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self, he still directed those who sought for acceptance with him, to a new covenant of grace, the benefits of which they were then, by faith, made partakers of, and which was afterwards more fully to be declared. See Jer. xxxi, 31-34; Heb. viii, 12, 13. And this plainly overturns their whole foundation. For, to what purpose should God call them from resting on the Sinai covenant, to look for mercy and grace by another, if that had been able to give them the desired help?
§13. The first intimation that God gave of redeeming grace is contained in the promise subjoined to the curse denounced against our first parents, and their posterity in them, Gen. iii, 15; "The seed of the woman "shall bruise the serpent's head, and the serpent shall "bruise his heel." If there be not a promise of deliverance expressed in these words, whence is it, that the execution of the sentence of death against sin is suspended? Unless we will allow an intervention, satisfactory to the righteousness and truth of God, to be expressed in these words, there would have been a truth in the suggestion of the serpent, that notwithstanding what God had said, they were not to die. The whole evil of sin, and its curse, that mankind then did, or were to suffer, proceeded from the friendship contracted between the woman and the serpent, and her fixing faith in him. God here declares, that he will break that league, and put enmity between them. But being now, both of them, in the same sinful and accursed condition, this could not be without a change of condition in one of them. Satan is not divided against himself; nor is at enmity with them that are left wholly in this estate. A change of condition, therefore, on the part of the woman and her seed, is plainly promised; that is, by a deliverance
from the state of sin and misery wherein they were. Without this, the enmity mentioned could not have ensued.
In pursuit of this enmity, the seed of the woman was to "bruise the head of the serpent." The head is the seat of his power and craft. Without the destruction of the evil and pernicious effects, which by his counsel he had brought about, his head cannot be bruised.
Again, there is an intimation of the manner how this work is to be brought about. God takes it upon himself; "I will put enmity;" it is an issue of his sovereign wisdom and grace. But he will do it in and by the nature of man, the "seed of the woman." And this is the Messiah; or, "God joining with the nature of man," to deliver mankind from sin and eternal misery. By this relief God declared himself to be, "a God of pardon, gracious, and tenderly merciful.” If this be not acknowledged, it must be confessed, that all the world, at least to the flood, if not to the days of Abraham, in which time we have testimonies concerning some, that they walked with God, and pleased him, were left without any certain ground of faith, or hope of acceptance with him. For, without some knowledge of this mercy, and the provision of a way for its exercise, they could have no such persuasion. This, then, we have obtained, that God presently upon the entrance of sin into the world, and the breach of its public peace thereby, promised a reparation of that evil in the whole extent of it, to be wrought by the seed of the woman; that is, the Messiah. Many testimonies of the like import might be collected out of Jewish writings, which may be deemed unneces
sary;* and as to the Divine writings of the New Testament, however explicit, as 2 Cor. xi, 3; 2 Tim. ii, 14; Rom. v, 11-15; Heb. ii, 14, 15; 1 John iii, 8; Rev. xii, 9; and chap. xx, 1-3; we forbear to press them upon the Jews.
§14. Besides, it is most evident from the thing itself; for, who can imagine, that this great alteration, which ensued on the works of God, which caused him to pronounce them accursed, and to inflict so great and sore a punishment on Adam, and all his posterity, should arise from the actings of a brute creature? Where is the glory of this dispensation? How can we attribute it to the wisdom and greatness of God? What is there in it suitable to his righteousness and holiness? What rule of justice will admit, that the accessary should be punished with greater sufferings than the principal? Neither doth this punishment, as to its principal part, the "bruising of the head," befall all serpents; yea, comparatively but a few of them, perhaps not one of a million; whereas all mankind were liable to the
* That Satan accompanied the serpent in tempting Eve, and was principally intended in the curse, the Jews themselves acknowledge: Targum Ben. Uzziel. Maimon. More Nebuch. P. ii, cap. xx. Bereshith Rabba, sect. x. Midrash Vaiikra, cap. xiii, 2. Aben Ezra, Comment. in loc. cites the opinion of their doctors, particularly R. Saadias Haggaon, and R. Samuel Ben Hophni; though he disputes their opinions on the weak pretence, "That Satan goeth not on his belly, nor eateth dust;" which pretence he is obliged to hold on the absurd hypothesis, that the serpent was deprived of voice and understanding, making him before a rational subsistence, though expressly reckoned among the beasts of the field. What will not a desperate cause drive men to? Rather than ascribe the fall of man to diabolical intrigue, and abide by its genuine consequences, they will not scruple to admit, that a rational creature is metamorphosed into a brute for tempting man!
The two Targums agree, that the words contain a remedy for the effect of Satan's temptation, to be wrought by the Messiah. Vid. R. Bechai the elder, Comment. in loc. R. Judah, and the author of Caphtor Vaparach, &c.
penalty denounced against them. Were no more men intended herein than are "bitten on the heel by ser"pents," the matter were otherwise; but death is passed upon all, inasmuch as all have sinned. This, therefore, is openly and plainly the deliverance inquired after; Messiah shall defeat the counsel, and destroy the work of Satan.
Moreover, there is a declaration made, how this victory shall be obtained, and this deliverance wrought; viz. by the "seed of the woman," which is twice repeated in the words, once expressly, (and her seed) and it is included in the pronoun (7) it. And as by seed in the former place the posterity of the woman, some to be born of her race, partakers of human nature, may be intended, as the subject of the enmity mentioned; so, in the latter some single person, some one of her posterity or seed, that should obtain the victory, is expressly denoted. For, as all her seed in common do never go about this work, the greatest part of them continuing in a willing subjection to Satan; so, if all of them should combine to attempt it, they would never be able to accomplish it, as we have proved at large. Some one, therefore, to come of her, with whom God would be present in an especial manner, is here expressly promised; and this is the Messiah.
God having, in infinite wisdom and grace, provided this way of relief, and given this intimation of it, that revelation became the foundation and centre of all the religion in the world. For, as those who received it by faith, and adhered to it, continued in the worship of the true God, expressing their faith in the sacrifices, that he had appointed typically to represent and exemplify, before their eyes, the work itself, which, by the promised seed, was to be accomplished; so also, all that false worship, which the generality of mankind apostatized
into, was laid in a general persuasion, that there was a way for the recovery of the favor of God; but what that was they knew not, and therefore wandered in woful uncertainties.
§15. But we have farther expositions of this first promise, and farther confirmations of this grace, in the scripture itself. For, in process of time, it was renewed to Abraham, and the accomplishment of it confined to his family. For his gratuitous call from superstition and idolatry, with the separation of him and his posterity from all the families of the earth, was subservient only to the fulfilling of the promise before treated of. The first mention of it we have Gen. xii, 1-3; "Now, "the Lord had said to Abraham, get thee out of thy "country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's "house, to a land that I will shew thee. And I will "make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and "make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing. "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them "that curse thee; and in thee shall all the families of the "earth be blessed." And this is again expressed, Gen. xviii, 18, "All the nations of the earth shall be blessed "in him." And chap. xxii, 18; "And in thee shall all "the nations of the earth be blessed." And when he doubted of the accomplishment of this promise, because he was childless, and said, "behold to me thou hast "given no seed," as knowing that therein lay the promise, chap. xv, 3, God tells him, that he who should come "forth of his own bowels should be his heir," ver. 4, which was afterwards restrained to Isaac, chap. xvii, 21. Thus he is called and separated from his own family and kindred, and from all other nations, and a peculiar portion of the earth assigned him and his for their habitation. Now, the special end of this Divine dispensation was, to be a means of accomplish