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DIVINE COVENANT S.
CH A P. I. Of the Doctrine of Salvation in the first age of the World. 1. E have thus far confidered thofe benefits that are
effential to the covenant of grace: let us now more particularly take a view of the two ÉCONOMIES, or the different dispensations under which that covenant was administered. And here, according to the plan laid down, Chap. III. of the preceding book, we are more accurately to explain, first, the nature of the Old Testament, and then that of the New. In the Old, we will distinctly consider your principal points. 1. The doctrine concerning the common salvation, as there laid down. II. The benefits or privileges of that Testament. III. Its defects, or according to Paul, Heb. vii. 18. “ The weakness and unprofitableness thereof,” on account of which that covenant was not faultless, Heb. viii. 7. IV. Its abrogation. The DOCTRINE again, may be considered, as expreffed by words, figured by Types, and ratified by SACRAMENTS. II. Divine compatrion published to wretched man, immediate
his fall, the first doctrine of grace; in such a manner, indeed, as in few words, and those almost enigmatical, summarily to contain the whole gospel: we have that first promise, Gen. iii. 14, 15. “ And the Lord said unto the serpent because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field: upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her feed; it shall bruile thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
Luther long ago complained, that none of the ancient fathers and bishops, who were men eminent for knowledge and piety, had explained this passage as it deserved: their successors ought to use the greater diligence to do it with the more care : which several learned interpreters have indeed happily effected. Treading in their footsteps, we shall make it appear, that the principal articles of the gospel doctrine are summarily contained in this text.
III. We suppose, that the devil is condemned by this sentence, to whom the Lord addresles himself, under the appellation of the serpent, because he had abused that animal, in order to deceive man. For, it is dull and trifling to restrict that magnificent speech of the Deity, as if it had its full accomplishment in that animal alone ; for besides, that it might seem unbecoming the supreme Being, to address a brute beast, void of all reason, in such pomp of language, many things said here to the serpent, if interpreted literally, are natural to that beast : as to go upon his belly and eat duft. For, we are not to affirm without fcripture, that the ferpent, as the Jews vainly dream, went on feet or walked erect, or had other food formerly, different from what it has now : nor to imagine, that serpents now feed only on duft ; seeing Aristotle reckons them among the prope@ceyos or omnivorous, that eat all kinds of things, and teltifies, that they eat both flesh and herbs, and that of all animals they are fond of the nicest delicacies. Duft is said to be the ferpent's food; because, fince it creeps upon the ground, it cannot but take dust into its mouth, along with its other food. Just as David complains in his mourning, that he ate ashes like bread, Pf. cii. 9. for while he lay on his face in the ashes, he ate the bread, that was thrown to him on the ground. Moreover what is here said of the serpent going on the belly and eating duft, is common to many kinds of worms, as the learned Bochart has shewn, Hierozoic. l. 1. C. 4. But how could that be a curse to the serpent, which is natural to other animals, whom Satan never abused in this manner ? And then its being detestable to man is owing to its dangerous poison, which it has also in common with other beasts; who, after sin, became a horror and dread to man. But some serpents are commended for their philanthropy, or love to men. See Vofius de Origin. Idololat. Lib. 6. c. 58: fome also are fit to be eaten, and accounted a royal dainty, ibid. c. 62. In a word it is of no great consequence to man, whether any animal goes on its feet or on its belly; whether it feeds on herbs or flesh or dust. But certain it is, that by this condemnation of the
serpent, God intended to comfort our first parents in their wretched estate. To what purpose then is it to interpret the words in such a manner, as to yield very little or no comfort at all to man, who now seriously deplored his own unhappia ness?
IV. But the principal consideration is, that the scripture expressly calls the devil, piv, the serpent, 2 Cor. xi. 3. and TOY OQIY toy agroov, the old ferpent, Rev. xii. 9. and his defeat is called the bruising him under our feet, Rom. xvi. 10. And tho' we grant, that both these things were primarily and literally said to the animal, the instrument which Satan spoke by; yet it is evident from the nature of the thing, that both might and ought rather to be said to the principal seducer. For, as Chrysostom argues well; if the instrument experienced such a degree of indignation, what punishment can we probably imagine the devil incurred?
V. Nor can it be objected, that what is said to the serpent, all the days of thy life, cannot be applied to Satan, who, it is evident, is an immortal and never-ceasing spirit. For even Satan has a peculiar death, reserved for him ; namely the judgment of the last day : in which he, together with death, will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, Rev. xx. io. The devil lives, when he works effectually in the children of disobedience, and thereby shews himself to be tov modulox patogu the prince of this world. He shall die when he will no longer be able, to use any of hisinstrumentsinor against the kingdom of God. Thus the Lord Jesus fills the enemy and the avenger, Pl. viii. 2. and destroys him that had the power of death, Heb. ii. 14. The days therefore, of the devil's life, are those antecedent to the last judgment : which yields us an useful doctrine, as we shall presently fee.
