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evidence of it is as certain as that there are men or moral crea: tures.
How moral evil or sin came into our world, has been the origin of learned investigation, and many laborious disquisitions. The malady has been observed iby all people in all ages, by Pagans, Mehometans, Jews and Christians--but the solution of this paradox, “ how sin came into existence," has baffled all the philoso'phers and disputers of every age and denomination in this world.
Yet, when the world, by their philosophy and wisdom knew it not, it pleased the infinitely wise God, by a revelation from hime self, to furnish us with an account of its introduction, rise, progress, and what is more, the method of its cure. Strange it is, that unhappy man should despise this discovery.
This revelation informs us, that an order of beings, superior to mankind, made a defection from their original state. They were headed by a chief, who was afterwards distinguished by various names, such as Satan, Devil, Appolyon, and from the method in which he practised his malignant designs 'upon the progenitors of the human race, the Old Serpent.
It is probable, soon after his revolt from God, he meditates the ruin of this new creation, and especially the destruction of man, placed in perfection and glory at the head of it. Man had just come pure and holy from the hand of his Maker, cloathed in excellency, basking in his presence and smiles. His instant resolve was, the seduction of this innocent and happy creature, and there. by to mar all the beauty of divine creation. The resolution being formed, he immediately proceeds to its execution. He takes possession of the body of the serpent, the most subtle of all the beasts of the field, and therefore, the most proper to be employed for his purpose. In this shape he makes his appearance, and assaults the woman. Whether because she was the weaker sex, or at this time in solitude, is not said. His stratagem succeeds, and by artifice he obtains an interview with Eve, draws her into
a conversation, and by false and flattering pretences, that he only consulted lier increase of happiness and knowledge, allures her into a compliance with his solicitations, so that she took of the prohibited fruit and did eat, and she also gave unto her husband, and he did eat. Now Satan' thought he had carried his point, overwhelmed man in perdition, and defaced all the creation of God. No doubt the Devil triumphed, and all hell rejoiced, if any thing like joy could enter those unjoyous regions.
Poor, unhappy and guilty man could expect nothing but instant death and destruction.. But lo, mercy interposes, Satan is taken in his own craftiness, and the sinners are reprieved ; a ransom is devised, and God publishes-a decree of grace to fallen man, in the words of our text ; which denounce an awful threatning a. gainst the serpent, while they are calculated to infuse hope into the despairing breast of wretched man. . “ I will put enmity be. “tween thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; “ it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel.”
In attending to these words, it would be impossible to confine myself precisely to the ideas which they were fitted to awaken in Adam's mind. They must have afforded him hope, but of a dark, glimmering and uncertain nature. . Yet I shall limit myself to the intimations of grace and mercy herein contained, perhaps as much as a christian ought to do living under the full accomplishment, and perfect explanation of this obscure declaration. All I shall say on this subject, shall be reduced to the following observations and remarks.
First, These words seemed to be designed to administer relief and support to man under the insupportable feelings and miseries of his late fall. Man stood now exposed to suffer all the penal. ties of a broken covenant and a violated law, which threatened síothing less to the transgressor than death temporal, spiritual and eternal. Lo, the natural root and general representative is beconie a bankrupt, and by one unhappy advent ure, impoverished his whole progeny. Fearful apprehensions of wrath and fierý indignation, must now possess his soul. Hence he flew like a desperate malefactor, froin the face of his Maker. Stung with intolerable remorse, behold him all hurry, flutter and distraction; gathering leaves or any thing to hide his shame, sculking and concealing himself behind the trees of the garden. What pencil can paint his horror, or the change of his circumstances, the feels ing of his naked body, and the cutting reflection of his guilty mind? Who can describe the inconceivable sufferings of Adam in the interval between his transgression and the delivery of the words in our text ? All horror surrounded him, and he was all kell within
One design of them is to support the fallen wretclı, sinking onder the awful sense of his dreadful circumstances, to abate his guilty tears, and allay the agonies of his soul. This appears from the inatter of them, the time in which they were pronounced, and the tormenting situation of those in whose hearing they were addressed. They had ruined themselves, and expected nothing but to be immediately made the eternal examples of inexorable justice. Their consciences cried, “ The next interview will fix “ our irreversable doom.” Behold these unhappy creatures, while parleying with the serpent, to be gods was their great idea, but in the instant of their offence, dark dreadfulness surrounded thein, and all within was damnation. In this tremendous mo. ment, these strange words were ushered in, and expressed with such tenderness, gentleness and feeling compassion, as were sufe. ficient to extinguish liell, and implant heaven in their bosoms. How could they support under the first idea flashed upon them, “ That God would not immediately cut them off ; he would not “ instantly execute the fierce perfection of his justice upon them.” This was life, it was salvation from destruction. The sentence. delivered in this conjuncture, andto creatures in their situation, must have brought down heaven, and spread it before them.
