« PrécédentContinuer »
SERN. Wife, hence arose a very early Opinion of IV
two independent Principles, the one of Good, the other of Evil. But this can't be suppos’d'without implying a direct Contradiction; for two such Powers, equally refisting each other, could produce neither Good nor Evil.
And there is but little Reason in another Opinion, which some have had, i. e. The Doctrine of a pre-existent State; for as that is only a Conjecture, so whatever follows from it will amount to no more. If it be said that God could have made Man fo
upright that he fhould not have fallen, I say, supposing this could be done, and that, according to our View of Things, it would be right that it should be fo, yet who shall say, that what we think to be right, he shall think so too ? Or, who shall ask him, What doest thou : We must take our Beings as we find them, and be content with them upon such Conditions as they are given
I come now,
Secondly, To shew the Certainty of his Recovery, founded upon the Prophecy in the Text of the Seed of the Woman, I will put Enmity between thee' and the Woman, and between thy Seed and her Seed; it mall
bruise thy Head, and thou shalt bruise his SERM. Heel. This is the first and most glorious
IV. Prophecy that ever was given to Man, no less than a Prophecy of his Redemption from that State of Death and Misery into which he was unhappily fallen ; which, tho' it gave but a small glimmering Light at first, yet is it the fame Prophecy that shined brighter and brighter in After-Ages, till it was at last accomplish'd in a full Blaze at the Birth of the Messiah (as on this Day) that blessed Seed of the Woman, in whom, ac cording to the same Word of Prophecy given afterwards to Abraham, all the Nations of the Earth were to be blessed. And here is the Difference, among other Things, between natural and reveald Religion; the one is full of Fears and Doubts, the other's Fears are swallow'd
up in Hope, the Design of Prophecy, or of Revelation, being to convey Hopes to a Sinner.
That the Prophecy in the Text relates to the Redemption of Mankind will appear very plain, if we consider that the Design of the Serpent was to hinder Man from being immortal, or to make him immortally miferable. For if his Design was only to procure him a temporal Death, then he fucceeded according to his Wish, contrary to I 2
SERM. the Prophecy in the Text, which foretells IV. that the Seed of the Woman should bruise
the Serpent's Head, i. e. frustrate all his Contrivances and Designs; for this, in all reasonable Construction, must be the Meaning of it. This being then the Design of the Serpent, the Prophecy in the Text plainly shews that he should not succeed in it, but that the Seed of the Woman should spoil those Designs, and consequently free Mankind from the Power of them. Put this in any other Light, and there is no Sense in it. If we were, for Example, to take it in a literal Meaning, besides the Absurdity of supposing the Almighty to come down from Heaven in so folemn a Manner upon
so trifling an Occasion, as only to give the Seed of the Woman a Power to bruise the Head of a Serpent, and the Serpent a Power to bruise his Heel, which surely can never be a Sentence worthy the Divine Being to pronounce, what has this to do with the Fall of Man ? Man is represented here as fallen from his Duty, as a Transgressor of the express Command of God, and for which he is condemned, and receives his Sentence accordingly. Now what has all this to do with the Serpent's biting a Man by the Heel, or with Man's knocking him on
the Head, either of which might be done, Serm. whether we suppose Man to have fallen or
IV. not? There is no manner of Connection in this, for the Serpent is represented as a Delinquent, not as a Serpent, for as such he could not be capable of moral Right or Wrong, but only as actuated by that grand Serpent the Devil; and accordingly Sentence is passed upon him as such, part of which we have here in the Text. As the Serpent then is consider'd here only as the Emblem or Symbol of something else capable of moral Wrong, and who actually had introduc'd it into the World, what Connection can there be in applying this to a common Serpetit, capable neither of Right nor Wrong? He is here consider'd as a Criminal, and punish'd as such, which could not be if the Serpent only was punished. Besides, how does this appear in Fact? A Serpent is not killd oftner than other venomous Creatures. We must therefore necessarily haveRecourse to some other Interpretation of the Words, and that is, to an Interpretation more rational and consistent, which is indeed the plain and obvious one, That our blessed Saviour, who is most emphatically stil'd the Seed of the Woman, shall destroy the Power of the Devil, and restore those who were held
SERM. captive by Sin to the glorious Liberty of IV. the Sons of God.
Before we can make it appear that oyr Saviour is here meant by the Seed of the Woman, we must indeed travel through a long Series of Prophecies. For tho'Mankind must from this first Prophecy have great Hopes of some extraordinary Blessing to come, yet what that should be, or what this Seed of the Woman should mean, was not to be discover'd : But afterwards, when the Promise was made to Abraham, that in him all the Families of the Earth Nould be blefjed, which was also establish'd with Isaac and Jacob, and continued to Judah, and down to David, it received more and more Light, till it appear’d in its greatest Splendor, when that Day-spring from on High visited us, in whom all Prophecy was center'd. That Christ is nioft eminently this Seed of the Woman, to whom all these ancient Prophecies relate, we may learn from St Paul, who, talking of the Promise made to Abraham before the Law was givens says, Now to Abraham and his Seed were the Promises made'; be saith not, and to Seeds, as of many, but as of one, and to thu Seed, which is Christ, Gal. iii. 16. And at the i gth Verse, talking of God's Design