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ful God, and prove that he has not given over the sinner to hopeless ruin. But the serpent has nothing to expect but a fearful looking for of judgment.
The form under which Satan is cursed is that of the serpent. To a superficial reader it might appear that the vengeance heaven was directed against the animal, distinguishing him from all catile, subjecting him to a most abject life, condemning him to creep upon bis belly, and of course to have his food besmeared with dust. But was God angry with the serpent ? No: but, as under that form Satan had tempted the woman, so that shall be the form under wbich he shall receive his doom. The spirit of the sentence appears to be this— Cursed art thou above all creatures, and above every being that God hath made. Miserable shalt thou be to an endless duration !' Some have thought, and the passage gives some countenance to the idea, that the state of fallen angels was not hopeless till now. If it had, the curse could only have added a greater degree of misery.
THE CURSE OF SATAN, INCLUDING A BLESSING TO MAN-EFFECTS
OF THE FALL.
Gen, iii. 15—24.
Ver. 15. By all that had been hitherto said and done, God appears to have concealed from man who was his tempter ; and for this reason, among others, to have pronounced the doom on Satan under the form of a curse upon the serpent. By this we may learn, that it is of no account as to the criminality of sin, whence it comes, or by whom or what we are tempted to it. If we choose it, it is ours ; and we must be accountable for it.
But mark the wisdom and goodness of God : as under the form of cursing the serpent, he had pronounced a most tremendous doom on the tempter, so under the form of this doom is covertly intimated a design of mercy the most transcendent to the tempted ! If man had been in a suitable state of mind, the promise might have been direct, and addressed to him : but he was not ; for his heart, whatever it might be afterwards, was as yet hardened against God. It was fit, therefore, that whatever designs of mercy were entertained concerning him, or his posterity, they should not be given in the form of a promise to him, but of threatening to Satan. The situation of Adam and Eve at this time was like that of sinners under the preaching of the gospel. The intimation concerning the Woman's Seed would indeed imply that she and her husband should live in the world, that she should bring forth children, and that God would carry on an opposition to the cause of evil : but it does not ascertain their saivation ; and if there appear nothing more in their favour in the following part of the history, than what has hitherto appeared, we shall have no good ground to conclude that either of them are gone to heaven. The Messiah might come as the Saviour of sinners, and might descend from them after the flesb ; and yet they might have no portion in him.
But let us view this famous passage more particularly, and that in the light in which it is here represented, as a threatening to the serpent. This threatening does not so much respect the person of the grand adversary of God and man, as bis cause and kingdom in the world. He will be punished in bis person at the time appoint ed; but this respects the manifestation of the Son of God to de
1 stroy his works. There are four things here intimated, which are each worthy of notice. (1.) The ruin of Satan's cause was to be accomplished by one in human nature. This must have been not a little mortifying to his pride. If he must fall, and could have had his choice as to the mode, he might rather have wished to have been crushed by the immediate hand of God; for however terrible that hand might be, it would be less humiliating than to be subdued by one of a nature inferior to his own. The human nature especially appears to bave become odious in his eyes. It is possible that the rejoicings of eternal wisdom over man were known in heaven, and first excited his envy; and that his attempt to ruin the human race was an act of rerenge. If so, there was a peculiar fitness that from man should proceed his overthrow. (2.) It was to be accomplished by the seed of the woman. This would be more humiliating still. Satan had made use of her to accomplish his purposes, and God would defeat his schemes throngh the same medium : and by how much he had despised and abused her, in making her the instrument of drawing her husband aside, by so much would he be mortified in being overcome by one of her descendants. (3.) The victory should be obtained, not only by the Messiah himself, but by all his adherents. The seed of the woman, though it primarily referred to him, yet being opposed to “ the seed of the serpent,” includes all that believe in him. And there is little or no doubt that the account in Rer. xii. 17. has allusion to this passage : And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the reinnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Now, if it were mortifying for Satan to be overcome by the Messiah him. self, considered as the seed of the woman, how much more when, in addition to this, every individual believer shall be made to come near, and as it were set his feet upon the neck of his enemy? Finally: Though it should be a long war,
and the cause of the serpent would often be successful, yet in the end it should be utterly ruined. The head is the seat of life, which the heel is not: by this language, therefore, it is intimated that the life of Christ's cause should not be affected by any part of Satan's opposition ; but that the life of Satan's cause should by that of Christ. For this purpose is he manifested in human nature, that he may destroy the works of the devil; and he will never desist till he have utterly crushed his power.
Now, as the threatenings against Babylon conveyed good news to the church, so this threatening against the old serpent is full of mercy to men. But for this enmity which God would put into the woman's seed against him, he would have had every thing his own way, and every child of man would have bad his portion with him and his angels.
From the whole, we see that Christ is the foundation and substance of all true religion since the fall of man; and therefore, that the only way of salvation is by faith in bim. We see also the importance of a decided attachment to him and his interest. There are two great armies in the world, Michael and his angels, warring against the dragon and his angels; and according to the side we take, such will be our end.
Ver. 16-19. The sentence of the woman, and of the man which follows, like the rest is under a veil. Nothing but temporal evils is mentioned; but these are not the wbole. Paul teaches us that by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation ; and such a condemnation as stands opposed to justification of life.* The woman's load in this life was sorrow in bearing children, and subjection to her husband. The command to be fruitful and multiply might originally, for aught I know, include some degree of pain; but now it should be greatly multiplied : and there was doubtless a natural subordination in innocency ;
* Rom. v. 18. See on Chap. iv. 11, 12. p. 44..