תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

are

vocable sentence, condemns, without farther enquiry, the devil, when he was taken in the very fact, which hecould neither. deny nor transfer to another : so those blessings or privileges, which are made over to the elect in this condemnation of the devil are made over to them, by the last and immutable will of God, which does not depend on any uncertain condition.

VII. Now let us take a more distinct view of the things, contained in this sentence. And they are the following: 1. The blessings: or benefits promised to man. II. The author of those good things. III. Their meritorious cause. IV. The manner of acquisition. V. The heirs. VI. The mean of acquisition. VIII. The evils which God pronounces against the serpent, fo

many BENEFITS, or blessings to man: and they are four. The first is the “ curse of the serpent; because thou haft done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field.” All beasts are subject to destruction : “ natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed,” 2 Pet. ii. 12. And it is for man's sin, that beasts, as the property of man, are made more miferable : for they cannot be excluded from being a part of this world, which is not willingly subject to vanity, Rom. viii. 20. and among them there are those, called evil beasts. But the curse threatened against the serpent, is such as renders him inferior to, viler and more miferable than all beasts : importing, ift, An invincible folly and malice; so that he can be neither wise nor good: worse than a “ horse or mule, which have no understanding," Pl. xxxiii. 9. 2dly, The very worst degree of vileness, whereby he, who impiously attempted to be equal to God, and seemed to have acquired a dominion over man, the noblest of God's creatures, is depressed below the beasts of burden. 3dly, A state of never ending mifery: The beasts die and perish, and never come into judgment. But the serpent accurfed above the beasts, cannot escape judgment; “ everlasting lire is prepared for the devil and his angels," Matt. xxi. 41. It could not but be acceptable to man, to hear that sentence pronounced, by which that enemy, who had made him obnoxious, is himself doomed to be accursed.

IX. The second benefit is the destruction of his power; exprefied by three several phrases. The first,“ upon thy belly fhalt thou gor" that is, thou shalt be constrained to creep on the ground, nor suffered any longer to fly at man, twist thyself round him, and kill him with thy envenomed embraces. Pareus says judiciouly; He himself also is forced to creep on his brealt; be

caute

cause being once thrown headlong down from heaven, he is now condemned to creep for ever on the ground amidst earthly filth, nor able any more to raise his head to heaven.” Thus Rev. xii. 9. “ the judgment of the old ferpent, the devil, by which he is now bound fast, is called his casting out into the earth; where, in a hostile manner, he perfecutes, but cannat overpower the woman.”

X. The other expression duft shalt thou eat, doubtless denotes a state of the greatest degradation. ' For, the scripture phrase, to lick the dust, is applied to conquered enemies, who lie prostrate at the conqueror's feet; Psal. lxxii. 6. « his enemies shall lick the duft;" Micah vii. 17. “ they shall lick the dust like a serpent;" Isa. xlix. 23. “ they shall bow down to thee with their face towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet.” But there seems a much greater emphasis in these words, when the serpent is commanded to eat dust; as also when it is said, Isa. Ixv. 25. “and dust shall be the serpent's meat,” Which, if I' mistake not, fignifies in general three things. Ift, The restraining the devil's power to earthly minded men, who are glued to the earth, and seek their good and happiness in earthly things. Those alone he shall be able to devour, without having any right over others. And this tends much to the great benefit of the church, For, when the wicked are devoured by the devil, offences are removed out of the way of righteoufness, the church is delivered from their vexations, and Satan's kingdom diminished in this world. 2dly, As to the elect, it signifies the restricting the power of the devil to their bodies, which, on account of sin, is said to be dust, and to return to dust. That body the devil will devour, that is, bring down to death, and keep under the power thereof, till the resurrection : he shall have no power over the souls of the elect. And even that destruction of the dusty body is of benefit to believers : for, at the same time the old man is destroyed, who had hitherto harboured in their members. 3dly, It denotes that wicked pleasure, which the devil takes in drawing the reprobate to fin, and consequently to eternal destruction, and in vexing the godly as much as he can. It was the meat, that is the delight, of the Lord Jesus, “ to do the will of him that sent him," and to turn men to God, John iv. 34. On the contrary, it is the delight of Satan to push on the wicked to evil, and to vex the beloved children of God. Which as it is the greatest wickedness, so also the highest degree of misery.

XI. Least any one should hiss this exposition off the stage, as if it was new and never heard of before, I shall subjoin the comments of Fagius and Pareus. Fagius writes thus, “If we

comments enemy;

now, as we certainly ought, refer these things to that spiritual “ serpent; I mean Satan, whom the Hebrews call 272 vna, (s the old ferpent, who acted in the serpent, a brute animal, as “ in an instrument, they signify, that this our old crafty enemy, « who before walked, as it were in ftate, is now thrown down u and confounded; to eat duft fignifies to consume earthly « minded men, who are enslaved to their affections. Satan is " a spirit, such therefore must be his food; here are sins to u stay his hunger. For, as the ferpent creeps on the earth, “ lives on the earth, broods on the earth; fo the disposition of “ Satan is to entice men to the earth, to hurry them to earthly " things, and draw them afide from those that are heavenly.'' Thus far, Fagius : from whom Pareus does not greatly differ. His words are thefe. « He is also condemned to eat earth, “ that is to feed on the earthly nastiness of vice and wickedness

as the filthy swine feed on excrements. Which that impure “spirit does, when he not only pollutes and delights himfelf “ with the defilements of the world, as swine with wallowing " in the mire; but also plunges the reprobate into the fame, “ and destroys them with himself: this is Satan's sweetest food. “ For, wherewith any one is delighted, that he accounts his “meat and his pleasure, according to that saying, envy is the beft food : again envy feeds on the living, &c. Auguftine « advances no unelegant doctrine; where he fays, the finner " is earth; the finner therefore is given up to the devil for food. " Let us not be earth, if we would not be devoured by the “ serpent:" thus far Pareus. Ambrofe, Lib. 1. de poenitentia, c. 13. quoted by Rivet, Exerc. 35. in Gen. explains dus by the flesh of men, and maintains, that the devil is permitted by God to feed on this flesh, that is, to torment and tear the bodies of believers, but not to have any power over the foul.

