The Preaching to the Spirits in Prison

Table of Contents

1. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 1
2. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 2
3. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 3
4. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 4
5. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 5
6. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 6
7. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 7
8. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 8
9. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 9
10. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 10

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 1

(1 Peter 3:18-20)
It may interest and I trust also profit the reader, if we not only examine this scripture but review the questions raised on it for ages. Here many a Christian finds perplexity, rejecting what does not fall in with the analogy of faith, yet unwilling to doubt what seems intimated by the letter of the word. He is ready to suspect himself of failure in spiritual intelligence and to question whether there might not be some unconscious insubjection of heart and mind to the perfect revelation of God, The chief at least of the speculations in which men of reputation have indulged in ancient and modern times will claim a notice, in the hope of satisfying the believer that human thoughts are ever worthless and that divine writ is clothed by the Spirit with self-evidencing light and power for all who have their hearts opened to the Lord and are self-judged in His sight. It will be seen too that the most exact criticism in the details of the clauses confirms the general scope derived from the context as a whole, and that grammatical precision points with equal force in the same direction. Thus from every point of view the truth comes out with a fullness of proofs proportioned to the closeness of our investigation, once we have the right object and aim of the passage clearly ascertained and held firmly before our eyes.
I. The true text is ὅτι καὶ Χριστὸς ἅπαξ περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἒπαθε, δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων, ἵνα ἡμᾶς προσαγάγη τῶ θεῶ, θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκὶ ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι, ἐν ὧ καὶ τοῖς ἐν φυλακῆ πνεύμασι πορευθεὶς ἐκήρνξεν, ἀπειθήσασί ποτε ὅτε ἀπεξεδέχετο ἡ τοῦ θεοῦ μακροθυμία ἐν ἡμέραις Νῶε κατασκευαζομένης κιβωτοῦ, εἰς ἥν ὁλίγοι, τοῦτ' ἔστιν ὀκτὼ ψυχαί, διεσώθησαν δἰ ὕδατος. “Because Christ also once suffered for sins, just for unjust, that he might bring us to God, put to death in flesh but made alive in [the] Spirit, in which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison, disobedient on a time when the long-suffering of God was waiting in [the] days of Noah while an ark was being prepared, in which few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.”
The connection and scope is evident. The apostle is exhorting the believers to a patient life of suffering so as to fill with shame those who vented their spite on their good behavior in Christ. Who could gainsay that it was better, did the will of God so will, to suffer while doing well than doing ill; and this because Christ also suffered (but He suffered once, once for all) for sins? This should be enough: we should suffer not for sins, but only for righteousness or for Christ's name sake. It was His to suffer for us, this once and forever, just for unjust persons (for such were we), that He might bring us to God. It is ours to suffer at times especially, but in principle always while in this present evil world. The καί connects Christ and us as suffering, but the contrast is as striking as it is morally suggestive. To understand with some περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν as a point of comparison between Him and us under such a junction is to miss the reasoning utterly, not to speak of failure in reverence towards the Savior in that work which stands far above all comparison. This ought to have been too plain to need further reproof from δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων, where His solitary and unapproachable place is set out. It was His alone thus to bring us near to God. The participles that follow tell us how this was done: “Put to death in flesh but made alive in [the] Spirit.”
But here a very important question arises. The article is certainly to be eliminated: what is the bearing of its absence on the meaning? If the articles were inserted, τῆ σαρκί, and τὦπν., these would be the contrast of the two parts of our Lord's being as man, the outer and the inner; were it τήν a. and το πν., it would be the utterly false thought that His Spirit as man was the object of quickening. The anarthrous form points to the character of the acts specified; but so far is it from denying the agency of the Holy Ghost in the quickening spoken of, that the presence of the article would be more consistent with Christ's Spirit as a man. No doubt, when it is intended to present the Holy Spirit objectively or extrinsically, the article is required (and, as far as I can mark the usages, the prep. ἐν or ὑπό); it is excluded where the manner of His action is meant. On the other hand, wherever the spirit either of Christ as man or of any other is to be expressed, the article is indispensable, as may be seen in Matt. 5:3; 26:41; 27:50; Mark 14:38; Luke 10:21; John 11:33; 13:21; 19:30; Acts 19:21; 20:22 Cor. 5:3, 5, &c. Again, the following cases without the article clearly mean the Holy Spirit, but as characterizing the action rather than specifying the person, though He must ever be a person: Matt. 22:43; John 3:5; 4:23, 24; Rom. 8:1, 4, 9, 13; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:2, 15, 16, 18, 25; Eph. 2:22; 3:5; 5:18; 6:18; Col. 1:8; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 Peter 4:6; Rev. 1:10; 4:2: 17:3; 21:10. The attentive reader of these instances will see that the turning-point is not the presence or absence of a preposition, as some scholars have thought. Words after a preposition follow the ordinary rules. Only, with prepositions capable of usage with a statement of manner, as κατά, ἐκ, ἐν, the anarthrous form is of course more common. Thus ἐν πμεύματι would mean in the power of the Spirit, the manner of being, or of being carried, built, justified, of blessing, preaching, or whatever else may be in question.
Hence the meaning here seems to be that Christ was put to death in respect of flesh, but quickened or made alive in respect of Spirit, in the power of which He went and preached to the spirits in prison. The ἐν ὧ falls in with the Holy Spirit still more as that wherein Christ acted in testimony. It is not said that He went to the prison and there preached to the spirits; but that in the power of the Spirit He went and preached to the spirits that are there. For that τοῖς ἐν φυλακῆ πνεύμασιν can signify “that are in prison” as naturally at least as that were there is certain: only the necessity of the context could really justify the latter sense. But if the context favor “that are,” it is the simple unforced bearing of the phrase. And that it does favor it is to me plain from ἁπειθήσασί ποτε ὅτε κ.τ.λ. which points to an antecedent time of guilt, the ground of their being now imprisoned.
It may be doubted then whether quickened “by the Spirit” best gives the meaning of the apostolic statement: for that would most naturally suppose the Spirit as an exterior agent. Still the anarthrous construction, as is certain from the numerous places cited, does not at all exclude the Holy Spirit: only it speaks of the manner of the quickening, not of the personal agent. But the thought of His power is conveyed by the phrase that follows ἐν ὧ, wherein Christ is said to have gone and preached, &c. Thereby it is pointedly contradistinguished from πορευθείς in verse 22, which is not qualified by ἐν ὧ or ἐν πνεύματι, but left in its strict sense of a personal change of locality to heaven. Thus it is excessively rash to say that the rendering of the English version here is wrong either grammatically or theologically, though it is more correct to cleave as closely as our language permits to the Greek style of expressing “Spirit” as the character rather than agent of the quickening of Christ, though agent too He was beyond doubt.
Bishop Middleton wrote with great force on the insertion of the article, but he was not equally successful in accounting for its omission. Prepositions he treated as exceptions to rule, and anarthrous cases like σαρκί, πνεύματι, as practically adverbial. Hence in our passage, he held the apostle to mean that “Christ was dead carnally but alive spiritually;” as indeed he thought would flow from τὧ πν. if the article had been authentic. (Doctrine of the Greek Art. p. 430, Rose's Ed., 1855.) The only difference is, he thought, that by retaining the article we destroy the form of the antithesis between a. and πν. But instances already given show how imperfect this able treatise is in requiring either the article or a preposition to accompany πν. in the genitive or dative in order to mean the Spirit of God. Rom. 8:13 to which he himself refers refutes his position; and here Dean Alford, who is so strong against “by the Spirit” in 1 Peter 3:18, translates the same word exactly in the way condemned: “but if by the Spirit ye slay the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” So, on Gal. 5:5, A. expressly remarks on πνεύματι “not' mente' [Fritz.] nor 'spiritually,' Middleton, al., but by the [Holy] Spirit, [reff.] as opposed to σ.” the very rendering he afterward treats as wrong grammatically and theologically. Again, on ver. 16 he particularly observes that πν without the article may and does here mean “by the Spirit” [i.e. of God]. His reason, probably after Winer or the like, is invalid; for it is not because it is a sort of proper name, but because it is employed characteristically. There is no need to multiply proofs against the comments on πν in 1 Peter 3:18—proofs equally at least against Middleton. Consequently Hammond, Pearson, Barrow, &c, the divines who denied the applicability of the passage to Christ's descent to hades, were not so far mistaken as thinks Dr. Ε. Η Browne, the present Bishop of Ely. They contend that the true meaning of the text is that our Lord by the Spirit in Noah preached to the antediluvians, who are now for their disobedience imprisoned in hell.
“This interpretation of the passage,” says the Bishop, “depends on the accuracy of the English version. That version reads in the eighteenth verse ‘quickened by the Spirit.' It is to be noted however that all the versions except one (the Ethiopic) seem to have understood it 'quickened in spirit:' and it is scarcely possible, upon any correct principles of interpretation, to give any other translation to the words. If therefore we follow the original, in preference to the English version, we must read the passage thus: ‘Christ suffered for us, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but quick in His Spirit; by which (or in which) He went and preached (or proclaimed) to the spirits in safe keeping,' &c.” (An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, &c, 1868, pp. 94, 95.)
I confess to surprise at such a rendering as “quick in His Spirit” of ζωοποιηθεὶς τὧ πνεύματι. For, first, though there is an occasional looseness in the LXX, it is certain that the New Testament strictly and exclusively employs ζωογονέω for keeping alive, ζωοποιέω for making alive. Secondly, is it not singular to reason from a non-authentic word as the original? And the Bishop of Ely (see note p. 94) knows that the best critics reject the article before πν. If absent, it is impossible for πν to mean “in His Spirit.”
Besides, the resulting theology is as strange as the grammar; for he proceeds, “There is, it will be observed, a marked antithesis between ‘flesh' and 'spirit.' In Christ's Flesh or Body, He was put to death. Men were ‘able to kill the body,' but they could not kill His soul. He was therefore alive in His Soul, and in or by that He went to the souls who were in safe custody (ἐν φυλακῆ); His Body was dead, but His Spirit or Soul went to their spirits or souls. This is the natural interpretation of the passage; and if it ended here, it would contain no difficulty, and its sense would never have been doubted. It would have contained a simple assertion of our Lord's descent to the spirits of the dead.” To my mind such a sense must seem far below scripture. For what a poor inference that men could not kill Christ's soul! Why they could not kill the soul of the least of His saints, nay, nor of the most wretched of His enemies. Indeed “kill the soul” in any case is a singular phrase to use of any one, most of all to feel it worth while denying it in the case of our Lord Jesus. How different His language! “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” “He was therefore alive in His soul” is a feeble platitude for the issue of the clause, as surely as it supposes a wrong sense given to ζωοποιηθείς, not to speak of the confusion of the soul with the spirit in a way foreign to all exact speech. The interpretation therefore would be in every respect unnatural even if it ended here.
“When we follow, the gulf widens which severs truth from error. “But it is added that He not only went to the spirits in safekeeping, but that He went and preached to them. Hence it has been inferred that, if He preached, they had need of, and He offered to them, repentance. Hence the passage has appeared to savor of false doctrine, and hence its force has been explained away. But the word ‘preached,' or ‘proclaimed,' by no means necessarily infers that He preached either faith or repentance. Christ had just finished the work of salvation, had made an end of sin, and conquered hell. Even the angels seemed not to be fully enlightened, as to all the work of grace, which God performs for man. It is not likely then, that the souls of the departed patriarchs should have fully understood or known all that Christ had just accomplished for them. They indeed may have known, and no doubt did know, the great truth that redemption was to be wrought for all men by the suffering and death of the Messiah. But before the accomplishment of this great work, neither angels nor devils seem fully to have understood the mystery of it. If this be true, when the blessed Soul of our crucified Redeemer went among the souls of those whom He had just redeemed, what can be more probable than that He should have 'proclaimed' (έκήρυξεν) to them that their redemption had been fully effected, that Satan had been conquered, that the great sacrifice had been offered up? If angels joy over one sinner that repenteth; may we not suppose paradise filled with rapture when the Soul of Jesus came among the souls of His redeemed, Himself the herald (κήρνξ) of His own victory?”
It is certain, however, that the preaching of which the apostle here speaks was addressed neither to angels nor to devils nor yet to patriarchs, but expressly to those who did not hearken to it in the days of the divine longsuffering just before the deluge. The text itself therefore dissolves the airy fabric we have just seen; and proves that the preaching was addressed, like all other proclamations of the truth, to faith, but, as in this world constantly, met with unbelief and insubjection of heart in those who heard. Indeed in p. 96 Dr. B. confesses that the proof-text is not favorable to the point they would make it prove. “The only (?) difficulty, in this interpretation of this difficult passage, is in the fact that the preaching is specially said to have been addressed to those who had once been disobedient in the days of Noah. That many, who died in the flood, may yet have been saved from final damnation, seems highly probable, and has been the opinion of many learned divines. The flood was a great temporal judgment, and it follows not that 'all who perished in the flood are to perish everlastingly in the lake of fire.' But the real difficulty consists in the fact, that the proclamation of the finishing of the great work of salvation is represented by Peter as having been addressed to those antediluvian penitents (?), and no mention is made of the penitents of later ages, who are equally interested in the tidings.”
The really important thing for all to weigh is that this difficulty is created by the interpretation that Christ went in His soul and preached to the spirits in the separate state. The text itself speaks of His preaching to such as had been once disobedient in Noah's days. The only unforced inference is that these are in prison because of their disobedience of old, not that being in prison they obeyed Christ's preaching in hades. Nor is there the smallest hint that, having perished in that great temporal judgment, they were alleviated by any subsequent preaching of our Lord, but rather that they are kept waiting for a still more tremendous, because an eternal, judgment before the great white throne. They despised Noah the preacher of righteousness, but not without impunity, for the flood took them all away; but worse remains than the flood brought in upon the world of the ungodly. They are kept for judgment like such angels as sinned.
(To be continued)

