THE SPIRITS IN PRISON
Few passages have excited more inquiry, or
have presented more difficulty to the student of Scripture, than the few words
which affirm the preaching of Christ to the spirits in prison. Before examining
their import, they are here presented
to the readers eye.
1 PETER 3: 17-20.
For it is better, if the will of
God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing. For even Christ
once for all suffered for sins, the Just One for unjust ones, that he might
bring us to God; being put
to death indeed in flesh, but made alive in spirit in which he went and
preached even to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient
when the longsuffering of God was waiting in the days of Noah, while the ark was
preparing, into which few, that is, eight souls (entering) escaped through water.
(1) The idea usually entertained of the
passage among Protestants will first be exhibited, and its opposition to the
text; (2) then the ancient theory on the subject; and (3) lastly, the true
meaning of the words as deduced from this and other Scriptures.
At the outset it may be proper for the
writer to avow his conviction, that the
passage before us does not teach the doctrine of purgatory.
The fear of this has been, I am persuaded, the great reason why the true meaning of the text has been overlooked or concealed. The
interpretation commonly received will, perhaps, best expounded by extracts from
the Tract Society's Commentary.
Christ, as God,
and with reference to his future incarnation, had gone by his Spirit, inspiring
his servant Noah to announce the approaching deluge, and preach repentance to
that incorrigible generation who perished in their sins, and were in the prison
of hell when the apostle wrote, being confined there till the judgment of the
great day. Because
the hearers were dead and disembodied when the apostle speaks of them, he
properly calls them spirits now in prison. Not that
they were in prison when Christ preached to
them, as some would take it. The
same Christ that came in his flesh and preached the gospel to the world, came to
them in the days of Noah by his spirit, and in Noah preached to those
unbelievers, who, because they repented not, but continued in disobedience, are
now condemned spirits in hell.
Scan narrowly the passage, and it will be
seen how much in the interpretation above given, is erroneously taken for
granted. Let us inquire then
WHO IS THE PREACHER?
We may answer at once - not Noah.
It is not said that Noah preached at all. Had this been the only Epistle
of Peter, we should never have known that Noah preached.
It is not stated that Noah, as a preacher of
righteousness, was inspired.
What is said is, that, in the days of Noah,
the spirits in prison were disobedient.
Does that prove Noahs preaching to them? If we should find it written, that
Even allowing in the above interpretation a point which is not asserted in the
passage before us, that Christ preached in
the time of Noah, ‑ it will not
prove that he preached by
the mouth of Noah, any more
than by the mouth of Japhet or Lamech.
The preacher, as Peter asserts, was Christ.
Christ also suffered for sins . . . he
went and preached.
But it is not affirmed that Jesus preached in
Noah's day. We are informed that these
spirits were disobedient previous
to the preaching of Jesus. And if we ask, What was the time of their
disobedience? we are assured that it was in the days of Noah.
Look then at the assumptions in regard to the preacher. (1) That Christ
preached in the time of Noah. (2) That Noah preached. (3) That Noah was inspired
in preaching. (4) That he was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and, therefore, by
Christ. (5) That Noah's preaching by the Spirit may be said to be Christs
The laxity of this has been seen by a modern defender of the theory: and he,
therefore, modifies it thus:-
It seems that
he [Christ] did this [preached] personally
or directly, and
not by the influences of
the Holy Spirit, for it is said, that he
went and preached.
A little after
however, could be conveyed by this language that he did this personally
or by himself,
and not merely by employing the agency of
Yet presently afterwards he writes
All that is
necessarily implied in this language would be met by the supposition, that
Christ delivered a message to the antediluvian race by the agency of Noah."
Surely contradiction has seldom been more
direct. The words exclude the agency of the Holy Ghost, and fix it to Jesus himself; yet they do not exclude the agency of Noah.
But it may be said At any rate the parties addressed were
disobedient; and does not disobedience imply preaching? To which the reply is
simple. Disobedience does not imply preaching.
It supposes a command given - a charge sent, or uttered in person; but no
more. Adam was disobedient in the garden because God had given him a charge; but
he was not preached to. The spirits in question must have received some command;
though, whether in Noahs day, or before it, is not specified. They disobeyed
however, while Noah was alive.
inquire next - Who were the PARTIES
The answer ordinarily given is as follows:-
In regard to
the inquiry then, who these spirits
were, there can be no difference of opinion. They
were that wicked race which lived in the days of Noah."*
Authors own italics]
delivered a message to the antediluvian race.
The guilty and
perverse men who were finally
But this is an assumption without
1. Christ, it is said, preached to spirits.
And spirits never means men alive on the
earth. For any thing that appears on the face of this passage, the parties
addressed by Jesus were spirits in Noah's day, as
well as spirits afterwards in prison. The only changes obviously implied, are
their change from disobedience to obedience; and from freedom in Noahs day to
imprisonment after it.
2. To assert then that Jesus only preached
to men in the flesh, is to falsify the passage before us. Men in the flesh
are never called spirits, though they are
sometimes called souls, as in this very
context. Few, that is, eight souls,
escaped through water. All the souls
they had gotten in
But this brings on the third question.
is the TIME OF THE PREACHING?
The usual answer runs thus
by the spirits in prison the apostle means the wicked antediluvians, I do not
think he meant to represent them as in prison in the days of Noah, but as
in prison at present. And to
convey this meaning, I have in the commentary added the word now:
* the antediluvians were men on earth when Christ
preached to them by his Spirit speaking in Noah. But they are now spirits in
Clearly to the
in prison, for this is the fair meaning of the passage.
Authors own italics.]
He preached to
those spirits who now are suffering the deserved penalties in prison, since they
in former times refused to obey the right admonitions of Noah while building his
The time given by the apostle seems defined
by two points - (1) Jesus death on the one hand; (2) and the detention of the
spirits in prison, on the other
for sins, being put to death in the
flesh, but quickened in the spirit, by which he went and preached to
the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient.
The quotation above given (and others might
be added) prove that a new specification of time enters as an essential
element into such an
interpretation. And hence one, in discussing the text, enters into a long
inquiry whether the words those who are,' or those who were,' should be supplied before spirits in
The reason of this is obvious. If the words who were' (which are the natural ellipsis, and they are supplied by the Vulgate,
Erasmus, and others) be inserted, then it is evident that the preaching
of Jesus took place at the time when these spirits were in prison; and
the common ideas of the meaning fall to the ground. But if we supply who are,
the case is not much mended. For thus much is confessed on both sides, that they
are at the present time in prison. These interpreters are obliged, therefore,
yet further to insert the word now, and to make it emphatic
so as to imply the contradictory
to the former words, - that they
WERE NOT THEN imprisoned, when
Now, is it credible that an apostle could omit the emphatic word in a sentence? - the word which was necessary, both to make
his meaning intelligible, and his
information true? If
that view be correct, the apostles sentence as it now stands, has all the
misleading effect of a falsehood.
Jesus did not preach at
the time seemingly implied. He did preach at a time not implied. Such an idea is the very essence of equivocation.
What was Annaniass lie, but the omission of something essential to the truth
of his statement ?
The passage gives the position of the spirits in reference to Christ,
and is in connection with the time of his death. There is no reference to
the time of Peters writing. I grant that it might have been described in
reference to the time of Peters writing, but then it must have been expressed. The time of Peters writing was no era to them. The time of
Christs preaching was; if, up to that time, they are stated to have been
disobedient; and since that time they are no longer so. Their condition at the
time of the Saviours preaching, is fixed by the words the
spirits in prison. There is no hint of any change of
external condition since.
Now this is, of itself, sufficient to prove the falsity of
the interpretation before us. Time
is an essential element of distinction in order to the
the statement on this view. Jesus,
you hold, did not preach to spirits then
in prson. But the particle of
time essential to the truth of the
passage in your idea, is omitted. Then, as an apostle cannot have erred, his
view is true without the distinction. Therefore this theory is false.
The common ellipse, if you will have one, must be filled up in the past tense.
Jesus went and preached to those who were spirits in Prison, i.e. at the time He preached. Take a similar
instance. Suppose there were a theory that John was set free before he was put
to death by Herod, would it not be utterly overturned by the following passage?
- Herod "sent and beheaded John in the prison:
Matt. 14: 10. Would it be allowed to any
to plead, that Johns being in the prison referred to a former time, and not
to the date of his beheading? Would not all laugh at such a theory? Must not the
ellipsis be filled up by - Beheaded John (who
was) in the prison?
To the apostles mind (and who can understand his own thoughts like the
writer?) no specification of time was needed. Christ preached
to the spirits in prison.
The spirits in
prison, then, is their characteristic
description, and it is not a question of time. The other classes of
spirits are in like manner described by their characteristic position. (1) That
now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places
might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God: Eph.
3: 10. (2) We
wrestle . . . against principalities, against
powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits
heavenly places: (marg.)
Eph. 6: 12. Thus the two classes presented in
the above texts stand distinguished from those with which our discussion has to
do, as spirits in
heavenly places; the
one obedient, the other disobedient; but both of them free, and so contrasted with those in
prison. Would it be allowable to insert now' in the first of these texts? Would it not be a useless addition,
disfiguring the sense?
It is quite indifferent to the explanation about to be given, whether you supply
the words who were,"
or who are." So that you do not exclude the one sense borne on the
surface of Peter's words, contradicting him by adding who were not then
spirits in prison, you may
insert which you will. Hence I gather, (as one point of proof,) that my view is
that intended by the apostle.
That the condition of the parties preached to by Jesus was spirits then in prison, is defined by words as clear as language can give.
The spirits are spoken of in two conditions; first with reference to the time of
preaching; then their state previously. As their previous
state is defined after the preaching has been mentioned, the condition which they are
described as holding at the time of preaching, is the one they actually held. They were
spirits in prison when preached to, as surely as they were free before
it in Noahs day. Peter is
especially careful to insert particles of time; as is evident from his employing
the word now seven times in his two short epistles.
But even omitting the point chiefly contested - the
spirits in prison, - the same sense will follow from the words
remaining. Christ preached to those
who formerly were disobedient in the days of Noah. From which
words it evidently follows, - that the preaching of Christ came after the spirits'
disobedience. But their disobedience lasted up to their death. Therefore the
preaching was after their death; and
after Gods patience and their consequent freedom in the days of Noah were
ended. Only one other time is hinted at. Then
the preaching was at Jesus death; at which date, it must be confessed, if
they died disobedient in Noahs day, that they were spirits
was the PREVIOUS CONDITION OF
preached to the spirits in prison. Here again the theory falters. (1.)
One class of interpreters would deny that it has any meaning. (2) Another,
that it signifies local motion. Let us
He went, not by a local motion, but by a special
No particular stress should be laid here on the
phrase he went
. . . It is well known that such expressions are often
redundant in Greek writers, as in others.
idea is supported by a passage from the Ephesians: Eph.
2: 17. And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that
were nigh. Whereon it is argued:-
is certain that our Lord after his resurrection did not go personally to the
Gentiles to preach peace to them. He preached to them by his apostles only. But
if Christ is said by Paul, to go and do what he did by his apostles, he may with
equal propriety be said by Peter, to go and do what he did by his prophet Noah.
the passage is not parallel. The word came,'
takes the place of went: a point of difference to be noticed
hereafter. (2) But the chief point of the
failure is, that the word came is not to be
construed with the two classes of persons - those nigh, and those afar off; but
with the word peace Jesus coming to
this world preached - peace to the Jew, and peace to the Gentile. It is not at
all asserted, that He went
to the Gentile.
It would not be true. What is said, is that His message bore words of peace
to the Gentile, no less than to the Jew.
In truth, the word went is destructive of the usual interpretation. It
must be silenced or it gives a decisive verdict against the cause. Let us
examine its force.
1. First, it will not allow any to apply it to the travelling
of Noah. For the persons here
described - the disobedient spirits - were, as a class and universally, in
another region, needing local motion to reach them. But not so was it with
the unbelieving men of Noahs day.
They were, as far as we know,
all in one country. At any rate, they were not, as
a class, in another region,
the interval between which and his own locality must be travelled over, ere he
could lay his message before them.
