THE SPIRITS IN PRISON.

AMELIA Co., Virginia.

BROTHER BEEBE: - In the 15th No. of the current Volume I find a a request from a brother and your reply, with which I am well pleased. If it will not be too much trouble, please give us through the “Signs of the Times,” your views on 1 Peter. iii. 19. “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” With my thanks for your visit and preaching among us,

I remain your unworthy brother,
JOSIAH E. PLEASANTS

REPLY: IN the preceding verse, the apostle declares that Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us fo God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit; by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, &c. We understand the prison’s or spirits in prison, in this case to have reference to all those whom the apostle has denominated unjust; for whose sins. Christ hath suffered in the flesh, and for whose justification he has also been quickened by the Spirit, which must include all the redeemed of the Lord: this is evident, from the use he makes of the personal pronoun, in verse 18, “that he might bring us unto God.” In coming to redeem them, Christ found his people in a state of captivity to sin and death; thither consigned by a holy and inflexible law, unable to deliver themselves; for the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. The work of Christ was to put away sins, and to deliver them from death; therefore in the weakness of his flesh, (in which he bore our sins) he died; but in the might of the spirit he arose from the dead, having expiated our guilt, and made an end of sin; was justified in the spirit, 1 Tim. iii. 10., or quickened by the spirit, as in the above; by which he also went and preached unto the spirits in prison, according to Isaiah lxi. 1 - 3. “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lori hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengence of our God; to comfort all that mourn.” See also Zech. ix. 11, 12. “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee.” Thus we find him who bare our Sins by the same spirit, which brought him again from the dead, opening the prison, and bringing the prisoners out of their prison houses, proclaiming the glorious jubilee to his captives, and bringing his redeemed into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Thy dead men sh?ill live, he says, together with my dead body shall they arise, &c. He preaches unto them. The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.

The apostle’s allusion to the days of Noah, the salvation of a few souls in the Ark, as also to the like figure which we have in christian baptism, is all calculated to illustrate this subject, both are figures, and like figures too: both given to set forth that salvation of God’s chosen people which delivers them from prison and from wrath. In the former, Noah, a type of Christ, as the head of his family leads them into the Ark, the prepared Ark, amid God shut them in secure from all danger, until the storm of divine wrath shall consume his enemies; the latter is set forth the death,burial, and resurrection of our divine Lord. Our baptism cannot save us, it is only a figure of salvation by Christ, we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also. should walk in newness of life; for if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be in the likeness of his resurrection. Rom. vi. 4, 5; Col. ii. 12.

ALEXANDRIA, D. C.,
September 13, 1839.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 527 – 528