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 2

(1 Peter 3:18.)
“It must be confessed,” continues Dr. B., “that this is a knot which cannot easily be untied. Yet should not this induce us to reject the literal and grammatical interpretation of the passage, and to fall back upon those forced glosses which have been coined in order to avoid, instead of fairly meeting and endeavoring to solve,” the acknowledged difficulty. To my conviction there is nothing to untie, where one cleaves to the strict language of the apostle and the real bearing of his argument. For he is exposing indirectly the Jewish unbelief which would have nothing but a Messiah visibly reigning in power and glory to the exaltation of the chosen people and the confusion of their enemies. The faith of the believing Christian Jews in Him, dead, risen, and gone to heaven, exposed them to the derision of their brethren after the flesh, who felt not their sins and cared not for the grace of God displayed in redemption by the blood of Jesus. He was preached, not present but rendering testimony by virtue of His Spirit. Hence the importance of pointing to His testimony by Noah, a testimony to man as such, like the gospel of Christ, for it was before the days of Israel or even Abraham, and the most striking epoch and even period of preaching to men in all the Old Testament.
This is entirely confirmed by Gen. 6:3, where Jehovah said,” My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Then the ark was preparing, the space of God's long-suffering; and “the waters of Noah came,” and man was destroyed from the face of the earth. And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man; for the days of the gospel are preeminently of testimony, as were those before the deluge, during which Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. But he was not a believer only, but a preacher of righteousness, more emphatically than we find it said of any other in Old Testament times. The preaching was in the power of the Spirit, and hence attributed to the Spirit of Christ, who is ever the active person in the Godhead, as is well-known in each visitation of man before the incarnation, preparing both the way and mind for it. Compare “the Spirit of Christ” which was in the prophets of old. (Ch. 1: 11.)
This then would encourage the believing Jews, as it might well admonish their despisers. It is a question of preaching to the world still in the Holy Spirit, not yet of the public reign and government of the Lord. So Christ wrought by the Spirit then; and so He does now. As the flood came on those heedless of the preaching of old, so it will be when He comes in judgment, for He is ready to judge the quick and dead. And if they taunt the believers with being so few compared with the masses that believe not, let them not forget that but eight souls were then saved through water; which figure now saves, baptism, on one side of it death, on the other resurrection, Christ having passed actually for us, as we also in spirit by faith having a good conscience before God through Him who is not only risen but at the right hand of God in heaven, where the highest and mightiest of creatures are subjected to Christ, who is therefore as full of assured security for His own as of irremediable ruin for all who slight the warning.
In this tracing of the links of the apostolic thought and word, I am greatly mistaken if the least strain is put on any part; as I believe the true text and the exact version have been already given. It is not so with those who have flattered themselves that they adhere most closely to the words of the apostle and their plain sense.
Thus when Bishop Middleton considers the true meaning to “be dead carnally, but alive spiritually,” almost every word is misrepresented; for, to bear such a translation, the sentence should have been θανὼν μὲν σαρκικῶς ζῶν δὲ πνευματικῶς, though I should call such a statement absurd and heterodox. I deny that we must or can render θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκι ξωοποιηθεις <50 πνεὐματι in any such fashion. Bishop Browne is as wrong in adopting such a. thought in the note to p. 911 as he is in giving “quick in His Spirit” in the text of p. 95, or in expounding it as Christ alive in His soul, in or by which He went to the souls ἐν φ. All this in my judgment is as loose in grammar, as in philosophy if they allude to this; as faulty also in theology, as it has not the least coherence with the context or scope of the apostle's reasoning.
If Peter too had meant to say that the soul of our Lord went to these other souls, he must have taken a most circuitous and unexampled mode of expressing it in employing the phrase ἐν ᾧ, referring to πνενματι just before. The statement, if not the interpretation, would be most unnatural. Taken as it stands for Christ's going and preaching in virtue of the Spirit by Noah to the rebellious antediluvians, it is in my judgment fully justified, were this necessary, by the Pauline phrase, καῖ ἐλθὼν εὐηγγελίσατο εἰρήνη ὑμῖν τοῖς μακρὰν καὶ εἰρήνην τοῖς ἐγγυς. The latter is even a stronger instance; for there is no explanatory reference to πνεύματι ἐν ᾧ. Further, it is not a natural interpretation to take τοπις ἐν φ. πν. as those who were, but who are, in prison, because of ἀπειθήσασίν ποτε ὕτε κ. τ. λ. following, which very simply attributes their being in custody to their disobedience of old. There is no need nor just ground for joining ποτέ with πορευθεὶς ἐκήρ. but with ἀπειθ. which marks off their unbelief at the preaching from the time when they were in prison. “We are thus shown, as plainly as words can, that we are reading of Christ preaching not in person but by virtue of the Spirit to those suffering the consequences of having been disobedient in the days of Noah.
Again, be it observed, the moral aim of this supposed preaching in the unseen world is as unsatisfactory as we have seen the grammar to be irregular and the doctrine strange. For it supposes a preaching confessedly without either faith or repentance as its end; and it selects, in what seems the most arbitrary way, out of all the departed souls those spirits imprisoned because of their heedlessness, when the long-suffering of God was awaiting in the days of Noah. To single out such willful sinners, as the objects to whom Christ in the under-world proclaimed His triumph and their fully effected redemption, seems to me a statement as foreign to scripture as-can be conceived, and equally ill adapted to impress their danger on such as now despise the preached word.
Bishop Horsley's Sermon on the passage, which is so warmly commended both in Bishop Middleton's Treatise and in Bishop Browne's Exposition, appears to my mind little worthy of confidence. Thus he affirms strongly that the English translation of ξ. δὲ πν., though “a true proposition, is certainly not the sense of the apostle's words. It is of great importance to remark, though it may seem a grammatical nicety, that the prepositions, in either branch of this clause, have been supplied by the translators and are not in the original. The words ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit,' in the original, stand without any preposition, in that case which, in the Greek language., without any preposition, is the case either of the cause or instrument by which—of the time when—of the place where—of the part in which—of the manner how—or of the respect in which, according to the exigence of the context; and to any one who will consider the original with critical accuracy it will be obvious, from the per-feet antithesis of these two clauses concerning flesh and spirit, that if the word ‘spirit' denote the active cause by which Christ was restored to life, which must be supposed by them who understand the word of the Holy Ghost, the word 'flesh' must equally denote the active cause by which He was put to death, which therefore must have been the flesh of His own body—an interpretation too manifestly absurd to be admitted. But if the word ‘flesh’ denote, as it most evidently does, the part in which death took effect upon Him, ‘spirit' must denote the part in which life was preserved in Him, that is, His own soul; and the word ‘quickened' is often applied to signify, not the resuscitation of life extinguished, but the preservation and continuance of life subsisting. (?) The exact rendering therefore of the apostle's words would be, ‘Being put to death in the flesh, but quick in the spirit,' that is, surviving in His soul the stroke of death which His body had sustained, ‘by which’ or rather ‘in which,' that is, in which surviving soul, 'he went and preached to the souls of men in prison or in safe keeping.'“
I have given this long extract which clearly puts this able divine's objections to the Authorized Version. Now, without committing myself to the defense of what is not quite correct, I have no hesitation in asserting that Horsley, by his own mistaken view, has diverged incomparably farther from the truth. We need not go beyond the bishop himself and the passage in debate where he gives a difference of shade to the two participles which are quite as much contrasted with each other as their complementary datives. According to his own principle therefore as the first means “put to death,” the other should be “made alive,” even if its uniform usage by inspired writers did not force one to the same conclusion. Why then did not H. carry out fairly and fully his own reasoning? Because it would have involved him in the result that Christ was not only put to death in the flesh but made alive in His own soul or spirit. The good bishop of course shrank from so portentous an inference, and was therefore driven to modify the antithesis, not in πνεύματι but in an unnatural and unfounded interpretation put on ξωοποιηθείς, which even Dean A. explodes, insisting justly on “brought to life,” instead of preserved alive.
The truth is that Horsley did not himself seize the exact force of σαρκί and πνεύματι, still less the difference produced by ἐν in the beginning of verse 20. Christ was put to death in (i.e. in respect to) flesh, as a living man here below; He was made alive in (i.e. in respect to) Spirit, as one henceforth living in the life of resurrection, characterized by the Spirit as the other by flesh, though of course not a spirit only but with a spiritual body. It is not His own spirit as man, which is far worse than the English Version here both grammatically and theologically. Grammatically it would demand τῷ πν., which is a reading unknown to the best copies and scouted by all competent critics; but, even if grammatically and” diplomatically legitimate, it would land us in the frightful heresy that Christ died not merely in flesh but in spirit, and had to be quickened in that of man which dies not even in the lost. Only the materialist conceives that spirit, if he allows of spirit, can die.
Further, if ζ. δὲ πν. refers to the resurrection of Christ, it is harshness itself and out of all reason to suppose Him back again in the separate state, in the verse following, where Horsley takes ἐν ᾧ to mean in which surviving soul He went and preached to the souls of men in prison. But understand it, as I believe ἐν means we should, that Christ also went iv πνεύματι, not now in character of Spirit, but in virtue of' the Spirit or in His power when He preached through Noah; and all is precise in grammar, correct in doctrine, clear in sense, and consistent with the context. When we are raised by and by, it will be διὰ τὸ ἐνοικοῦν αὐτοῦ πνεῦμα, because of His Spirit that dwelleth in us. It was not suitable to Christ so to speak of His resurrection. He was when put to death quickened πνεύματι, denoting the character of His life in resurrection (not merely the agent), ἐν ᾧ καί marking the Spirit's power in which, before He was thus put to death and raised, He went and preached to the spirits in prison, disobedient as they were once when, &c.
Who can wonder therefore that the Anglican divines in the 5th of Queen Elizabeth dropped the reference to this passage of Peter in Article iii. where they had inserted it in the 6th and 7th of King Edward the sixth? Nor need we with Bishop Horsley impute it to undue reliance on the opinion of Augustine (ep. 99 [164], Evodio), who was followed by some others of the fathers in rejecting the superstitious idea of Christ's preaching in Hades. The excellent Leighton at a later day was so far from seeing this to be the plain meaning of the passage, that he does not hesitate to say, “They that dream of the descent of Christ's soul into hell think this place sounds somewhat that way; but, being examined, it proves no way suitable, nor can by the strongest wresting be drawn to fit their purpose.”
On the other hand the figurative explanation of τοῖς ἐν φ.πνεὐμασιν is quite indefensible and uncalled for. The sense of sinners shut up in a prison of darkness while living on earth, whether in Noah's day or in apostolic times, whether of the Gentiles or of the Jews and Gentiles, must be rejected. Bishop Horsley however is as mistaken on his side when he avers that such passages as Isa. 49:9; 61:1, refer to the liberation of souls from Hades. Equally wrong is his idea that ποτέ joined with ἀπειθ. implies that the imprisoned souls were recovered from that disobedience and before their death had been brought to repentance and faith in the Redeemer to come. Contrariwise the scope is that, having once on a time disobeyed when God's long-suffering was waiting before the deluge, they are in prison. In virtue (or in the power) of the Spirit Christ went and preached to such, by a preacher of righteousness, no doubt; but it is styled His preaching to enhance the solemnity of what was then refused, as it was also in Peter's day. These spirits were in prison as having once been disobedient thus and then; and God will not be mocked now if Christ's preaching in the Spirit be rejected and He be despised in His servants. Where would be the force of the few, that is eight, souls who were saved through water, if the disobedient mass or any of them were saved none the less though outside the ark? It is certainly a suicidal citation which H. makes from the beginning of Rev. 20:13; for we know that the sea will have none to give up at that epoch but the unblessed and unholy, all the righteous dead having already been raised in the first resurrection. Nor is there the least reason from scripture to fancy that souls deceive themselves by false hopes and apprehensions after death, so that some should need above others the preaching of our Lord in Hades. It is nowhere said that thither He went and preached. The spirits are said to be in prison, and this, as having once on a time been disobedient; but it is not said or meant that there Christ went and preached to them.
It is no question then of discrediting clear assertions of holy writ on account of difficulties which may seem to the human mind to arise out of them, but of an interpretation which produces endless confusion, leads inevitably into false doctrine, and has no connection with the passage any more than with the general tenor of revealed truth elsewhere. To put such a notion, based on a bad reading, slighting the exactness of grammar, ignoring the nice distinctions of the phrases, and resulting in the most impotent conclusion spiritually; to put this on the same level “with the doctrines of atonement—of gratuitous redemption—of justification by faith without the works of the law—of sanctification by the influence of the Holy Spirit;” to say that, discrediting Christ's preaching in Hades, we must, on similar grounds, part at once with the hope of resurrection, is more worthy of a bold or weak special pleader than becoming a grave and godly minister of Christ. To urge that its great use is to confute the notion of death as a temporary extinction of the soul or of its sleep between death and resurrection is certainly not to claim much from so wonderful a fact, if a fact: whether scripture does not abundantly confute such dreary and mischievous dogmas of unbelief, without resorting to strange doctrine based on a hasty and superficial interpretation of 1 Peter 3:18-20, may safely be left to spiritual men who judge according to the word of God.
(To be continued.') —♦-

