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prophecies, we are privileged to enjoy in their substance and accomplishment
Well therefore does Christ say to us, “ Blessed are your eyes, blessed are your ears”
But if our light be greater than theirs, our obligations to follow it are proportionably increased
And if we neglect to improve it, surely both prophets and angels will appear against us to condemn us]
In searching the scriptures we should attend particu. larly to what is said of Christ
"[Many read the scriptures without ever discovering the fulness and excellency of Christ
But as “they testify of him," so we are most concerned in what relates to him
Let us then fix our eyes diligently on that ark of God
Let us treasure up in our minds whatever is spoken of “his sufferings and glory
And, " mixing faith with what we read," let us seek to be made wise unto salvation ]
CXLVII. CHRIST THE WOMAN'S CONQUERING SEED.
Gen. iii. 15. I will put enmity between thee and the woman,
and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
CHRISTIANITY, though not as old as the creation, is nearly so; since it was introduced immediately upon the fall of man. As the oak with all its branches is contained in the acorn, so was the whole plan of salvation, however copiously unfolded in subsequent revelations, comprehended in the prophecy now before us. Nor had the world for the space of two thousand years any fuller discovery of the way of salvation vouchsafed unto them: all the saints from Adam to Abraham built their hopes upon this one declaration.
In opening it to you we shall 1. Make some remarks on the prophecy
The occasion of it is the first thing that demands our attention
[Man had been placed in Paradise: but Satan, envious of his happiness, sought his destruction: to accomplish this end, he insinuated to Eve that the advantages arising from eating of the forbidden fruit would be exceeding great; and that either
God had not annexed the penalty of death to the tasting of that fruit, or that, at least, he would never execute his threatening. Having thus, unhappily prevailed over her, and, by her means, over her husband also, he brought them under the displeasure of God. But God, instead of executing his threatened vengeance upon them, warned the serpent, that though he had prevailed in this instance over the woman, a seed should arise from her, who should finally prevail over him, and rescue man from the miseries which this sin had brought upon him.)
We cannot fail to notice next the suitableness of the prophecỳ to the occasion
[Our first parents having broken the first covenant had no hope whatever arising from it. Nor could they have derived advantage from any remedial law, even though its terms had been ever so easy: because the Justice of God required satisfaction for the breach of the former covenant, and the truth of God was pledged to inflict the punishment which their transgression had deserved. Moreover they were now become des. titute of either inclination or ability to render unto God any spiritual obedience; so that, whatever law God should give them, they would, if left to themselves, most surely violate it. But in this promise “ God laid help upon One that was mighty," and provided for them a full and free salvation.]
Nor should the seasonableness of this interposition be forgotten
[Had fallen man been left to himself he must have sunk down in utter despair: he could have entertained no more hope than the fallen angels. But this prospect, that was opened to him, revived his hopes, and encouraged him to return to God. Thus was he raised from despondency, and taught to regard his Maker with a mixture of penitential contrition, filial love, and thankful affiance.]
This prophecy being the root, and indeed the summary of all that followed it, we shall II. Trace the accomplishment of it
Christ was the person here spoken of it " the seed of. the woman” .
[He was born, not after the manner of other men, but of a pure virgin: hence he was, in a way of distinction from all others, the seed of the woman. And there was a necessity for his being born in this miraculous manner; because, if he had been in the loins of Adam, he had fallen in Adam, and been subject to the curse and condemnation of the law: but, being formed in the womb of a virgin, by the immediate agency of the Holy Ghost, he partook of our nature without participating our guilt and pollution. Had he come into the world defiled
by sin he could not have taken away our sin, but would have needed a Saviour for himself.]
Between him and Satan God put am irreconcileable enmity
[The very end for which Christ was manifested, was, to destroy the works of the devil; and this purpose he carried on incessantly by expelling him sometimes from the bodies of men, and sometimes from their souls.a Satan, on the other hand, laboured no less to destroy him. For this end he stirred up Herod to massacre the infants: for this end he tempted Jesus to cast himself from the pinnacle of the temple: for this end he moved Peter to dissuade him from prosecuting his work, and Judas to betray him, and the chief priests to crucify him.” And to this hour does he exert himself to the utmost to prevent the establishment of his kingdom in the world.)