2. It refers to Jesus. He
went and preached. It follows, then, that
there are two localities in question, and an interval between them, which Jesus
crossed ere He preached. It was not,
therefore, any men in the flesh, inhabitants of the upper world, whom Jesus
addressed; for all living men were in the same region as Peter and those
addressed in the epistle. Therefore, when Jesus descent from heaven to men is
spoken of, the word came is used;
signifying that the region occupied by the writer is the same as that to which
Jesus descended. Here the word
is went, which implies a passing away from the region inhabited by the
writer and his readers.
3. Again the true view assigns two reasons for the
motion. Jesus died; but at [the
time of] death the person passes away from this
upper earth, to the world of spirits. Thus we gain the point whence the
motion took place, and the point where it ceased.
4. It gives another reason. The spirits in question, as
being in prison, were unable to get forth. If, therefore, Jesus would address
them, he must traverse the distance between Him and them. And only
at [the time of]
His decease was He free, humanly speaking, to visit them. Thus the
connection of the visit with His death, and the reasons for their being called
spirits, and spirits
in prison, are given.
5. Again, the word went
supposes, that previously to the Saviour's journey, the spirits were
fixed in a certain place, which
is declared to be a prison. To that prison Jesus travelled, and found the
spirits there assembled. Then the going as well as the preaching,
the time when the parties evangelized were spirits in prison.
Jesus went to the prison. Were
there no spirits there? Then He could not have, preached to them.
The journey and the proclamation belong, it is acknowledged, to the same
period. But, the place where the journey ended being the place
of the preaching and the place of the journeys end and of the
preaching being a prison, the hearers are fixed to that spot; and it decides the
to be when Jesus was dead, and when the spirits were incarcerated. The going refers primarily to a place; the preaching to persons.
But the going and the preaching belong to the same period, as is allowed:
the journey being first brought to a close, ere the proclamation began. Then the
place and the persons are both fixed by the two words - Jesus 'went,'
to the prison;
to the spirits
in prison. The passage then does not speak of Jesus
preaching in the days of Noah. Jesus went to the prison to preach to disobedient
spirits; but the spirits were not in the prison till after the days of Noah.
Therefore, the preaching mentioned did not take place in Noahs day, while the
ark was preparing.
6. In concluding this part of the subject, I must notice
some illustrations by which the usual view is attempted to be paralleled.
If we saw a
company of men in prison who
had seen better days a multitude, now drunken and debased, and poor, and
riotous, it would not be improper to say, that the prospect of wealth and
honour was once held out to this ragged and wretched multitude. '
expressions used would be very proper; but the
illustration makes directly against the writer's interpretation. We see
a company of men in prison. (1)
Then they are in prison when our
informant speaks of them, and points them out to us. So then the spirits whom
Jesus addressed, were seen and spoken to by him in prison.
The writer would not have us understand that he is speaking of them and
seeing them in their better days, ere their
Their condition in the prison is fixed by his words This
ragged and debased multitude. Then, in like manner, the parties
addressed by Jesus were disobedient spirits
in prison, and not men
at large on earth. (3)
They had had a previous more prosperous condition, but it is not implied
saw them in that previous state. We
see them in their debased state in prison. Thus the illustration is totally
opposed to the writers words.
2. Thus it would be proper to
say, that Whitefield came to
I feel quite sure that no one would ever speak or write so of Whitefield, except
to maintain this theory; and if he did it, such extravagance would suggest
doubts of his sanity. But even extravagant as the words are, the extravagance
becomes greater if quite parallel with the scripture before us. Then it would
take some such form as this. Whitefield departed this life at
I insert the words, place of, because the prison is not only a state to
the prisoners, but a place also.]
the illustration fails in another point.
'Whitefield came, noting the identity of the
region inhabited by the writer and his readers. Jesus went,
marking the difference.
And preached to the souls in perdition.
Here it is supposed that the souls are in a third place, to which he does not travel, and in
which he does not preach. This
is the essential point of failure -
Jesus travels from one locality (unnamed) to another which is named; there
He finds the spirits, and there He preaches.
me give an illustration, which I believe will be parallel with the passage in
question. Whitefield went and preached to the felons in Newgate, who were
respectable men in the days of George I.
any now reply, if it were affirmed - that this statement was untrue I
do not mean to assert that Whitefield ever was in Newgate, or even preached so
near to it as that the felons within could hear; I mean that he preached to some
respectable people, who afterwards became felons, and were confined in Newgate.
it observed, that where the language is proper, the illustration makes against
the writer; and where the illustration is somewhat more parallel, the language
is improper and extravagant. Illustrations Nos. 1 and 2, take opposite ground.
3rd and last illustration is even more ruinously unlike the case in Peter.
1. Our first inquiry, taking the words literally, would be - Was the preacher of sound mind! For
2. But if the preacher were not a lunatic, then the words
must take another sense than the one they bear on their surface.
It is not so in the text we are considering. There is neither impossibility nor absurdity in taking the words of
short, the failure of this last illustration may be briefly stated by observing
2. They are, since
the preaching, in another place and state.
3. They are now divided into two parts; one intelligent,
(the soul); the other unintelligent, (the corpse.)
4. The unintelligent portion is made to occupy the former
place of preaching where the writer and his readers are supposed to stand.
contrary to this is stated in Peter:-
1. Jesus hearers were preached to in one place and
state, which is described to us.
2. They abide in that place and confinement since the
3. They are not divided into two parts, intelligent and
4. They occupy a locality far distant from the historian
and his reader.
me here drop a word of warning concerning illustrations. When rightly used, as
the exemplification of arguments, and really parallel with the cases
illustrated, they are most potent in carrying conviction. But very often they
fail in the points essential to the argument; and are devoid of real
parallelism, while they seem to possess it.
would now bestow a few remarks upon the ANCIENT
INTERPRETATION of the text.
fathers in general understood this passage of the spirits of the just of old,
who were kept in custody, as they imagined, till the descent of Christ to
Hadees; and that they were liberated thence by Him.
the text is as much at variance with this interpretation as with the other. (1)
The parties are disobedient
spirits, who were swept off by Gods wrath at the flood. (2) They are not
said to have been liberated by Christ, but only to have been addressed by Him.
(3) They are still spirits in prison. To make this theory true, as in the former
instance, a notice of time must have been inserted, and we must have read the
spirits who were (but are not now) in
ancient supplement being the reverse of the modern.
the words, in prison, signify in Scripture,
not so much safe custody, as the place of detention and punishment of debtors
and malefactors, either real or reputed. Barrabbas, who
for a certain sedition made in the city was cast into prison: Luke
23: 19, 25. When the thousand years shall be
expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his
20: 7. So Acts 12, etc.
would now address myself to establish THE
whole perplexity in the modern interpretation has arisen, from attempting to
make out that the scene described is only the common case of (1.) men (2.)
preached to (3.) while alive (4.) by men. (5.) They are disobedient, and die in
unbelief, (6.) are cast into endless punishment, (7.) and abide unchangeably in
unbelief, no further hope being held out. I hope to prove, on the contrary, that
Peter alludes to an act deeply mysterious, and in most respects quite the
reverse of any thing going on now.
It speaks of (1.) spirits, not men - (2.) of spirits
not preached to while alive, (3) nor by a man in the flesh, (4.) but of spirits
disobedient to Gods commands till death, (5.) cast into a place of
punishment, (6.) there preached to by Jesus, (7.) and by such preaching changed
in their character, (8.) though still remaining for a certain definite time
under the consequences of their sin.
view does, I am persuaded, coincide with the teaching of Peter, both in the
present passage, and in others to be adduced.
1. First the case is presented as mysterious and
exceptive. This is apparent in the expression of the apostle (lost in our
translation). In which (spirit) he
went and preached even
to the spirits in prison."*That
he should preach to men in the flesh and under mercy, was not wonderful
comparatively; but the present fact was in both points extraordinary, as the
reverse of his former acting. With the same mark of admiration is the same act
introduced in the next chapter. For this cause was the
gospel preached even (Kai)
to the dead. 1Peter 4: 6.
intensifies the word it
immediately precedes. Even
the very hairs of your head: Luke 12: 7.
the winds and the sea obey Him: Matt.
to fight against God: Acts
5: 39. Even
on the Gentiles the gift of the Holy Ghost was poured out: Acts
10: 45. Even to
the Gentiles hath God granted repentance: 11:
2. Hence also, the greater significance is given to the
apostles declaration - first, of Christs dying for us
that is to say): to his speaking next, even
to those of another race; and then returning, after the mention of the
spirits, to us
(men) again (verse 21).
3. Thus its proper force is given to the word went,
as implying local motion. The passage before us presents another instance of the
use of the same word, where it must be granted to mean the Saviours local
motion, after His resurrection. By what right, then, do we deny it after His
went (see Greek) and
preached to the spirits in prison.
is at the right hand of God, having gone
(see Greek) into heaven.
4. Will any say that local motion is not used in
connection with preaching?
rather to the lost sheep of the house of
5. An exception has been taken to the word, preach
as not signifying proclaiming the gospel in particular but as applicable to any
proclamation. This is true but if the mysterious passage of the next chapter
refer to the same subject, the force of the remark is done away: for there the
regular word expressing the preaching of the gospel is employed.
6. Now a word in relation to the parties intended. Spirits,
it is confessed, I believe, by all parties, is
a term not employed to express living men. But it does signify
Beings of a higher order than man - disembodied
creatures. He cast out the spirits
with his word: Matt. 8: 16. Rejoice
not that the
spirits are subject unto you:
Luke 10: 2 0 ; Acts 16: 16, 18, &c.
The immortal part of men who have
the spirits of the just made perfect: Heb.
12: 23. Lord Jesus, receive my spirit:
Acts 7: 59.
either of these senses, or in both of them combined, it will suit the passage
before us: for the beings of whom it
treats are beings of a higher order than man, who yet once lived as men; and
dying as men, are as men to be judged.
In both these senses, also, it agrees with the other occurrence of the word in
this passage, as applied to Jesus. The word is
used of the immortal part of Jesus, both in life and at the time of His
departing. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud
voice, yielded up his spirit:*
Matt. 27: 50. He
sighed deeply in his spirit: Mark 8: 12.
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:* Luke
23: 46; John 19: 30.
These texts refer to Christ surrendering His animating
(or life-giving) spirit
for His Fathers safe-keeping. Ed.]
this adds much confirmation to the view. Jesus, of a nature superior to man,
once embodied as a man, then [after surrendering His
spirit, as] a disembodied spirit, [soul]
preached to those in like condition.
Thus too, the usual opposition between flesh
and spirit, or the body and the immortal
part of man, is kept up. As a man in the flesh, Jesus preached to us in the
flesh, to reconcile us to God; but as a spirit He preached beside, even
to the spirits in prison, to bring back those once rebellious ones to God.
7. Thus we see the
connexion of the preaching with the death of Jesus. At death He went among
the dead, the spirits of the departed. How He was employed during that time of His separation from His body,
the Scripture informs us not; unless this, and one other passage teach us.
8. The connexion also, in another point of view, is
excellent. If God have ordained that you should suffer, says the apostle,
how far preferable it is to suffer as the consequence of acting well, and
with a good conscience, than to suffer as the result of disobedience to Him. In
suffering for well
doing you are suffering as Christ did. How far preferable is this, to
suffering as the disobedient spirits* of
Noahs day are compelled to suffer, in consequence of evil deeds; even
though, through God's mercy, they be saved at last.
Note. They are not called disobedient spirits
in Noahs day: it is only after they are swept away by the Flood that they are called spirits
in prison. Ed.]
9. This interpretation expounds difficulties which have
been considered insuperable.
it should he maintained that this means that he went down to hell or to Sheol,
and preached to those who are confined there, it could be inferred from this
passage only, that he preached to that portion of the lost spirits confined
there which belonged to the particular generation in which Noah lived.
(1.) Why he should do this;
or (2.) how there should be such a separation mode in Hadees that it could
be done; or (3.) what was the nature
of the message which he
delivered to that portion, are
questions which it is impossible for any man, who holds to the opinion that
Christ went down to hell after his death to preach, to answer.
us try! (1.) Suppose that the spirits
to whom He went were angels, who deserted their post to live with men; that they
thus offended God, and, perishing at the flood, were confined in a separate
place of punishment called by a peculiar name,*
and then we should understand how Christ could preach to them, and them alone.
