Page images

cited from writers of the second century are sufficient to establish the early and widespread belief of the Church in the fact of the descent into hell. They also give evidence of the belief that the descent brought with it some benefit to those of the Old Covenant to whom Christ preached.

Turning now to the creeds of the Church it is to be noticed that the clause, “ He descended into hell,” is not found in a single Eastern one. It is therefore wanting in the Nicene Creed. Nor is it to be found in the earlier creeds of the West. The first creed of

The first creed of any kind to contain the clause is that which was apparently drawn up at Sirmium and accepted at Ariminum in 359. This creed, although a Latin one, is only known to us through the Greek translation of it preserved by Socrates in his Ecclesiastical History (bk. ii. ch. xxxvii.). In it we find the words: “ Was crucified and died and descended into hell (εις τα καταχθόνια κατελθόντα), and disposed matters there ; at the sight of whom the door-keepers of Hades (Tulwpoi ądov) trembled.”It has been suggested with some probability that the clause may have been thus prominently placed in this creed "the more effectually to blind the eyes of the orthodox."! The fact of the descent was important in connection with the views which were afterwards developed into the Apollinarian heresy. If admitted, it was a direct proof of the existence of the human soul in Christ, for this alone could have been the subject of the descent. It may be, therefore, that the Arians hoped that by this ostentatious profession of a belief, which by implication overthrew their own heretical denial of the human soul in Christ, they might draw off attention from their inadequate statements on the real point at issue between them and the orthodox party, and thus secure the acceptance of their creed. However this may be, the occurrence of the clause in this creed of theirs is to be noticed as being historically its first appearance in any formal creed of any sort. Some forty years later we meet with it for the first time in a Baptismal creed, namely, in that of the Church of Aquileia, in which it occurs in the form, descendit in inferna. Our knowledge of this is due to Rufinus (A.D. 400), who expressly informs us that at that time the clause was not in the creed of the Church of Rome. We come across it next in the creed given by Venantius Fortunatus (570), which is clearly based on the Aquileian Creed of Rufinus. Here it is given in the form, descendit ad infernum.” The plural (inferna) is found in the form given in the Gallican service books. In Spain it is met with in the creed given by Ildefonsus of Toledo, and Etherius and Beatus in the seventh and eighth centuries (descendit ad inferna),* although it is wanting in the creed given in the printed Mozarabic Missal. In Ireland it is found in the creed contained in the Bangor Antiphonary, which dates from the seventh century (680–691). Here it occurs

of Poictiers, Tract. in Ps. cxxxviii. 22; Basil, In Ps. xlviii. 9; Ambrose, De Exc. Fratris. ii. 103. At the close of the fourth, and beginning of the fifth century there are allusions in Jerome, In Dan. ch. iii.; In Esai. bk. vi. ch. xiv., In Ezec. bk. iii. ch. xii., In Osce, bk. iii. ch. xiii. ; Augustine, De Genesi ad literam, xii. 53, Epist. ad Evod.; and, later, see Cyril of Alexandria, Hom. Pasch. xx.

1 The last phrase is clearly suggested by the LXX. in Job. xxxviii. 17, τυλωροι δε άδου ιδόντες σε έπτηξαν. .

* Cf. Heurtley's Harmonia Symbolica, p. 134.

* Rufinus, In Symb. 18. Dr. Swete thinks that the clause cannot have been of recent introduction in the days of Rufinus, and is inclined to assign it to the end of the second century or the beginning of the third, as a protest against the Docetic heresy. See his work on The Apostles' Creed, p. 61.

· Expos. xi.

8 “Missale Gallicanum," Migne, vol. lxxii. p. 349. " Sacramentarium Gallicanum," ibid. p. 489.

• See Hahn, Bibl. der Symbole, p. 66.
" Migne, vol. lxxxv., p. 395.
6 The Antiphonary of Bangor, fol. 19 (H. Bradshaw Soc.)

perhaps for the first time in the form descendit ad inferos; and after this it is generally met with in one or other of its forms.

NOTE.—It has not been thought necessary in considering this Article to say anything of the various interpretations which have sometimes been put upon the words, but which really evacuate them of their plain meaning, e.g. that of Durandus, which explains them of a “virtual motion and efficacious presence," or that of Calvin, that the descent into hell consisted in suffering the torments of Gehenna. A refutation of these and some other strange and fanciful interpretations may be found in Pearson's work on the Creed. But at the same time it may be well to warn the readers that in his section on this article of the creed Pearson has written "less lucidly than is his wont.” (1) He begins with an erroneous statement concerning the Creed of Aquileia, in which he asserts (contrary to fact) that the word sepultus was wanting. Rufinus clearly shows that it contained both sepultus and descendit in inferna. (2) He mistakes the meaning of Rufinus, from whose language he infers that " the first intention of putting these words in the creed was only to express the burial of our Saviour," whereas all that Rufinus intends to say is that the clause sepultus in the Roman and Oriental Creeds includes the notion of the descent of the soul into Hades, as well as the committal of the body to the grave (3) He is misled by the erroneous reading, To Tveúpati, in 1 Pet. iii. 18, and gives what can only be called a forced and non-natural interpretation of the whole passage, denying its reference to the descent into hell at all. (4) He nowbere distinguishes clearly between Hades and Gehenna, and ends by confusing the two, and directly asserting that Christ descended into Gehenna. "By the descent into hell, all

those which believe in Him are secured from descending thither. He went into those regions of darkness that our souls might never come into those torments which are there." An excellent study of the whole subject of this article may be found in Dean Plumptre's Spirits in Prison, No. iii. See also C. Clemen's Niedergefahren zu den Toten (1900).

Ve Resurrectione Christi.

Of the Resurrection of Christ. Christus vero & mortuis ro- Christ did truly arise again from surrexit, suumque corpus cum death, and took again His body, Barne, ossibus, omnibusque ad with flesh, bones, and all things integritatem humanæ naturæ per- appertaining to the perfection of tinentibus, recepit, cum quibus in man's nature, wherewith He ascælum ascendit, ibique residet, cended into heaven, and there quoad extremo die ad judicandos sitteth, until He return to judge homines reversurus sit.

all men at the last day. This Article has remained practically unchanged since the publication of the Edwardian series in 1553. Its language differs considerably from that of the corresponding Article in the Confession of Augsburg, as well as from that in the Thirteen Articles of 1538, which was taken almost word for word from the Third Article of that formulary. The emphatic assertion of the truth of the resurrection and of the reality of the human nature of the risen Lord indicates that the special object of the Article was to guard against the Docetic views adopted

* In 1553 and 1563 the title in the Latin was "Resurrectio Christi," for which “De resurrectione Christi” was substituted in 1571 as harmonising better with the English. In the last clause the word "all" appears for the first time in the English edition published in 1563. The corresponding word omnes in the Latin found in modern texts is wanting not only in the published editions of 1553 and 1563, but also in that of 1571 by John Daye, auctoritate serenissimæ reginæ.

2“ Item descendit ad inferos et vere resurrexit tertia die, deinde ascendit ad coelos, ut sedeat ad dexteram Patris, et perpetuo regnet et dominetur omnibus creaturis, sanctificet credentes in ipsum, misso in corde eorum Spiritu Sancto, qui regat, consoletur, ac vivificet eos, ao defendat adversus Diabolum et vim peccati. Item Christus palam est rediturus ut judicet vivos et mortuos etc. juxta symbolum apostolorum. Article III. of 1538. Cf. Conf. August. Art. iii. “De Filio Dei."

« PreviousContinue »