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The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent
AUTHOR: Whitefield, George
PUBLISHED ON: April 3, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
PUBLISHED IN: Sermons

George Whitefield  Sermon 1

The Seed of the Woman, and the Seed of the Serpent.

Genesis 3:15 “And 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
Head.”

    On reading to you these words, I may address you in the language
of
the holy angels to the shepherds, that were watching their flocks by
night:
“Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy.” For this is the first
promise that was made of a Savior to the apostate race of Adam. We
generally look for Christ only in the New Testament; but Christianity,
in
one sense, is very near as old as the creation. It is wonderful to
observe
how gradually God revealed his Son to mankind. He began with the
promise in
the text, and this the elect lived upon, till the time of Abraham. To
him,
God made further discoveries of his eternal council concerning man’s
redemption. Afterwards, at sundry times, and in divers manners, God
spoke
to the fathers by the prophets, till at length the Lord Jesus himself
was
manifested in flesh, and came and tabernacled amongst us.
    This first promise must certainly be but dark to our first
parents, in
comparison of that great light which we enjoy: And yet, dark as it
was, we
may assure ourselves they built upon it their hopes of everlasting
salvation, and by that faith were saved.
    How they came to stand in need of this promise, and what is the
extent
and meaning of it, I intend, God willing, to make the subject-matter
of
your present meditation.
    The fall of man is written in too legible characters not to be
understood: Those that deny it, by their denying, prove it. The very
heathens confessed, and bewailed it: They could see the streams of
corruption running through the whole race of mankind, but could not
trace
them to the fountain-head. Before God gave a revelation of his Son,
man was
a riddle to himself. And Moses unfolds more, in this one chapter (out
of
which the text is taken) than all mankind could have been capable of
finding out of themselves, though they had studied to all eternity.
    In the preceding chapter he had given us a full account, how God
spoke
the world into being; and especially how he formed man of the dust of
the
earth, and breathed into him the breath of life, so that he became a
living
soul. A council of the Trinity was called concerning the formation of
this
lovely creature. The result of that council was, “Let us make man in
our
image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image, in the
image of God created he him.” Moses remarkably repeats these words,
that we
might take particular notice of our divine Original. Never was so much
expressed in so few words: None but a man inspired could have done so.
But
it is remarkable, that though Moses mentions our being made in the
image of
God, yet he mentions it but twice, and that in a transient manner; as
though he would have said, “man was made in honor, God make him
upright,
`in the image of God, male and female created he them.’ But man so
soon
fell, and became like the beasts that perish, nay, like the devil
himself,
that it is scarce worth mentioning.”
    How soon man fell after he was created, is not told us; and
therefore,
to fix any time, is to be wise above what is written. And, I think,
they
who suppose that man fell the same day in which he was made, have no
sufficient ground for their opinion. The many things which are crowded
together in the former chapter, such as the formation of Adam’s wife,
his
giving names to the beasts, and his being put into the garden which
God had
planted, I think require a longer space of time than a day to be
transacted
in. However, all agree in this, “man stood not long.” How long, or how
short a while, I will not take upon me to determine. It more concerns
us to
inquire, how he came to fall from his steadfastness, and what was the
rise
and progress of the temptation which prevailed over him. The account
given
us in this chapter concerning it, is very full; and it may do us much
service, under God, to make some remarks upon it.
    “Now the serpent (says the sacred historian) was more subtle than
any
beast of the field which the Lord God had made, and he said unto the
woman,
Yes, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”

