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head may be understood the seat of counsel and wisdom; and thus taken, it signifies the policy and craft of Satan ; the hellish purpose he had formed against the human race, and the hopes he entertained of its perfect execution. It may be considered as the fountain of life and spirits, from whence all motion takes its Tise, and by which every movement is directed, and is often used to signify power and authority, and thus it properly denotes his dominion over sinners—and in this sense it is, that he is said to have the power of death, to have a kingdom, to be the prince of the power of the air, the prince and God of this world. This mighty dominion, the glorious person promised was to break, he was to strip him of his usurped power, destroy his tyrannic sway, and to redeem men from the slavery of sin, save them from death and ruin, and all the consequences of their fall. There was to be perpetual enmity between him and the serpent. It was the great design of Satan to cause enmity between God and man, but it should be the business of this eminent seed of the woman to effect peace and make reconciliation, and create friendship, and thus bruise the serpent's head, baffle his horrid purpose, and turn his infernal counsels headlong.
Fourthly, This wonderful person was to be born of a womJin, and become a partaker of human nature. He is stiled the seed of the woman. He was not to take upon him the nature of angels, but the nature of man. He was to be found in fashion as a man, and appear in the likeness of sinful flesh. A body was to be prepared him, that he might in all things be like unto his brethren. And in this nature, according to the promise, he was to bruise the serpent's head, demolish his kingdom, and vanquish the principalities and powers of darkness, to effect the salvation of wretched sinners, rescue them from the ruins of the fall, restore them to the divine favor, and reinstate them in life and happiness.
Fifthly, These words fully intimate, that it should be through sufferings, this eminent seed of th« woman, was to destroy the works of the devil. "He was to bruise his heel." This plvras% must signify, that the seed of the woman, should not merely re'ceive molestation and much opposition in his undertaking, but that he shsuld pass through much pain, affliction and sufferings* A bruised heel creates tormenting anguish. Thus the promised seed was to undergo excruciating sufferings, his afflictions were not to be light or inconsiderable, but to be great and grievous beyond all conception. He must suffer unto blood and bruising, in order to the recovery of lost man.
Lastly, This sentenc: was pronounced in the presence of our first parents, as the head and representative of all their offspring; the declaration not only personally respected them, but it had a direct reference to all who should spring from them. By them came death upon all men to condemnation; by their disobedience many were made sinners; so by the promised seed, life and immortality are brought to light. The benefits and blessings of his redemption arc freely proposed and may be offered to all. They arf to be preached ro every creature. "He is a propitiation for *• our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the "whole world." His voice is now to the children of men, that whosoever. will repent and believe, shall receive the forgiveness of liis sins, be restored to the divine favori and made an heir to everlasting felicity.
Thus I have considered, in the briefest manner, the first promise, and limited myself as far as I could, to the ideas communicated therein. This primitive declaration of mercy, and of a Saviour for fallen man, must have a peculisr tendency to confirm cur faith in the whole scheme of revealed religion. Behold, the analogy and agreement between this original promise, and the promises, events and transactions of later times.
This subject would admit of a very large and useful improvement, but I shall confine myself to these three reflections. How evident is it, that Jesus of Nazareth is the distinguished person Teferred to in tliis sacred passage :—How should we praise and bless God for the first dawnings of grace and salvation for ah apostate world—And with what gratitude should we improve the tnost distant intimations of pardon and forgiveness*
First, How evident is it that Jesus of Nazareth is the distin. «guished person referred to in this sacred passage. How admirably well does the description given in this premise agree to Jesus Christ, the glorious Saviour of mankind, who was to be the seed of the woman? This is a precious and peculiar mark of the divine Redeemer. He was born of a woman, in an extraordinary manner different from all others. Miraculously conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her. We read of the seed of Abraham, Jacob, David, &c. but the seed of the woman. is a singular and uncommon phrase, and used only here to signify something peculiar and extraordinary; therefore, eminently descriptive of our blessed Saviour, and only applicable to him. "A virgin was to bring forth a son." The person spoken of, was to bruise the serpent's head. How many, while Christ tabernacled • upon earth, did he deliver from the power and possession of the devil? What an astonishing dash did his appearance and coming give to the triumphs of the evil one? How was lie expelled from the hearts of multitudes of men, where he had reigned by sin? The blessed Jesus led captivity captive—hence the promise and prediction were perfectly accomplished in him. It is likewise said, the serpent was to bruise his heel. How did Satan exert all his malignant vengeance against him? What indescribable sufferings did he endure? He was all his life long a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. How did the malice of the serpent raise the whole Jewish nation, in a joint conspiracy to kill and crucify him? How do all these things evidently point Jesus of Nazareth to be the promised seed? What a full confirmation does our text afford of the divinity of the scriptures, and that the Lord Jesus Christ is the true Mesiah? Let us, my brethren, ever apuly to him for salvation and comfort.
