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of his time to a holy life, and to the practice of religion, in order to escape the wrath of God, that was hanging over them, but also preached that righteousness of the Messiah : which as it is the same, with respect to its efficacy, yesterday, to-day, and for ever, so it is also witnessed by the law and the prophets, Rom. iii. 21. and of which himself was heir, as Paul affirms, Heb. xi. 7. For, seeing he was not ignorant of so great a benefit, nay and even enjoyed it, it is quite inconsistent with the piety of the man, and the zeal with which he was animated for the glory of God, and for the salvation of his brethren, to suppose he would conceal it from them. VIII. Here we are to explain another passage
of Peter, 1 Pet. ïïi. 19, 20. where he thus speaks of Christ, who was quickened by the Spirit : EN HO (PNEUMATI) KAI TOIS EN PHULAKE PNEUMASI POREUTHE15 EKERUXEN APEITHESAST POTE, by which (spirit) also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison ; zuhich sometine were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the art was a preparing. It is to no purpose to say, how vari
, ously this passage has been treated by interpreters ; though, if it be well considered, the meaning will appear easy and plain.
and plain. The Lord Christ, says he, who was raised from the dead by the infinite power of his Spirit, formerly went, came out of heaven, not indeed in the flesh assumed, and personally united to himself, but in the demonstration of his Spirit, by which he formed the prophets, and among them also Noah. By the ministry of these prophets, who were stirred up by his Spirit, he himself preached. For not so much the prophets, as the Spirit of Christ, tvhich was in them, spake, 1 Pet. i. 11. By that preaching, he invited the spirits to faith and repentance, that is, those souls of men, which are now separated from the body, and such are usually called spirits, Heb. xii. 23. and now are in prisun, in SHEOL, according to the Syriac interpreter, in hell ; compare Rev. xx. 7. because they were disobedient, and rejected the preaching of Christ by Noah, when the divine goodness and long-suffering called them to repentance. Peter therefore declares, that Christ formerly, and especially in the days of Noah, preached by his Spirit, by the prophets; and what else did he preach, but himself, and faith and repentance, whereby they might come to him? In this sense also Peter writes, chap. iv. 6. that the gospel was preached to them that are dead; namely, when they were formerly alive. Thus to the same purpose, Naomi said to her daughters in law, Ruth i. 8. A) ye have dealt with the dead and ruith me.
IX. Neither improperly, nor without authority does. Peter refer the preaching of the prophets, and especially of Noah, to Christ. For Christ, who calls himself Jehovah the Redeemer, expressly proclaims, I have not spoken in secret from the beginning, Is. xlviii. 16, 17. And what else can the meaning be, but that I have publicly preached, from the very beginning? Nor is it altogether improbable, that Peter had a view to Gen. vi. 3: And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man ; that is, “I will not always contend against
“ their wickedness by fruitless exhortations and rebukes, made by my prophets, actuated by my Spirit ; but, for the determined space of a hundred and twenty years, will invite them to repentance by my long-suffering and forbearance of wrath ; but when that term is once expired, I will destroy them all by a deluge.” From this it appears, that, in the time of Noah, Jehovah contended with men by the preaching of his Spirit. That Spirit, by whose inspiration the word of life was declared, is by Peter justly called the Spirit of Christ : not only
because he is the Spirit of the Son no less than of the Father, but also because it is owing to the suretiship of , Christ, that the word of grace is proposed to sinful man, the Spirit therefore, preaching that word, may by a peculiar appropriation be pointed out as the Spirit of Christ the Surety. All this is to inform us, that the same doctrine of salvation concerning the same Christ, and through him, was, by means of the prophets, preached from the remotest antiquity.
X. I cannot here but take notice, how strangely Grotius perverts and corrupts this eminent testimony of Peter. He seems to envy us, and refuse, that we can find Christ and his works in the ancient ages of the world : and therefore he applies what Christ is said to have performed in the time of Noah, to what was done by the apostles, and to the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles. By the spirits in prison he understands the souls of men in the body, as in a sheath. But how does he prove it, think you? Peter, says he, borrows a similitude from the times of Noah. Then God said, LO IADON RUCHI BAADAM, that is, if we regard the propriety of the words. My Spirit shall not be so detained in man as in a sheath ; that is, the soul, which I gave him (Wisd. xii. 1.) shall not be useless, as a sword in its sheath, which by no means answers the end it was made for.