If it should appear that these spirits are not in fire and torments, as the souls
of the ungodly are, (Luke 16: 23-25) but only
in darkness and chains,
then another line of distinction is drawn; and the second difficulty is met.
(2.) The same supposition will enable us to
understand why the message of mercy should reach these spirits especially. They
intruded themselves into, a world of sin, and so partook of the consequences; by
their example and instruction hardening men (apparently) in rebellion against
God; but certainly suffering death themselves, as the penalty inflicted on men.
It was, therefore open to Gods grace to send to these justly suffering
spirits a ray of that hope which He was so mercifully dispensing to men. They
received death as a part of the penalty due to the sinners of men; but they
heard also the gospel, as a part of the mercy ordained for men. Hence the
peculiarity in the time of preaching the gospel to them. God accounted them as
men in the penalty of death; he might so account, them as subjects of mercy.
Hence, also, they will stand and be judged as men at the tribunal of Jesus
Christ. This replies to the first impossibility. Thus too we are enabled to see
the accuracy of Scripture language. Jesus
preached to the
spirits in prison* . . .
formerly disobedient in the days of Noah; the article implying that
the Saviour proclaimed the message to all
of that class. But when, in the next chapter, Peter speaks of the
preaching to the dead, he omits
the article, because Jesus
preached not to all the
dead - to none, in fact, but
to the special class denoted above. Men were not all, without exception
disobedient in the days of Noah: these spirits were.
(3.) From the same point of view we are enabled
to catch a glimpse of the message of mercy delivered to them. The Saviour, as
having both lived and died, is Lord both of the dead and of the living: and the
Lord was pleased to make His death available to the salvation of these once
rebellious spirits. The peculiarity in the application of mercy to them is, that
they are still encircled with the full penalties of their external punishment,
which are to last till the Great Day of the Lord
brings Jesus again to earth. Thus the third
impossibility is met. Hence we may see how Jesus fulfils, in a glorious
sense, the type of Joseph in the dungeon,
foretelling to one class of the Supreme Kings ministers the mercy of God
yet in store for them; and to the other the judgments of God to be accomplished
on them; while both portions are to take place on the same approaching festal
10. From the same interpretation we discover
the force of that word once,' or formerly,
which is connected with the information concerning their disobedience. The
spirits in prison who formerly were disobedient.
In this point also the case is a startling and mysterious one. Ordinarily,
the prison once entered, the punishment is perpetual; as any alteration in the
spiritual state of the prisoner is hopeless. But here it is implied, that though
the confinement be still continuing, the disobedience for which it was at first
inflicted no longer abides. The change, too, as it is clearly intimated, was
owing to the preaching of the mercy brought to them by Jesus. As soon as they
heard the tidings of possible reconciliation with God, they received it; and are
now no longer at enmity with God, while God too is now able to forgive them.
11. At this point again the opposite theory
fails. It cannot admit the manifest force of that word formerly, for it would be fatal. It would show that the case
mentioned is not the ordinary case of living men under the warnings of God.
language here does not imply that they had ceased
to be disobedient, or that they had become obedient at the time when the
this we reply, that it does imply their
spiritual change as truly and forcibly as words can: and that every reader,
whatever his theory, feels it. The very remark made in opposition to it, because
it was felt to be destructive to the writers theory, shows how obvious its
say that men were formerly rebellious, or rebellious in a specified age, is no
evidence that they are otherwise now.
illustration confounds together a certain
class of men in a former day, with the whole mass of mankind existing now.
To make the illustration parallel with the present case, you must specify former
rebellion of a certain
class of men, and refer to that
same class throughout. Thus
Paul described the Ephesian converts as once darkness:
- did not that infer that they were no longer so? Yes, assuredly; even
though he had not added, but now
are ye light in the Lord. He describes them as once
afar off. Did not that, suppose
that they were now nigh? Yes: even, though he had not added, Ye
are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Of Onesimus it is written, Which
past was to thee unprofitable
‑ what is the manifest implication? That which is added: but
to me and to thee :Phil.
there is one difficulty which I am not able fully to clear up, though not
essential to the proof of the present interpretation.*
put to death in flesh, but
made alive in the spirit.
faithfulness of this blessed servant of God has well been described by another
who wrote: He ever showed a supreme desire to be faithful to the Scriptures -
to reach the meaning of the Spirit and to set it forth. He revealed this not least when he
confessed at times that he could not understand a particular passage or verse,
and refused to wrest it in order to give a convenient explanation.]
word made alive ordinarily signifies the
recovery of life after death. It would seem, therefore, not properly to express
the Saviour's retention of life after death. Accordingly, some have given it the
sense of the Saviours raising again His own dead body by His own divine
power, or by the power of the Holy Ghost.
But the Holy Spirit is not meant, for the
article is not used: and the
opposition between flesh and spirit,
prove that it refers to the flesh and the spirit of the same person, Jesus
That it does not refer to the resurrection of Jesus, seems equally clear; for
thus, again, the parallelism between the two clauses is lost. The spirit is made
the cause of the Saviour's life. But the flesh was not the cause of the
Saviour's death. He was not put to death
by the flesh, and hence we do
not well say - He was made alive by (His) spirit. *
A failure to distinguish mans animating spirit,
(which returns to God at the time of death), from the use of the word spirit
to describe the disembodied state of the
dead, is, I believe, the cause of the difficulty.
They are called spirits after death
because of their disembodied condition; and they are distinguished from angels
who have no flesh and bones. Ed.]
then, it is confessed that this point is not made out, the opposite theory is as
much encumbered with difficulty on this question: and even here we part equal.
Perhaps, too, a sense may be suggested which will give the word its force. The
spirits of the just in general are, it appears, in a state of inactivity (though
not of insensibility) during the intermediate state. But the spirit [disembodied
soul] of Jesus was, perhaps, an exception to
this torpidity, and even after death was so filled with life and energy, as to
preach to the spirits in prison.
short, the theory here resisted opposes the apostles statements on all the
prominent points. It refuses or diverts his assertions with regard to
‑-(1) the time of preaching; (2) the person of the preacher; (3) the
hearers; (4) their external state; (5) their condition previous to the
preaching; (6) the connection with Jesus death; (7) the present, spiritual
condition of the hearers.
it is held, was the preacher; and not Christ, in any other sense than that in
which the Father or the Holy Spirit might be said to have preached. The parties
addressed were not spirits, nor spirits in prison when Christ preached; but men
living in freedom on earth. A fancied omission of the apostles is supplied;
though it is manifest that Peter had in his eye their previous condition; and
contrasted them as once free and disobedient
while on earth in Noahs day, with their present obedience and confinement.
It refuses the manifest implication that the preaching was after Christs
death. If we would trust them, the apostle strangely omits what is true, inserts
what is not. He should have said spirits now, and NOT
THEN in prison. He inserts the words "went" before preached, and formerly
before disobedient, when there was neither
local notion at that time, nor present obedience now. Is not this to school the
Scripture, not to listen to it? Is it not, though with the intention of
maintaining a seemingly endangered truth - to WREST
the Scripture? Does it not spring from that unbelief of the heart that is afraid
to trust all God's words? Sure we may be
that Gods Word does not teach purgatory, as the last hope for life-long
sinners; but I had rather believe in purgatory, than wrest one passage of Holy
Scripture that taught that doctrine.
let us proceed to a second passage, quite as much resisted, because as
mysterious as the present; yet fully in harmony with the explanation given.
1 PETER 4: 3‑6.
the time past of life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles,
when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelling, banqueting
and abominable idolatries. Wherein they think it strange, that ye run not with
them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you; who shall give account to
Him that is ready to judge the living and the dead. For
with this very purpose was the gospel preached even unto persons dead,
that they may be judged indeed as men in flesh, but live in
relation to God in spirit.
again the same difficulty, to escape which the theory offered in the former part
was devised! Here is PREACHING TO THE
DEAD! However, to get rid of doctrine so mysterious and unpalatable, two
suppositions are resorted to.
I. That the parties spoken of are persons not
which we reply ‑ (1.) What, then, is there peculiar in the case? Is not
the gospel always preached to such? Has the message of pardon and regeneration
any meaning as preached to those already forgiven and alive to God? The
preaching here was additional to the ordinary. It is ordinarily directed to the
living: here it was addressed also to the dead. It was exceptive. It is noted as singular. It was
preached even to the dead.
The word means the naturally dead, as appears by the preceding words, Who is ready to judge persons living and dead."
None dispute that in these words the naturally dead are meant. So, then, in
the verse before us.
It is spoken of as a past act; implying that this preaching to the dead no
longer takes place. This would not be true, if the spiritually dead were
II. But there is a second theory, which adopts
the same expedient as in the first case, inserting a note of time, where the
apostle has given none.
most natural and obvious interpretation is, to refer it to those who were then*
dead, to whom the gospel had been preached while
living, and who
had become true Christians.
Author's italics: the others mine.]
therefore says that the design in publishing the gospel to them was that though they might be
judged by men in the usual manner, and put to death, yet that, in respect to
their higher and nobler nature - the spirit -they might live to God.
Against such a view the same principles which were announced in the former
verse, apply. Thus, to insert a note of time, and make it emphatic, is to contradict
the apostles statement, not to receive
it. His words, without the addition, are misleading and untrue.
gospel was preached to those who (are, indeed, now, but WERE NOT THEN) dead."
The case supposed by the apostle is an additional kind of preaching to the
common style of address to the living. It was a mysterious exception. This has
just been noticed.
The time named by Peter is no longer present. It took place once, but it
continues no longer. If it be the ordinary message, it continues still.
This interpretation supposes the preaching to have been sent to believers, who
were martyred for Christ. Some word must have been added to express this, had it
been true. The Scripture speaks of the dead in
Christ, where it would distinguish believers.
Is the design of the gospel now such as is supposed to be delineated here? Does
God cause the gospel to be preached to living
men now that they
may be judged by men in the flesh, and put to death? It is not said that the gospel was preached to believers,
that they might be judged by men. That is hooked in without authority. But even granting that the
gospel is preached to believers only, is this the first design of it, that they
may be condemned and martyred? I say the first, for it is put first of the two
specified intents of the preaching. The author whose interpretation is given,
saw the ruggedness of such an idea, and puts it therefore as a result; but as an
indirect consequence, and not the primary and designed result. Are the martyrs
alone to live to God in spirit? And are they to live to God only when spirits,
and not while in the flesh?
this suffice as proof of the unsoundness of the usual interpretation. We turn to
one more accordant with the apostles words.
us suppose the passage before us to refer to the same persons and the same
mysterious circumstance as that named in the former chapter, and all will flow
View the connection.
Jesus suffered in the flesh for
you, do you expect the same. Live no longer to the lusts of the flesh. The world
indeed wonders at your standing aloof from their riotous indulgence. They see
not that judgment is hastening upon them for it, but they will have to give
account to Jesus, the Judge of the living and the dead.
at the same point of Jesus suffering unto death does the same subject arise
again before the apostle. And suppose now that the persons to whom Jesus
preached after death were spirits, who from actual indulgence in the lusts of
men, were condemned to punishment; and the connection is evident. The idea of
Christs judging men brings to Peters mind the thought that these spirits,
though beings superior to men, will be brought within the range of Jesus
judgment, in consequence of their having heard the message of the gospel.
same Judge is supposed in both cases; Jesus, who is to judge living men, will
judge the dead also; among whom are these spirits.
was the preaching to these dead a purpose of justice only? No. That indeed
was one design of it. As the
direct consequence of it, they will rise, from the dead, and stand as men in
immortal bodies. This accounts for the expression, That
they may be judged . . .
as men in
the flesh. But there
was a further design of mercy
included in that strange address of grace. Ere they take up the flesh in
resurrection, it was the purpose of God, that believing in the message they
should, while disembodied spirits, and even under the just penalties of their
guilt, live to Him; expecting the same era of their deliverance which is
appointed to the saints of mankind. So the good news to them is salvation in resurrection,
after undergoing their trial at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. By
virtue, then, of their relation to men they will be judged in the flesh. In
regard of their present and permanent relation to God they live to Him in
the past tense is accounted for. It was a marvellous proclamation once made by
Christ Jesus when [He was]
a disembodied spirit [or
soul in Hades, (Acts
2: 27, 31a.)]. It was long past when
Peter wrote. It can never occur again. On the usual interpretation, the verb
might have been in the present tense for according to the theory, the apostle is
only stating the ordinary course of the gospel and its results. In short, the
view ordinarily taken violates the apostles assertion in seven points. 1. As
to the parties addressed. It supposes them alive when preached to; whereas the
apostle asserts the preaching he speaks of to have been directed to the dead. 2.