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 3

(1 Peter 3:18-20.)
(Continued from page 32.)
It is curious to see how an intrepid and strong-minded writer, such as Bishop Horsley unquestionably was, commits himself to untenable statements, once he leaves the lines of the Holy Spirit in scripture. “The apostle's assertion therefore” (says he) “is this that Christ went and preached to souls of men in prison. This invisible mansion of departed spirits, though certainly not a place of penal confinement to the good, is nevertheless in some respects a prison. It is a place of seclusion from the external-a place of unfinished happiness, consisting in rest, security, and hope, more than enjoyment. It is a place which the souls of men never would have entered, had not sin introduced death, and from which there is no exit by any natural means for those who once have entered. The deliverance of the saints from it is to be effected by our Lord's power. It is described in the old Latin language as a place enclosed within an impassable fence; and in the poetical parts of scripture it is represented as secured by gates of brass, which our Lord is to batter down, and barricaded with huge massive iron bars, which He is to cut in sunder. As a place of confinement therefore, though not of punishment, it may well be called a prison. The original word, however, in this text of the apostle imports not of necessity so much as this, but merely a place of safe keeping; for so this passage might be rendered with great exactness. 'He went and preached to the spirits in safe keeping.' And the invisible mansion of departed souls is to the righteous a place of safe keeping where they are preserved under the shadow of God's right hand, as their condition sometimes is described in scripture, till the season shall arrive for their advancement to their future glory; as the souls of the wicked, on the other hand, are reserved, in the other division of the same place, unto the judgment of the great day. Now, if Christ went and preached to souls of men thus in prison or in safe keeping, surely He went to the prison of those souls, or to the place of their custody; and what place that should be but the hell of the Apostle's Creed to which our Lord descended, I have not yet met with the critic that could explain.”
The careful reader will perceive, indeed any one when it is pointed out, the immediate departure from scriptural sense and accuracy. For the apostle does not assert “that Christ went and preached to souls of men in prison.” He speaks not of human souls generally but only of those characterized by disobedience of yore, when Noah the preacher of righteousness prepared an ark to the saving of his house. This makes all the difference possible; for there is no reference whatever to the invisible mansion of departed spirits as a whole, still less to the special place of seclusion for the good. These last are in fact excluded by the language and the thought of the apostle. His argument is against those who, as incredulous Jews were especially apt to do, made light of preaching Christ only present in Spirit, not reigning in power, and of the comparative fewness of those who professed to believe. His refutation of their taunts and proof of their extreme danger are grounded on the Lord's dealing with the men of Noah's day who similarly despised the divine warning, while those only were saved who heeded it. How few the latter, how many the former!
It is true indeed that “it is a place which the souls of men never would have entered, had not sin been introduced;” but what is this to the purpose? It applies on the side of good as of evil, of heaven as of hell; for sin, which lost living on the earth along with innocence furnished occasion for that infinite grace which gives the believer eternal life and heavenly glory in and with the Son of God, the last Adam. And if the actual condition of the departed be as regards the body incomplete, even so it is not correct to speak of our being at home with the Lord as “a place of unfinished happiness,” though the Lord Himself, the saints with Him, and those on earth are looking onward to the day of His and their manifested glory when the world shall know that the Father sent the Son, and loved us even as He loved Him; when He will gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and are on earth, in Him in whom also we have obtained inheritance, being predestinated according to His purpose; when in virtue of the name of Jesus every knee shall bow of beings heavenly, earthly, and infernal, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to God the Father's glory.
Nowhere does scripture speak of “the deliverance of the saints from” this state of things, though surely it is of the Lord's grace and the divine virtue of life in Him, that He will raise their bodies and transform what was erst of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory, according to the working of power whereby He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. This no doubt is the full answer to the cry of the wretched though quickened man (in Rom. 7): “who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?” For it is our resurrection (Rom. 8:11) which will manifest the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ, as it is His resurrection which has even now given us life in the Spirit, freeing us from the law of sin and death. “We have for our souls what we shall know at His coming for our mortal bodies. But deliverance from a place of seclusion for our spirits, to be effected by our Lord's power, is a dream wholly opposed to the scriptural representation of the saints' enjoyment with Christ meanwhile. The apostle declares that to depart and be with Him even now and thus is very much better than remaining here, though doubtless there will be more for the body when He comes: for the soul there cannot be. Therefore, while earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven, he says that we are confident and willing rather to be absent from the body and present with the Lord; that is, rather than abide here in the body absent from the Lord. Yet are we now, not shut up as were believers before redemption, but called to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.
Hence it is in vain to urge what the old Latin language describes, since it is quite opposed to the truth; and it is a mistake to cite the poetical parts of scripture which treat of the deliverance of God's people on earth. For “the gates of brass” and “the bars of iron” (Isa. 14:2) certainly refer to Babylon not to the presence of the Lord with whom are the spirits of departed saints. So Psa. 121:5, “Jehovah is thy shade upon thy right hand,” is expressly a prophetic song for Israel in the latter day, and in no way about those deceased; as Isa. 49:2 certainly has no such reference, the context plainly giving the transition from Israel to Christ. It is a distressing misrepresentation then to call His presence a place of confinement, though not of punishment, which “may well be called a prison.” Never does God's word so call it. The converted robber asked to be remembered when Christ comes in His kingdom (i.e. in the resurrection state and the day of glory for the earth), and the Lord gives him, as a nearer comfort and intrinsically the deepest joy, the assurance of being with Him that very day in paradise. It is grievous dishonor to Him and ignorance of scripture to slight such grace, even to the length of saying that it “may well be called a prison.” Certainly it will never be so called by one who appreciates either the blessedness of Christ's love or the honor the Father is now putting on the Son. The Father's house can only be called “a prison” by the darkest prejudice. It is where Christ is now, and where we shall be when Christ at His coming takes us to be with Him as the expression of His fullest love. The presence of the Lord on high is the very kernel of joy by grace, whether for the separate spirit after death or when we are all changed at His coming.
Feeling apparently that this is rather strong language (though many of the fathers knew no better through their ignorance of eternal life in Christ and of redemption), Bishop Horsley qualifies his defense, and affirms that the original word in the text of the apostle imports not so much as this, but merely a place of safe keeping. Now what are the facts of the usage of φυλακή? Primarily it means the act of watching; hence (2) the persons that watch or guard (as in Latin and English); (3) the time; the place, not only (4) where those watching are posted, but (5) where others are kept as in ward or prison. Such, with the moral application of taking heed and being on one's guard from keeping in ward, are the chief senses in which the word was employed by the Greeks. The New Testament has it once in the first sense (Luke 2:8), once in the second (Acts 12:10), five times in the third (Matt. 14:25; 24:43, Mark 6:48, Luke 2:8 twice), and forty times in the fifth sense, including not only 1 Peter 3:19, but Rev. 18:2, where it is in the Authorized Version translated “the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird,” all evidently equivalent to the meaning of “prison,” which is used even of Satan's place of temporary detention. Never elsewhere does the Holy Spirit use it in the more general signification of a mere “place of safe keeping.” Is there any special reason in our text why it should here be so rendered? The assigned ground of custody being the former disobedience of the spirits thus restrained, there ought to be no hesitation in accepting the English Version as fully justified, and rejecting that suggested as unexampled in New Testament usage and at issue with the context.
It is going beyond scripture then to affirm that “Christ went and preached to souls of men thus in prison or safe keeping,” and not at all sure that He went to the prison of those souls or to the place of their custody. It is quite sure that the apostle speaks only of the spirits in prison, disobedient once when the long-suffering of God waited in Noah's days, not to souls of men as a whole in the separate state. It is sure that Christ, in the power of the Spirit, went and preached to the former, but it is nowhere written that He went to the prison or place of custody of any souls whatever and preached there. The building and the ground-work of Bishop Horsley are alike unsubstantial; his handling of scripture careless, and his reasoning unsound. Such passages as Isa. 13:7; 49:9, have only to be examined with ordinary attention in order to satisfy any candid mind that it is a question of the deliverance of captives in this world, be it literal or figurative, and in no way of men after death.
If, as Bishop Browne holds, hades or paradise are two names applying to the same state, it would seem to follow that paradise must apply to the place of departed saints, and hades to their state as separate from the body. For 2 Cor. 12:2, 4, naturally connects paradise, not with heaven merely, but even with the third heaven, where the Lord is (cf. Luke 23:43); and Rev. 2:7 is decisive, that in this very paradise of God will the faithful have their future reward at Christ's coming, when risen from the dead or changed. It is an error therefore to think that it is another place, for the latter scripture certainly identifies the scene of the separate spirits of the saints with that of their future glorification. They are with the Lord now, as they will be when changed, and thus completely and forever with Him; but now as then in heaven. The ancients who denied this were as wrong as the moderns who popularly hold the soul's passing at once on its final reward with very little thought of the resurrection at Christ's second coming or of the kingdom.
But I may here add that the ancient versions are too loose to render any help worth naming. Without discussing now whether the Peschito does (as Bode and others assert) or does not use scheiul for the grave as well as hades, it is plain that “lived” in spirit is faulty for ζωοποιηθεις, and that to leave out “in [or in the power of] which,” substituting a mere connective particle “and” is far from the truth. “To the souls which were kept” may after a fashion represent τοῖς ἐν φ. πν., the addition of “in hades” or “scheiul” being unwarranted. There are other inaccuracies; but let this suffice. Par better here is the Philoxenian Syriac, which is thus rendered by White, “morte affectus quidem carne, vivificatus autem spiritu. In quo et spiritibus, qui in domo custodiae sunt, profectus praedicavit: Qui non obediverant aliquando, quum expectabat longanimitas Dei in diebus Noe” &c. The Arabic (Pol.) and the Vulgate alone give correctly the beginning of the verse, the Erpenian Arabic and the Aethiopic being as loose as the Peschito Syr. The Aeth. adds “holy” to “Spirit;” but it does not follow, as Bishop Middleton seems to think, that the other ancient versions did not understand exactly the same sense, though they very properly did not add the word “holy” so as to define their rendering more than the original text. The Coptic, according to Wilkins, is no better than the rest. This is his version— “mortuus quidem in carne, vivens autem in Spiritu. In hoc Spiritibus [S. sic] qui in carcere abut evangelizavit. Incredulis aliquando,” &c.
In every version and in every edition of the text, accurate or faulty, this at least stands out irrefragably that the spirits in question are nowhere represented as those of men who had already repented when on earth, but on the contrary as disobedient. This we have seen to be very far from the only difficulty in the way of the alleged preaching in hades; but it is at least felt and confessed by the stoutest champions of that interpretation. It is quite erroneous to assume that Peter speaks here of the proclamation of the finishing of the great work of salvation, still more to say that it was addressed to the penitents of antediluvian times, even if there were no question about the penitents of later ages who are equally interested in the tidings. The apostle uses not even εὐαγγελίζομαι (which, though expressive of glad tidings, admits of far greater latitude in scripture than the good news of the finished work of salvation) but κηρύσσω, a word equally applicable to express a public setting forth of righteousness and a warning of the destruction which must fall on the despiser. (Compare 2 Peter 2:5, “Noah a preacher of righteousness,” δικαιοσύνης κήρυκα.") The main difficulty then really is that the text speaks only of impenitent persons; the expounder only of penitents.
Whatever the rapture with which we may suppose paradise filled when the soul of Jesus came among the souls of His redeemed, it is certain that the passage of the apostle says not one word about it; and it would be no small difficulty to produce any other scripture which does reveal it. Here it is a question of the spirits in custody for their former disobedience in the days of Noah, while a very few in contrast with them were saved, used for the present comfort of saints taunted with their paucity by the masses who despised what was preached by the Spirit now as before the flood. Possibly no doubt some who then perished in the waters may not be doomed to perish everlastingly in the lake of fire; just as one at least preserved in the ark may not have been ordained to eternal life. But all this is only profitless speculation; and those who indulge in it lose sight of the grand and plain lessons of the apostle, whether for the comfort of the faithful or for the warning of unbelievers. Before the kingdom of God is established and displayed in power, the masses have ever been disobedient to the word, and believers a little flock; but be these ever so few, let those not forget the days wherein a world of impious men perished; and this too is not the worst, for their spirits are in ward (which is never said of the righteous), the Lord without doubt reserving them as unjust for judgment day to be punished.
(To be continued.)