Ví. But God was pleased to pronounce those words, (the source of all consolation to wretched man) against the devil in the presence and hearing of man. ist, To mortify that wicked and arrogant spirit, who was constrained to hear his own condemnation, in the presence of such weak feeble creaures, whom he had so easily brought under his power, and over whom he thought to domineer for ever. 2dly, That he might revive and charm our first parents, with the sweetest consolations, to whom not only that just vengeance ought to be most acceptable, which Gód promised to take of their enemy; but who also, in the condemnation of the devil heard their own absolution. 3dly, To Thew that this sentence had the nature of a laft or unchangeable will. For, as God by a peremptory and irre
yocable sentence, condemns, without farther enquiry, the devil, when he was taken in the very fact, which hecould neither deny nor transfer to another : so those blessings or privileges, which are made over to the elect in this condemnation of the devil are made over to them, by the last and immutable will of God, which does not depend on any uncertain condition.
VII. Now let us take a more distinct view of the things, contained in this sentence. And they are the following : 1. The blessings : or benefits promised to man. II. The author of those good things. III. Their meritorious cause. IV. The man. ner of acquiftion. V. The heirs. VI. The mean of acquifition.
VIII. The evils which God pronounces against the serpent, are so many BENEFITS, or blessings to man: and they are four, The first is the “curse of the serpent; because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field.” All beasts are subject to destruction : “ natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed,” 2 Pet. . 12. And it is for man's sin, that beasts, as the property of man, are made more miserable ; for they cannot be excluded from being a part of this world, which is not willingly subject to yanity, Rom. viii. 20. and among them there are those, called evil beasts. But the curse threatened against the serpent, is such as renders him inferior to, viler and more miserable than all beasts : importing, ist, An invincible folly and malice; fo that he can be neither wife nor good: worse than a “ horse or mule, which have no understanding,” Pr. xxxiii. 9. 2dly, The very worst degree of vileness, whereby he, who impiously attempted to be equal to God, and seemed to have acquired a dominion over man, the noblest of God's creatures, is depressed below the beasts of burden. 3dly, A state of never ending misery: The beasts die and perish, and never come into judgment. But the serpent accursed above the beasts, cannot escape judgment;“ everlasting fire is prepared for the devil and his angels,” Matt. xxi. 41. It could not but be acceptable to man, to hear that sentence pronounced, by which that enemy, who had made him obnoxious, is himself doomed to be accursed.
IX. The second benefit is the destruction of his power ; exprelied by three several phrases. The first,“ upon thy belly shalt thou go:" that is, thou shalt be constrained to creep on the ground, nor suffered any longer to fly at man, twist thyself round him, and kill him with thy envenomed embraces. Pareus says judiciously: “ He himself also is forced to creep on his breast; because being once thrown headlong down from heaven, he is now condemned to creep for ever on the ground amidst earthly filth, nor able any more to raise his head to heaven.” Thus Rev. xii. 9. “ the judgment of the old serpent, the devil, by which he is now bound fast, is called his cafting out into the earth; where, in a hostile manner, he persecutes, but cannot overpower the woman.”
1 X. The other expression duft shalt thou eat, doubtless denotes a state of the greatest degradation. For, the scripture phrase, to lick the dust, is applied to conquered enemies, who lie proftrate at the conqueror's feet; Psal. Ixxii. 6. « his enemies shall lick the dust;” Micah vii. 17. “ they shall lick the dust like a serpent;" Isa. xlix. 23. “they shall bow down to thee with their face towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet." But there seems a much greater emphasis in these words, when the ferpent is commanded to eat duft; as also when it is said, Ifa. Ixv. 25. “and dust shall be the serpent's meat,” Which, if I mistake not, fignifies in general three things. ift, The restraining the devil's power to earthly minded men, who are glued to the earth, and seek their good and happiness in earthly things. Those alone he shall be able to devour, without having any right over others. And this tends much to the great benefit of the church. For, when the wicked are devoured by the devil, offences are removed out of the way of righteousnets, the church is delivered from their vexations, and Satan's kingdom diminished in this world. 2dly, As to the elect, it fignifies the restricting the power of the devil to their bodies, which, on account of sin, is said to be dust, and to return to duft. That body the devil will devour, that is, bring down to death, and keep under the power thereof, till the resurrection : he shall have no power over the souls of the elect. And even that destruction of the dusty body is of benefit to believers : for, at the same time the old man is destroyed, who had hitherto harboured in their members. 3dly, It denotes that wicked pleasure, which the devil takes in drawing the reprobate to fin, and consequently to eternal destruction, and in vexing the godly as much as he can. It was the meat, that is the delight, of the Lord Jesus, “ to do the will of him that fent him," and to turn men to God, John iv. 34. On the contrary, it is the delight of Satan to push on the wicked to evil, and to vex the beloved children of God. Which as it is the greatest wickednefs, so also the highest degree of misery.
XI. Lealt any one should hiss this exposition off the stage, as if it was new and never heard of before, I shall fubjoin the