It supposes living believers to be the parties judged, and by men. Peters
words suppose a future judgment by God. 3. The theory violates the tense. Peter
supposes it a past, not a present thing. 4. It misrepresents the time of the
judgment; 5. the person of the Judge; 6. destroys the force of the word
even; and 7. mis‑states the design of the gospel.
short, no theory can expound this passage correctly which does not admit two
preachings. (1.) The ordinary one to
men alive in the flesh. (2.) The extraordinary and exceptive case, which is
here marked with a note of wonder. And the order supposed is, 1. The preaching
to these hearers after their death.
2. Their present life to God. 3. Their future judgment.
us now suppose that the apostle in this place is speaking of the same parties as
in the former mysterious passage, and you will then see a beautiful accordance
in the two. Jesus went and preached in the one case. He who
is to judge the quick and the dead, preached
the gospel in the
other. Who could preach to the dead, but one dead? Who enter the prison and come
out again safely, but Jesus? None but one
of the righteous could enter amidst the lost, and yet come out again. Before the
others a great gulf is fixed. But Jesus suffering for sin, entered the
prison; and having paid the penalty, He came forth thence. So that we are
obliged to connect this with the former assertion concerning Jesus
having preached. There is harmony, too, in the parties addressed. It is spirits
in the one case; persons dead in the other.
We rightly judged, then, that the spirits in prison
meant departed spirits.
we may learn from these last words, that the parties who are to be judged, and
to whom the gospel was preached, were something more than men. For the words may
well be translated ‑ "That they may be judged as men.
Now, to tell us that men shall be judged as
men, were a truism. But to tell us of angels,
that they shall be judged as men by Jesus when He comes to judge the world
of mankind in its two great divisions of living and dead, is news indeed! And as
the saints come with Christ, if these be angels, we have at once a meaning and
an explanation given to that sentence, - Know ye not
that we shall judge angels? 1 Cor. 6: 3.
again, that these latter parties were disobedient once, but are now restored;
like those mentioned in the former case, they are to be judged as men, that
is, as offenders. Therefore they have committed some offence. They had the gospel
preached to them also; and the
gospel is the proclamation of mercy to the
sinful. As it was presented to them, therefore, they have been sinful, and have
heard of God's mercy.
its preaching changed their hearts. They live unto
God in spirit. That is, they have spiritual life; though they are to
be judged, therefore, they will not be condemned.
is there no other passage of Peter that may help to throw further light on this
mystery? Let us turn to 2 Pet. 2: 1-10:-
there were false prophets also among the people even as there shall he false
teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, denying
even the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift
many shall follow their lasciviousness by reason of whom the way of truth shall
through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you:
whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth
if God spared not angels
that sinned, but cast them into Tartarus,*
and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be kept unto judgment;
[* see Critical
spared not the old world, but saved Noah, the eighth person,
a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the
turning the cities of
that righteous man by dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his
righteous soul from day to day with unlawful deeds;)
Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to
reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment under punishment.
chiefly them that walk after the flesh in
the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.
these words we are informed that evil teachers, denying even Jesus and His lordship, will appear. With them will come in lusts
indulged to excess, and covetousness. But though these false teachers deny judgment, and acknowledge not God as a God of
justice, yet they will soon be damned. For if God spared not angels, how
much less will he spare men? If He spared not the old world, destroying the
sinners, and saving only Noah and seven others; and if He overthrew Sodom and
Gomorrha, delivering Lot out of the overthrow; it is plain that God knows how to
bring wrath on the wicked,
and to preserve His saints from judgment. This is the drift of the
passage. Let us now examine it more closely. Here is the same connection between
angels, and the world in Noah's
us, then, try if this passage refers to the same parties as the two others. We
found in the last, that the spirits who were dead, and in prison, were more than
men; and, therefore, probably angels. Here are certain beings described as angels
expressly. And again we have to notice the accuracy of Scripture. Though our
translation gives it as the angels that
sinned, which would imply that the casting into prison and chains was
inflicted alike on all angels that rebelled against God, yet the passage before
us does not assert it. It describes that treatment as affecting, only angels
We found before that those angels had been disobedient.
Here they are described as sinning.
The former offenders were (1.) in
prison (2.) awaiting the time when Christ shall judge. These are in the same condition. They are cast
down to Tartarus delivered to chains
of darkness being reserved unto judgment.
Thus the present position and the
future expectation of these
last are the same. Tartarus is a part of
Hadees, the place of the dead: the same (apparently) as the bottomless pit, for
thither Christ went down: Rom. 10: 7; Psa. 88.
The same parties then are spoken of in both.
III. But the Epistle of Jude is so like the
Second of Peter, that this also will lend us light. It speaks of the same
following is the tenor of the Epistle: Contend for the faith. Wicked men have
come in, taking occasion from Gods present display of mercy and longsuffering
in the gospel to be lascivious, and to deny that God will punish. But remember,
the Lord punished even His own people
whom He delivered out of
I wish to remind you, though ye once knew this, that the Lord having saved a people out of
which kept not their own government,**. but left their peculiar habitation, he hath kept in perpetual chains
under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
Principality, (margin. See
R.V.) The Greek word never signifies first estate.]
the sin of the angels and their punishment come into question principally, as in the former case. But some new
lines are added. (a) Their sin was, that being angels, (not the
angels) they kept not their principality, (or government.*)
The same word that is in Eph. 1: 21,
translated principality, and in 1
Cor. 16: 24, translated rule.]
the angels God has made over certain parts as their dominion: to some a kingdom,
as in Daniel we read of The prince of the
They finally (or altogether) left their own abode.
each class of beings God has assigned a suited abode. To the birds, the air; to
the fish, the sea; to man, the earth; tying them down thereto, and not
permitting them to wander to other worlds; though they behold them.
To angels, then, the heaven
is the proper [usual] sphere. No,
nor the angels of heaven: Matt.
24: 36; 18: 10; 22: 30. But the
earth hath he given to the children of men:
Psa. 15: 16. The angels in question left,
finally and for ever, the heaven which God had assigned them as their abode, to
live like man upon the earth.
these offences they were punished. As they lived like men, they suffered in the
judgments on men. They were by the flood swept off; and dying, they entered on
their punishment. Their present position and future fate are described as
before. 1. They are now kept in constant chains under darkness. 2. They are
reserved to the judgment of the great day.
next verse couples them with
appears, then, that the sin of the angels was like that of
IV. We have twice found the history of these
angels connected with the times of Noah. Let us turn to the passage that speaks
of that time, that we may derive fresh light thence:-
began to multiply on the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of God saw the
daughters of men that they
were fair, and they took them wives of
all which they chose. Gen. 6.
are meant by the sons of God? Let us turn
to Job 38: 4-7. Where
wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? . . .
Whereupon are the foundations fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof?
When the morning-stars sang together and all the sons
of God shouted for joy? Here the angels must be meant, for
they alone existed to rejoice over the foundations of the world. So Job
1: 6; 2: 1. There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and
Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest
thou? Then Satan answered and said, From going to and fro in the earth,
and from walking up and down in it. Satan had, it appears, left
and therefore was in heaven.
We have thus the fullest confirmatory proof. The description in the New
Testament leads us to believe in the fall of angels in Noahs day; and the Old
Testament even by itself shows the same thing.
too, we are presented with their sin. They gave themselves up to unrestrained
license. They took them wives, (not content with one, as allotted to man) of
all that they chose.
The Lord recognizes that another nature besides man has fallen. My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also
is flesh, i.e. a fallen creature: the angels making the second
fallen nature. Thus lust, the vain idea of attaining happiness in a way not appointed
by God, and discontent with the station assigned them, ruined the angels that
then fell. Giants [the
6: 4] were born, as the consequence: men of surpassing height and
strength. Their superior knowledge, and might exercised in rapacity, filled the
world with violence and bloodshed. And then came the flood.
Compare with Numbers 13: 33: And
there we saw the Nephilim, the sons
of Anak, which come of the Nephilim:
and we were in our sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight
I will turn aside for a moment to consider the insufficiency of the ordinary
interpretation given of this passage adopted, as usual, to get quit of a
the sons of God, (say most) are meant the
posterity of holy Seth. By the daughters of men,
the wicked posterity (or daughters, rather) of wicked Cain. Hence it is supposed that the children of
married the ungodly women of Cains family.
But how could the posterity of Seth be all godly, and yet all marry the ungodly
females of Cains family? Were there no daughters of Seths race? Yes. Gen. 5: 7, 10,
13. And Seth lived, after he begat Enos, eight
hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. And Enos lived, after he begat Cainan, eight hundred and fifteen
years, and begat sons and daughters. And so with Cainan and the other patriarchs: Gen.
6: 7, 10, etc. Were not the daughters of Seth and Cainan, and the other
of men? Were there no men of Cain's race? Were these sons of God all holy, yet all
perished in their sins at the flood? How then, shall the saints final
This contradicts the manifest tenor of Scripture. To
Seth, to him also was born a son, and he called his name Enos: then began men
to call upon the name of the Lord: Gen.
are the men here spoken of? The men of
Seths race, or of Cains race? Not of Cains race for that, it is
supposed, was wholly wicked. It must be those of Seths race, then, by the
hypothesis; (though it were better far to take it as spoken of men in general.)
then, to Gen. 6: 1:
began to multiply on the face of the earth,
and daughters were born to them. Who are the men
here, intended? Those in the former passage, you said, were the men of Seth's race. Do you make men in this
to signify the descendants of wicked Cain's race? This marks the inconsistency of such an interpretation. In
both it signifies men in general; and thus the sons of God must convey the idea,
not of a particular class
among men - for all men are included
in the former word but of a
class distinct from men. Men
are never called the sons of God till the
Gospel-dispensation, of which this title is characteristic: 1
John 3: 1. Sons of men is the
parallel expression (Psalm 2: 4; 12: 1; 14: 2; 33:
13) to daughters
of men; and the phrase signifies
the human kind generally, not descendants of an ungodly stock. Daughters
of men, then, means the female sex.
that which especially manifests the falsehood of the interpretation is, that,
while after the flood, the distinction of Seth's race and Cain's race was lost,
and Noahs only peopled the world; we are yet told that the same
conjunction of the sons
of God and daughters
of men took place: Gen.
this would suppose an hereditary holiness in Seths race, which is contrary to
the doctrine of the election of grace. It contradicts, also, the inspired
declaration that all flesh had corrupted its
way on the earth.
The same doctrine of these angels fall will give much light to various
passages of the Proverbs, which warn against the seductions of women.
To deliver thee from the strange woman, even
from the stranger which flattereth with her words. . . .
For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the Giants:*
Prov. 2: 16, 18.
He knoweth not that the Giants*
are there, and that her guests are in the depths of Hadees:**
Prov. 9: 18.
For she hath cast down many wounded; yea, many
strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to Hadees**:
going down to the chambers of death: Prov.
7: 26, 27; 21: 16.
Heb. Rephaim See Revised
Version. ** Heb. Sheol
= Gk. Hades]
It explains Job 26: 5, 6,
which should be The giants*
R.V.] groan beneath the
waters, and the inhabitants thereof. Hadees [or
naked before him, and Destruction hath no covering:
It expounds also that mysterious passage, that the
woman should have power over*
her head, because of the angels.
In memory, that is, of the angels fall through lusting after their
beauty, and in consideration of the presence of angels during our Christian
assemblies, women should be covered: 1 Cor. 11: 10.
The force of the word seems to be, that against any command of her husband,
or of the officers of the church to uncover it, she has a right to remain covered.