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 4

(1 Peter 3:18-20.)
As much misconception exists respecting Calvin's sentiments, I will here state fully what he has written in his early and later works. It is at any rate an error to classify him, as did Dean Alford after Huther, with those who understand the passage of a literal descent of our Lord into hades; for Calvin nowhere commits himself to any such statement, though, as already pointed out, he applied the phrase in the creed to His sufferings on the cross, and he conceived the efficacy of that work sensibly and at once to reach the Old Testament saints. The reader need not for a moment suppose authority is attached to what may be quoted from the great leader of the reformed. The effect, I trust, will be only to prove the incontestable superiority of the divine word; the wise being weak where they depart from it, while it gives light to the simple.
The first allusion in order of time is in the Psychopannychia, published in 1534, when the author was but twenty-five years of age, a tract directed against the materialistic notion of Anabaptists and others, who would have the soul to sleep during its departure from the body before the resurrection. Some zealots were the more disposed to embrace this revolting and utterly unscriptural scheme; because, if true, it would decide against the Popish dreams of limbus patrum and in particular of purgatory. But Calvin's pious sobriety was proof against such a temptation even in the heats of controversy. This is his use of the text, as quoted from the third volume of his Tracts (Translation Soc. Ed. 1851, pp. 428,429)— “Not less evidently does the Apostle Peter show that after death the soul both exists and lives, when he says (1 Peter 3:19) that Christ preached to the spirits in prison, not merely forgiveness or salvation to the spirits of the righteous, but also confusion to the spirits of the wicked. For so I interpret the passage which has puzzled many minds; and I am confident that, under favorable auspices, I will make good my interpretation. For after he had spoken of the humiliation of the cross of Christ, and shown that all the righteous must be conformed to His image, he immediately thereafter, to prevent them from falling into despair, makes mention of the resurrection to teach them how their tribulations were to end. For he states that Christ did not fall under death, but subduing it came forth victorious. He indeed says in words, that He was ‘put to death in the flesh but quickened in the Spirit' (1 Peter 3:18), but just in the same sense in which Paul says that He suffered in the humiliation of the flesh, but was raised by the power of the Spirit. Now, in order that believers might understand that the power belongs to them also, he subjoins that Christ exerted this power in regard to others, and not only towards the living but also towards the dead; and moreover not only towards His servants but also towards unbelievers and the despisers of His grace.
“Let us understand, moreover, that the sentence is defective and wants one of its two members. Many examples of this occur in scripture, especially when as here several sentiments are comprehended in one clause. And let no one wonder that the holy patriarchs who waited for the redemption of Christ are shut up in prison. As they saw the light at a distance, under a cloud and shade (as those who saw the feeble light of dawn or twilight), and had as yet an exhibition of the divine blessing in which they rested, he gave the name of prison to their expectancy.
“The meaning of the apostle will therefore be that Christ in Spirit preached to those other spirits who were in prison-in other words, that the virtue of the redemption obtained by Christ appeared and was exhibited to the spirits of the dead. Now, there is a want of the other member which related to the pious who acknowledged and received this benefit; but it is complete in regard to unbelievers who received this announcement to their confusion. For when they saw but one redemption, from which they were excluded, what could they do but despair? I hear our opponents muttering, and saying that this is a gloss of my own invention, and that such authority does not bind them. I have no wish to bind them to my authority; I only ask them whether or not the spirits shut up in prison are spirits.”
In this handling of the text there is no great ability in tracing the apostle's scope or in developing the argument of the epistle, though the reasoning may be fair against the fancied sleep of the soul. But it is plain that Calvin then held that the power of the work of Christ when accomplished reached the departed spirits, just and unjust, not that He visited them in person. He confesses that the sentence does not express what he wishes it to comprehend; for the member relative to the pious is wanting, unbelievers only being spoken of, at least completely. The truth is that the only patriarchs in question were those preserved in the ark; yet they are contrasted with the disobedient whose spirits were in prison. The pious Noah and his house therefore are not wanting afterward, but so named as to refute the argument before us.
Not long after Calvin published his “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” in the second book of which (chap. xvi. § 9) we may see, if possible more clearly, how little he agreed with the class to which of late he has been assigned. After a severe but just reproof of those who like Bishop Horsley in modern times wrest Psa. 107:16 and Zech. 9:11 to an imaginary subterraneous limbus, treating such thoughts of Justin M., both the Cyrils, Ambrose, Jerome, Ac, as no better than a fable, he then proceeds:-
“And what need was there that the soul of Christ should descend thither to set them free? I readily own indeed that Christ illumined them by the power of His spirit, enabling them to recognize that the grace, of which they had only had a foretaste, was then displayed to the world. And probably to this may be applied the passage of Peter where he says that Christ went and preached to the spirits in a watch-tower (it is commonly rendered 'in prison'), 1 Peter 3:19. For the context also leads us to the conclusion that the faithful who had died before that time were partakers of the same grace as ourselves; because he dwells on the power of Christ's death in that He penetrated even to the dead, pious souls enjoying an immediate view of that visitation for which they had anxiously waited, whilst on the other hand the reprobate more clearly knew themselves shut out from all salvation. Though Peter does not speak very distinctly, it is not to be received that he absolutely confounds the righteous and the wicked; he only intimates that both alike had the death of Christ made known to them.”
It is a strange notion, adopted by Calvin first (it is to be hoped, without a single intelligent follower), that φυλακή here means a watch-tower, whence he supposed the saints to have been awaiting the Messiah. On this no remark is needed in addition to what has been made already, unless it he that the verse itself is as inexorably adverse to it as the general usage of the New Testament. For the spirits spoken of are those of men not only without the least hint of any subsequent obedience, but expressly said to be kept in ward because of former disobedience. The only reason for charging defect or indefiniteness on the passage is the singular fancy that the apostle meant to include the pious in these spirits without one word to justify it. As to the wicked the language of the apostle is confessed to be “complete.” The reverent reader of scripture will not fail to censure Calvin for adding to God's words, rather than Peter for taking away. In text or context there is no thought of making known Christ's death to believers and unbelievers, but very plainly does the apostle urge the danger of despising Christ's testimony by the Spirit, even before His kingdom came, and this drawn from the days of Noah, to which the Lord elsewhere compares the day when the Son of man shall be revealed. (Luke 17) Before the flood, as now, we see a time of testimony; but an awful blow fell on heedless man then, as there will again shortly from Him who is ready to judge quick and dead. If there is any reference in the context to the believers who died before Christ, it is to those saved in the ark, a figure of the salvation set forth in baptism by virtue of Christ's resurrection, while the spirits in prison were those of the men who perished in the deluge for their unbelief.
But here again we see how far it was from Calvin's mind that our Lord in His disembodied state did actually go to the place of detention of departed spirits and there preach; still farther that He thus preached salvation to those in that state who had refused to obey the voice of God when the judgment of the flood was hanging over them. The plain words of scripture here as elsewhere give no countenance to such strange doctrine, nor is it true that there is any dark enigma in the judgment either of men before the flood or of those the apostle warns here. It is neglect or unbelief of scripture to say that these are cases where the final doom seems at all out of proportion (I will not dwell on the impropriety of saying with the late Dean Alford “infinitely out of proportion") to the lapse which has incurred it. To speak or to think so is to dispute with God and contemn His most solemn revelation. If the antediluvians had a doom more awful than others before them, we have the divine assurance on the one hand of a special testimony to them, and on the other of their excessive corruption and violence. Most justly therefore did the Judge of all the earth send the flood which took them all away, save the man of faith who, warned of God of things not seen as yet and moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. Granted that worse remains for all unbelievers than the flood; but not worse for antediluvians as such than for others; and for none so bad as for those who slight God's call to repent and believe since redemption, especially for such as bear, and bear falsely or with indifference, the name of the Lord. Who that beholds the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world can say that the doom of unbelievers is out of proportion to their guilt? He who can deliberately say it seems to me to have no real sense of man's evil or of God's infinite grace.
To allow that unbelievers, who perished at the flood or otherwise, are objects of a preaching of salvation in the disembodied state when Christ died or at other seasons, is to cast off not only the general testimony of Old Testament and New but very specially that dark background of eternal judgment and destruction which the gospel affirms with a precision unknown to the law. To found such a renewal of hope for deceased unbelievers on our text, and to hint at extending it indefinitely, seems to my mind presumption of the most perilous sort.
But there is a third passage from Calvin's writings of a later date which may furnish further matter for reflection as well as comparison with scripture. In his comment on the Epistle, published about the beginning of 1554, it will be observed for the third time that, far from admitting Christ's personal descent to hades as meant by the text, he seeks to explode any such application. “It has been a threadbare and common opinion that Christ's descent into hell is here stated; but the words mean no such thing. For there is no mention made of the soul of Christ but only that He went by the Spirit. But these are very different things, that Christ's soul went and that Christ preached by the power of His Spirit. Expressly therefore does Peter name the Spirit to take away the notion of what may be called a real presence."
Again, Calvin sets himself against the view advocated chiefly by Socinian commentators, but also by Grotius, Schottgen and others, who take the preaching as that of the apostles, by τοῖς ἐν φ. πν. understand either the Jews under law, or the Gentiles under Satan proves, or both together as bound with a common chain of sin, the allusion to Noah's time being no more than a sample or similitude. To this our commentator replies: “I allow indeed that Christ through the apostles went by His Spirit to those who were detained in the flesh; but this explanation is proved false by many considerations. First, Peter says that Christ went to ‘spirits,' by which he means souls separated from their bodies, for living men are nowhere called spirits. Secondly, what Peter repeats in chapter 4 does not admit of allegory. Therefore the words must be understood properly of the dead. Thirdly, it seems most absurd that Peter, speaking of the apostles, as though forgetting himself, should go off to the time of Noah. Certainly such a mode of discourse would be abrupt and unsuitable. This explanation then cannot stand.”
But there is no sparing the notion of many Fathers, now it would seem reviving, that dead unbelievers had a fresh offer of salvation and in fact were saved after the cross. “Moreover their madness who think that unbelievers in the coming of Christ were after His death free from their guilt needs no longer refutation; for it is the certain doctrine of scripture that we do not obtain salvation in Christ save by faith, and therefore for those who have been persistent in unbelief up to death there is no hope left.”
Then he gives his reason for rejecting the notion that prevails among the Greek and Latin Fathers— “Somewhat more probable is their assertion who say that the redemption procured by Christ availed the dead who in Noah's day had long been unbelievers, but repented a short time before they were drowned in the deluge. The idea therefore is that they suffered in the flesh the punishment due to their perverseness, yet that they were saved by Christ's grace from perishing forever. But this conjecture is weak; as besides it is inconsistent with the context, for Peter ascribes salvation only to the family of Noah, and assigns to ruin all who were outside the ark.”
But we must pay more heed to his own conclusion in its most mature form. “I therefore do not doubt but Peter says generally that a manifestation of Christ's grace was made to the godly spirits, and that they were thus endued with the vital power of the Spirit. “Wherefore there is no cause to fear that it will not reach to us. But it may be inquired why he puts in prison the souls of the godly after quitting their bodies. To my mind indeed φυλακή means rather a watchtower in which a watch is kept, or the very act of watching. For it is often so taken among the Greeks, and the sense would be excellent that godly souls were intent on the hope of the promised salvation as if they saw it afar off. Nor is it doubtful that the holy fathers in life as well as after death directed their thoughts to this object. But if anyone chooses to retain the word (prison), it will not be unsuitable; for as, while they lived, the law (according to Paul, Gal. 3:23) was a sort of strict custody in which they were kept, so after death they must have felt the anxious longing for Christ, because the spirit of liberty had not yet been fully given. Therefore their anxious expectation was a kind of prison.”
Here for the third and last time in his writings we see how Calvin repudiates the idea of Christ's actual descent into hades. He among the reformed held a view substantially similar to that of Durand among Romanists that Christ's preaching to the spirits was a visitation by the efficacy of His work, not by His presence among them. To call Abraham's bosom or paradise either a watchtower or a prison will not be accepted by sober believers as fair dealing with our Lord's intimation. To be “comforted” is no characteristic of imprisonment. Dean Alford's note on Luke 23 is not only exceptionable throughout, but its conclusion is refuted by 2 Cor. 12 and especially by Rev. 2:7, where beyond controversy paradise is the scene not merely of blessed spirits but of the perfection of glorified humanity in heaven. The effort of Calvin to reconcile the idea of a prison with spirits in heaven (as he at least believed) is vain; and the weakening if not change of the apostle's words is the evident and inevitable consequence. It differs little from the Romish dream of purgatory as stated in the Decrees and the Catechism of the Council of Trent.
It is not correct therefore to say that thus far the apostle's words seem to agree well with the fact itself—with the thread of the argument. “But what follows,” even be confesses, “is attended with some difficulty; for he does not mention the faithful here but only the unbelieving, by which the whole of the preceding exposition seems to be overturned.”
I do not agree with the ground of objection any more than the thoughts we have next, though believing that there is the strongest ground and that the reasoning given has no real force. “Some have been led by this reason to think that nothing else is said here than that the unbelievers who had formerly opposed and persecuted the godly found the Spirit of Christ a judge, as if Peter consoles the faithful with this argument that Christ even when dead punished them. But their error is disposed by what we shall see in the next chapter that the gospel was preached to the dead, that they might live according to God in the Spirit which peculiarly applies to the faithful. Moreover it is certain that he repeats there what he now says.” “Next they do not perceive that Peter meant them especially that as the power of the Spirit of Christ showed itself vivifying in Him and was known as such by the dead, so it will be toward us.”
The apostle seems to me correcting unbelieving notions natural to those who looked only for the Messiah reigning gloriously and delivering them from their enemies, and therefore despised the Spirit's action in preaching, and comparatively small results which yet appeared, nay the present sufferings and persecution of Christians. Peter brings in Christ's death but also His resurrection, and points to His dealing of old by the Spirit (not by a personal display in glory) where there was disobedience then as now, but to their spirits as in prison kept for judgment, besides the public fact in this world that far fewer than the Christians were saved in the ark. Further, it is gratuitous assumption to bring in here 1 Peter 4:6 which has to my mind a quite distinct bearing. Calvin's mistake is proved by 2 Peter 2:6, which does expressly treat of the same time and excludes all idea of the faithful by the declaration that God brought a flood on a world of ungodly persons. I believe accordingly that the apostle does certainly not repeat there what he now says, but speaks here of good news having been set before dead persons also, though of course the preaching to them was while they lived, with one or other of these two results, “in order that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, and live according to God in the Spirit.” For the Jews habitually were apt to lose sight of the judgment of the dead in their eagerness to put forward the judgment of the quick as to which the heathen were wholly ignorant.
“Let us see however (continues he) why he mentions only unbelievers; for he seems to say that Christ in Spirit appeared to those who were formerly disobedient. But I distinguish otherwise; that then also the pure servants of God were mixed up with unbelievers and were almost hidden by their multitude. Greek syntax (I confess) is at variance with this meaning; for Peter, if he meant this, ought to have used the genitive absolute. But because it was no new thing for the apostles to put one case instead of another, and we see Peter here heaping together many things confusedly, and no other suitable sense can be elicited, I have no hesitation in thus explaining an intricate passage; so that readers may understand that those called disobedient are different from those to whom the preaching was made. After then he said that Christ manifested Himself to the dead, he immediately adds, “when there were formerly disobedient men; by which he means that the holy fathers sustained no harm from being almost overwhelmed by the multitude of the ungodly.” To the rest of his remarks I make no objection as they seem sound and sensible: but it would not be easy to discover a match for the hardihood of the words just cited and the utter want of self-distrust in thinking and speaking as he does of an inspired man. The Greek construction, he admits, is adverse to the sense he would impose. This is enough for one who believes that the Holy Spirit perfectly guided Peter. Certainly the dative άπειθήσασιν is in agreement with the πνεύμασι just before, which demolishes the imaginary distinction of God's servants mixed up with the unbelieving. It is impossible to construe or even conceive the meaning Calvin would insist on without giving up the claim of the Epistle to be divinely inspired. Again, it is as false that the apostles elsewhere put one case instead of another, as that Peter here heaps anything confusedly together. The most suitable sense has been shown to be the strictest according to grammatical considerations. Calvin therefore would have been much wiser if he had hesitated about his own explanation, which in fact brings intricacy into a passage by no means obscure either in syntax or in scope. The Christian reader will want no further reasoning to assure him that the spirits in prison are no other than those of men once disobedient when the Spirit of Christ in Noah preached by him before the deluge. It is egregious to suppose that the Spirit was not only to strive with them, contrary to God's express admonition, after the term of a hundred and twenty years allotted in divine long-suffering, but even to save some or all after Christ died: a strange proof, it must be allowed, that the Lord knows how to deliver godly persons out of temptation and to reserve unjust men unto judgment-day to be punished.
(To be continued.')

