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THE PROPHETIC SENTENCE DENOUNCED AGAINST THE
For the Christian Observer. When our first parents had tasted the forbidden fruit, they fled from the presence of the Lord ; but it is vain to attempt to escape the eye of Omniscience; the three culprits, the deceiver and the deceived, were summoned into the presence of their Judge. Our parents having confessed their transgression, and that the Serpent had beguiled them to transgress, the Lord proceeded to pronounce sentence, first on the Serpent—and the most awful part of the sentence is recorded in these words ; “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” This sentence bears a twofold character : it is judicial and prophetic : it is a portion of the first prophecy which we meet with in the sacred volume.
It is justly and generally acknowledged, that the most important part of this prediction was fulfilled when the Saviour expired on the cross ; when, instigated by the malice of Satan, all the existing authorities in church and state conspired to condemn and crucify our Lord ; and when he, by death, “overcame him that hath the power of death, that is the Devil ;" and all seem to agree that the hopes of the church, in all her conflicts, centre in Christ, and in Him crucified. But the prediction takes a much wider range, and it foretels the conflict of the Church with her great adversary till the end of time, and that that conflict will issue in the glorious and peaceful triumph of her seed, and in the utter ruin of her adversary. Before we proceed to this branch of the subject, it will be necessary to premise that in this view Adam and Eve, as well as the Serpent, are typical or symbolical characters.
The powers exercised by the Serpent are obviously supernatural, and there are but two ways of accounting for them ; either some malignant spirit of inconceivable skill and subtilty assumed the appearance of a serpent, and in that shape beguiled Eve; or he endued the Serpent with supernatural powers, and made him his agent to deceive her; but in either case the Serpent is a type or symbol of that malignant spirit. This conclusion, and the steps by which we arrive at it, seem to be quite satisfactory. But the deductions of reason on sacred subjects can only reach a high degree of probability, and can rarely be regarded as absolutely certain till confirmed by the express declaration of Holy Writ. The allusions to the Serpent which are occasionally met with in the Old Testament, and especially in the 27th chapter of Isaiah, and in the 74th Psalm, seem to indicate with sufficient clearness that Satan often employs mighty states and empires, whether Pagan or antichristian, to propagate and sustain the dominion of evil, even as he employed the Serpent to seduce our first parents at the beginning. When we read that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light," and when it is said to the Christians at Rome, “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly,” we are reminded of the temptation of Eve, and feel convinced that the Serpent was a type or representative of Satan. But in matters of essential importance, a truly pious man can hardly repose with perfect confidence on anything short of the express testimony of the written word. This testimony is found in the 12th chapter of the Apocalypse : there we read that “the great dragon was cast out, that old Serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world." Our reasonings on the subject, which hitherto had only attained a high degree of probability, are now sustained and confirmed by Divine authority. It is demonstratively certain that the Serpent is a type or symbol of the wicked one, and we only marvel that the canon of Scripture is almost completed before this mystery is explicitly revealed.
But in reference to that part of the prophecy which we are now considering, both Adam and Eve are typical characters. From Adam we derive our natural life, from Christ our spiritual: “the first Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit:” the destinies of Adam's posterity were involved in the covenant made with him ; the blessedness of God's people depends on the covenant made with Christ, which is “an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure. Adam is the federal head of the human race; Christ of his redeemed people : from the one we bear the image of the earthly, from the other the image of the heavenly : from the disobedience of the one we inherit condemnation, and from the obedience of the other we obtain justification : by the first Adam sin reigned unto death ; by the second "grace reigneth through righteousness unto eternal life.”
