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15. JAMES RENWICK,
No part of the divine record has been more manifestly verified than the words of God to the serpent, in relation to the promised seed of the woman, “ I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed.” This enmity appeared in the first family of mankind; for Cain, who was of the wicked one, or seed of the serpent, slew his brother; and wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil and his brother's righteous. Abel was interested in the promised seed of the woman, by faith in whom he became righteous; and by the same faith he offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts. It was the divine acceptance of Abel's sacrifice, signified by some visible token, probably the fire from heaven consuming it, while no sign indicated the acceptance of Cain's offering, that called into operation the enmity of the latter against the former. It was not merely because Abel was a better character, or led a holier life, that Cain hated him; but because of his acceptance with God, and relation to him as a new creature, made manifest by his works; while Cain himself, not believing in the promised Saviour, remained under the power of the serpent, and was influenced by all his enmity against the truth. This is the origin of all the persecution which the church has suffered from its enemies since the beginning of the world.
The object of the serpent's enmity, and consequent hostility, is, and always has been, “The Truth;” not what is true generally, in opposition to what is false; but that which is emphatically called the truth in distinction from every thing else. It is the gospel of Christ, the divine record concerning the incarnation, obedience, death, resurrection, and glory of the Son of God, and of eternal life through him to sinners of the human race.
Of the devil it is said, he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth ; from which it has been inferred, that there must have been a revelation of the gospel in heaven at the creation of man, or some intimation that for a new manifestation of the divine glory, the Son of God would honour that newly created race by becoming one of them; that a multidude of angels, with one as their leader, afterwards called the devil, did not like the revelation of this purpose, so honourable to an inferior race of creatures, revolted from their allegiance, and became the enemies of God and all that is good in the universe. Whatever be in this, it is certain, that from the beginning, when the truth was told him, that the seed of the woman should bruise his head, all his efforts and those of his seed, have been to blot out the knowledge of that truth from the earth, or so to obscure it by corrupt additions, that men should not perceive the meaning and enjoy the benefit of it.
As it was from the beginning, so Christ's apostles found it in their experience,—they who were after the flesh persecuted them who were after the Spirit; and the apostles instructed Christians to expect nothing else while they were in the world. Every species of false religion has its origin in the alienation of the mind and heart of man from the knowledge and love of God; and the different modes of worship which have this common origin, can easily endure one another; but they will all unite in opposing and endeavouring to put down, that which has its origin in divine revelation ;—that which is heavenly in its nature as well as origin, and which must necessarily testify against the worshippers of idols, that their deeds are evil. Thus Rome, in the days of her glory, the most enlightened city in the world, was perfectly tolerant of every mode of heathen worship. She rather invited than forbade men of different nations to worship at Rome as they had done at home; and she had her pantheon, or temple for all the gods, where men of every country might set up their own idol, and offer incense upon his altar. This was quite natural; for amidst the variety and multitude of altars and images, the worshippers were all of one religion, and it was the religion of Rome itself. As all idolatry has its origin in the alienation of men from God, so all the varieties of it have the same design and tendency,—to perpetuate the dominion of the devil over the minds of men, and to indulge them in the