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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 Transgreffor 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 Serperit, capable neither of Right norWrong? 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?
in Fact? A Serpent is not kill'd 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 ftild the Seed of the Woman, shall destroy the Power of the Deyil, 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 our 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 Mould be blesed, 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 niost 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 faysNow to Abraham and his Seed were the Promises made'; be faith not, and to Seeds, as of many, but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ, Gal. iii. 16. And at the 19th Verse, talking of God's Design
in giving the Law, he says, Wherefore then Serm.
IV. ferveth the Law ? It was added, because of Tranfgresions, till the Seed should come to whom the Promise was made. What that Seed is, is plain from the 29th Verse, where those that belong to Christ are said to be of the Seed of Abraham. If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed, and Heirs according to the Promise. And in the 4th and 5th Verses of the next Chapter he says exprefly, that when the Fulness of Time was come, God sent forth his own Son, made of a Woman, made under the Law, to redecm them that were under the Law, that we might receive the Adoption of Sons.
Thus has the Divine Being, whom we have experienc'd to be infinite in Mercy, as well as in every other Attribute, when Man stood before him a Convict by the Law of Nature, and had lost all Hopes of a Reconciliation with God upon any further Trial of his Obedience, given him a gentler Law, and fresh Hopes of Favour, by declaring, That tho' the Serpent had drawn the Woman aside from her Duty, and the Man had also join'd in the Transgression, yet that he should not finally prevail, but that, for the future, he would put Enmity between his Seed and her's; which has been fulfilld, not
Serm, only in our Saviour, but in all good Chri.
Woman should at length prevail over him,
Thirdly to shew. From the Fall of Man then we may learn how to account for all the Evil that is in the World, and by his Recovery for all the Good that is in it. To these two Springs are reducible the Happiness and Misery of every Mortal. Every cvil Thought, every vain Imagination, derives its Original from thence, as every good Thought and A&ion, every Rivuletof Hope, from the other.
And now we know the Original of Good and Evil, which, by the way, we know only by Revelation, no Scheme of Reason whatsoeyer þaying found out this grand