Those who are even superficially acquainted with the Scriptures cannot be ignorant that a chaste and faithful wife is an emblem of the Church of Christ ; how much more must Eve, who is the mother of us all, be an emblem of that church which, in reference to the redeemed, is called the mother of us all: but Eve is not the emblem of the Church of Christ as a woman, but as the spouse of Adam, and the union of Adam and Eve is an emblem of the union betwixt Christ and his Church: for if marriage generally be an emblem of that union, much more the union of our first parents, to whom we trace the origin of that institution, must be an emblem of the mystical union between Christ and his Church. St. Paul, in his 5th chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, refers to the original institution of matrimony, as a significant emblem of our union with Christ, and his language is very remarkable: “ So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” That we are members of Christ's body, of his flesh, and of his bones, is a mystery indeed; nor is this mystery diminished by the declaration, that a man must leave his father and his mother, and be joined unto his wife, and that they two shall be one flesh, because we are members of bis body, of his flesh, and of his bones. But though we are unable to fathom the nature of this mystic union, its truth is plainly revealed ; and it has pleased God to direct our attention to the holy estate of matrimony, and especially to its institution in paradise, when Adam and Eve were in a state of innocence, as the most appropriate emblem of that union. When we are satisfied from scriptural testimony, that the union of Adam and Eve was intended to be a significant representation of the union of Christ with his Church, the interpretation of that branch of this remarkable prophecy which we are now considering, seems to be free from all difficulty ; but so long as our attention is confined to the woman in the literal sense of the phrase, the words “between thy sced and her seed” seem to be almost inexplicable. The whole human race is the seed of the woman, and we might imagine that evil spirits are the seed of the Serpent, but such an hypothesis is not sustained by scriptural evidence, nor does it enable us to discern how the prophecy was fulfilled; but we may learn from Scripture, that multitudes of Eve's natural posterity are the seed of the Serpent. When John the Baptist saw Scribes and Pharisees coming to his baptism, he said, “ Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come ?” and even the meek and lowly Saviour said to the same persons, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?" Such passages plainly indicate what we are to understand by the seed of the Serpent. But if any should doubt whether these passages are sufficient to establish the truth for which we are contending, a reference to the 8th chapter of St. John's gospel will remove every scruple.
There our blessed Saviour says, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the begining, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When a man speaketh falsehood, he speaketh of his own, for his father also is a liar.” The conclusion, then, at which we arrive from the express warrant of Scripture is this, that the seed of the woman and of the Serpent are all of them the progeny of the literal woman, which are divided into two classes opposed to each other; they are the children of Christ, and the children of the wicked one; the children of light and the children of darkness; the regenerate and the unregenerate ; the seed of Christ's faithful spouse, and the children of disobedience, in whose hearts the prince of this world dwelleth ; those who are animated by the Spirit of Christ, and those who are instigated by the spirit of Satan.
The import of the terms in which the sentence is denounced against the Serpent, being clearly ascertained by the highest authority, the authority of Scripture, we find that it contains a prophecy of wonderful brevity and comprehension, and pregnant with matter of the highest interest to the family of man. Besides a prediction of the conflict of Satan with Christ, who is literally, and in a peculiar sense, the seed of the woman, and the result of that conflict; it also foretels the enmity of Satan against the Church, the spouse of Christ, and the enmity of his seed against her seed. We will now direct our attention to the manner in which these prophecies are being fulfilled.
There are two ways in which the Serpent's enmity is manifested against the woman; the one by open and violent assault, the other by malignant subtlety: the first of these methods is most obvious when an infant church is struggling for existence; and the second wben it has acquired some degree of stability and power. When the time drew near for the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and for the formation of the infant church in the wilderness, the malice and rage of Satan instigated Pharoah to acts of cruelty. The Psalmist's declaration in the 74th psalm, “ Thou didst divide the sea CHRIST. Observ. No. 36.
by thy strength, thou breakest the heads of the dragon in the waters," and the testimony of St. John that the dragon is that old serpent the devil, reveal to us the agency of Satan, and the subserviency of Pharoah to his malicious suggestions. When a chosen remnant of the Jews, humbled and purified by their afflictions at Babylon, were restored to their native land, and were engaged in rebuilding their temple and city, and in re-instating the worship of God in its pristine purity, the difficulties and dangers with which they had to contend were almost insurmountable. The prophet Zechariab bebeld, in a vision, Joshua the high priest, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. This vision revealed to him the great adversary by whom they were assailed with such an accumulation of trials and difficulties, noth withstanding the protection and patronage of the Persian government.