Secondly, Hew should we praise and bless God for the first dawnings of grace and mercy to an apostate world. Here is the most admirable display of divine goodness and love. It overshadows all the glory of the works of creatien. This is the first exercise of divine mercy and grace, of which we have any account. And be', old it is extended to the fallen race of Adam. Were we the only creatures in the universe, in circumstances of guilt and misery No. There were fallen angels, whose condition was equally deplorable and wretched, a race of a more excellent order; yet they are passed by, and left in all the misery of their fall. Mercy stoops to our inferior world. How unexpected, how surprising was this event? Our first parents looked for nothing but the execution of the penalty of a broken law; to be treated as they knew they deserved, and to be animadverted upon with the keenest severity. A little while before God had made the angels, who left their primitive state, the monuments of vengeance, and bound these creatures of a superior rank in chains of darkness, against the judgment of the great day. And if he spared not the angels, who could entertain the thought that he would spare man, whose foundation is in the dust 2 There was no motive in man to induce pity or compassion. If dignity of nature, or capacity for service could be any excitement to mercy, every thing of this kind lay on the side of the angels. Man had nothing to plead, why favor should be extended to him.— His offence was voluntary; he had none to blame but himself; he had reasons, motives, abilities and strength, abundantly sufficient to have resisted the tempter. Wherefore his recovery could be nothing but sovereign, free, and self moving goodness. And shall we not with our whole souls adore, and praise, and bless the Father of mercies for the wondars of grace and love, in contriving a plan for our salvation, and raising up such a glorious Prince and Saviour ! Were it not for this astonishing interposition in our favor, alas ! what would have been our circumstances at this unoment In what depths of anguish, and horrors of dispair should we now be engulphed : Our associates would be de
vils, and our sufferings the vengeance of eternal flames. But lo, a condescending God lights up life and immortality in this promise, and places heaven again within the reach of guilty Ill allO shall we not adore and magnify that grace, whereby the day spring from on high hath visited us 2 Let our hearts ever bless the Lord in the highest strains of praise, for the morning streaks and first dawnings of this great salvation.
* * - - Thirdly, How should we be all attention, and how carefully should we improve the most dark and distant intimations of forgiveness. Heaven is here offering to be reconciled to sinners, after the most tremendous breach of friendship occasioned by the fall. A method, O sinners, is opened for your restoration to the forfeited favor of God;-- an accommodation is proposed, and a Mediator provided, who is able to lay his hands upon both, and adjust the infinite difference ; who can repair all the honors of injured majesty and divine government, and make ample provision for the commencement of friendship between heaven and earth again. Is not this a matter which should call forth peculiar consideration, and awaken in our minds all the sentiments of gratitude 2 We are intimately concerned in this business. To us is the word of reconciliation sent. To us is preached the forgiveness of sing through the mediation of this eminent seed of the woman. God is now in Christ Jesus reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their iniquities unto them. God is willing to multiply pardons, as you have multiplied transgressions. Will not sinners then cease from their hostilities against their Maker, cast away the weapons of their rebellion, humble themselves and repent, accept the offers of love, and with grateful hearts, embrace the tendered Saviour Let your souls dissolve into gratitude, and repent of all your offences. “Praise the Lord with a “song'magnify him with thanksgiving. Sing praises to the Lord; “which dwelleth in Zion, declare anong the people his doings.
* Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.”