It is not power upon;
but power over:
as Mark 6: 7; Luke 9: 1; 19:7; Rom. 9: 21.]
It expounds also what is said of Messiah in the Psalm that describes Him after
death as in darkness, and the lowest deep: Psalm 88:
am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath
R.V.] among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they
are cut off from thy hand.
Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in
wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves.
Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me;
thou hast made me an abomination unto them;
am shut up, and I cannot come forth.
Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: Lord, I
have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? shall the
giants [Heb. the
arise and praise thee?
Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or
thy faithfulness in Destruction [Heb. Abaddon
Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy
righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
perhaps it may be said, - The Saviour could not have been in the bottomless
pit, amidst the spirits in question: for He promised the robber that he should
be with Him that day in Paradise, which, of course, was not a place of
punishment. Very true: but there was time enough for Christ to be in both places that day. He
died at three; therefore there were three
hours ere that day closed, in part of which He might have been in the prison of
the disobedient spirits, in part (at the close) in Paradise. Nay, till
the body of the Saviour was taken down from the cross, He was under the curse: Gal.
3: 13. Need we wonder, therefore, if we find Him in the abyss, or
bottomless pit? (Rom. 10: 7. Greek.)
But in the evening His body was taken down, and restored to the garden
and the sepulchre: correspondently His place [as
a disembodied soul (Acts
2: 27; Psa. 16:10.)] of sojourn was
) Will not this view also cast bright light upon the following passage?
as sit in darkness and the shadow of death, being fast bound in affliction and
iron: because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel
of the Most High: therefore he brought down their strength with sorrow:*
they fell down, and there was none to help them. Then they cried unto the Lord
in their trouble, and he saved them out
of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and brake their bands in sunder: Psa.
See Hebrew text.]
It expounds 1 Tim. 3: 16, how Jesus, being
justified as a disembodied spirit, is seen of angels.
The same view clears up an inconsistency which is held unperecived by most
imagine that Satan and his angels are enchained in hell: and yet that he and
they are abroad on the earth, tempting and destroying men. How can these two
views agree? Can Satan be both in
prison and at large? Are Gods prisons and chains so convenient that, while he
sometimes is in prison, he can slip his chains and leave his cell when he will?
Are Gods dungeons and jailers inferior in their power to mens? Silently
Christians have taken, their view of these things from
in Scripture there is no such inconsistency. It never
describes Satan and his angels as being now in hell.
It tells us, that he is the prince of the power of the air,
the spirit that now worketh in the children
of disobedience:* (Eph.
2: 2) that he and his wicked spirits are [presently]
in heavenly places: Eph.
6: 12. It says, that thither he went up to accuse Job, after leaving the
earth: that there he has been, or will be, accusing the saints day and night
before God: (Rev. 12:) that he is a roaring,
lion, roaming as unfettered as the untamed monarch of the beasts. He is not cast
down from heaven till a short time before
Christ appears: (Rev. 12:) and then notice is
given of the terrible state of earth, because of his anger. It
is not till Jesus appears, and defeats the armies raised by his coadjutors, the
false Christ and the false prophet, that he is cast into the bottomless pit.
When once cast in there, he comes out no more for a thousand years.
In this context, The children of disobedience,
refers to regenerate believers (cf. Eph.1:
18, 19). Not all of Gods
children remain obedient and experience Gods power in their lives.
Many become disobedient, and hence, we read later in the epistle of the
warning and possible loss of the inheritance, (Eph.5:6,
class of angels, whose (1) sin, (2) whose punishment, and whose (3) destiny are
quite different, are the parties whose imprisonment is related.
Satans sin consisted in entering into the body of the serpent, tempting man
to distrust God, hoping to deceive and ruin Eve and Adam, and perhaps to escape
the notice of God. Ever since that day, after God pronounced on him the curse,
he has gone on in his career of malice, endeavouring to thwart the plans of the
Most High for the good of man.
The case of these angels is quite different. Their sin, as we have seen, was,
the leaving the post assigned them of God, and the habitation set apart for
them, the giving way to lust, and taking a part in the violence and corruption
of man at the flood. They did not desire, as far as we can learn, to set man
against God; but only to please themselves. They fell long after Satans fall;
perhaps 2000 years after. And while Jehovah says of Satan that He would put enmity
between him and the woman,
here there was love between them and the daughters of men.
The punishment, moreover, of the two parties is very distinct, both as to its time
and its nature.
The angels to whom Christ preached being found (on earth as men, were, by the
deluge, in spite of their gigantic strength, swept away, and perished. But what
became of them at death? God, we are told,
Cast them down to Tartarus
Delivered them to chains
Till the judgment of the great day.
the flood began their punishment, and, without intermission it will continue,
till Christ and the saints judge them.
and his angels
were not affected by the
flood. Long after, we find him accusing Job. One of his spirits troubles
Saul, and one tempts David to number
punishment only begins
at the last day: which is the
time when the penalty of these closes.
They are enduring affliction now, while Satan is free and unhindered. They
will be freed, when Satan is finally and for ever committed to the burning lake.
For the fire is only prepared for Satan, when the men
who are judged by Christ at the beginning of the millennium, are cast into it.
The punishment of the one class is, as to its
nature, the being set in the criminals position in darkness, inaction,
degradation, confinement - instead of the primacy, light, liberty, and rule,
which once, they enjoyed. They once
dwelt high in heaven. Their place is now the extreme and innermost depths of
earth. But, observe, they are not in fire. That is said of
As to their destiny. They are already restored to holiness, and will be restored
one day to happiness: Satan, to neither.
This same explanation does not uphold the Romish doctrine of Purgatory. The
preaching and the deliverance mentioned were not for men; but for angels. It
could occur but once, for it happened at Christ's death; and He can die no more.
The mercy shown was not for those already condemned to fire, but for those only
who are shut up in darkness and chains.
What light this subject also throws on the subject of human redemption!
Scripture mentions FOUR INCARNATIONS.
That of Satan
in the serpent, to tempt men and
to destroy them. And the evil attempt succeeded fearfully to introduce mischief
and sorrow. But it also brought the curse on the author of it; though his
punishment has not yet, strictly speaking, begun. It needed the incarnation of
Jesus to undo its mournful effects.
The second is that of the angels that fell in
Noahs day; these becoming incarnate to please themselves, thereby displeased
God, introduced or increased violence among men, and pulled down punishment on
their own heads.
The third incarnation is that of Jesus,
which He undertook, not for His own pleasure, but for the glory of God;
persevering in His work, though suffering of every kind lay before Him. Through
this comes, not mischief on men, but redemption of man and beast. Satan was
incarnate in the beast
to ruin man. Jesus became
incarnate in man to save, not man alone, but the beast also. And beautiful it is to see, that so great is the love of God
that since these angels
had put themselves into the place of man,
the mercy which He designed for the sinners of Adams race, is, by an
especial mercy, made to embrace them also. The angels that never were incarnate
in human nature have fallen, and no offer of mercy has been extended to them.
But these, as they have experienced the judgment of
God on mankind, were, by Jesus death, permitted to hear of pardon. He
preached the gospel even to the dead - the good news of forgiveness through His
blood - which news, it appears, they with gladness received; and they will be
finally saved and enlarged at the judgment of the great day. Jesus is to them,
as He is to all others, the turning point for life or death.
may bring to our recollection, as before hinted, the history of Joseph. When he
is thrown into prison, the chief butler and baker of the king of
The word used by Peter also.]
The fourth incarnation is that of Antichrist;
who being now a spirit [disembodied soul]
among the lost in the fire of Hadees, comes up to dwell in the body of a man;
and destroys, on pretence of being the true Christ and the true God the souls of
those given up by God to believe his lie: Rev. 13.,
coming of Jesus stands closely related to the three other incarnations. By the
incarnation of Jesus and His coming again, the fruits of Satans incarnation
are counter‑wrought. The incarnation, death, and second coming of Jesus
are the means of recovery to the ruined angels. And His appearing in glory is
the means of destroying the dominion of Antichrist.
I would give a brief connected view of the, conclusions at which we have
Those to whom Jesus preached were certain angels, who thought they should be
happier if they lived on earth, and came and dwelt as men forsaking the post and
nature given them by God.
By the flood they were swept away, and after death their punishment began. In
the deep interior of the earth, called Tartarus, they suffer the penalty of
imprisonment in darkness and chains.
Their state of impenitence and hopeless suffering continued till Jesus died. At
His death He passed, as a disembodied spirit, [soul]
into the place of the souls of the dead, and entered into the place of their
confinement, to tell them of pardon. This news they gladly welcomed, and now are
pardoned of God, and have life towards God, though their imprisonment still
OF GOD AND GIANTS OR REPHAIM
[For the Spiritual,
Perfect and Full Grown Believers.]
Who, or what are the Rephaim?
The word is, in many passages, and by ancient and modern translators,
By this word we should naturally understand persons of lofty stature: but
that this is the true meaning, has been denied by those commentators who strive
with all their might to quash everything in the Scripture that presents the
appearance of mystery, or of a different state of things from that which the
present course of the world offers to our notice.
Among these must be reckoned Dr. Adam Clarke; who, in his commentary on
the words there were giants in the earth in those
days, assures us that they do not signify persons of surprising
stature; but men of earth-born, fallen nature.
Nor is he singular in this interpretation.
It becomes necessary, therefore, to show that there were individuals and
even nations of amazing height and strength in the early ages of the world.
This is proved by Numbers 13: 32, 33,
The land through which we have gone to search it, is
a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in
are men of a great stature. And
there we saw giants, the sons of Anak,
which came of the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in
This needs no comment; it explains sufficiently the terror of the spies,
and through them, of the Israelites. The
words of Moses confirm herein the spies report; as he assures us that the
Emims dwelt in the
It being, then, proved that there were persons of
extraordinary stature in those days, and not merely individuals, but whole
nations, the question arises, Whence came they?
Why are they not found now?
The answer to this will lead us back to Gen.
6., the first passage in which they are spoken of.
The text we find runs thus: And it came to
pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were
born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were
fair; and they took them wives of all that they chose.
And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that
he also is flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when
the sons of God came
in to the daughters of men, and they
bare children to them, the same became mighty men of old, men of renown.
Who then were these sons of God?
Commentators in general reply, the children of the race of Seth, who were
eminently holy. And who were the daughters
of men? They answer again,
the apostate race of Cain. But who
told them that the race of Cain was apostate,
and the race of Seth holy?
It is mere hypothesis, to get rid of a difficulty!
Have we any ground from Scripture for believing that children of a pious
father must be pious, much more that a whole race should be so? Or
have we any warrant from the sacred oracles for believing that the children of
an ungodly parent must needs be all wicked, much more an entire race?
Let the ungodly firstborn of Adam, and his godly second son make the
first answer! Let the vile sons of
holy Eli be the second! Let Absalom,
the parricidal child of the man after Gods own heart, be the third!
And let Rehoboam, the foolish, and weak, and wicked son of the wisest of
men, be the fourth and concluding instance!
Again, how is it discovered, that the race of Cain and that
of Seth kept themselves entirely distinct? A
hypothetic basis again! And why were
the children of Seth called the sons of God?
Commentators return for answer, that it is the general term for
professors of the true religion: and that it is used in opposition to those who
are men of a fallen and depraved nature. But
was not Seth also of a corrupt and fallen nature?
The Scripture affirms it directly of him.
And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years,
and begat a son
in his own likeness, after his own image; and called his name Seth.
(Gen. 5: 2.)
How, then, is it said to be here used of contradistinction, if both were
sons of God and sons of men were partakers
alike of the fallen and corrupt nature? Was
not Seth a son of man or of Adam, as well as Cain?
But the term sons of God signifies
the professors of a true faith in opposition to those who do not.
This requires proof. Shall we
say that at so early an age, ere yet even the promise to Abraham was granted,
and his seed were taken into covenant with God, that the glorious title of sons
of God was bestowed on the professors of true
religion? This is the last term of
blessedness that the Gospel has bestowed on the Christian.
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath
bestowed upon us, that we should be called the
sons of God!
are words of
It seems to be supposed that the term sons
of God is a frequent occurrence in the Old Testament; whereas it is
found but five or six times: Moses himself being called not a son, but the servant
of God. Even in those passages which
use the title evidently of
But further, how does the assumption, that sons
of God signifies the whole race of Seth, agree with the declaration of
the Most High? He assures us
positively that Noah was the only holy man.