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 5

(1 Peter 3:19.)
Having examined the statements of the Reformer most celebrated for his doctrine, we may now turn to the very different views of Bellarmine, the most famous of those who have written on the Romanist side, with the authoritative statements of the Council of Trent in their Decrees and Canons, and yet more fully in their Catechism. To the discussion of our text the Cardinal devotes the entire chapter xiii., book iv., of his third general controversy—that about Christ (Disput. R. Bellarmini Pol. Tom. I, pp. 176-178, Col. Agr. 1615). It may strike some as remarkable that the text is not cited by him to prove purgatory, but only the descent of Christ's soul to hell; and the more so as the proofs of purgatory from the New Testament are lamentably defective and manifestly forced. But this able controversalist justly avoided the passage as evidence for purgatory; for nothing would suit Romish ideas less than preaching, least of all Christ's preaching, to souls there. Wholly different is their scheme, which distinguishes purgatory from limbus patrum.
Purgatory according to Tridentine doctrine is a penal fire to satisfy for the remains of sin in the righteous, a place of punishment where justified souls in general suffer for a time before they go to heaven; for, as they teach, souls dying in mortal sin go to hell, while on the other hand martyrs and adults dying immediately after baptism go to heaven. Thus, in the first part, art. v. § iv.—vi. of the Catechism, they distinguish hell into (1) the place where the damned are forever punished, (2) the fire of purgatory where the souls of the pious suffer torture in expiation for a definite time, and (3) the receptacle in which the souls of saints before Christ's advent were received, and, exempt from any pain and sustained by the blessed hope of redemption, dwelt there in peace. It is true that this last statement does not cohere with the language of § 8 that the fathers were tortured in suspense while waiting for glory: but when was error really consistent? Again, in § 10 they confess that Old Testament saints, like those of the New, not only were in limbus as we have seen, that is, in the bosom of Abraham, but also might need the satisfaction of the ire of purgatory for their venial sins, and for whatever remained of the temporal punishment due for mortal sins though forgiven.
It is plain therefore that it is ignorance of their own doctrine or deceit for a Romanist to cite our text for purgatory. Their most authoritative teaching is that the apostle speaks of the place once occupied by the Old Testament saints before Christ came and took them to heaven. Limbus patrum is therefore without a tenant, and useless for any practical purpose now. Purgatory is far otherwise, according to their best instructed doctors; though why it should be styled “purgatory” does not clearly or satisfactorily appear, for there is only the endurance of penalty, and no real purging whatever. How opposed to the truth and grace of God! By Christ all that believe are justified from all things and have life, eternal life, in Him. They are dead with Christ from sin; crucified with Him, yet they live of a new life, not the first Adam life, but Christ living in them, dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Hence sin is not to reign in their mortal body. They are under not law but grace; and, living in the Spirit, they have to walk in the Spirit; but if one sin, we have an advocate with the Father, and the washing of water by the word is made good to us by the Spirit in answer to Christ's intercession when we are defiled in any way.
But Romanism ignores and destroys the entire groundwork of the gospel, and its privileges as applied now to the believer. They preach as if Christ was such an one as themselves; they reason as if His blood had no more efficacy than a bull's or a goat's; their thoughts of sin are as human as of the Savior and of His work. Of a real communication of life through faith, of a new and spiritual nature which the believer has in receiving Christ, they have no notion; for if they saw either life or redemption as scripture puts them, there could be no place for purgatory. There is a process of cleansing which goes on in the believer while he passes through this defiling world, that the practical state may correspond with the standing, with life in Christ and full remission of sins by His blood. But when the Christian departs from this life, he departs to be with Christ, and there is no need of cleansing more, as only the new and holy life remains, Romanism sets up the veil of Judaism again, undoing laboriously the infinite blessing of a known reconciliation with God founded on atonement, and consequently putting those who bear the Lord's name outside in the court, in darkness, doubt, and uncertainty. It is the unbelief of nature, usurping the place of the gospel, a mere round of rites which flatter the flesh and can never clear the conscience: and no wonder, because the true light which now shines is intercepted and the power of redemption is wholly denied. Hence it is really heathenism clothed with Jewish forms, a return of the Gentiles in Christendom to the weak and beggarly elements to which they desire to be again in bondage. It is the more guilty, because it is a going back to old darkness after God's revelation of Himself as a Savior in Christ, a churlish turning away from the feast of divine love and light where the Father imparts His joy in goodness, saving the worst and to the uttermost, let who will stay without and boast of their own ways to His dishonor.
But enough of the fabulous purgatory: our business is with B.'s explanation of our text. The first exposition noticed is that of Augustine, who applied it to the preaching of Noah by the Spirit of Christ to the men of that day. The chief defect in it is that the prison is held to be the mortal body, instead of seeing that έν φ. (“in prison") refers to their subsequent state when alone also they could be properly designated as πνεὐμασιν or “spirits.”
The Cardinal apologizes for refuting S. Augustine. No doubt it is awkward to such as start with the Vincentian canon of tradition, “quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus:” and the rather when the Father to be refuted is the greatest light of the Western church. It is pleaded however that A. himself confesses he had not understood the passage and asks for cause to be shown why it should refer to hell (or hades). As if the Father then not only permitted but himself desired it, B. proceeds to his task.
His first argument is the common opinion of the Fathers in opposition; Clement, Alex., Atban. Epiphan., and Cyril, Hilary, Ambrose, Ruffin, and Oec. being all alluded to as inferring hence Christ's descent to the spirits in hell. He also points to the occurrence of an alleged citation of Isaiah to a similar effect in Justin M. and Irenaeus. But we may reserve the views of the early ecclesiastical writers to a later moment when they will come fully before us.
The second objection is that Christ is said to have gone in spirit to preach to spirits. The spirit which is here distinguished against flesh seems as if it could not possibly mean anything else than the soul, says B. Not therefore in His divinity only but in His soul did the Lord go and preach to the spirits. Now this, if it were the real intimation, would have incomparably greater weight for the Christian than the opinions of the Fathers were they ever so unanimous. But it is precisely what I have shown the best authorities for the critically correct text of the epistle reject. If the article of the vulgarly received text before πνεύματι possessed any real weight of evidence, the phrase might well if not certainly convey the sense of Christ's spirit as man; but all the copies of value concur in the anarthrous form, which cannot bear the meaning for which B. contends. As the apostle wrote, it is the character of Christ's quickening when He rose from the dead. The Holy Spirit beyond a doubt was the agent; but this is presented in the shape of manner, and therefore the article is absent; whereas it must have been present if the intention had been to present the case as B. imagines. The more carefully the language is examined, the more certain it is that the soul of Christ cannot be here contemplated.
Again, Augustine had good ground to say that ζ. δὶ πν. could not apply to the soul of Christ; and B. tries in vain to answer by citing 1 Sam. 27:9; 2 Sam. 8:2; and Acts 7:19; for this is a confusion of ζωογονέω or ζωγρέω with ζωοποιέω. It is unfounded therefore to say that Peter meant that Christ's soul could not be slain, but remained alive in His triumphant work over hell. He really says and meant that Christ was brought to life; and all efforts to shake the truth will only confirm it before all competent judges. Our clever theologian is decidedly feeble in questions of a philological kind.
There is no force in the third argument, which is that the expression, “went and preached,” can properly apply to the soul, not to Christ's divinity. It is a question of what is called in 1 Peter 1:11 “the Spirit of Christ,” which certainly wrought in the prophets and among the rest in Noah, who is also formally styled “a preacher of righteousness” in the second epistle. There is no more reason why in this place πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυζεν should be a literal change of place in Christ personally, than ἐλθὼν εὐηγγελίσατο in Eph. 2:17. We are dealing with historical matter equally in both passages; but figure is excluded in neither; and in fact there is the strongest analogy between the figures employed by both. The one illustrates the other. There is a manifestly distinct precision of phrase where a literal going of Christ is intended, as in verse 22 where we read π. εἰς οὐρανὁν. It might have been safely inferred here if the apostle had written π. εἰς ᾄδου
It is granted that the fourth argument of the Cardinal lies fairly against a faulty detail in the view of Augustine; for we cannot by “spirits in prison” rightly understand living men. Such a description applies only to persons in their disembodied state. There is no ground however to suppose that the preaching was then and there more than in chapter iv. 6 where we are told that “to dead men also was the gospel preached,” but of course while they were alive, not after they died, as some strangely conceive, without the smallest warrant from the words employed, and contrary to the plain drift of universal scripture on this point elsewhere. It is not correct to suppose, as is often assumed, that Peter speaks here of the same persons as dead whom he had described in the context as the spirits in prison. He contemplates here not the generation that refused righteous warning before the flood, but such of the dead in times past as had the promises presented to them, with the effect of putting all under the responsibility of being judged as men in flesh, while those who heeded the word, being by grace quickened, lived according to God in spirit. The language of the apostle perfectly agrees with his own teaching throughout the epistle, as well as his immediately precedent warning of the Lord's readiness to judge quick and dead, no less than the witness in baptism to His saving grace. The notion of preaching after death is a strange doctrine, out of harmony with the context, and openly, irreconcilably, opposed to scripture in general. There is therefore no need here to adopt the Augustinian fancy of “dead” meaning dead in trespasses and sins, any more than to explain “the spirits in prison” of souls shut up in flesh and the darkness of ignorance as if in a prison. But that the men were dead when the glad tidings were announced to them is not what the apostle says; still less that it was Christ who preached thus, or that dead men spoken of in such broad terms are the same as those formerly disobedient when the long-suffering of God was awaiting in Noah's day. The exegesis which indulges in such assumptions as these seems justly open to the charge of having no longer any fixed rule. But thanks be to God! scripture refuses everything of the sort, and cannot be broken.
B.'s fifth objection is, that, if the passage be understood of the preaching in the days of Noah, it does not appear to what end that account is inserted here. For how hang together, that Christ was put to death in flesh, but quickened (or as he says remained alive) in spirit, and therefore God formerly preached to men by Noah? But if we understand it of the descent to hell, all is consistent. For Peter, wishing to show that Christ in suffering and death remained alive, proves it as to His soul, because at that time His soul went to hell and preached to the spirits shut up in prison. Now the fact on the contrary is that the reference to Noah's preaching is highly relevant to the purpose in hand. For the apostle is insisting on the certainty of divine government, whatever the long-suffering of God in bearing with men's hostility to His people and opposition to His testimony. His own people are called to walk with a good conscience in grace, suffering for righteousness, and for doing good, not ill. How touching the reason! Christ once suffered for sins: let this suffice. It was His grace to suffer thus to the full, His glory to suffer thus exclusively, just for unjust, in order that He might bring us to God. It is ours to suffer for good, for righteousness: never should it be for faults and sins: this was His work for us when unjust, in which He was put to death in flesh but quickened in Spirit.
The outer life of Jesus closed in suffering for our sins, the days of His flesh wherein He offered up both supplications and entreaties to Him who was able to save Him out of death, with strong crying and tears. His resurrection was no question of external display of power, but characteristically of the Spirit, and hence unseen and unknown by the world. This was of all things most strange to the Jewish mind, which associated with the Messiah the manifestation of an energy overwhelming to all adversaries. Never was such a victory over Satan even in his last stronghold of death as Christ's resurrection; but He was made alive in no such way as instantly to put down the Roman oppressor, and expel the old serpent, and exalt restored Israel, and humble the haughty Gentiles, and deliver all creation. All this and much more must yet be to the praise of the glory of divine grace; but He was quickened in Spirit. Doubtless divine energy of the highest kind wrought here, but it was distinctively in the Spirit; and hence He who was thus raised, though most truly a risen man, capable of eating and drinking, though needing no food, capable of being handled and felt, though equally able to pass through closed doors, to appear in another form, to vanish out of sight and to ascend to heaven, was seen only of chosen witnesses, not as by and by He will be by every eye.
In knowledge this ran so counter to ordinary Jewish expectation that the apostle reminds his readers of that which might help them to juster thoughts of God's ways before the day comes when judgment will silence all gainsayers. It was no new thing for the Spirit of Christ to testify. He, as we have already been told, He who in the prophets had pointed out beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow, preached in Noah's days. The patience of God in testimony sounded strange to the Jew. Yet there it was in the first book of the law: “My Spirit shall not always strive with man” —the very scripture which it would appear the apostle had before his mind's eye when inspired to write “in which [Spirit] he went and preached to the spirits in prison once disobedient when the longsuffering of God was waiting in Noah's days.” Now also as then it is a season of testimony and long-suffering before the judgment shall be executed at the appearing of Jesus. If the Spirit strove of old, surely it was not less now; if the work of God was wrought in the Spirit, proclaimed and received in the Spirit, not yet in a visible and indisputable power before which all the world must bow, it was just so in the most marked season of testimony before the most marked judgment on all mankind which the ancient oracles attest. Hence the exceeding appositeness of the allusion to Noah's days when the Spirit strove but would not always, for the flood was then at hand which must as it did surprise and take away those who stumbled at the word being disobedient. It was guilty then for the sons of Adam to slight the preaching: how much more so in the seed of Abraham now, who had before them that ancient warning, with an incomparably fuller testimony in the promises fulfilled though not yet manifested before the world!
The attentive student of scripture may thus see the admirable force and pertinence of πωεύματι ὲν ᾧ καῖ τ. ἐν φ. πν. πορ. ἐκήρ., especially as connected with the account given in Gen. 6 which the Holy Spirit here interweaves in the instruction for those addressed. There is no such statement as that Christ's Spirit was the subject, recipient, or vehicle of restored life, for this would require the article to convey such a sense; and were the article genuine and such a sense necessarily taught, it is hard to see how one who held to the text thence resulting could deny the monstrous inference that His spirit had previously died—at least, if the case connected had been the direct complement, not the indirect. It is also a manifest oversight to contend, as has been done, that the use of the word πνεὐμασιν, connecting έν ᾧ (πνεύματι) our Lord’s state with the state of those to whom He preached, is a crowning objection to the view here advocated; for it is certain that ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πν. describes the resurrection of Christ, not His separate state, and that the anarthrous form of πν. is decisive against the idea of its being His spirit as man, as is supposed in every form of the hypothesis that Christ descended to preach to separate spirits. No such connection then is in the passage: but attention is drawn to the character of Christ's resurrection as of the Spirit, bound up with His testimony and presence now known in Christianity instead of the visible power and glory of the kingdom which Israel looked for. The Spirit is emphatic as giving character to the quickening, not Sis spirit as the subject or vehicle of restored life; and then it is added that in virtue, or in the power, of this, έν ᾧ, He went and preached to the spirits in prison once on a time disobedient when the longsuffering of God was waiting in Noah's days, while an ark was in preparation. There was no external demonstration of divine power then, but a testimony of the Spirit, the Spirit of Christ; and all who despised it proved the value of the warning too late in their own destruction; and their spirits are imprisoned till the judgment of the dead declare afresh and forever the awful consequences of despising God's word. So it will assuredly be with all who, preoccupied with Messianic glory according to Jewish feeling, scorn the Spirit of Christ that now warns the world of coming judgment, and mock a presence of Christ which is only known in spirit.
Another point of analogy singled out from the tale of old and applied now is the fewness of those saved as meeting the taunts of those who looked for universal homage to the Messiah reigning and could not understand the hidden glory of One who believed in by a few bears with masses of unbelief till He comes in judgment.
But one can easily discern why all these analogies between the testimony in Noah and that under Christianity should escape the Cardinal, who finds more congenial aliment in the reveries of imagination as to the descent of Christ to hades than in the solemn and sober realities of a Christian's walk and witness, well nigh forgotten in Christendom. The dark source, whether Popish or Patristic, of Bishop Horsley's reasoning will not have escaped the reader. For he too, like Bellarmine, draws from this strikingly suggestive passage little more than the impotent conclusion that Christ remained alive in His passion and death! proved by His soul's descent and preaching to the spirits below. It is needless to expose the poverty of an interpretation which yields so wretched a harvest as compared with the rich and varied lessons flowing from the passage when understood in itself and in its connection with the Old Testament history alluded to.
Augustine had objected to the deduction of Christ's descent to hades, from this passage, (1) that consequently He would preach only to the unbelievers at the time of the flood; and (2) that, Abraham's bosom being distinct from hades, such a preaching would lead to the notion of converting the damned. Bellarmine (1) retorts with the question why Christ should be said to preach in Noah's days rather than in those of Abraham and other patriarchs or even of all other men, and (2) answers that the preaching of Christ in hell was not to convert infidels but only to announce great joy to pious souls in redemption now completed, Abraham's bosom being viewed as part of hades by Augustine himself like all other fathers. But the reader will have seen that B. is quite wrong and A. much more right as to both points. The text characterizes the imprisoned spirits as having been formerly disobedient without a trace of their subsequent repentance or piety, the announcement of great joy being a pure fiction for which the passage gives no warrant but rather as we read it plain intimations to the contrary. Not a word in scripture intimates that those on whom the flood came were believers but unbelievers, not a hint that they repented at last or that their souls were saved, though their bodies perished, let Jerome teach what he may. Their spirits are said to be in prison, in full contrast with Abraham's bosom or paradise; they are kept there for judgment like angels that sinned of old, with whom indeed the apostle classes them in the second chapter of his second epistle; and no wonder, for he characterizes them as a world of ungodly men. Are these then the pious souls to whom above all others the Lord descended to announce the great joy of His completed redemption? It will be observed by those who weigh God's word, apart from tradition, that not a thought appears in the passage of delivering the spirits from prison, any more than of translating them to heaven. This would be singular on the supposition of such a descent; for it is evident that, were the patristic idea true, it would be more in keeping with Christ's presence there to speak, not of preaching in hades, but of translating the saints thence gloriously as the fruit of His victory over Satan.
“Respondeo, primam objectionem posse retorqueri. Nam etiam non apparet ratio cur dicat Petrus Christum in diebus Noe praedicasse potius quam in diebus Abraham etaliorum patriarch-orum vel etiam aliorum omnium hominum. Dico praeterea, Christum praedicasse in inferno omnibus bonis spiritibus, sed nominatim fuisse expressos illos qui fuerunt in diebus Noe increduli, quia de illis erat majus dubium an essent salvi nec ne, cum puniti fuerint a Deo et submersi aquis diluvii. Indicat ergo his Petrus etiam ex illis ineredulis fuisse aliquos qui etiam in fine poenitentiam egerint, et licet quantum ad corpus perierinf, tamen quantum ad animam salvi faerint(quod etiam Hieronymus docet in quaestionibus Hebraicis in Genes, tractans illud cap. 6. Non permanebit spiritus mens in homine, &c). Ubi dicit Deum punivisse multos eorum temporaliter aquis diluvii, ne deberet cos punire in gehenna in aeternum. Et hunc etiam sensum videntur facere ilia verba cap. 4: Idea mortuis et praedicatum est evangelium, ut judicentur quidem secundum homines in carne, vivant autem secundum Deum spiritu; id est, ut secundum homines ex-terius judicentur carne, id est, damnati existimentur humano judicio, quia corpora eorum aquis necata fuerunt, tamen vivant spiritu secundum Deum, id est, animae eorum salvae sint apud Deum.
“Ad secundam dico, ipsnm Augustinum postea cognovisse sinum Abrahae fuisse in inferno, ut patet ex tractatu in Psal. 85 et lib. 20 de civ. Dei, ca. 15. que sententia est omnium patrum et totius ecclesiae. Dico igitur.praedicationem Christi in inferno non fuisse ad convertendos infideles, sed fuisse solum ad annun-ciationem gaudii magni piis animabus, quibus annunciavit completam esse redemptionem, ut intelligerent so jam indo liberandas et tempore suo etiam corpora rccepturas. Atque haec de expositione sancti Augustini quam refutavimus, sequuti mentem ejus, non verba.")
The remarks of Bellarmine on Beza's modification of the Augustinian view and on Calvin's ideas do not claim any special notice here, whatever is true in them having been already anticipated, I believe.

