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And can any thing more strongly mark their value and importance?-]
2. The prophets themselves" enquired and searched diligently" into their meaning
[The inspired men did not understand the precise import of their own prophecies
They only knew that they "ministered to the church in distant ages"
But they studied the word, and sometimes with good effect, to gain an insight into the intentions and purposes of God And if they judged their predictions so important while they were involved in obscurity, shall they be less valuable to us who have seen their accomplishment?-]
3. The apostles, in declaring their accomplishment, received miraculous testimonies from the Holy Ghost
[They," who first preached the gospel, reported those things as done, which the prophets had beforehand testified” as to be done in due time
And their word was accompanied "with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven h".
Nor was this divine seal ever more immediately set to their ministrations than when they expressly referred to the prophecies as fulfilled in Jesus
Nothing surely could put a greater honour on the prophecies than this]
4. The very angels "desire to look into them"
[The angelic figures over the ark were formed looking down upon it—
This intimated the interest they feel in the work of redemption
They are indeed made wiser by the revelation given to the church
Though they dwell in the presence of God they desire to know more of this mystery
Though they have no personal interest in it, they long to comprehend it
Can we then, whose interest in it is so great, have low thoughts of any part of those scriptures which exhibit and illustrate it?-]
1. What a mercy is it to live under the full light of the gospel!
[Those things, which the patriarchs saw only in types
8 Dan. ix. 2.
* Exod. xxv, 20.
h Heb. ii. 4.
i Acts x. 43, 44.
and prophecies, we are privileged to enjoy in their substance and accomplishment
Well therefore does Christ say to us,
eyes, blessed are your ears
"Blessed are your
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-1
2. In searching the scriptures we should attend particularly 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 GodLet 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-]
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
I. Make some remarks on the prophecy
The occasion of it is the first thing that demands our
[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 prophecy 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 destitute 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 as "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 an 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 and sometimes from their souls 2. 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 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 Satan unto 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 .]
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 lists 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 flee 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.]
d Jer. xvii. 12.
CXLVIII. ABRAHAM'S PROMISED SEED.
Gen. xxii. 18. In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
THERE is nothing in man which can merit the divine favour: the promises of God to us are altogether free, resulting wholly from his sovereign grace: yet 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