    Though this was a real serpent, yet he that spoke was no other
than

the devil; from hence, perhaps, called the old serpent, because he
took
possession of the serpent when he came to beguile our first parents.
The
devil envied the happiness of man, who was made, as some think, to
supply
the place of the fallen angels. God made man upright, and with full
power
to stand if he would: He was just, therefore, in suffering him to be
tempted. If he fell, he had no one to blame except himself. But how
must
Satan effect his fall? He cannot do it by his power, he attempts it
therefore by policy: he takes possession of a serpent, which was more
subtle than all the beasts of the field, which the Lord God had made;
so
that men who are full of subtlety, but have no piety, are only
machines for
the devil to work upon, just as he pleases.
    “And he said unto the woman.” Here is an instance of his
subtlety. He
says unto the woman, the weaker vessel, and when she was alone from
her
husband, and therefore was more liable to be overcome; “Yes, hath God
said,
ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” These words are
certainly
spoken in answer to something which the devil either saw or heard. In
all
probability, the woman was now near the tree of knowledge of good and
evil;
(for we shall find her, by and by, plucking an apple from it) perhaps
she
might be looking at, and wondering what tree was in that tree more
than the
others, that she and her husband should be forbidden to take of it.
Satan
seeing this, and coveting to draw her into a parley with him, (for if
the
devil can persuade us not to resist, but to commune with him, he hath
gained a great point) he says, “Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat
of
every tree in the garden?” The first thing he does is to persuade he,
if
possible to entertain hard thoughts of God; this is his general way of
dealing with God’s children: “Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of
every
tree of the garden? What! Hath God planted a garden, and placed you in
the
midst of it, only to tease and perplex you? Hath he planted a garden,
and
yet forbid you making use of any of the fruits of it at all?” It was
impossible for him to ask a more ensnaring question, in order to gain
his
end: For Eve was here seemingly obliged to answer, and vindicate God’s
goodness. And therefore, —
    Verses 2 and 3. The woman said unto the serpent, “We may eat of the
fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which
is in
the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it,
neither
shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”
    The former part of the answer was good, “We may eat of the fruit
of
the trees of the garden, God has not forbid us eating of every tree of
the
garden. No; we may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden (and,
it
should seem, even of the tree of life, which was as a sacrament to man
in
the state of innocence) there is only one tree in the midst of the
garden,
of which God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch
it,
lest ye die.” Here she begins to warp, and sin begins to conceive I
her
heart. Already she has contracted some of the serpent’s poison, by
talking
with him, which she ought not to have done at all. For she might
easily
suppose, that it could be no good being that could put such a question
unto
her, and insinuate such dishonorable thoughts of God. She should
therefore
have fled from him, and not stood to have parleyed with him at all.
Immediately the ill effects of it appear, she begins to soften the
divine
threatening. God had said, “the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt
surely
die;” or, dying thou shalt die. But Eve says, “Ye shall not eat of it,
neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” We may be assured we are
fallen
into, and begin to fall by temptations, when we begin to think God
will not
be as good as his word, in respect to the execution of his
threatenings
denounced against sin. Satan knew this, and therefore artfully
    “Said unto the woman, (ver. 4) Ye shall not surely die,” in an
insinuating manner, “Ye shall not surely die. Surely; God will not be
so
cruel as to damn you only for eating an apple, it cannot be.” Alas!
How
many does Satan lead captive at his will, by flattering them, that
they
shall not surely die; that hell torments will not be eternal; that God
is
all mercy; that he therefore will not punish a few years sin with an
eternity of misery? But Eve found God as good as his word; and so will
all
they who go on in sin, under a false hope that they shall not surely
die.

    We may also understand the words spoken positively, and this is

agreeable to what follows; You shall not surely die; “It is all a
delusion,
a mere bugbear, to keep you in a servile subjection.”
    For (ver. 5) “God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then
shall your eyes be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and
evil.”
    What child of God can expect to escape slander, when God himself
was
thus slandered even in paradise? Surely the understanding of Eve must
have
been, in some measure, blinded, or she would not have suffered the
tempter
to speak such perverse things. In what odious colors is God here
represented! “God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, ye shall
be as
gods,” (equal with God.) So that the grand temptation was, that they
should
be hereafter under no control, equal, if not superior, to God that
made
them, knowing good and evil. Eve could not tell what Satan meant by
this;
but, to be sure, she understood it of some great privilege which they
were
to enjoy. And thus Satan now points out a way which seems right to
sinners,
but does not tell them the end of that way is death.
    To give strength and force to this temptation, in all
probability,
Satan, or the serpent, at this time plucked an apple from the tree,
and ate
it before Eve; by which Eve might be induced to think, that the
sagacity
and power of speech, which the serpent had above the other beasts,
must be
owing, in a great measure, to his eating that fruit; and, therefore,
if he
received so much improvement, she might also expect a like benefit
from it.
All this, I think, is clear; for, otherwise, I do not see with what
propriety it could be said, “When the woman saw that it was good for
food.”
How could she know it was good for food, unless she had seen the
serpent
feed upon it?
    Satan now begins to get ground space. Lust had conceived in Eve’s
heart; shortly it will bring forth sin. Sin being conceived, brings
forth
death. Verse 6, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for
food,
and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make
one
wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto
her
husband, and he did eat.”
    Our senses are the landing ports of our spiritual enemies. How
needful
is that resolution of holy Job, “I have made a covenant with mine
eyes!”
When Eve began to gaze on the forbidden fruit with her eyes, she soon
began
to long after it with her heart. When she saw that it was good for
food,
and pleasant to the eyes, (here was the lust of the flesh, and lust of
the
eye) but, above all, a tree to be desired to make one wise, wiser than
God
would have her be, nay, as wise as God himself; she took of the fruit
thereof, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. As
soon
as ever she sinned herself, she turned tempter to her husband. It is
dreadful, when those, who should be help-meets for each other in the
great
work of their salvation, are only promoters of each other’s damnation:
but
thus it is. If we ourselves are good, we shall excite others to
goodness;
if we do evil, we shall entice others to do evil also. There is a
close
connection between doing and teaching. How needful then is it for us
all to
take heed that we do not sin any way ourselves, lest we should become
factors for the devil, and ensnare, perhaps, our nearest and dearest
relatives? “she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.”
    Alas! What a complication of crimes was there in this one single
act
of sin! Here is an utter disbelief of God’s threatening; the utmost
ingratitude to their Maker, who had so lately planted this garden, and
placed them in it, with such a glorious and comprehensive charter.
And, the
utmost neglect of their posterity, who they knew were to stand or fall
with
them. Here was the utmost pride of heart: they wanted to be equal with
God.
Here’s the utmost contempt put upon his threatening and his law: the
devil
is credited and obeyed before him, and all this only to satisfy their
sensual appetite. Never was a crime of such a complicated nature
committed
by any here below: Nothing but the devil’s apostasy and rebellion
could
equal it.
    And what are the consequences of their disobedience? Are their
eyes
opened? Yes, their eyes are opened; but, alas! It is only to see their
own
nakedness. For we are told (ver. 7) “That the eyes of them both were
opened; and they knew that they were naked.” Naked of God, naked of
every
thing that was holy and good, and destitute of the divine image, which
they
before enjoyed. They might rightly now be termed Ichabod; for the
glory of