XII. The third expression, by which the destruction of the devil is fet forth, is the bruising his head. In the head of the serpent are his poison, craft, strength and life. The head of the serpent therefore signifies the crafty subtilty of the devil, his venomous power, and all that tyrannical dominion, which, by fin, he has acquired over man. The bruising his head is the abolishing of all his power, according to the Apostles explication, Rom. xvi. 20. “ and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” The symbol of this bruising was that extraordinary power granted to the disciples of Chrift, mentioned Luke x. 19. “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the VOL. II.

P

[ocr errors]

enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. And Mark xvi. 18. “ they shall take up serpents;" namely, without being hurt, as appears from the history of Paul, Acts xxviii. 5. Which power of depriving ferpents of their venom, and of bruising their heads without harm, Tertullian as quoted by Grotius on Luke x. 19. testifies was not quite extin&t in his time among Christians. Though the devil imitated this miracle in the temple of Isis in Egypt, as Bochart has remarked from Allian Hierozoic, lib. 1. c. 4. at the close; yet our Lord expressly declares, that the destruction of his kingdom was thereby fignified, when to ferpents and scorpions, he adds, “ all the power of the enemy. Thus the devil was constrained, by his juggling tricks and delusions, to give a prelude of his own deItruction.

XIII. The third benefit, God promises here, is “ the putting enmity between the serpent and the woman and her feed :" these words include man's sanctification. For, when man be. comes an enemy to the devil, then he abhors and avoids all in. tercourse with him, hates and detests his works, endeavours to destroy him and his kingdom in himself and others, and most willingly does, what he knows shall mortify the devil. And though the devil, on that account, wages war against him, because he endeavours after godliness: yet he is so far from fuffering himself to be thereby diverted from that which is good, that, on the contrary he goes on, with the greater alacrity to oppose him. While a man continues unfanctified, he cultivates peace with the devil, and calmly submits to his dominion: enmity and hoftility against the devil can only proceed from an infused principle of holiness. And this is what God promises to man, when he says, “ I will put enmity, &c.;" he not only commands the woman, to have no intimacy or friendship with the devil, or to have any commerce with a sworn enemy; nor, by this sanction, did he again open a door of repentance for

first parents, as Pareus observes on this place; but he also promises, that, by the unsurmountable efficacy of his power, he would perform and bring it about: namely, that he would put that enmity against the devil, which cannot fubfift, where there is not the love of God. Rivet says well, Exerc. 36. in Gen. “ When a state of enmity is foretold, in the same breath so it is also foretold, that men shall return to such foundness of “ mind, as displeased with that grievous yoke of Satan's tyranny, " to seek the shaking it off: and having once happily succeeded, " afterwards to watch by a continual struggle against being entangled therein again.” But fullest of all, Cloppenbergius,

Schol.

our

Schol. Sacrific. p. 75. “ There could have been no enmity be“tween the woman and the devil, without removing, by justi“fication, the enmity with God, which the devil, by his fe“ duction, had brought the woman and her posterity to; and o without conquering and subduing, by fanctification, the do“ minion of sin in the woman. Putting therefore that enmity “ against the devil, he appoints a covenant of peace and friend“ hip, whereby he promises to the woman the grace of justifi- . " cation and fanctification."

XIV. The fourth benefit is the resurrection of the body, which was brought to dust, by his means who hath the power of death: this is more obscurely intimated, when it is said, that “ the serpent shall eat dust all the days of his life;" which we have shewn, sect. V. to be the days preceding the last judgment. From which we concluded, that the time of the devil's power, and of his going about to devour, is limited, and to have a final period. And, when that is elapsed, the bodies of the righteous shall be raised from the dust, and all the effects and remains of the power of the devil, and of sin, by which he acquired his power, be entirely abolished; that he may not detain, under his power, the dust of our bodies, which ought to be temples of God, and of his Holy Spirit, in a state of glorious holiness. Nor was this, indeed, altogether unobserved by Fagius, who thus fpeaks : “ the days of Satan's life are the whole time to the consummation of the world, and the coming of Christ. For, then he and all his servants shall be thrown headlong into everlasting fire,Mat. xxv. 41.

XV. JEHOVAH God, who speaks to the serpent, and declares, that he would put that enmity, of which we have been speaking, takes the honour to himself of being the AUTHOR of all those benefits. Though we are not to deny, that the conferring so great a benefit is to be ascribed to the whole undivided Trinity; yet, in the economy of our salvation, the Father, who is first in order, holds the principal place. And whereas the eternal furetyship of the Son, according to the tenor of the covenant between the Father and the Son, on the supposition of sin, began immediately to exert its efficacy, these words are not improperly referred primarily and immediately, to the Father, who, on account of the suretyship of the Son, appoints his grace to the finner; and who expressly enough distinguishes himself from the Mediator, or the feed of the woman. And indeed, “ God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself," 2 Cor. v. 19. that is, the Father in the Son, the Mediator. XVI. The MERITORIOUS CAUSE of those benefits is the seed

« הקודםהמשך »