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 6

(1 Peter 3:18-20.)
We may now briefly consider the current of thought from days not long subsequent to those of the apostles. We shall see the various but constant aberration from the truth which characterized such as drew from our text an actual preaching of our Lord in the world of spirits. Doubtless it was no question of an isolated or casual misinterpretation of the scripture before us; but this rather sprang from the general ignorance even then pervading Christendom as to the full blessedness of our standing in Christ-ignorance found in the fathers as such, if possible more than in the popular theology of our own day or in the puritanism of the past. Lack of faith could not but expose men to crude guesses because of their uncertainty; especially as here where the first obvious view of the passage is not the sure, sound, and spiritual one which falls in with the contextual aim and the analogy of the faith elsewhere. Indeed our way of regarding any particular portion of revealed truth can scarcely be severed from our state generally; so much so that habitually an intelligent eye can see where we are by the judgment we form as to divine things wholly remote and apparently quite unconnected. Here for instance a soul established in the gospel and therefore feeling solemnly the fixed doom of the lost, as well as the blessedness of the saved now and evermore, is at once delivered from nine-tenths of the speculations about our Lord's preaching to the spirits of saints or sinners after their and His separation from the body. It is ordinarily thus: where we rest not in the grace and truth which came by Jesus, we are in danger from ordinances, fables, reasonings, or from a mixture of them all. Apostolic power and fidelity, Paul's above all, cut up by the root these workings of Satan's malice; but, when the apostles were gone, the evils previously judged found too ready an acceptance and gave birth to results more openly disastrous, and, if this could be, more decidedly opposed to the glory of the Lord.
1. The first I would produce is the allusion of Justin, the ecclesiastical writer, more blessed in his death of martyrdom than in his life of philosophy. It will illustrate the state of things at that time in more ways than one. Καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν λόγων τοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰερεμίου ὁηοίως ταῦτα περιέκοψαν Ἐμνήσθη ὁὲ κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ἀπὸ(? ἅγιος) Ἰσπαἡλ τῶν νεκρὤν αὐτοῦ τῶν κεκοιμημένων εἰς γῆν χώματος, καὶ κατέβη πρὸς αὐτοὺς ἀναγγελίσασθαι αὐτοῖς τὸ σωτήριον αὐτοῦ. The common reading is retained in the modern edition of Otto, spite of the conjecture of Sylburg approved by Jebb, Thirlby, &c. But the emendation if correct makes no difference for our object. Here then we have a spurious text attributed to the prophet Jeremiah but evidently founded on the vulgar misapplication of 1 Peter 3:19, 4:6. Man however cannot add to scripture without clashing with revelation. Supposing we draw from the apostle a personal preaching of the Lord in the place of spirits, it is impossible to infer from the words of the New Testament an announcement of His salvation. The apostle where he may be thought to speak of such a descent tells us only of His preaching to imprisoned spirits once disobedient in the days of Noah; where he speaks of glad tidings to dead men, there is no hint of Christ's descent.
2. Irenaeus, the pious bishop of Lyons in the latter part of the second century, cites repeatedly this alleged text, under the name of Isaiah and of Jeremiah, as well as with no name attached to it (Adv. Haer. iii. c. 20, § 4; iv. c. 22, § 1). The notion that the Jews effaced such a verse from the Hebrew is baseless; especially as they have left other testimonies to Christ incomparably clearer and more at issue with their traditions. Even Massuet confesses this to be a knot beyond his power to untie, bound though he was to sustain, had it been possible, the credit of patristic traditions. “Vereor ut Justino primum, ac deinde Irenaeo fucum fecerit apocrypha quaepiam scriptura.” The unbiased reader will have no scruple in affirming what the Benedictine feared—that it is a mere apocryphal gloss, loosely imputed to a prophet, and a little expanding as it goes down; for Irenaeus adds (or at least the barbarous Latin version, which alone here represents his Greek) “ut salvaret eos” or “ad salvandum eos.” That is, He preached in Hades not merely to announce but to save. Irenaeus, strange to say, seems unusually attached to this pseudograph, for he cites it again in his book ¨4. c. 33, § 1. Only in § 12 of the same chapter the Latin translation gives the notable variation, “in terra limi.... uti erigeret,” with the addition named in both, though differently expressed. Lastly in his fifth book too he once more falls back on his prophet but recurs to the earlier form “in terra sepelitionis (so Feuardentius, &c, instead of the Erasmian reading, stipulationis),” though even so with some change, “extrahere eos et salvare eos.” Comment is scarce needed. “When a man quotes so loosely in the same work of no considerable extent, we should not be surprised if he were loose as to scripture and loose as to doctrine.
3. But there is no small descent when we turn next to Hermas, an author probably of the latter half of the same second century, who derived much of his reputation from the singular confusion which led many in early days to regard him as the Christian saluted in Rom. 16:14; for most probably (Muratori, Ant. Ital. med. aevi, 3. 853) he was brother of the Pius who was bishop of Rome after Hyginus died a.d. 157. Here too we have only a Latin version of the “Shepherd,” as even the recent discoveries of Tischendorf do not give us the Greek original beyond the fourth ἐντολή (i.e. mandatum or command) of the second book. 1 quote from the third book, and the sixteenth section of the ninth similitude (Cotelerii Patres Apost. I. 118, ed. 1698):
“Quoniam hi Apostoli et doctores, qui praedica-verunt nomen Eilii Dei, cum habentea fidem ejus et potestatem defuncti essent, praedicaverunt his qui ante obierunt, et ipsi dederunt eis illud signum. Descen-derunt igitur in aquam cum illis, et iterum ascen-derunt,” &c. Thus, Hermas is distinctly committed to the absurd doctrine that the apostles preached to the dead and baptized them. This is a further and a desperate step in superstition, and of course without a shred of support from scripture; but it seems to be the not unnatural complement of the notion that the Lord went down after death to preach in Hades to the spirits there. Is it not melancholy to think that such a production as this, immeasurably inferior in every point of view to Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, though doubted by some and even declared apocryphal by certain synods, was extensively read in the public Christian assemblies, and was evidently incorporated with the scriptures in the Sinai MS, as Clement of Rome's epistles were in the Alexandrian copy?
4. Can we go down lower? Alas! not only so, but at the next step. Clement of Alexandria appears, under the reign of Severus and Caracalla, a speculative eclectic though a Christian presbyter. In the second book of his “Miscellanies” (Στρωμ. 379, ed. Sylburg, 1629) he quotes “the Shepherd” and applies the baptism carried on by the apostle after death, not (as Hermas appears to mean) only to the godly before redemption, but to heathen philosophers or moral men as well. In the sixth book (637 et seqq.) he recurs to a similar strain and yet more openly treats it as certain that our Lord descended to Hades for no other reason than to preach the gospel, and this that they might believe and be saved; that such as lived up-lightly, Jews or Greeks, even though imprisoned in Hades, on hearing His voice either in person or through the apostle were presently brought to conversion and faith; that there is the same dispensation below as on earth for souls to manifest their repentance or their unbelief. Thus the awful consequences of living and dying impenitent in this world are explained away by this Clementine notion of a further offer of salvation by Christ and the apostles after death, and this evidently to keep up the illusion of salvation for philosophers and moral men among the heathen.
5. None will wonder that the famous Origen outran his master, and that the philosopher Celsus provoked him into deplorable statements. Thus in the second book in reply (Opera I. 419, ed. De la Rue) he does not hesitate to say that the Lord in the separate state held converse with souls similarly separate from the body, converting to Himself of them such as would or such as He saw more suited for reasons known to Him. Again, in his fourth homily on Luke (I. 937), he says that John B. descended to hell and there preached the Lord's advent; and he seems to imply a similar work of Paul in his comment on Rom. 11:13 (4:35).
6. Cyril of Alexandria writes, if possible, more unguardedly in his homilies— “Hades spoiled of spirits;” yea of Christ (Hom. 6) “immediately spoiling all Hades, and opening the doors which admit of no escape to the spirits of those fallen asleep; and the devil then deserted and alone rose after the third day.”
7. In the same spirit wrote the author of a discourse on the ascension, falsely imputed to Chrysostom who really censures such thoughts as old wives' fables in his homily on Matt. 11:3, as Augustine classed the dream among heresies—the 79th in his list. I say nothing of the question raised by Gregory of Nazianzum (whether Christ saves in Hades all without exception or only such as believe, Orat. xii.), or of such romance-writers as Anastasius, who introduces Plato appearing to one asleep who used to abuse his doctrine, and pretending that he was one of the first to believe on Christ when He preached in Hades. Even a Roman Synod condemned one, a man of mark who taught thus in the year 745. Tertullian among the early Latins and Gregory of Nyssa are far enough from Romish doctrine either as to limbus patrum or as to purgatory; for they, like many others of the ancients, held all the saints before and after Christ to be waiting in Abraham's bosom, a region not heavenly yet higher than hell or hades, till the resurrection at Christ's coming. Let this suffice just now.
I feel it neither needful nor profitable to pursue the long dreary walk through the medieval desert, though even then souls were not wanting like our own Bede and Thomas Aquinas, with a long interval between, who adhered to the substantial truth in the Apostle's words as against the more prevalent superstition which had overgrown them.

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 7

(1 Peter 3:18-20.)
Coming down to the Reformation times, it may be of interest to mention that Luther naturally did not refrain from giving his mind on a scripture which had occupied so many and been perverted by not a few.
Dr. John Brown in his Expository Discourses on 1 Peter (i. 2-22), cites with mild censure some alleged remarks of the leading Reformer, as not meriting the eulogium he bestows on the “well-weighed words of the candid and learned Joachim Camerarius." If Luther really wrote that the apostle seems moved by horrible suffering so as to speak like a fanatic words which cannot up to this day be understood by us, he spoke with as little sense as reverence. Even of a fellow Christian or of an ordinary minister of the gospel, one ought thoroughly to understand that he is in error before pronouncing that he talks like a fanatic or almost so. But to confess that the words were not understood ought, to say the least, to have shielded an apostle from any censure: indeed to have made it impossible and thrown the blame on those who confessedly understood not the voice of inspiration. But I have searched in vain both his Latin (Tomm. i., iv., Jenae, 1556-8, folio), and his German (ten vols. folio, Altenburg, 1561-4) writings, without finding anything like the passage cited. What I do see in both Latin and German differs widely, and, if the citation be authentic, would go to prove very great inconsistency.
In the exposition of Peter's epistles given in the second volume of the great German collection he calls the passage (1 Peter 3:19-22) a “wonderful text,” but speaks with considerable hesitation. He will not resist those who infer from it that the Lord descended to Hades and preached to the spirits imprisoned there; but he seems disposed to think the meaning is rather that Christ risen and gone to heaven preaches to sinners spiritually while His servants preach the word to their ears-to sinners as unbelieving as those in the days of Noah, and thus embracing sinners of all times. He objects however to the change of a man's state before God after death. This is the substance of a rather diffuse comment in pages 451, 452.
The passage in the German writings, vol. 8 p. 660, answers to what appears in the Latin edition, vol. 4, pp. 638, 639: “Et Petrus hunc descensum videtur explicare cum dicit, &c. His Petrus clare dicit, non solum apparuisse Christum defunctis Patribus et Patriarchis, quorum sine dubio Christus aliquos cum resurgeret secum ad vitam aeternam excitavit, sed etiam aliquibus qui tempore Noao non crediderunt ac expectavcrunt patientiam Dei, hoc est, qui sperarunt Deum non sic duriter grassaturum in universam carnem, praedicasse, ut agnoscerent sibi per Christi sacrifieium peccata condouata esse.”
Hence it is evident that there is little harmony between the earlier and the later doctrine of Luther on this point, and that the later view does not seem to be an advance in truth, but rather approximates to what was taught afterward by the well-known Romanist divines, Suarez, Estius, &c, as well as by his own followers. The earlier view is what we find substantially taken up afterward by the Socinian party or such as too often seem swayed by their reasoning, as Grotius, Schöttgen, &c.
Francowitz (or Flacius Illyricus), famous for his hand in the “Centuriae Magdeburgenses” and other works which furthered the Reformation, held that our Lord descended to Hades to announce only the condemnation of the lost. It is plain however that, though less objectionable on exegetic grounds than that which supposes a declaration of deliverance to believers there (for Peter speaks only of spirits in prison once disobedient), this scheme is open to the defect equally fatal to both views, that the passage in debate speaks neither of believers nor of unbelievers as a whole in the separate state, but only of such as rejected the divine testimony in Noah's days. Not that there is any force in Wiesinger's or Alford's reasoning that such a “concio damnatoria” would jar in the midst of a passage intended to convey consolation and encouragement by the blessed consequences of Christ's sufferings. For, as we have seen, the context here as elsewhere consists really of as distinct and solemn warning to unbelief as of rich and solid comfort to faith. On the face of it the governing object is to meet those who might be over much tried and cast down under their sufferings for righteousness' sake. Hence the apostle brings in the Messiah not glorious but suffering once for sins, Just for unjust, that He might bring us to God: put to death in respect of flesh and quickened in respect of Spirit. Instead of even then restoring the kingdom to Israel there was only the testimony of His Spirit while He is exalted (not on earth or in Jerusalem, but) on high at God's right hand, angels and authorities and powers being subjected to Him, but not yet His enemies made a footstool for His feet. On the contrary there goes on here below His testimony by the Spirit; just as of old He went in the Spirit and preached when the antediluvians obeyed the word as the mass do now, and still fewer were those saved in the ark than the comparatively few baptized, who had now found that acceptance which is the demand of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is the long-suffering of God now as then, and the Lord will come to judge the quick as the deluge befell the despisers then, eternal judgment awaiting all the wicked by and by.
We have already seen Calvin was as little consistent as Luther. Thus in his Commentary on the first Epistle he maintains that Peter speaks of the manifestation of Christ's grace to godly spirits, and this expressly in the spirit that he might take away the notion of a real descent of Christ into Hades to preach, contrary to the representation of Dr. Huther followed by Alford, who twice over classes him with the advocates of a literal preaching there. On the other hand, in his Institutions, Calvin (like Erasmus a little before him, following Athanasius among the Greek fathers and Ambrose among the Latin) lays down that the preaching had for its objects both the good and the evil, the one for salvation and the other for damnation. But such an inference, while it may be reasoned out or imagined, none can gravely pretend to elicit from the words of the apostle as the revealed mind of the Spirit. But early or late, in this at least Luther and Calvin agree with Augustine (who was no less wavering and uncertain as to our text than themselves), that preaching the gospel for faith and repentance to spirits after death comes altogether too late, and is repugnant to the uniform tenor of scripture in its plainest, brightest, and most earnest appeals to the souls of men. It is a notion subversive of the first principles of truth, not to say of morality. Let me add that a fresh offer of salvation in the invisible world is not more contradictory to and contradicted by the awful warnings to unbelievers which accompany the gospel than destructive of one of the main lessons in the passage before us. For Peter is refuting the fond security of such as taunt the paucity of the household of faith in comparison with the multitudes of those who slighted the Christian and the suffering Christ, their foundation before God: and this by the instance of the days of Noah when the world perished save the few who found a divinely given and ordered shelter in the ark.
It would scarcely be for edification to pursue minutely the history of opinion to our own days, involving too as it would a frequent repetition of hardly anything more than old views and arguments under new names. Dr. J. Brown's exposition is perhaps the fullest contribution among moderns on the epistle, and therefore it may seem to claim examination; but there is extremely little to notice in the way of fresh thought, and his own judgment of the passage seems to my mind defective.
Commenting on the Authorized Version he says (168, 169), “the words flesh and spirit are plainly opposed to one another. The prepositions in and by are not in the original. The opposed words [σαρκὶπνεύματι] are in the same case; they stand plainly in the same relation respectively to the words rendered 'put to death' and 'quickened' [θανατωθείς, ζωοποι-ηθείς], and that relation should have been expressed in English by the same particle. If you give the rendering, ‘put to death in the flesh,' you must give the corresponding rendering, ‘quickened in the spirit,' which would bring out the sense, either 'quickened in His human spirit or soul,' a statement to which it is difficult to attach a distinct meaning; for the soul is not mortal; Christ's spirit did not die; and to continue alive is not the moaning of the original word; or “quickened in His divine nature,” a statement obviously absurd and false, as implying that He who is the life, the living One, can be quickened, either in the sense of restored from a state of death, or endowed with a larger measure of vitality. On the other hand, if you adopt the rendering of our translators in the second clause,' quickened by the Spirit,' then you must render in accordance with it the first clause, 'put to death by the flesh.' If by the Spirit you understand the divine nature of our Lord, by the flesh you must understand the human nature, which makes the expression an absurdity. On the other hand, if you understand by the Spirit the Holy Ghost, then by flesh you must understand ‘mankind,' put to death by men, but restored to life by God the Spirit. This interpretation, though giving a consistent and true sense, the sense so forcibly expressed in Peter's words to the Jews, ‘whom ye crucified; whom God raised from the dead,' is forbidden by the usage of the language. Then there can be no doubt that there does appear something very material in introducing our Lord in what is plainly a result of His atoning sufferings, as having in the Spirit, by which He was quickened after He had been put to death, gone many centuries before, in the antediluvian age, to preach to an ungodly world; and there is just as little doubt that the only meaning that the words will bear, without violence being done them, is, that it was when He had been put to death in the flesh, and quickened in the Spirit or by the Spirit, whatever that may mean, He went and preached; and that 'the spirits,' whoever they be, were ‘in prison,' whatever that may mean, when He preached to them.”
This is no unfair specimen of what one cannot but characterize as daubing with un-tempered mortar. It is but a balancing of probabilities or rather of improbabilities, and recalls the passage of Isaiah, who tells us of the judicial sleep poured out on Israel, so that the whole vision became to them like the words of a sealed book, which, if delivered to the learned man with the request to read it, elicits the reply, I cannot, for it is sealed; or, if delivered with the same request to the unlearned, he excuses himself as unable because of want of learning.