Let us proceed. A prison is usually called PHULAKE : but the sheath is, as it were, the prison of the sword, the Chaldees calling a sheath NARTHEK. The same name they give to the body of a man, as Dan, vii. 15. and the Talmudists often. But on the words, who were disobedient, &c. he observes, they were such as the souls, who did not obey formerly in the times of Noah; he speaks as if they had been the same: und they were the same spirits or souls, not numerically, as Aristotle speaks, but generically; that is, souls equally
useless to God; namely, as those who did not obey the preaching of Noah. Men altogether alienated from God, did not believe Noah, did not believe Christ. · If I rightly take the meaning of the intricate discourse of this otherwise illustrious person, the sum of his opinion comes to this : Christ, by the Spirit put into the apostles, preached the gospel to the Gentiles, whose souls were shut up in the body, as in a prison and sheath, and who are justly accounted the same with the disobedient men who lived in the days of Noah, the same, I say, not numerically, but by imitation of their wicked
I tremble at the reading such a thing, and imagine, I see in them a spirit, which will not have the Holy Ghost to have said, what he actually has, and which shamefully misapplies its Icarning. Let us now make this appear.
XI. 1. The application of the words of God, Gen. vi. 3. though countenanced by some Jewish and Christian doctors, is absurd. Among others see Buxtorf in Vindic. verit. Hcbraic. p. 639. For the soul of man is no where in scripture called the Spirit of God. It is indeed formed in man by God, Zech. xii. l. yet not called the Spirit of God, but the spirit of man, Eccl. iii. 21. and the spirit of man which is in hiin, 1 Cor. ii. 11. In vain are alledged to the contrary, Ezek. xxxvii. 14. and Psal. civ. 30. for there the Spirit of God does not denote the soul, or life of the creatures, but the author of that life. Nor does the grammatical analogy admit the deriving Jadon from NIDNÆH, for, in that case, the points ought to be altered : the letter daleth ought to have a dagesch forte, because nun is excluded, and under jod a Chirek. Not to mention, that neither in the Talmudists nor Chaldee, nor books of the Old Testament, is there any word derived from MIDNÆH, which signifies to be detained in a sheath : so that this explica
tion is rashly urged, without either reason or authority. 2. The application of those words to the words of Peter is still more absurd, as if hence we could understand, what is meant by the spirits in prison. For, certainly, the Spirit of God is one thing, the spirits of disobedient men another. And should we grant, which yet we do not, that there is in Hebrew a verb derived from NIDNÆH, a sheath ; this NIDNÆH, a sheath, is certainly one thing, which the Septuagint render KOULEON, 1 Chron. xxi. 27. and PHULAKE another, which, according to the venerable Beza's observation, when it does not signify the fourth part of the night, al ways denotes a prison. To conclude, what method of commenting is it, that the words of Peter, namely, the spirits in prison, shall be explained from Gen. vi. 3. JADON RUCHI ; and Jadon moreover, explained from NIDNÆH; and again NIDNÆH denotes a prison, because a sheath is the prison of the sword : and then the body be the prison of the soul ; and therefore the spirits in prison in Peter, shall denote the souls contained in the body, as in a sheath ? How far fetched, uncertain, and trilling is all this? 3. It is most absurd of all, to make the Gentiles, to whom the apostles preached, the same with the disobedient, who lived in Noah's days, who were not only men of another age, but, by an interval of many ages, men of another world. Indeed, Grotius refers us to his book de jure B. et P. lib. 2. c. 9. sect. 3. where he proves, that a people is accounted to be the same at this day, which they were a hundred years back, as long as that community subsists, which constitutes a people, and binds them together by mutual ties. Though this be true, it is nothing to the pur
. pose : for the Gentiles, to whom the apostles preached, were knit by no tie of mutual union to the same socieVOL. II.