Where, then, is the holy race? Where
the sons of God? It is thus declared
of the generation of which Noah was one, at the commencement of what might
perhaps be called the second generation of the world, as Adam had not long
before died: and the life of man was then far more than a hundred and twenty
years; - that time during which the patience of God waited while the ark was
being built. And if all of Seths
race were once sons of God, and afterwards
sons of men, or apostles (according to the
hypothesis), what becomes of the perseverance of the saints?
This question I ask of the Calvinists who hold this opinion.
Again, how can it be said that the term sons
of God is used in opposition to the phrase daughters
of men, for the sake of contradistinction, when the Lord declares,
that there was positively no difference at all?
The children of Cain, you say, were born an evil nature.
True, so were the sons of Seth. But
the sons of Cain were positively wicked, violent, ungodly, reprobate.
So were all the sons of Seth except Noah alone, as God himself bears
witness. Show us wherein lies the
contradistinction. It is not a
distinction without a difference; an opposition, where both parties are
identical in character!
Again, how self contradictory, as well as gratuitous, the
hypothesis! It represents the race
of Seth as so preeminently holy, as to be worthy to be called sons
of God, and the daughters of the race of Cain to be so eminently
wicked, as justly to be called daughters of men,
because of their extreme opposition of character; and yet that these supremely
holy men, all,
without exception, drew near the vortex of their notoriously ungodly beauty,
were all capable of being charmed by it, and all perished thereby!
Must we suppose, also, that they all married in one month or one year?
If not, would not the unmarried son of God
pause when he saw the fatal effect of their fatal smiles on his once holy
brethren, and not pause alone, but turn away with terror and disgust?
Was it more than two thousand years ere the lesson of natures own
teaching was learned, that evil communications
corrupt good manners? Was
Adam, or Enoch, or any of the godly patriarchs of nine hundred years grown of
wisdom, unable to see the snare, or unable to give advice?
Or if advice was given, did the son of God
reject it, though it come from the lip of a father, and was instilled from early
youth, ere yet his heart was ensnared? Believe
it who can! If he rejected such
reproof, he were brutish instead of being a son
must we suppose that there were no females of the family of Seth?
So far from it, that we read the daughters
of Seth, while it is hypothesis to assert that Cain had any daughters at all,
for it is not mentioned that he had any! The
supposition before us, pushed truly to its fair conclusions, would be, that Seth
and all his race had none but sons, and that Cains family were only
daughters! For we read only of the sons
of God, and only of the daughters of men; and if the one term be coextensive with the race of
Seth, the other must be also coextensive with that of Cain.
Or, granting for probabilitys sake, that Cain and his
posterity had both sons and daughters; then all that is affirmed respecting the
two races on this hypothesis is, that all the men of Seths race were
good, and all the women of Cains race evil.
Whoever will assert, then, that the men
of Cains race were evil,
does it without any shadow of proof on his own assumption.
It is only the females of Cains
race who were so notoriously wicked as to receive a contradistinguishing name.
And he who affirms that the men
of Cains family were also equally wicked, has not even his own assumed
principle to support him!
But in proof of the position that the men of Seths race
were holy, it is not said immediately after the birth of Enos, Seths son,
that then began men to call upon the name of the Lord?
True; but until it can be shown that the word men
this place excludes those of the family of Cain, whom alone, it is supposed, to include a little further on, the
remark is not worth a straw!
Further, is it probable that the whole race were holy in
those days, with but one faint promise to support and cheer them; while in these
times of meridian light, the sons of God
are scattered and few? Shall we
think that the stream of the faithful is wider in its commencement than at its
close? Analogy, again, forbids the
untenable hypothesis. Or shall we
hold the idea, that of the family of Seth were to be saved?
This were contrary to the ordinary tenor of the election
of grace, and would have given contrary to the notion, that Seth was
not born in Adams image, nor his children partakers of the fall; while to be
born of Cains posterity, would be to be evidently given
up to reprobation and despair; and men would have begun to believe that
the good works of their father Seth had won them eternal life.
But be it observed, all this is ex
abundanti. It has been shown
before, on the authority of God, that this race of sons
of God of the family of Seth is a visionary creation of the
commentators brains; for all
flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
To Noah alone, said God, Thee have
I seen righteous before me in this generation (chapter
7: 1), while it was granted to him to save his wife, his sons, and their
wives, because of his righteousness, as unto Paul were granted those who sailed
The question therefore returns, Who were the sons of God?
The answer to this shall be returned, not from hypothesis, but from
induction. The expression occurs in Job
38: 7: Where wast thou when I laid the
foundations of the earth? (verse 4.). When
the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
are altogether excluded by the very necessity of the case, and we can
only understand the happy spirits, or angels
of God. This conclusion is
confirmed by the two passages of the same book:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came
to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them
(chapter 1: 6), words which are repeated in
the first verse of the second chapter. That
angels are meant in these places also, is in the highest degree probable, not to
say certain. The scene is quite
parallel with that of 1 Kings 22: I
saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the hosts of heaven standing by him
on his right hand and on his left. And
there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord. *
[* For the further
remarks on this interesting subject, see Bough on the second advent.]
But the answer of Satan must convince us that the place of
presentation was heaven; for when interrogated by God whence he came, he makes
answer, From going to and fro in the earth,
and from walking up and down in it:
Whence it is alike easy and satisfactory to argue, that Satan had left
the earth, he was now in
heaven, and that therefore the sons of God
are angels, as was concluded before.
These are, I believe, the only passages where the Hebrew
words are used. But there are two
other places in which a term almost the same is made use of.
These are Psalm 29: 1, and Psalm
89: 6. That in Psalm
29: 1, is rendered by our translation, ye
mighty, though there is no reason against translating it, sons
of God. Nor is there any reason
why angels should not be meant here, as in the former places.
For they are commanded to worship Jehovah in
the beauty of holiness, And we know that when Christ is brought in
by the Father a second time into the habitable
world, he saith, Let all the angels of God worship
Christs second coming is the time of his appearing
and kingdom (2 Tim. 4: 1), which
agrees also with the time her specified: The Lord
sitteth king for ever, and the concluding words, the
Lord will bless
his people with peace, with the promise to Abraham, that then, shall
all the nations of the earth be blessed, and the
promise to Moses of rest.
The same inference derives support from
Psa. 89: 6: For who in the heaven can be
compared unto the Lord, who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the
Lord? Where we shall be equally warranted in reading sons
of God, instead of sons of the mighty,
and the sentiment of the former line, Who in the
heaven, answering exactly to the sons of
God, or angels, in the succeeding, establishes the conclusion on the
principle of parallelism. It may be
noticed finally, that the appeal is made respecting the glory of Christ, the seed
of David, unto whom the Father sware, Thy
seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations,
(verses 3, 4.)
The time, therefore, is that of Christs exhaltation, when, having been
made a little lower [or a little while lower] than
the angels, he is now far lifted above them, crowned
with glory and worship, and set over all
the works of his hands. Here
it must be observed, in passing, that the text just quoted from the Hebrews
supplies another argument. The word
Gods is in this place translated angels
by the LXX., and this rendering
becomes unerring by its adoption by
By induction, then, we arrive at the conclusion that the
phrase sons of God, signifies angels.
If we once fearlessly apply this conclusion to the passage before us, how
do all inconsistencies vanish! A chaos of contradictory suppositions is reduced
to clearness and order, and a clue supplied to unravel some of the most
difficult passages of Holy Writ.
Let us make proof if the power of this inference, now
fairly earned. The sons of God, the angels,
saw the daughters of men, that they were fair.
Here is, indeed, a just principle of contradistinction; here is
difference of natures.
Here is spirit opposed to corporeity - a mortal nature to an immortal.
But how could angels become men?
We are not obliged to answer. Let
the objector tell us how the three angels that appeared to Abraham
took on them the likeness of men, and eat of the fare which he set before
them, and he shall be answered, if he have not already answered himself.
But, in truth, it appears to be the property of spirits, and more
particularly of angels, to become visible or invisible - to be able to assume a
body, or to dismiss it again, as they please.
This would seem to be a just inference, from several translations of
Scripture, especially the scenes at the sepulchre of the Lord, where sometimes
no angel was seen, sometimes one, sometimes two; and, in the case of the great
procession of the women, they did not present themselves till the whole company
had searched the tomb, and when they flashed forth suddenly within the tomb, on
their astonished eyes.
The offspring of this union of earthly and heavenly natures
was as striking as the combination was new and forbidden.
Their sons were giants, men of
superior stature, and prodigious strength, that filled the earth with violence
and blood; probably not content with the green herb - mans original and
allotted food, but slaying the animal creation to satiate their appetite.
On this point, also, an insuperable difficulty arises against the theory
that the sons of God were the race of Seth.
Has the union of the godly and ungodly any power to produce giants,
allowing that the race of Seth were as holy, and the race of Cain as wicked, as
the objector pleases? Does it so
happen now, in cases where the marriage of a pious man with an ungodly woman
But this was not all. The
memory of these mighty beings, lofty in stature, daring and bloody of purpose,
and possessed of knowledge beyond that of man, left such awe upon the minds of
men, that succeeding generations handed down the story of their deeds, and
worshipped them as gods. The same became mighty men,
which were of old, men of renown.
Whence came the heroes of the heathen mythology, Persius,
Hercules, Esculapius, and others? From
the traditions of the giant progeny of angels and men, as the Scripture itself
Another argument arises from the expression, My
Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also
is flesh; from this word also if
follows that some other nature beside that of man was become flesh; but on the
usual theory, this word is useless and insignificant.
Or if we give to flesh the
signification of a corrupt nature, which it afterwards attained, the sentiment
will probably be, As my Spirit has ceased to strive with these rebel angels,
so shall it also be with man, for he
too is become corrupt.
Their posterity, we are next informed, became great and
mighty nations, and settled in that which was afterwards the
There was also, it is probable, another locality in which a
small colony of them settled near
what does the Scripture say of the crime? Their
sin, in connection with its punishment, is twice specially appealed to by
deliver thee from the
strange woman, even from the stranger that flattereth with her words,
which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.
For her house inclineth unto death, and
her paths unto [not the
dead, but] the Rephaim, or giants,
(Prov. 2: 18.)
Here king Solomon dissuades from fornication, the sin of
angels, - by a consideration that it brings the transgressor near to death,
or the place of the wicked dead (I have the keys of
hell and of death, Rev.1:
18) and to the assembly of the giants; whence it is implied that their
place of abode is death.
But of this more hereafter.
Similar is his charge in Prov.
9: 18. After describing in
the preceding verses, the wanton female and her alluring arts, he adds, But
he knoweth not that the giants (Rephaim)
are there, and that her guests are in the depths of hell (or Hades).
Here a yet plainer appeal is made, and mankind are warned
by the effects of forbidden charms upon the minds of even the angelic sons
of God, and the punishment they suffer, to abstain from their sin.
Again, in chap. 21: 16,
The man that wandereth out of the way of
understanding, shall remain in the congregation of the giants (Rephaim).
In these words a threat is held out, that such folly as that exhibited by
the sons of God, in becoming partakers of
the lot of the miserable and fallen sons of men, shall meet with a like end. *
Prov. 21: 16.]
In chap. 7: 26, 27, the
allusion to the giants is evident, though they are not called by the name of
Rephaim, but characterized by their great strength.
Having described the arts used by an abandoned woman to ensnare youth, he
concludes the whole as follows: Let not thine heart
decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.
For she hath cast down many wounded, yea, many strong ones have been slain by her.
Her house is in the way to hell (Hades), going down to the chambers of
From what has been said above, it will be seen that this
passage confirms the rest.
But now the New Testament is not silent on this point.
And the angels which attended not to their
government, but left their peculiar habitation (the heaven),
he hath reserved in perpetual chains under darkness unto the judgment of the
great day. Even as Sodom and
Gomorrah, and the cities about them, giving themselves over to fornication, after the same fashion as these, and going after strange flesh, are set forth as an example suffering the
vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 6, 7.)