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 8

(1 Peter 3:18-20.)
It is confessed by Dr. J. B. that the sense brought out is self-consistent and not incompatible with any of the facts or doctrines of revelation. He only complains of the mode of interpretation as liable to objections. 1 shall show however that, far from being really insurmountable, every one of these objections is destitute of weight. Flesh and spirit are opposed; though in the same case, it does not follow that they must have the same preposition supplied in English. This would not be necessary if the same Greek preposition (which is far stronger or more precise) accompanied each of the two opposed terms. Thus, in Rom. 4:25, two clauses stand in antithesis with one another; whence many have been allured to argue, like our author here, for a necessarily similar force of διά with each accusative. But this is an error. For the former clause means that our Lord Jesus was delivered because of our offenses; the second, that He was raised again on account of the justifying of us (that is, in order to it): for justifying cannot be severed from faith, as the very next verse shows. (Rom. 5:1.) Indeed the notion of justification before faith would introduce nothing but confusion and false doctrine, not to speak of the evil in practice which naturally results. The Authorized Version however has not rendered ill in giving “for” with both clauses, the English preposition “for” being as ambiguous as the corresponding Greek here.
Here similarly there is no necessity to vary the English by supplying in the flesh and by the Spirit, but, if there were, it was open to the translators to have done so. The relation of the dative is not so contracted or consequently so uniform as to demand the exactly same form of representing it. Besides we have to take into account the idiom of the English tongue, which does not by any means conform always to the Greek. The reader is already aware that “in” or “in respect of” may be given equally in both the clauses; but the translators might legitimately enough have given “in” and “by” as they have done. Hence the rendering which develops the objection is invalid. “In His human spirit,” if it were ever so proper in itself, would require the article ™ (as in the common text). But as the best MSS expunge it, so the sense resulting from its presence would have been really an insurmountable objection, as it is impossible to apply “quicken” to the spirit of Christ, any more than to His divine nature. But, as we have seen, if one translates the latter term “by the Spirit,” it is not correct to assume that we must translate the former “by the flesh.” The alleged necessity 18 just the mistake which falsifies the reasoning of many interpreters and has mystified more readers.
Strictness of parallelism is to my mind more common in the limited scope of human thought than in the word of God, who habitually, I believe, while thus comparing or contrasting, gives a further and varying side of truth in the fullness of divine wisdom. Hence the mere technicality of the schools is sure to err in interpreting scripture. It does not follow therefore that where we see two datives balanced against each other they must both be expressions, of element, agency, or instrument, though it may be wise to avoid a greater precision in the rendering than the inspired original itself carries. At the same time such a difference is not advocated in the present instance; but, as the authorized translators rightly enough elsewhere represent διά twice by an English “for,” so “in” or “in respect of” will be found to suit both here. Consequently there is no such difficulty connected with the version or with the interpretation already given as to weaken it, still less, as some easily frightened have supposed, to convince us that it is untenable. Nor does it become the believer to hesitate because the plain meaning of scripture seems to favor a view opposed to his prejudice, though he would do well to examine closely what is really at issue with known truth. For no lie is of the truth: all that is true must be consistent. Only we must beware of confounding our limited apprehensions with the truth in all its breadth and depth.
But let us follow the reasoning a little more. If we hold the rendering “in” on both sides, there can be no doubt that “put to death” in flesh yields a simple and excellent sense. But what of “quickened in the Spirit?” Is not this equally good and as clear as the other? Strange to say, the true and plain antithesis seems to have quite escaped Dr. B., who allows us only the alternatives of “in His spirit” (which would be quite wrong as we have often shown), or “in His divine nature,” which is an impossible version and if possible obviously absurd and false, as is admitted. But why not “in the Spirit” as presenting the manner of Christ's resurrection, characterized by the Spirit in contrast with the violent close of His life in flesh, in both cases the article being excluded by presenting each as a question of principle rather than of fact? On the other hand “put to death by the flesh” is intolerable, either as the human nature of our Lord or as mankind; but there is no need to understand either if we take “by the Spirit” to mean the Holy Ghost, which to my mind is assuredly the truth, only presented in character rather than as an objective personal agent, which is quite common in Greek, though not so easily expressed in our tongue or caught by the English reader.
Nor can I for one see anything unnatural, but rather great force and beauty, in pointing out that it was in virtue of the Spirit who thus wrought in His resurrection that Christ preached by Noah in the antediluvian world; for it was of the utmost importance for the Jews, who ever craved the visible in their thoughts of the Messiah and His kingdom, to learn that it is now as of old a question of a testimony in the Spirit to be believed or slighted, and surely to be followed by judgment, as then so now. Hence too the preference to the Spirit's mind of presenting their past example as “spirits in prison” rather than as men living in flesh, which however He does also involve in their antecedent moral condition in the world when “once” or heretofore disobedient.
Such an allusion here to Gen. 6:3 appears to my mind most apt and impressive, identifying Christ with Jehovah, as is often done in these epistles. It was natural in writing to Christians of the circumcision, and comforting them, in their sufferings and the contempt of their testimony, by the evidence given to the substantial sameness of its reception from the flood till the Lord returns in glory. This passage has in no way for its immediate object a description of the results of the Lord's atoning sufferings, bright as is the witness given to them, but rather to comfort the saints in their sufferings, apt to repine as Jews might at their trials ever since they believed in the Lord Jesus. The apostle explains to them the government of God in what He permits of sorrow to His own. Faithfulness does bring present blessing; but even if suffering come for righteousness' sake, is not the saint now blessed? It is better, if God will it so, to suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing; because Christ also once suffered for sins, just for unjust, that He might bring us to God. Such is the way His suffering for our sins is introduced, not a harsh interpolation of His having in the Spirit that raised Him preached of old to the impenitent antediluvians put into a statement of His atonement, but undeniable encouragement to downcast saints to go on suffering for righteousness, since it was His once for all to suffer for sins: with this, not they, but He only has to do, and it is done with-a work despised by sneering Jews who felt not their sins nor their need of grace like His. But if put to death in flesh, He was quickened in the Spirit, in whose power He had already gone and preached to the imprisoned spirits, first disobedient when the long-suffering of God waited out in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight, souls were saved through the water. They must not wonder then if few were saved now; for this has ever been a favorite taunt of unbelief, as an absent Messiah who left His own suffering would be to an incredulous Jew. So far the analogy with the times before and at the deluge is plain. So is the use of the allusion that follows; for as men were there waited on in long-suffering, it is no otherwise now; and as they are kept for a worse judgment, so will it be with such as despise the gospel. On the other hand baptism is to the believer the sign of salvation by the death and resurrection of Christ; for as He died atoningly, so we when baptized are buried with Him in those waters of death; and as He rose, we through His resurrection have what a good conscience demands, even acceptance before God by His work who is gone into heaven and is on God's right hand, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to Him, which, though in-visible, is far beyond the throne of David on earth and the subjection of Gentile foes, as the Jews looked for.
And what is Dr. B.'s explanation? Truly the notable one, that “a consequence of our Lord's penal, vicarious, expiatory suffering, was that He (!) became spiritually alive (!!) and powerful in a sense, and to a degree, in which He was not previously; and in which, but for these sufferings, He never could have become full of life to be communicated to dead souls, mighty to save. He was there spiritually quickened.” No wonder that Dr. B. has few to follow him in his view, though it is no worse than most others. But to be “quickened” is not to be a “quickening Spirit,” though both be true of our Lord. Neither does John 5:26 speak of the Lord in resurrection but as a man here below, the servant of His Father's glory; nor does Matt. 28:18 speak of one either quickened or quickening, but invested with authority only as Son of man in heaven and on earth. And if this be violent as to Christ, not less so is the notion that by “the spirits in prison” are meant “spiritually captive men.” A strange phrase indeed, as the author allows; stranger still if possible, though Dr. B. sees nothing perplexing in the statement, “that they were aforetime disobedient in the days of Noah;” as if it meant that Christ preached to spiritually captive men who were hard to be convinced in former times, especially in Noah's day. But this is to pervert, not to expound. If Dr. B. had been a scholar and had examined the passage, he must have seen that the absence of the article before άπειθησασι arises from the disobedience being viewed as the ground why the spirits were in prison. There is no hint of an aggregate, some part of which had been disobedient in former times. In short the view is mistaken altogether; for, instead of employing “spirits in prison” as a phrase characteristic of men in all ages, Peter speaks there of a special class, disembodied and in custody or prison because they had been once on a time disobedient in the days of Noah: not a word about their being after Christ's resurrection turned to the wisdom of the just and delivered. These steps of departure from the text emboldened Dr. B. to go farther still and contrast the multitudes that heard and knew the joyful sound with the few saved in Noah's day. “Still is he going and preaching to the 'spirits in prison;' and though all have not obeyed, yet many already have obeyed, many are obeying, many more will yet obey;” and this is a comment on 1 Peter 3:19, 20, where one prime aim is to comfort the Christian Jews subject to the taunts of their enemies on their own fewness, as compared with the masses who reject the truth of the Gospel! The saved are few alas! now as in Noah's day. There is analogy, not contrast.
But this is not all. “This view of the subject has this additional advantage, that it preserves the connection of the passage both grammatical and logical.” We have seen enough of the grammar: let us see as to the “logic.” “The words of the apostle, thus explained, plainly bear on his great practical object. 'Be not afraid, be not ashamed of suffering in a good cause, in a right spirit.' No damage comes from well-doing, or from suffering in well-doing. Christ in suffering, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, suffered for well-doing.” “For well-doing!” does the author say? Happily little logic suffices to test this view of the context; for the scripture says here, in the most pointed terms of contradiction, that Christ suffered once for sins, not for well-doing.

