design of the word of God from beginning to end, seems to be to call our attention to the following prominent truths—the ex. istence of the Supreme Being, and our obligations to him— the fact that those obligations have been wantonly violated the grand remedy provided for our rescue from merited destruction—and the means through which we can become in. vested with new capabilities of serving Jehovah acceptably. According to that infallible record, the medium through which all this is accomplished, is the incarnate Son of God. There is no salvation without faith in Christ's mediatorial work. The word of God was given to us that we might be. lieve. We go to the house of God to worship Him, and obtain his salvation. The promise is-Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' Having heard from the pages of the sacred volume, who Jesus Christ is—what his errand to our earth is—what God's purposes of grace in reference to us are—if we are disposed to believe all this to take God at his word, and rest upon these assurances of His, with filial, child-like confidence, and declare to the world that this is our determination, salyation is ours. . For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.'
“ The church wishes to give every one in the sanctuary, upon every occasion of public worship, an opportunity to make this confession before God. She goes upon the sus.
position, that upon every such occasion, there may be some sinners prepared for the first time to make their heart-felt confession to God, and obtain the blessing of justification.And by inserting this creed in her daily service, she says to every unrenewed sinner that treads the courts of the sanctuary—to every sorrowing son and daughter of Adam, whose thoughts are turned towards eternal things~ Sinner, thou hast come here on important business :by thy be haviour while within these walls, thou mayest close the open portal of death, and win a crown of glory. If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Here is a form of words in which thou mayest confess Him. Do it with thine heart, and Christ shall be everlastingly thine. Do it with sincerity let these words come from thy inmost soul, feel their power,
and rest thy all on God; and while thou art speaking, thy name shall be written in the Book of Lite'-All this is literally true. If those who assemble in our churches and repeat the creed, should always do it in this way, they would make that confession with the mouth which is unto salvation. But if these words are repeated as a mere hollow, heartless' form, the repeating of the creed is worse than mockery in the sight of God. It is an attempt to draw near to Him with our mouths, and to honor him with our lips, while our hearts are removed far from Him.' Such feigned acts of reverence, unless speedly repented of, will not escape the damnation of hell."
56 I would also remark that it is proper and profitable for those whose faith has been long established, as from Sabbath to Sabbath they listen to the communications of God's word, to stand up and in the presence of God and men, declare their
belief in the great fundamental truths of the gospel. “ These remarks seemed to rivet the attention of the young man,
who had proposed the question which had called them forth. No sooner were they concluded than he remarked :
“I feel greatly obliged to you for this explanation. I have some personal experience on this subject. The thrilling remarks of our friend, Mrs. M-, a little while since, in relation to the blessing she experienced in the use of a part of the service have encouraged me to attempt to relate
Struggles in the bosom of a convinced sinner. the effect on me, of repeating the creed, the first time I did
I was educated, as all these individuals here know, to regard religion as a delusion, and the idea of the divinity of Christ as a weak, silly superstition, coming down from the dark
first came here and began to preach, I, like many others, went to hear you from curiosity ; not because I had any belief in the gospel, or care for salvation. But, though reckless of myself, God cared for me. The words I heard were like barbed arrows to my heart. I saw and felt that I was a sinner. I resolved that I would seek mercy and pardon of God, but I determined I would do it independently of a Saviour. My proud heart recoiled from the idea of going to God through a mediator. I therefore tried to go directly to the Father, who dwelleth in light inaccessible. To Him I directed my prayers, with no mention of the name of Jesus. For a while my feelings seemed sooth. ed. But when I began to look farther into my heart, and sce how awfully guilty I was, I found no peace. The recol. lection of my past guilt was like the gnawing of the undying
I went about weary and heavy laden. I went to the place of worship. While there I could not bring myself up to the point of uniting in those parts of the service, where there was any recognition of the deity of Christ. My heart was yet too stubborn and insubdued to embrace this hum. bling truth. Day after day passed away, and there seemed to be no rest for me. Every time I opened the word of God, something met my eye, that seemed to cut me loose from all my hopes, and send me adrift upon the dark sea of uncer. tainty.
« At length, one Sunday morning, I opened the Bible at the first chapter of St. John's gospel. I began to read, and as I went on, I said to myself—If this book is true, and there is any meaning in language, Jesus Christ must be divine. The conclusion startled me. I said to myself—That Jesus Christ is God, is a hard saying ; I cannot receive it.' The conviction then instantly flashed upon me—You will then have to give up the Bible, for this doctrine is clearly taught there. The Bible I could not give up, for every agonizing throe of conviction that I was then feeling, told me it was true. I went to church. The chapters that were read, strikingly set forth the divinity of Christ. The sermon related to Christ