Secondly, The words imply ideas of forgiveness and salvation
to fallen man... The Serpent, who just now smited a ghastly grin in the destruction of all creation, how do they strike confusion, chagrin, and disappointment into his whole scheine ? They shed upon the turbid mind of our first parents, some alleviation of hope, under the pressures of the guilt, they had lately contracte ed. Nothing could furnish a gleam of relief to creatures in their circumstances, but an intimation of possible forgiveness, and divine reconcileableness. They had been guilty of the greatest eriine, and most complicated iniquity ; broken the harmony of Creation, spread confusion over all its order, and deformity over its beauty. A little before God had pronounced all things very good, now behold curse, calamity, desolation, and every ruin introduced into the whole system by their sin. They had destroyed themselves and all their posterity. They felt their direful case, and stood trembling, self convicted, and self condemned. They knew they deserved nothing but all the strickness and severity of inflexible justice. Now, what could support or administer relief in such an awful condition, but some signification of pardon, soine declaration that God night yet be reconciled. The implisation of a continuance of life, and that they should multiply and replenish the earth, could contain no encouragement or consolation, without some supposition of an intimation of forgiveness. It could afford them no comfort to contemplate themselves as about to be instruments of a future progeny, who should be fore. ver accursed, by the entailment of their unhappy management. Nay, what an aggravation of their case, to consider themselves authors of existence to beings destined to eternal destruction ? From whence it is plain, nothing but some discovery involving forgiveness, and possible deliverance, could afford any relief in these circumstances.
Besides, we soon find them after this declaration, employed in akts of devotion and worship, which necessarily supposed a persuasion that their Maker might some way be appeased and reconGiled. Utter despair is always accompanied with a rejection of
all means. No'incans are admitted in hell. The use of means is ever founded in the possibility of the attainment of some eudi Where there is an absolute despair. of the accomplishment of the end, it cuts the sinews of application, and an attention to means ceases. In the next chapter we find these forlorn cul. prits offering sacrifices, which sufficiently proves, that they.viewed this text, as in some way implicating a promise of pardon. None can doubt but Abel's offering was a sacrifice typical of the great atonement which should in future be made by the seed of the woman, and being offered by faith, he obtained forgiveness of sin, and was accepted with God.
The words themselves evidently express a design of grace and mercy towards them. “It shall bruise thy head.” This strongly implies, that the serpent should be bafied, confounded, and disappointed in his designs upon the human race, and that his attempts to ruin them forever should be abortive. And this could only be done by their recovery and restoration. Therefore, these words must be considered in this view, as containing a declaration of forgiveness, and possible salvation to mankind.
Thirdly, The words imply a promise, that God would in due time raise up a distinguished person, who should defeat the pure poses of Satan, and effect the salvation of men. It is evident some one person is here spoken of by way of eminence, who should be opposed to the serpent, between whom enmity was to take place, and consequently they were to act with contrary purposes and in direct opposition. He spoke not of seeds, as of many, but one single seed. The manner of expression in the promise is very peculiar and distinguishing. “I will put enmity between thy seed es and her seed.” This must surely design some particular and super-eminent person. “ It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt “ bruise his heel." This important person was to defeat the fatal design the devil concerted against mankind, and carried a dread. sul length into execution. He was to bruise his head. By the