for a time. Here is much ado; these new upstarting spirits say, Christ never descHis soul descended to hell for a time. Here is much ado; these new upstarting spirits say, Christ never descended into hell, neither body nor soul. In scorn they will ask, Was he there? what did he there? What if we cannot tell what he did there? The creed goeth no further, but saith, he descended thither; what is that to us, if we cannot tell, seeing we were taught no further? Paul was taken up into the third heaven; ask likewise what he saw when he was carried thither ? You shall not find in scripture, what he saw or what he did there; shall we not therefore believe that he was there? These arrogant spirits, spirits of vain-glory, because they know not by any express scripture the order of his doings in hell, they will not believe that ever he descended into hell. Indeed this article hath not so full scripture, so many places and testimonies of Scriptures as others have; yet it hath enough, it hath two or three texts: and if it had but one, one text of scripture is of as good and lawful authority as a thousand, and of as certain truth. It is not to be weighed by the multitude of texts.
I believe as certainly and verily that this realm of England hath as good authority to hear God’s word, as any nation in all the world: it may be gathered by two texts, one of them is this; Ite in universum mundum, et predicate evangelium omni creatura, “Go into the whole world, and preach the gospel to all creatures.” Again, Deus vult omnes hominis salvos fieri, “God will have all men to be saved;” he excepts not the Englishmen here, nor yet expressly nameth them; and yet I am as sure that this realm of England, by this gathering, is allowed to hear God’s word, as though Christ had said a thousand times, Go preach to Englishmen: I will that Englishmen be saved.
Because this article of his descending into hell, cannot be gathered so directly, so necessarily, so formally, they utterly deny it. This article hath scriptures two or three, enough for quiet minds; as for curious brains, nothing can content them. This, the devil’s stirring up of such spirits of sedition, is an evident argument, that the light is come forth ; for his word is abroad when the devil rusheth, when he roareth, when he stirreth up such busy spirits to slander it. My intent is not to entreat of this matter at this time. I trust the people will not be carried away with these new arrogant spirits. I doubt not, but good preachers will labour against them.
But now I will say a word, and herein I protest first of all, not arrogantly to determine, and define it; I will contend with no man for it; I will not have it to be prejudice to any body, but I offer it unto you to consider and weigh it. There be some great clerks that take my part; and I perceive not what evil can come of it, in saying, that our Saviour Christ did not only in soul descend into hell, but also that he suffered in hell such pains as the damned spirits did.suffer there. Surely, I believe verily, for my part, that he suffered the pains of hell proportionably, as it corresponds and answers to the whole sin of the world. He would not suffer only bodily in the garden, and upon the cross, but also in his soul when it was from the body; which was a pain due for our sin. Some write so, and I can believe it, that he suffered in the very place, though I cannot tell what it is, call it what ye will, even in the scalding-house, in the irksomeness of the place, in the presence of the place, such pain as our capacity cannot attain unto; it is somewhat declared unto us, when we utter it by these effects, “by fire, by gnashing of teeth, by the worm that gnaweth on the conscience.” Whatsoever the pain is, it is a great pain that he suffered for us.
I see no inconvenience to say, that Christ suffered in soul in hell. I singularly commend the exceeding great charity of Christ, that for our sakes would suffer in hell in his soul. It sets out the unspeakable hatred that God hath to sin. I perceive not that it doth derogate any thing from the dignity of Christ’s death; as in the garden, when he suffered, it derogates nothing from that he suffered on the cross. Scripture speaketh on this fashion; Qui credit in me, habet vitam atternam, “He that believeth in me, hath life everlasting.” Here he sets forth faith as the cause of our justification; in other places, as high commendation is given to works; and yet, are the works any derogation from that dignity of faith ? No. And again, scripture saith, Traditus est propter peccata nostra et evuscitatus propter justificationem, &c., “ Christ, died for our sins, and rose again for our justification.” It attributeth here our justification to his resurrection; and doth this derogate any thing from his death? Not a whit. It is whole Christ. What with his nativity, what with his circumcision, what with his incarnation and the whole process of his life, with his preaching, what with his ascending, descending, what with his death, it is all Christ that worketh our salvation. He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, and all for us. All this is the work of our salvation. I would be as loth to derogate any thing from Christ’s death, as the best of you all. How inestimably are we bound to him? What thanks ought we to give him for it? We must have this continually in remembrance, Propter te morti tradimur tota die, “For thee we are in dying continually.”
The life of a christian man is nothing but a readiness to die, and a remembrance of death. If this that I have spoken of Christ’s suffering in the garden, and in hell, derogate any thing from Christ’s death and passion, away with it, believe me not in this ; if it do not, it commends and sets forth very well unto us the perfection of the satisfaction that Christ made for us, and the work of redemption, not only before witness in this world, but in hell, in that irksome place; where, whether he suffered or wrestled with the spirits, or comforted Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I will not desire to know. If ye like not that which I have spoken of his suffering, let it go, I will not strive in it; I will be prejudice to no body, weigh it as ye list; I do but offer it you to consider. It is like, his soul did somewhat the three days that his body lay in the grave. To say, he suffered in hell for us, derogates nothing from his death. For all things that Christ did before his suffering on the cross, and after, do work our salvation. If he had not been incarnate, he had not died; he was beneficial to us with all things he did. Christian people should have his suffering for them in remembrance. Let your gardens monish you, your pleasant gardens, what Christ suffered for you in the garden; and what commodity you have by his suffering. It is his will ye should so do; he would be had in remembrance.