If any link were wanting to complete the proof, surely it is here!
The crime of the angels is first presented in a new light, and then
strongly confirmed in its former bearing. A
part of their transgression was the deserting their post of government assigned
by the Most High (the words cannot have the sense given by our translators).
For, if we will believe the Scripture, to angels are assigned the
government of various countries, as we read in Dan.
10., which is further attested by Deut. 32: 8,
in the LXX. Translation (who have retained the true reading, which the
Hebrew has corrupted), When the Most High divided to
the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bonds
of the nations according to the number of the angels of God.
So in the Revelation we read of angels commissioned to guide the agencies
of nature; to hold the winds: to have
power over fire: to stand in the sun.
This their government, or principality, as the Vulgate
renders it, they deserted, and with it that place of abode, - the heaven, which
God had assigned them as peculiar to their race; intruding themselves into a
world in which they had no right or property; for the
earth hath he given to the children of men.
But the feature of their crime on which Solomon and Moses insist most, is
next presented ; the giving themselves over to fornication : and going
flesh. For these
offences God has cast them into darkness and chains till the day of judgment.
Because also the crime of
= Hetros = Flesh of a different kind to theirs.]
The testimony of St. Peter, again, is strongly confirmatory
of the chain of evidence. For
if God spared not (no article) angels that
sinned, but cast them down to hell, * [*
Cast them into Tartarus, R.V.] and
delivered them to chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment: And spared
not the old world, but saved Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of
righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning
the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow,
making them an ensample unto those that should after live ungodly; And delivered
just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked; The Lord knoweth how
to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day
of judgment to be punished; But chiefly them that walk in the
lust of uncleanness. (2
Peter 2: 4 - 7, 9, 10.) This
passage again holds us up the united instances of the impurity of the angels and
On this point the argument of an acute writer is presented
to the reader.* Upon the supposition that the
apostle is referring to the fallen angels in general, which is the notion
generally entertained, how does the apostles commentary agree with the fact
on which he is commenting? Let us
suppose that he is speaking of the general fall of the angels in the time of
Satans revolt. To these no pardon
has been offered, no mercy shown. How,
then, is the fact that God spared not angels, when taken
by itself, (as an event which on this theory, occurred hundreds, perhaps
thousands of years before the flood,) a proof that God knows how to save
as well as to destroy? For on this
supposition three instances are given of mingled justice and mercy: in two of
them this is apparent: the destruction of the old world in justice; the saving
of Noah and his family in mercy: the destruction of the cities of the plain in
justice; the sparing
[* The author of Eruvin.
The ideas advocated in this paper were, however, entertained by the
author long before seeing his original and interesting work.]
But what is here answering to this in the fall of the
angels? If it be regarded, as it
must be on this supposition, as a third event, farther separated from the days
of Noah, the point of time, than those of Job, from those of Noah; and differing
in principle from both, as being an exhibition of unmingled justice?
But understand it, as it has been shown that it should be understood, of
the fall of the angels in the time just preceding the flood; wherewith it is
coupled by St. Peter; and this event and the destruction of the world, set off
by the salvation of Noah, from but one blended exhibition of justice and mercy;
the justice of that instance being the more remarkable, as being visited on
sinners of a loftier nature than man, and therefore carrying a weightier lesson
to the human race.
We have now seen the crime; what is their punishment?
This has been already more than glanced at.
St. Peter tells us that God
cast them into Tartarus; Solomon,
that they are in the depths of Hades ; Jude, that they are reserved in
everlasting [ In this context,
age-lasting : the everlasting state is in the lake
of fire.] chains
under darkness. But a
passage of great moment and interest is yet to be adduced from the book of Job,
corroborating this threefold testimony. It
is the more valuable, because now rendered unintelligible, to say the least, by
a false rendering. Our translators have in several places rendered Rephaim
by giants; but in others, by the
dead, without any necessity for the change.
Hence is found the following passage in Job, of which it will be hard
indeed to make any sense; Dead things (Rephaim)
are found under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.
(Job. 26: 5)
A nearer translation is, The giants are
wounded underneath the waters. But
the Vulgates translation is better
giants groan beneath the waters, and they that dwell with them. *
26: 5, Ecce gigantes gemunt sub aquis, et qui habitant cum eis.
Nudus est infernus coram illo, et nullum OPERIMENTUM
They (margin Heb. The
Rephaim) that are deceased tremble
Beneath the waters and the inhabitants thereof.
But how beyond all doubt is this certified to us by the
tenor of Jobs reasoning, and especially by the succeeding verse.
the place of departed souls,] is naked before
(or perdition, Vulg.
LXX., the place of the wicked dead) hath no covering.
With this explanation of the passages from Proverbs and
Job, the author has found, since writing this, that the learned Mede agrees.
On the verse before us he observes, The place
where the old giants mourn and wail under the waters, and their fellow
inhabitants, the rest of the damned with them, even Infernus, and the place of
perdition itself, is naked and open to the eyes of God.
Again, on Prov. 15: 11,
The Jews take the word Abaddon, which we render destruction,
for gehenna; that is, elliptically for Beth Abaddon, the
house of destruction. And
why should not the same word be so taken in (this) place of Job?
Job, reasoning on the majesty of God, teaches us his power,
who cast down the angels to the depths of Tartarus, before whose eye is every
departed spirit in Hades, and who beholdeth those whom he hath condemned to its
bottomless pit or abyss.
All here is consistent; all agreeable to what has been proved before.
By those who dwell with them,
understand the men of
Wilt thou show wonders to the
Or shall the dead [Heb. RephaimR.V.]
arise and praise thee?
Shall thy loving-kindness be declared in the
Or thy faithfulness in destruction [Heb.
Shall thy wonders be known in the dark?
And thy righteousness in the land of
[* Psalm 88: 11 The
Vulg. Translate the word Rephaim here
by medici; a word connexion of which
with the giants, will be illustrated presently.]
Now the word dead
in the second line answers to the Hebrew Rephaim
Supply this in the second line, and the passage assumes fresh
the giants arise and praise thee? intimating strongly that these
fallen angels shall have no part of the praise and joy of the first
And this inference is remarkably and beautifully confirmed
by the fourteenth of Isaiah. There the fallen, ejected Man of Sin is presented to us descending into the place of the
dead. And what saith the prophet?
Hades from beneath is moved to
meet thee at thy coming:
Even they that shook from their thrones all the
kings of the nations.
All they shall speak unto thee and say,
Art thou also captured as we?
Art thou become like unto us?
How powerful is this passage viewed in the light in which
it has been shown that we should receive it!
The spirits in prison are all
excited at the coming of him of whose greatness they have heard so much: and the
angel giants, they who once violently swayed and ruled the nations as did he,
address him in the language of scorn, Art thou no stronger than we?
We thought that nothing could withstand thee!
Art thou captured at Christs coming, as we were swept away of old time
by the flood? By these their
reproaches, and their place of abode at that time, they discover that they have
no part in the first resurrection; for all the saints will have been gathered
from it at the angels trump, which precedes the vengeance of Antichrist,
so that they who are not delivered from
Hades at that sound must remain during the thousand years of bliss in outer
darkness, till the final judgment at the
burning up of the world.
But what, then, is the destiny of these angel
spirits? The Scripture reveals it in
two passages of St. Peters epistle. The
first is as follows, - For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust,
that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in
the spirit. By which (or, in
which,) he went and preached to the spirits in prison, which sometimes were
disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah
while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by
This is, I am aware, ordinarily interpreted of
the Holy Spirits preaching by Noah, to those who were formerly alive before
the flood, but then in prison. But
this seems very like a quibble; when the Scripture says, he
went and preached to the
spirits in prison, the comment denies the text and asserts that he preached to
men on earth. Moreover, what
is the significance of the word went and preached on this hypothesis?
It is merely pleonastic! But
the next chapter utterly overthrows this interpretation, which is adopted on the
popular plan of thrusting out all mystery from Holy Writ.
Who, the apostle proceeds in the next chapter,
give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
For for this cause was the Gospel preached
also to them that are dead (even to the dead,),
that they might be judged according
to men (as
men,) in the flesh, but live according
to God in the spirit.
Now how does this agree with the preceding comment?
Observe the wresting and wrestling of commentators on this place.
This is a most difficult verse,
says one; and in truth it is felt to be destructive of their theory.
For the interpretation that the dead
here spoken of are the dead in trespasses and
sins, gives no sense at all suited to the
context. It is, moreover, clear that
the word dead
is to be taken in its usual and literal sense from the preceding words, which
assure us that Christ is ready to judge both the quick and dead, where, I
presume, no proof is needed that the dead means the literally dead.
Therefore the same word has the same signification in the next sentence.
But yielding this a moment for arguments sake, let us regard the
general bearing of the verse, The Gospel was preached even to the dead,
for this notes something special in this instance; but on the foregoing
hypothesis, what is here special in the fact that the Gospel was preached to the
spiritually dead? It always has
been, and always will be so: it is the very means of Gods appointment to
quicken them. But, moreover, the
verb speaks of the past, was preached,
and notes it as something remarkable, but the theory before us states a fact
which is as true now as ever it was in any past age of the world.
The Gospel is now
preached to the spiritually dead, as much as it was in the days of Noah! What,
again, is the meaning of the dead being judged
according to men, or more clearly, (for it
means the same thing,) as men?
No answer is given. Of course
men shall be judged as
men, but will the spiritually dead
of Noahs day live according to God in the
Spirit, because the Gospel was preached to
them? I suppose the commentators will not assert it.
What, then, is its meaning? Is
it not directly opposed to the hypothesis? The
Gospel was preached to the spiritually dead; - Be it so!
And they continued dead in spirit till their death, for the flood swept
them all away, and they knew not its hour; beside which, we have Gods
testimony that Noah alone was righteous; and yet we are taught, that though
these men shall be judged as men (that is, if men
have the signification of wickedness and corruption which was demanded for it
before, - as wicked men), yet they shall live
according to God in the Spirit!
Who can believe this?
The popular hypothesis being, therefore,
fundamentally unsound, let us see if these two passages will not agree admirably
with all that has been deduced from the places quoted above. The first quotation
from St. Peter, represents the Lord as suffering unto the death of the body, being put to death in the flesh, But what became of his spirit [i.e.,
his disembodied soul]
while his body was dead? He now
being alive in soul, though dead
in body, as a disembodied spirit,
[soul] went and
preached to the spirits in
Here the same sense is given in both
places to the word spirit;
and it passes naturally from the death of
Christ to the consideration of what He did after death, instead of starting off
at a tangent to speak of the days of Noah! What
had the days of Noah, more than any other days, to do with Christs death in
the body? Again, the word went
has here its full signification; it answers to the journey of the Lord [as
a disembodied soul]
into Hades, He
descended into hell. (Apostles
Creed and Art.) The author has since
been delighted to find, that his criticism on this passage agrees with that of Bishop
Horsley, If the word flesh
denote, as it most evidently does, the part in which death took effect on him,
must denote the part in which life was preserved in him,
i.e., his own soul; and the
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 apostles words would
be, Being put to death in the flesh, but quick
[alive] in the spirit,
i.e., 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 safe custody, *
there, he preached to the spirits
Who were they? The answer
naturally derivable from the passages foregoing is, that they were the
giant angels. For these were
they who were disobedient in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing.
They were also in prison,
as we have seen; in prison under chains of darkness until the judgment.
Thus was the Gospel preached to the dead: but what shall be
the result of Christs preaching? That
- from] these angels,
though they shall be judged AS
MEN, because they [the angels]
intruded themselves unbidden into the human habitation, and human flesh, shall
yet live unto God in the spirit.
There is here contradictory assertion, no smothering of any part of the
apostles declaration; all flows smoothly in the interpretation.
It fills up, moreover, what was before a blank in Revelation.
Christ was in Hades a part of three days; what did he whilst there?
No answer is made in this natural question, except on this
interpretation, or rather this
statement of the apostle literally understood.
