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-Article of our Creed which affirms that Christ descended into Hell. S^.'
Now it must be acknowledged to be_ *__ very consonant to the Christian Doctrine to assert, That the Souls of all Men, when they are separated from their Bodies, depart into some Region or other unknown and invisible to us. Since therefore the Word "A^nt does properly
* signify such an invisible Region j since j the antient Grecians did commonly use
•it in that Signification j since the Seventy Interpreters, and after them the inspired
.Penmen of the New Testament borrowed it irom the Grecians, to express by it the State of seperate Souls; What can be
tfnQre reasonable than to suppose that
• they used it in its known and vulgar Sigiaification, and in the fame Latitude as
did the Grecians from whom they took rit? w*A.Tq signify that invisible Place SRhich is the Receptacle of all the seperate Spirits of Mankind. It is certain (hat the Writers of the Christian Church for several Centuries after Christ took the Word in this general Sense. For they 5, -'" frc
frequently affirm not only wicked Men, but Abraham, Isaac and yacob, Samuel and the rest of the antient Patriarchs and Prophets to have been in Hades. There is therefore no Reason to doubt, but that the Scripture uses the Word Hades in this comprehensive and general Sense; since it bore this Sense all the World over, not only before, but many hundred Years after the coming of Christ, not only among the Heathens, but among the Christians also.
From what hath been already said we may collect what it is we profess to believe, when we repeat that Clause of our Creed, He descended into Hell, or Hades; which Words mean nothing more than this, That the Soul of Jesus Christ, after it was seperated from his Body, did pass into some invisible Place, appointed for the Reception of the Souls of Mankind aster Death. A Truth which was never so much as question'd in the Primitive Church; for tho' the antient Writers differ from one another in relating what our Lord did when he was in
tiades i yet they do all with one Con
sent affirm, that he went thither. And E^M*
indeed had the Scripture said nothing at "-^.
ali of this Matter, yet would it have been highly reasonable to have believ'd, That the Soul of Christ after its Seperation from the Body, Was dispos'd of in the lame manner as the Souls of other Men. For fince our Lord took upon him our Nature and Condition, with all the Frailties and Inconveniencies of it; and was all his Life-time subject to Huriger and Thirst, to Weariness, Pain and Grief, as other Men are, and at last underwent the Stroke of Death, as all other Men do; there seems to be no Room to doubt, but that when he was dead he submitted to the Law of IJeath, and went to the Place to which the Spirits of all other Meri go.
But taking it.for certain, as we well may, that Christ did go down into Hell or Hades i there arises another Question, Into what Part of Hades our Lord Went; whether into that Part which is inhabited by the Spirits of good Men, or into that which is inhabited by the Spirits of evil
Men? Now it is, I think, clear from the Scripture, that.our Lord descended into that Part of Hades, which is the Mansion of good Spirits. For when the penitent Thief on the Cross requested to be remembred by our Lord when he should come into his Kingdom, our Lord thus replies to him, This Day Jhalt thou be •with me in Paradise. As then the Text assures us, that the Soul of Christ was in Hades; so from these Words of our Lord to the penitent Thief it plainly appears, that he went after Death to Paradise; and from both these Texts it is very natural to conclude, That Paradise is a Part of Hades, and to be sure that Part of it which is the Habitation of the Souls of good Men, and which the Heathens called Elysium. For Paradise is a Hebrew Word, and signifies a Pleasure Garden, a Region planted with Groves of Myrtle, which answers the Description given by the antient Poets of their Elysium. So that the Scripture teaches us to believe that Jesus Christ when he died went into Hades, and more particularly into that
Division of it which is known by the —
Name of Paradise. This would have se*m# been very credible, tho' the Scripture, had been silent about it j for tho' our Lord suffered the Death of a Malefactor, yet since he died perfectly innocent and sinless, his Soul was of course to go to Paradise, whither go the Souls of all just and holy Men.
As to the other Division of Hades, in which are imprison'd the fallen Angels, and the Spirits of evil Men, until the Day of Judgment; St. Peter, I think, warrants us to call it by the very fame Name which it had among the Pagans, i. e. Tartarus. For he tells us in the nd Chapter of his nd Epistle, God spared not the Angels that sinned, but cast them down to Hell; in the Original it is, Taprctpumsy He cast them down to Tartarus.
That Christ went also into this Part of Hades is affirm'd by some Christian Writers, who teach, That Christ went not only among the happy, but also among the unhappy Souls, and preach'd the K 2 ' Gospel