But though Christ was sorely wounded in the combat, he has crushed his adversary
[Satan did indeed prevail to bruise the heel of Jesus, making him “sorrowful even unto death," and instigating his agents to crucify him. But Jesus took him in his own net, and, “ by death, destroyed death itself and him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” “On the very cross he spoiled all the principalities and powers of hell, triumphing over them in it;” and, “ in his ascension he led captivity captive.” Thus was “the prince of this world judged, and cast out;" yea, “ his head was bruised,” and his his power for ever broken. Nor has Jesus ever ceased to pursue his victory, rescuing the souls of myriads from the dominion of the wicked one, and “turning them from the power of Satarunto God.” Thus, by the gospel, “ Satan has been made to fall from heaven like lightning." And, at the time appointed, the fatal wound shall be given him, when he shall be divested of the little remnant of his power, and be cast into the bottomless pit, there to be tormented day and night for ever.e]
To improve each part from the foregoing subject, we may observe
1. From the prophecy; How free and sovereign is the grace of God!
[Our first parents had committed the most aggravated sin that can be conceived. They were made perfect; they enjoyed all that they could desire, and above all, the sweetest and most familiar intercourse with their Maker; yet did they yield to the first temptation, notwithstanding their own happiness,
a Luke xi. 20. b Matt. xvi. 23. Luke xxii. 53. Rev. xx. 2, 3. 10. with that of all their posterity, was bound up in their obedience. And when they had sinned, instead of going to their God, and imploring mercy, they fled from him, and when called to account for their conduct, excused themselves, and even cast the blame of their transgression upon God; “ The woman whom thou gavest me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." Yet did God, unsolicited, and of his own sovereign will, promise them a Saviour. Will he then refuse pardon through that Saviour unto those who come unto him, and humble themselves before him? Let this then embolden us in our addresses to him, and drive away every desponding fear.]
2. From the accomplishment; How complete and glorious is the salvation of Christ!
[Christ has entered the list against our great adversary, and has utterly subdued him. And now he invites us to come and put our feet upon his neck. It is true, Satan will yet contend with us; and perhaps in an unguarded moment may wound our heel: but, if we resist him manfully, he can never hurt us; yea, he will fee from us, intimidated and dismayed. We fight with a vanquished enemy; and He, who triumphed over him on the cross, will“ bruise him under our feet shortly." Let us only fight in his strength, and clothed with the armour which he has prepared for us, and we have no need to fear; for “his glorious throne is our sanctuary,”d and as surely as he has overcome, and is set down upon his throne, we, in due season, shall participate both his victory and his triumphs.]
a Jer. xvii. 12.
CXLVIII. ABRAHAM'S PROMISED SEED.
Gen. xxii. 18. In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be
THERE is nothing in man which can merit the divine favour: the promises of God to us art altogether free, resulting wholly from his sovereign grace: get does God frequently manifest his love towards us in consequence of something done by us. Abraham, it should seem, was an idolater, when God first made himself known to him in his native land: and then did the Almighty promise, that in him should all the families of the earth be blessed. But, in the passage before us, Abraham is recorded to have performed the most extraordinary act of obedience that ever was known from the foundation of the world:
and God takes occasion from that to renew his promise, and, for his more abundant consolation, to confirm it with an oath. To ascertain the full import of this glorious prophecy, it will le proper to enquire I. Who is the seed here spoken of
It is not to all the natural descendants, or to that part of them that composed the Jewish nation, or even to the spiritual seed of Abrahain, that these words refer: they speak of one particular individual, the Lord Jesus Christ. 1. To him all the types direct our attention
[The temple with all its utensils, the priests with all their habits and services, the sacrifices and oblations of every kind, all shadowed forth his work and offices. The principal events in the Jewish history, together with the great persons engaged in them, their lawgiver, their commanders, judges, kings, and prophets, prefigured him in different points of view, and, as so many lines, meet in him as their common centre. On this account we have reason to think that the prophecy before us re- . lates to him.]
2. In him all the prophecies receive their accomplishment
[However some of the prophecies might be partially fulfilled in Solomon or others, it is certain that all of them together were never accomplished in any one but Jesus. They were intended to designate him, that, when he should arrive, there might be no doubt of his being the very person foreordained of God to be the Saviour of the world. The minute description of the promised Messiah, together with the marvellous combination of circumstances that marked Jesus as the person foretold, lead us further to believe that the text had particular respect to him.]
3. To him exclusively the text is applied by God himself .
(St. Paul tells us that the blessing of Abraham was to come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ;ā and that the words of the text related, not to others, but to Christ alone."] ,
This point being ascertained, let us enquire II. In what respect all nations are blessed in him
The full accomplishment of the text will not take place till that glorious period when the knowledge of the Lord