God the Father granted to His Son, in his lowest depth of humiliation, to
save souls [i.e., the Nephilim];
even as while on the cross he redeemed the repentant thief, and a
great work was yet to be done by him even [after
death as a disembodied soul]
This interpretation was also, it appears, that adopted by the English
diviners in general at the period of the Reformation, for, in
the Articles of the year 1552, appended to the Article On the descent of
Christ into hell, as it now stands, was subjoined another sentence, as
follows, - As Christ died for us, and was
buried, so is it also to be believed, that he went down into hell.
For the body lay in the sepulchre until the resurrection;
but his ghost departing from him was with the ghosts that were in prison or
hell, as the place of St. Peter doth testify.
But does this authorize the Roman
Catholic doctrine of purgatory? That the venial offences of mankind are
purified and purged away by suffering in the fire of Hades.
But no such doctrine is taught
here. We speak not of men, but
of angels [spirits];
not of venial, but of mortal offences; not of fire purging away sins, but of
faith in the Gospel preached by Christs own blessed lips; and the efficacy
attending that preaching to the souls**
of them that heard, availing at the last to the salvation of the disobedient
angels of the days of Noah. Is not
this enough to establish a satisfactory difference? Or rather, complete
dissimilarity? Be it observed,
further, that Scripture teaches of wicked spirits in general, who fell long ere
the days of Noah, (as is plain from the temptation by Satan in the garden,) that
not the bottomless pit, but the air, is their habitation, until that day wherein
Christ shall cast the wicked into
everlasting fire prepared for [of course, therefore, not tenanted yet by]
the devil and his angels.
To that they know that they are destined, and into that they might have
been cast at the word of Christ, before the great day, as we know from their
beseeching Christ that he would not command
them to go out into the deep or bottomless
pit, (Greek) That the sea is not meant, is
clear from the fact that they, in the bodies of the swine, rushed at once into
the ocean. (Luke
[* If no distinction is made between the spirits
in prison from the souls of men in prison or safe custody; then the doctrine of
purgatory is affirmed: as is the case presented here.
It was not to the souls of men in
prison Christ preached; it was to the spirits (i.e. angelic
beings offspring the
in prison to whom He preached.
** Spirits in Tartarus -
i.e., a place within Hades reserved for spirits - not disembodied souls.
The interpretation now given would also help us
to an explanation of another passage, which has proved in the highest degree
perplexing to commentators, 1 Cor. 11: 10, where St. Paul, treating of the attire of the
Christian female in their assemblies, commands that she should be covered, For
this cause ought the woman to have power over her head, because of the angels.
In which expression two things seem to be implied; one, that angels are present
in the assemblies of Christians, though invisible by man; and, secondly, that
even they are not inaccessible to the attractions which in the early ages of the
world prevailed on some of their number to leave heaven for earth, and become
partakers with our race of sinners.
This will also receive countenance from an
apparently powerful objection which might be made against this belief.
You say that the giants were all swept away by the flood: and we know
that only the sons of Noah, who were none of them giants, escaped in the ark
with their father: whence, then, came the nation of the Rephaim in Abrahams day, of whom
some remained, even till the time of David?
To this the text in Genesis affords an answer clear and pertinent.
Not only in the days before the deluge, did angels thus transgress, but
also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the
daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men of
old, men of renown,
(Gen. 6: 4.)
Having thus traced the history and destiny of
those giant angels, let a few testimonies be given from human authors that the
interpretation now given was that of the ancient Jewish and Christian Church.
Thus, in the Apocrypha, Wisdom xiv. 6, For
in the old time also, when the proud giants perished, the hope of the world, governed
by thy hand, escaped in a weak vessel. (The
ark.) Again, Ecclus. xvi. 7, 8, He was not pacified toward the old giants, who
fell away in the strength of their foolishness.
Neither spared he the place where
Nor must the
LXX translation be forgotten: for they rendered the Hebrew by the words, the
angels of God,
which appears to have been the old rendering; and which words they also use in
the two first instances that occur in the book of Job; while in the third, they
So the Targum of Jonathan
supposes the sons of God to be apostate angels, and calls them
Schanchazai and Uziel, who fell from heaven.
But more particular still is the
book of Enoch, from which some have supposed that St. Jude quoted: though
this is not at all necessary, and may we not add, not at all likely?
That it contains nearly the same words as those of the apostle, is no
proof; because the composer of such a work would of course adopt them as his
ground-work: while an apostle would receive them by inspiration of Him to whom
the past and the future is equally certain, and equally present with the hours
of to-day. But thus stand the
passages in the book of Enoch, chapters
vii. and ix. It
happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were
born to them elegant and beautiful. And
when the angels, the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured
of them, saying to each other: Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the
progeny of men, and let us beget children. Then
their leader Samyaza said unto them, I fear that you may perhaps be indisposed
to the performance of this enterprise: and that I alone shall suffer for so
grievous a crime. But they answered
him, and said, We all swear, and bind ourselves by mutual execrations, that we
will not change our intentions, but execute our projected undertaking.
Then they swore all together, and all bound themselves by mutual
execrations. Their whole number was
two hundred, who descended upon Ardis, which is the top of
Again, the good angels in the ninth chapter
hath also taught sorcery, to whom thou hast given authority over those that are
associated with him. They have gone
together to the daughters of men, lain with them, become polluted; and have
discovered crimes to them. The women
likewise have brought forth giants. Thus
has the whole earth been filled with blood and iniquity.
And now, behold the souls of those who are dead cry out, and complain even to the
gate of heaven!
These two extracts from a complete commentary
on the text of Genesis 6.
But also take an extract from another
apocryphal production, The
Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs.
After a warning against lasciviousness, the Patriarch proceeds as
follows, using the example of the angels, For
thus they (women)
seduced the Watchers before the deluge, and they continually gazing at them,
mutually fell in love with each other, and conceived the deed in their mind, and
changed themselves into the form of men.
(Grabe. Spicileg. Vol. I. p. 150.)
These testimonies are adduced to show what was
the general opinion entertained in those times upon the passage in question by
members of the Jewish and early Christian Church; for the two books last quoted
were probably compositions of the first or second century.
Procopius, in his commentary on the Octateuch, remarks,
think that Moses signifies in this place (Gen. 6: 2)
the revolting powers of apostate angels: and in another place that
Greeks call giants and Titans, those whom the
Hebrews call Rephaim.
(Lib. I. Reg. C.v. ) Moses
Chorenensis speaks of the Rephaim as the same as the Titans; and observes
that Holy Writ treats of them. (Lib. I., ch. 5., p. 17.)
Cedrenus borrows his account
of the giants from the book of Enoch; and as Gryant
relates, assures us, that there were in
That the sons of God were angels, was a belief held by Justin
Martyr and Tertullian, who both allude to it in their respective Apologies; by Athenagoras,
Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clemens Alexandrinus, Cyprian, Methodius, Lactantius,
Eusebius, Ambrose, and Sulpitius
Severus, as the author of Eruin affirms.
Irenaeus remarks, that angels fell to the earth amongst men, but
that Enoch was translated to heaven amongst the angels.
Clemens Alezandrinus, Strom. iii.,
says, Certain angels, becoming incontinent, seized
with desire, fell from heaven to earth. Tertullian,
de cult. Fem., *
Simply he writes, in his tract De Idol., tom. ii. c. 9; De hab. Mul., c. 2, n.
17 ; De velam. Virg., c. 7, n. 52 ; Adv. Marc., c. 18.
So Cyp. De disc. Et hab. Fem., n. 57 ; Euseb., lib. V. Praep. Evang.
The old Italic read angeli Dei, with the fathers in Gen. vi.]
For those who first devised
these things (ornaments) were believed to be condemned to mortal
punishment; I mean, those angels who gazed on the daughters of men from heaven,
that this ignominy also might be attached to womankind.
For when they had brought to light before an age much more ignorant (than
this), certain materials more fittingly concealed, and several arts which they
unrighteously revealed (for they divulged the manner of working metals, and
taught the natures of herbs, and made known the powers of incantations, and
published every secret, even to the interpretation of the stars,) that which is
Such was also the opinion of Ambrose.
The composer of Divine Scripture does not desire
that those giants should seem to be the sons of the earth, as the poets feign,
but asserts that they
were the offspring of angels
and women; whom he calls by this name (giants) wishing to denote the
great magnitude of their persons. And
Scripture generally calls angels the sons of God.
Because their souls
are not begotten by man.
The names given to
this race of giants in the Scripture are three,
- Rephaim, Nephilim,
Rephaim signifies healers;
hence it is twice so translated in the LXX.,
and once by the Vulgate.
The probable origin of this name is from the fact or the opinion that
they introduced the art of medicine to man.
This idea is in perfect correspondence with the sentiments of the book of
Enoch, quoted above. And perhaps it
may be allowable further to illustrate the matter by a quotation which Aeschylus
puts into the mouth of Prometheus, himself a giant or Titan (thus translated in
the Family Library, p. 219) :-
my whole story, thou wilt wonder more.
useful arts, what science I invented.
This first and greatest: when the fell disease
Preyed on the human frame, relief was none,
Nor healing drug, nor cool refreshing draught,
Nor pain-assnaging urgent; but they pined
Without redress, and wasted, till I taught
To mix the balmy medicine, full of power
To chase each pale disease, and soften pain.
taught the various modes of prophecy;
truth the dream protends, the omen what,
nice distinction, what the casual sight
meets us on our way; the flight of birds,
to the right, when to the left they take
airy course, their various ways of life,
feuds, their fondnesses, their social flocks.
taught the haruspex to inspect the entrails,
smootheness and their colour to the gods
the gall, the liver streaked with veins
limbs involved in fat, and the lung chine
on the blazing altar; from the smoke
mounting flame to mark the unerring omen.
arts I taught. And all the secret
buried in the bowels of the earth,
iron, silver, gold, - their use to man,
the high tongue make what high vaunts it may,
my inventions all.
also called Nephilim, which means revolters, the
fallen. The word
occurs in a similar sense if deserting one party for another in 1
Chron. 12: 19, 20; 2 Chron. 15: 9.
term is Gebborim, or the mighty, and alludes to their strength, as of a
degree vastly superior to mans. This
term is used of angels, Joel 3: 11-14: Thither cause thy mighty ones (Gebborim) to come down, O Lord.
Let the heathen be weakened, and come up to the
Thus the word Gebborim, relating principally to creatures
possessed of power far superior to human might, is capable of being applied
either to good or evil beings. Hence
Nimrod is called Gebor, or giant, and by the same title is Antichrist addressed
52. And Hab.
The same term is applied to the host of Antichrist, whence it appears
probable that this is the host of evil spirits mentioned in a former part of the
present work. (Jeremiah 5: 15-17; Joel 2: 7; Nah. 2:
Lastly, it should be observed that the general
view here taken is corroborated by Gentile records, and the traditions of
profane writers. As the story of
Deucalion, with other traditions, present manifest traces of the reality of the
Scripture history of the deluge, so the poetic fables and early historic
traditions of the war of the giants or Titans against Saturn, the fables of the
Cyclops, of Hercules, and other mystic heroes, manifest the truth of the
Scripture declarations respecting the fall of the angels, their strength, their
violence, their pride, their destruction.
Their celestial origin was noticed in the
tradition that represented them as sons of Ouranus.
Their vastness, and their war against heaven, are celebrated by Homer,
Hesiod, Ovid, Plato, Lucan, Seneca, and others.
But the notice of their history does not cease
here. Being overcome by the Ruler of
the skies, tradition represented them as cast into the depths of the earth, into
a place of darkness and fire, called Tartarus.
So the Orphic fragments, He
cast them into Tartarus, to the depths of the earth.
And Hesoid, Theog. V. 676, The
Titans dwell beyond dark Chaos.
This very term, Tartarus, St. Peter uses, and
thus authenticates in a general manner the notions entertained of the abode of
these rebel spirits.
The true way of viewing such coincidences is
not to suppose that the sacred writers gave in to the foolish phantasies and
traditions of the heathen; but rather that the heathen borrowed their traditions
from the narrative of Scripture, or the uncertain floating accounts which their
ancestors handed down to them, respecting the great events that occurred during
the time of which it treats. Moreover,
this is what the sacred oracles affirm. Moses
was the first of writers, and all writers that followed amongst the heathen
borrowed from his luminous, divinely-inspired narrative, or from the various
traditions which the fathers of the nations transmitted to their children.