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 9

(1 Peter 3:18-20.)
Dr. Bartle's book ("The scriptural doctrine of Hades") may be briefly noticed so far as it alludes to our text, which he pronounces most extraordinary, because, after all that has been written by ancients and moderns, and notwithstanding the learning and erudition expended on it, the passage is still involved in much obscurity. He himself proposes a solution, which, he tells us, differs entirely from the expositions of any of those who have hitherto written on the subject. (Page 63.) Now one of the tests of a true or a false explanation is whether the light shines thereby or the darkness abides. If any scripture is still involved in obscurity, there is the strongest presumption that its meaning is as yet unknown. Whether Dr. B.'s view be well founded remains to be shown. His denial that the paradise (to which the converted robber went with our Lord on the day of the crucifixion) is in heaven, seems rather an unhappy beginning. (Page 67.) Dr. B. reasons that the robber spoke to Jesus as supreme God, that the words “with me” are to be understood as referring exclusively to His divine character, and that therefore the meaning of the promise is, not that the spirit of the condemned malefactor was with the Spirit of Christ in heaven, but that he was with Jesus only as the Omnipresent God, according to Psa. 139:7-12. His frightful doctrine is, that, while the penitent thief quitted the earth in a forgiven state, and was therefore among the blessed, Christ, being a Substitute after the cross as well as on it, had still to suffer in the other world that measure of punishment, allotted by divine justice to sinful man. It denies the work finished by the offering up of His body. This is heresy. It separates the natures of Christ, no less than Christ and the robber in paradise. Touch His work or His person, and our best privileges are irremediably shaken. In this Dr. B. seems to touch both.
But, as to the passage itself, Dr. B. tells us that those who regard it as a statement of Christ's preaching by His Spirit in Noah seem to forget that He is represented to have effected it in His own person. (Page 90.) This however is not the fact. He is declared to have done it by the Spirit; as the Spirit of Christ, which was in the prophets, is declared by the same apostle in the same Epistle to have testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
Further, it has been already shown that the use of the preposition (ἐν ᾧ) is not immaterial, and that the anarthrous form (πν.) is perfectly correct. The quickening and the preaching therefore are not absolutely analogous, as he argues. It is not true that Christ is said by the apostle to have done anything whatever during His disembodied state; but, even if a personal action of Christ were here intended, it would seem most natural to place it after His resurrection, not during His disembodiment, for there can be no just doubt that “quickened by the Spirit” refers to resurrection. But Dr. B. himself owns that Christ's preaching to the spirits in the prison of hades involves very grave difficulties, arising from its apparent inconsistency with numerous declarations of the word of God. He maintains from Luke 16 the impossibility of an alterable condition in the next world for the departed righteous or wicked; and so far he is quite right. A great gulf is fixed, and there is no passing it from either side.
What then does Dr. B, propose? An amended translation. “Because Christ also once suffered for sins, a Just for unjust persons, in order that He might bring us to God, being put to death indeed in the body, but enlivened in the Spirit, in which Spirit He also went and cried aloud in prison, among those spirits who formerly believed not,” &c. (Page 89.) It is first to be observed that ζωοποιηθεὶς: means not “enlivened,” but “quickened,” as has been already shown with precision. Secondly, “cried aloud” is an impossible rendering of ἐκήρνξεν. The passage quoted from the Hecuba of Euripides (145) proves nothing of the sort. To invoke is not to “cry aloud” as a sufferer. In the very few classical instances where the word bears the peculiar meaning of invocation, κ. has an object which determines the sense, whereas here it is without one. But its New Testament meaning is to preach or publish; and the reason alleged for a variation here (that it is the only place in which it refers to one who was in a state of suffering) is a mere and unfounded assumption. There is no more real ground to deny an active subject here than anywhere else in the New Testament. It is not true that the apostle was in this clause concerned with the voluntary sufferings of Christ, any more than with the desire of the Savior to be delivered from those sufferings; for this slights the value of the conjunction “also” (ἐν ᾦ καί). The apostle states it as a distinct fact, and connects it with the Spirit's power by which He was quickened.
The attempt also to gather support from the supposed derivation of κηρύσσω from the Chaldaic וַרְּכ proves rather the contrary, for Dan. 5:29 in no way supports the notion of crying out in suffering. Nor is it true that the word ἐκήρνξεν should be followed by an objective case if the apostle had been desirous of impressing on our minds the definite notion of publishing the gospel; for if Mark 16:15 expresses the gospel, Mark 1:38 leaves it out, and yet who can doubt the meaning? So Mark 3:14, nay, even chapter 16:20—the very context to which Dr. B. appeals for the contrary. The rest of the New Testament would still more fully disprove the notion, but what we have referred to is surely enough.
But, again, it is to corrupt scripture, not to translate it, if one represent Peter as saying that He “cried aloud in prison among those spirits who formerly believed not.” It has been already pointed out in an earlier part of this paper, that the apostle says nothing about preaching in prison, but that Christ by (or in the power of) the Spirit preached to the spirits that are there, which is a wholly different proposition. For this leaves it to be decided by the context if not by other scriptures whether the preaching was there, or only the persons preached to were because they heeded not the preaching, as indeed the next clause of the verse lets us know is the truth. The Greek does not intimate that Christ cried aloud (oven if the word could bear this meaning) in prison; it tells us of the imprisoned spirits as those contemplated in Christ's κήρνξιω by the Spirit. To bear the desired meaning, ἐv φυλακῆ must have been put with ἐκήρυξεν, instead of being entrenched in its present position apart, as it is most firmly. Further, it is equally an error to suppose that the original text can possibly mean “among those spirits, &c.” Were the words ἐv φ. Μετὰ τῶν πνευμάτων, κ.τ.λ., there would be something answering to what is set out in his English: as it is, there is not even a distant resemblance. Again, the Greek does not say “who formerly believed not;” for this would require the article, the absence of which indicates that their former disobedience in Noah's day was the ground, occasion, or circumstance, antecedent to their being in prison.
Our readers will therefore gather that of all expositions Dr. B.'s is perhaps the least satisfactory, and, of all translations known to me, certainly the moat inexact. Many have failed in one phrase or another; Dr. B. in all that is of consequence to the right understanding of the passage, though clear enough in rejecting most of the counter-interpretations. For (1) it is impossible to sustain that “the spirits in prison” mean the blessed on high; (2) it is contrary to the tenor of scripture to allow of a preaching to the lost in hell; (3) it is a paltry view that no more is meant than the Gentiles in bondage to idolatry till they heard the gospel; (4) the notion of purgatory being intended here is quite untenable and inconsistent, for it is not Romish doctrine to have Christ preaching to souls there (at least for prospective grace), but to have masses now said and paid for on their behalf.
All who look into the passage must in fairness concede that the singling out of the spirits of the antediluvians (who perished for their rebellious indifference to Noah, preacher of righteousness as he was) for Christ to preach to them in person after His death is not only without the smallest support from general scripture teaching or any passage anywhere, but wears every appearance of caprice, being not only without moral motives but opposed to the most solemn considerations derivable from God's word. On the view that Peter means Christ's preaching by the Spirit in Noah to the men of his day, one can readily understand that those who were about to be visited by an unexampled destruction should have had a special warning; and that all this should be turned by the apostle to the present or future profit of those who hoar the gospel that is now preached. For Jews especially were disposed to slight anything short of open signs and displays of power, little thinking that, while not reigning as David's Son over Israel and their land, now too He in Spirit is preaching before He comes personally in judgment of the habitable earth, and that all who have despised His admonitions and fallen in such solemn dealings await what is still more awful at the close, that eternal judgment when the dead small and great shall stand before the throne and be judged according to their works by Him who, unseen and gone into heaven, is at God's right hand, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to Him, and Himself ready to judge the quick and the dead.

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 10

(1 Peter 3:18-21.)
There is another work to be noticed before I bring this paper to a close, because it seeks to yoke our text with the general bearing of the unholy scheme of universalism. Not that there is anything intrinsically which calls for a notice, but that the work bears witness to the prevalence of infidel thought now put forth without a blush by professing ministers of Christ and spread far and wide by those regarded as respectable publishers. The usual guarantees of orthodoxy fast vanish away.
“That even as to the saints, the intermediate state between death and the resurrection will be one of progression I firmly believe, and on that point I shall have something more to say in my next sermon. But what of those who die in either utter ignorance of the truth as it is in Jesus or in conscious rejection of it? If ultimately all things are to be reconciled to God; if the kingdom of Christ is to eventuate in the restoration of all things, then it is evident in regard to those who are not saved from sin and brought to God in this life, there must be some provision for their rectification and restoration in an after state of existence. Let it be admitted that holy scripture does most clearly and distinctly teach that all things in heaven and earth are to be gathered up again into one in Christ, and that by Him everything is to be brought into subjection to God, that in His name everything is to bend and every tongue to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father; let this be admitted, and I do not see how the inference can be escaped, that, even though there were no specific revelation on the point, there must be some provision hereafter for the reconciliation and restoration of those who in this life have not been reconciled and restored:” (Pages 135, 136.)
It need surprise none that in his next sermon Mr. S. has not one word to prove the alleged progression of saints in the intermediate state. “The life then (says he) of the sainted dead, we may believe, is one of blessed hope and holy expectation; and if, as before said, if be one also of nearer communion with God and Christ, we may believe it to be a life of progress and development,” &c. (Page 150.) But supposing we believe nothing of the sort without scripture, what has he to say? Nothing. The idea of growth then is wholly unwarranted by revelation, and contrary to every instinct of the believer, who weighs the force of what scripture does say of our sojourn here below as the place of growth, exercise, and testimony. I turn however to what is of even graver concern, the perversion of the scriptures which speak of reconciling and restoring all things, to draw a similar conclusion as to the impenitent and unbelieving in the teeth of the plainest and most solemn warnings of God. Every believer must feel the utter fallacy of such arguments.
Then, on the one hand, Col. 1 distinguishes between “you hath he reconciled” and reconciling of all things. But even so they are only the things on the earth and the things in the heavens; not a word about the things infernal, not to speak of persons who are nowhere before us in this reconciliation of all things. It is a question of the universe; not of men, but contradistinguished from the saints who are already and expressly said to be reconciled, whereas the reconciliation of all things is of course future.
On the other hand, when the Spirit of God treats the subjection of every creature to the Lord, infernal beings are just as distinctly added to those heavenly and earthly (Phil. 2), because the point there is the compulsory bowing of every knee and the confession of every tongue. Reconciliation is carefully avoided here; for judgment is just as certainly a means God the Father will use to enforce the honor of His Son on the unbelieving (John 5), as the gift of eternal life bows the heart of the believer now before His glory and His love.
Eph. 1 quite confirms this evident and important truth. For though we are there shown the mystery of God's will, according to the good pleasure which He purposed in Himself for the administration of the fullness of the times, to gather up together (or, head up) all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth; we see, first, that infernal things are quite left out of this blessed gathering under His headship; and, secondly, that the saints, or the church, do not form a part of all things, in heaven or earth, but are associated with Christ in His inheritance over them all. Compare not only verse 11 but also 22, and indeed scripture in general. It is the universe distinguished from those who reign with Christ over it all.
Thus the awful revelation of the unending punishment of the ungodly and unbelieving remains intact and unqualified; and the mischievous and wicked folly is exposed of such as would distort the disclosures of the regeneration of creation, or “restitution of all things” into a spurious hope for the final recovery of the lost. Not a hint of such expectations appears in scripture. The alleged passages refer to the inheritance or to the judgment, not to the heirs or to salvation. To the deliverance of the groaning creation of which Paul speaks in Rom. 8, the prophets bear witness, not one, not a single shred of the New Testament, to the reconciliation and restoration of those who in this life have not been reconciled and restored. With this falls all possibility of such inference.
But Mr. S. thinks that there is a sort of direct intimation in the passage before us, wherein Peter tells us how Christ went and preached to the spirits in prison. His short paraphrase however is quite wrong; and he only adds to the number of those he characterizes as trying to make the text mean almost anything but what it does mean, if taken in the simple literality of its words. I utterly deny for reasons already given that it means or speaks of a preaching to spirits in another state of existence. A superficial glance might infer so, not a careful or exact examination of what is said.
“Suffering death (says Mr. S., p. 138) as far as the flesh was concerned, his body being put to death upon the cross, but continuing to live in respect of his spirit, which did not die, but passed from the body on its dying, and descended into hell, that is, hades, the place of disembodied spirits, ‘in which also,' says the apostle, that is, in his spirit, ‘He went and preached to the spirits in prison.'“
Now this paraphrase is manifestly and hopelessly inaccurate. “Continuing to live” is a false rendering of ζωυποιηθείς, which is the less excusable as the Authorized Version in every hand gives the only correct translation. Again, “in respect of His Spirit” is ignorance or neglect of the true text, which has no article in the Greek; if “His Spirit” were meant, the idiom would require it. As it is, the Holy Spirit is intended, though this rather as a characteristic state than drawing attention to the person who so wrought in power. Compare Timothy 3:16, where, as here, it is hard in our language to avoid the article; but it is the Spirit that is meant, certainly not His spirit. Lastly, the interpretation of the clause is false; for as a whole it points to our Lord's resurrection, not to His spirit's passing from the body on His dying, to say nothing of foisting in here a descent into hell or hades, of which the passage says not a word, but “in which also” (that is, Spirit) He went and preached to the spirits in prison. That is, Christ in Spirit went and preached to them. Not a word intimates that the disembodied spirit of Christ went there; not a word that He went and preached in the prison, disembodied or not; not a word that, when preached to, they were spirits in prison. There would be precise phrases in the Greek tongue for expressing any of these ideas, which the paraphrase assumes; as they are not employed, the only fair and sound inference is that they were not meant, and that the paraphrase departs from the simple literality of the words, which I am quite content to take as they are, refusing every sense save that which flows from their precise grammatical import.
Nor is it allowable to Mr. S. to cite the late Dean Alford for what these words mean, for he expressly declares that they do not mean “universal restitution” (Mr. S.'s hypothesis), any more than the Romanist dream of purgatory. “It is not purgatory, it is not universal restitution; but it is one which throws blessed light on one of the darkest enigmas of the divine justice: the cases where the final doom seems infinitely out of proportion to the lapse which incurred it.” Did the Dean realize his own thought? In my opinion he did not; for the real difficulty to speculating benevolence is not God's visiting the antediluvian rejecters of Noah's preaching in the destruction of the deluge, but the everlasting punishment of all unbelievers. There is no darkening of divine justice in the former, any more than a ray of light cast on the latter in this passage. It is implied indeed that besides perishing by the deluge their spirits are kept shut up for the day of judgment; but I can hardly imagine that this is the “blessed light” Dean A. cherished in His lively and poetical mind. It is certain at least that he explicitly denies that the word means that universal restitution which Mr. S. would draw from them: what he himself inferred is left, purposely or not, in the utmost vagueness. So it is apt to be where we have not consciously the known truth of God. He even throws out the hint, of which Mr. S. does not fail to avail himself, consistently enough on the scheme of universalism; most inconsistently on Dean A.'s, if indeed he had anything definite before his mind. “And as we cannot say to what other cases this κήρυγμα may have applied, so it would be presumption in us to limit its occurrence or its efficacy. The reason of mentioning here these sinners, above other sinners, appears to be, their connection with the type of baptism which follows. If so, who shall say that the blessed act was confined to them?” (Com. in loco.) To me the real presumption seems the fancy of an efficacy which the context disproves, and the hinting at an enlargement of its occurrence without the smallest evidence. Undoubtedly that the Spirit of Christ preached to those spirits in prison was a “blessed act.” All we know of the result for those preached to is that they were “disobedient,” and suffered its consequences in being kept” shut up (as Dean Alford says) “in the place of the departed awaiting the final judgment:” a description which in no way suits the departed saints, who are with Christ in Paradise and come not into judgment. One may boldly say that the “blessed act” Dean A. fancies of our Lord's preaching in hades to the disembodied unbelievers of Noah's day not only was not repeated to any other class but has no warrant from scripture in the case reasoned on. It never once was a fact.
It is useless after these remarks to quote all the argument of Mr. S. in which he enlarges for his own purposes the words thus rashly flung out by the late Dean of Canterbury. But the reader will learn how things grow worse and worse in this line from his conclusion (p. 139): “Yet it is these notable sinners who are especially mentioned as having been preached to by Christ on his descent into hades. If to these, then surely to all, may we believe, was the announcement made,” &c.
Nor am I disposed to give the least weight to the reasoning Mr. S. reproduces from Professor Plumptre's sermon. It is absurd to argue, as he and some of the Fathers do, from Eph. 4:9, 10. Not a word connects the spirits of the departed with the lower parts of the earth. Nor is it the reverence of believers to God and His word to quit revelation for analogy and human reasons, whatever one may use for stopping the mouth of an infidel, if we can.
Once committed to the uncertain guesses of the mind, how can one avoid being tossed as waves and carried about by every wind of teaching? “May we not be permitted to indulge the thought (says Mr. S., p. 142) that as the Lord Jesus in his spirit went, in the interval between his death and resurrection and preached to the spirits in prison, so possibly this may form part of the blessed occupation of the saints in hades? They rest, indeed, we are told, from their labors, so far as weariness is connected with them, and yet their works do follow them. May it not be that the work in which they delighted here, that of winning souls, shall follow them there? If, it has been well observed [in Professor Plumptre's sermon, if the future is to be the development and continuation of the present, if we are not to pass from a life of ever varying relations with our fellow-men, each bringing with it opportunities for self-discipline and for serving God to an absolute isolation, may we not so get one step further and believe, as some did in the earliest ages of the church, and as others have thought of late, that those whose joy it has been in life to be fellow-workers with Christ, in leading many to righteousness, may continue to be fellow-workers there, and so share the life of angels in their work of services as in their ministries of praise? The manifestations of God's righteous judgment and of His changeless love may thus, using men and angels as His instruments, help to renew throughout His universe all who are capable of renewal!”
Thus sadly is it our lot to see in these last days a fallen but no longer slumbering Christendom, that the anile fables of early legend-mongers find ready acceptance among those who turn away their ears from the truth. The Holy Spirit has prepared us for these and all other aberrations. For as surely as the wise virgins have obeyed the midnight cry, “Behold, the bridegroom: go forth to meet him,” the foolish are going hither and thither to buy that “unction from the Holy One,” the lack of which no religious truth, no sentimental activity, can disguise from consciences still unpurged, from hearts which have never found rest in Christ the Lord. As we wait for new heavens and a new earth, may we be diligent to be found of Him in peace without spot and blameless, and account the long suffering of our Lord's salvation! Whether it be the Epistles of Peter or of Paul, the untaught and ill-established wrest them, as also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.
Courtesy of Most likely this text has not been proofread. Any suggestions for spelling or punctuation corrections would be warmly received. Please email them to: