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agree, that Christ spoiled, or (as they were wont to speak) harrowed hell: whether you take hell for that which keepeth the soul separated from the body, or that which separateth soul and body both from the blessed presence of him who is our true life; the one whereof our Saviour hath conquered by bringing in the resurrection of the body, the other he hath abolished by procuring for us life everlasting
Touching the manner and the means, whereby hell was thus spoiled, is all the disagreement. The manner; whether our Lord did deliver his people from hell by way of prevention, in saving them from coming thither: or by way of subvention, in helping those out whom at the time of his death he found there. The means; whether this were done by his divinity or his humanity, or both ; whether by the virtue of his sufferings, death, burial, and resurrection, or by the real descending of his soul into the place wherein men's souls were kept imprisoned. That he descended not into the hell of the damned by the essence of his soul or locally, but virtually only by extending the effect of his power thither, is the common doctrine of Thomas Aquinas', and the rest of the school. Cardinal Bellarmine at first held it to be probablem, that Christ's soul did descend thither, not only by his effects but by his real presence also: but afterwards “having" considered better of the matter, he resolved that the opinion of Thomas and the other schoolmen was to be followed." The same is the judgment of Suarezo: who concerning this whole article of Christ's descent into hell, doth thus deliver his mind : “ If by an article of faith we under
| Thom. in Sum. part. 3. quæst. 52. art. 2. m Bellarm. lib. 4. de Christo, cap. 16.
n Re melius considerata, sequendam esse existimo sententiam S. Thomæ, quæ est aliorum scholasticorum in 3. sent. dist. 22. Id. in Recognitione operum.
• Suarez, tom. 2. in 3. part. Thom. disput. 43. sec. 4.
p Si nomine articuli intelligamus veritatem, quam omnes fideles explicite scire ac credere teneantur : sic non existimo necessarium hunc computare inter articulos fidei. Quia non est res admodum necessaria singulis hominibus : et quia ob hanc fortasse causam in symbolo Niceno omittitur ; cujus symboli cogVOL. III.
stand a truth, which all the faithful are bound explicitly to know and believe: so I do not think it necessary to reckon this among the articles of faith. Because it is not a matter altogether so necessary for all men, and because that for this reason peradventure it is omitted in the Nicene creed; the knowledge of which creed seemeth to be sufficient for fulfilling the precept of faith. Lastly, for this cause peradventure Augustin and other of the fathers expounding the creed, do not unfold this mystery unto the people.” And to speak the truth, it is a matter above the reach of the common people to enter into the discussion of the full meaning of this point of the descension into hell: the determination whereof dependeth upon the knowledge of the learned tongues, and other sciences that come not within the compass of their understanding; some experiment whereof they may observe in this, that whereas in the other questions here handled, they might find themselves able in some reasonable sort to follow me; here they leave me, I doubt, and let me walk without their company.
It having here likewise been further manifested, what different opinions have been entertained by the ancient doctors of the Church concerning the determinate place wherein our Saviour's soul did remain during the time of the separation of it from his body: I leave it to be considered by the learned, whether any such controverted matter may fitly be brought in to expound the “Rule of faith" by, which being “ common both to the great and the small ones in the Church," must contain such verities only as are generally agreed upon by the common consent of all true Christians; and if the words of the article of Christ's going to Hades or hell, may well bear such a general meaning as this, that he went to the dead, and
nitio videtur esse sufficiens ad præceptum fidei implendum. Denique propterea forte Augustinus et alii patres in principio citati exponentes symbolum, non explicant populo hoc mysterium. Suarez, tom. 2. in 3. part. Thom. disput. 43. sec. 2.