Again, when our Lord had laid the foundation of "a kingdom which cannot be moved,” and his apostles and disciples were rearing the superstructure, they were assaulted by fierce and bloody perse. cutions, such as the church had never experienced : the rage and malice of the wicked one were commensurate with the occasion which provoked them; the dominion which he had so long enjoyed without interruption, was brought into jeopardy, and he made a most desperate effort to maintain it. In the 12th chapter of Revelations we behold a woman clothed with the sun; and a great red dragon, have ing seven heads, and ten horns, and ten crowns upon his horns, standing before her ready to devour her seed.” By this vision we are instructed that the old Serpent, the devil, wielded all the powers of the mighty empire of ancient Rome, to effect, if possible, the destruction of the infant Christian church and in every instance on record; in which an attempt has been made to establish or re-establish a church in primitive purity, we discover a malignant spirit of opposi. tion which can be ascribed to no other influence than that of the old Serpent.
When open assault fails, the tempter has recourse to secret arti.. fices; what he cannot destroy he labours to corrupt. When, in spite of all his efforts, the Jews were peaceably settled in the land of Canaan, he seduced them to practise the idolatries of the remnant of the nations amongst whom they dwelt. They were delivered into the hand of their enemies; they repented and cast away their idols; they were restored to the favour of God, and blessed with prosperity again and again. But neither mercy nor judgment made any lasting impression upon them: "their hearts started aside like a broken bow," till at last the nation perished in a state of pagan apostacy. After their return from the Babylonish captivity, the Serpent was too subtle to attempt to deceive them by gross idolatry, but“ their teachers turned away their ears from the truth, and were turned unto fables." The professed interpreters of the word of God became false interpreters under the influence of the wicked one: man's authority was extolled above the word of God, and the Scriptures made of none effect, “ through human inventions and traditions." The most deplorable corruption ensued, which is the invariable result of such practices. The Jews, at the coming of our Lord, might, in outward appearance, be far superior to their pagan ancestors, who perished when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Chaldeans ; but the envy and rancour with which they pursued our Lord during the whole course
of his ministry, and the means which they unscrupulously employed to effect his destruction, indicate an awful depravity of national character, and an utter desecration of all moral and religious principles.
(To be continued in the Appendix.)
THE REV. J. CARVER ON THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE
LORD'S SUPPER TO COURVOISIER.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. SIR, -Although I have hitherto allowed to pass unnoticed the statements of newspapers, &c., the remarks of your correspondent "Antiquus (in your Number for September) are entitled to exception from my general rule, appearing as they do in your respectable and religious publication ;--my only complaint being, that your correspondent too readily assumed the statements in the public prints referred to, as correct and authorized, on the very slight ground of their non-contradiction. Nevertheless, whilst I thus complain of the too ready adoption of such unauthorized reports of the convict Courvoisier's state, confessions, contemplated suicide, &c., upon which “ Antiquus” founds his implications of my“ being deceived "-"not exercising sound discretion”—“proceeding on fallacious evidences ; " I acknowledge the principle of caution he lays down for the right admi. nistration of the Holy Sacrament in the cases of condemned criminals ; and moreover do assure you, that in the instance referred to I most cautiously proceeded upon, and consistently carried out, your correspondent's appropriate requirements.
Had the state of mind and circumstances connected with the unhappy criminal Courvoisier, at all corresponded with those mentioned by “ Antiquus,” so judiciously treated by the reverend chaplain of Maidstone jail, I should without hesitation have followed his prudent example, and decidedly refused (though requested) to comply with the convict's often expressed wish to receive the sacrament: but the cases were totally dissimilar. Courvoisier was brought up by religious parents, and most carefully educated in the knowledge of Divine revelation, the doctrines and precepts of which were quite familiar to him. He was admitted a member of the Lutheran church in his native village, at the early age of sixteen; from which period, until within twelve months of his committing the dreadful crime for which he suffered, he had been regularly in the habit of participating in the holy communion in his own church, and since his arrival in this country he was a communicant of the Church of England. Of the nature of the Lord's Supper, and the heavy responsibility of those who "eat and drink unworthily," he had a just and clear perception, and gave a most intelligent statement thereon, in the presence of Mr. Sheriff Whealton, the Rev. C. Baup (French Protestant clergyman), and myself; who fully concurred in the view, that though the convict's crime was one of the most heinous and horrible description, aggravated (as I have shewn above) by awful backsliding, and sinning against light, it was also one of apparent contrition and pe. nitence, with professed faith in the Saviour, authorising the administration of the sacrament, after repeated solicitation on the part of