9 Regulam fidei pusillis magnisque communem in Ecclesia perseveranter tenent. Augustin. epist. 187. ad Dardanum.
continued in the state of death until the time of his resurrection: it would be thought upon, whether such a truth as this, which findeth universal acceptance among all Christians may not safely pass for an article of our creed; and the particular limitation of the place unto which our Saviour's soul went (whether to the place of bliss, or to the place of torment, or to both) be left, as a number of other theological points are, unto further disputation. In the articles of our faith common agreement must be required, which we are sure is more likely to be found in the general, than in the particular. And this is the only reason which moved me to enlarge myself so much in the declaration of the general acceptions of the word Hades, and the application of them to our Saviour's descent spoken of in the creed. Wherein if the zeal which I bear to the peace of the Church, and the settlement of unity among brethren hath carried me too far, I entreat the reader to pardon me: and so ceasing to be further troublesome unto him in the prosecution of this intricate argument, I pass to the next question.
That one question of St. Paul, “ How shall they call upon him, in whom they have not believed ?” among such as lust not to be contentious, will quickly put an end unto this question. For if none can be invocated but such as must be believed in, and none must be believed in but God alone, every one may easily discern, what conclusion will follow thereupon. Again, all Christians have been taught, that no part of divine worship is to be communicated unto any creature. For it is written: “ Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” But prayer is such a principal part of this service, that it is usually put for the whole: and the public place of God's worship, hath from hence given it the denomination of “ Thed house of prayer.” Furthermore, he that heareth our prayers, must be able to search the secrets of our hearts, and discern the inward disposition of our souls. For the pouring out of good words, and the offering up of external sighs and tears, are but the carcass only of a
a Rom. chap. 10. ver. 14.
• Matt. chap. 4. ver. 10. • Jerem. cap. 10. ver. 25. Joel. cap. 2. ver. 32. Act. cap. 9. ver. 14. 1 Corinth. cap. 1. ver. 2. Sic apud Optatum, lib. 3. contr. Donatist. Ut negaretur Christus et Idola rogarentur. Item: Testamentum divinum legimus pariter ; unum Deum rogamus.
Isaiah, chap. 56. ver. 7. Matth, chap. 21. ver. 13.
true prayer; the life thereof consisteth in the pouring out of the very soul itself, and the sending up of those secret groans' of the spirit which cannot be uttered. But “Hes that searcheth the hearts," and only he, “knoweth what is the mind of the spirit :” he “ hearethin heaven his dwelling place, and giveth to every man according to his ways, whose heart he knoweth, for he even he only knoweth the hearts of all the children of men;" as Solomon teacheth us in the prayer which he made at the dedication of the temple, whereunto we may add that golden sentence of his father David for a conclusion: “ Oi thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.”
If it be further here objected by us, that we find neither precept nor example of any of the fathers of the old Testament, whereby this kind of praying to the souls of the saints departed may be warranted: cardinal Bellarmine will give us a reason for it; “ fork therefore," saith he, “ the spirits of the patriarchs, and the prophets before the coming of Christ were neither so worshipped nor invocated, as we do now worship and invocate the apostles and martyrs, because that they were detained as yet shut up in the prisons of hell." But if this reason of his be grounded upon a false foundation, as we have already shewed it to be, and the contrary supposition be most true, that the spirits of the patriarchs and prophets were not thus shut up in the prisons of hell: then have we four thousand years' prescription left unto us, to oppose against this innovation. We go further yet, and urge against them, that in the New Testament itself we can descry no footsteps of this new kind of invocation, more than we did in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. For this, Salmeron doth tell us, that “the Scriptures which were made
e Psalm. chap. 62. ver. 8. 1 Sam. chap. 1. ver. 13. 15. Rom. chap. 8. ver. 26.
& Ibid. ver. 27. b 1 Kings, chap. 8. ver. 39. 2 Chron. chap. 6. ver. 30. i Psalm 65. ver. 2.
* Nam idcirco ante Christi adventum non ita colebantur, neque invocabantur spiritus patriarcharum et prophetarum, quemadmodum nunc apostolos et martyres colimus et invocamus; quod illi adhuc inferni carceribus clausi decinebantur. Bellar. fin. præfat. in controvers. de ecclesia triumphante, in Ord. disputat.
! Quia scripturas conditas et publicatas in primitiva Ecclesia oportebat Chris