the Lord departed from them. O how low did these sons of the morning
then

fall! Out of God, into themselves; from being partakers of the divine
nature, into the nature of the devil and the beast. Well, therefore,
might
they know that they were naked, not only in body, but in soul.
    And how do they behave now they are naked? Do they flee to God
for
pardon? Do they seek to God for a robe to cove their nakedness? No,
they
were now dead to God, and became earthly, sensual, devilish:
therefore,
instead of applying to God for mercy, “they sewed or platted
fig-leaves
together, and made themselves aprons, “or things to gird about them.
This
is a lively representation of all natural man: we see that we are
naked:
we, in some measure, confess it; but, instead of looking up to God for
succor, we patch up a righteousness of our own (as our first parents
platted fig-leaves together) hoping to cover our nakedness by that.
But our
righteousness will not stand the severity of God’s judgment: it will
do us
no more service than the fig-leaves did Adam and Eve, that is, none at
all.
    For (ver. 8) “They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the
trees of the garden, in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife
(notwithstanding their fig-leaves) hid themselves from the presence of
the
Lord God, among the trees of the garden.”
    They heard the voice of the Lord God, or the Word of the Lord
God,
even the Lord Jesus Christ, who is “the word that was with God, and
the
word that was God.” They heard him walking in the trees of the garden,
in
the cool of the day. A season, perhaps, when Adam and Eve used to go,
in a
n especial manner, and offer up an evening sacrifice of praise and
thanksgiving. The cool of the day. Perhaps the sin was committed early
in
the morning, or at noon; but God would not come upon them immediately,
he
staid till the cool of the day. And if we would effectually reprove
others,
we should not do it when they are warmed with passion, but wait till
the
cool of the day.
    But what an alteration is here! Instead of rejoicing at the voice
of
their beloved, instead of meeting him with open arms and enlarged
hearts,
as before, they now hide themselves in the trees of the garden. Alas,
what
a foolish attempt was this? Surely they must be naked, otherwise how
could
they think of hiding themselves from God? Whither could they flee from
his
presence? But, by their fall, they had contracted an enmity against
God:
they now hated, and were afraid to converse with God their Maker. And
is
not this our case by nature? Assuredly it is. We labor to cover our
nakedness with the fig-leaves of our own righteousness: We hide
ourselves
from God as long as we can, and will not come, and never should come,
did
not the Father prevent, draw, and sweetly constrain us by his grace,
as he
here prevented Adam.
    Verse 9. “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him,
Adam,
where art thou?”
    “The Lord God called unto Adam.” (for otherwise Adam would never
have
called unto the Lord God) and said, “Adam, where art thou? How is it
that
thou comest not to pay thy devotions as usual?” Christians, remember
the
Lord keeps an account when you fail coming to worship. Whenever
therefore
you are tempted to withhold your attendance, let each of you fancy you
heard the Lord calling unto you, and saying, “O man, O woman, where
art
thou? It may be understood in another and better sense; “Adam, where
art
thou?” What a condition is thy poor soul in? This is the first thing
the
Lord asks and convinces a sinner of; when he prevents and calls him
effectually by his grace; he also calls him by name; for unless God
speaks
to us in particular, and we know where we are, how poor, how
miserable, how
blind, how naked, we shall never value the redemption wrought out for
us by
the death and obedience of the dear Lord Jesus. “Adam, where art
thou?”
    Verse 10. “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I
was
afraid.” See what cowards sin makes us. If we knew no sin, we should
know
no fear. “Because I was naked, and I hid myself.” Ver. 11, “And he
said,
who told thee that thou was naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree,
whereof I
(thy Maker and Law-giver) commanded thee, that thou shouldest not
eat?”
    God knew very well that Adam was naked, and that he had eaten of
the
forbidden fruit, But God would know it from Adam’s own mouth. Thus God
knows all our necessities before we ask, but yet insists upon our
asking
for his grace, and confessing our sins. For, by such acts, we
acknowledge

our dependence upon God, take shame to ourselves, and thereby give
glory to

his great name.
    Verse 12. “And the man said, the woman which thou gavest to be
with
me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”
    Never was nature more lively delineated. See what pride Adam
contracted by the fall! How unwilling he is to lay the blame upon, or
take
shame to himself. This answer is full of insolence towards God, enmity
against his wife, and disingenuity in respect to himself. For herein
he
tacitly reflects upon God. “The woman that thou gavest to be with me.”
As
much as to say, if thou hadst not given me that woman, I had not eaten
the
forbidden fruit. Thus, when men sin, they lay the fault upon their
passions; then blame and reflect upon God for giving them those
passions.
Their language is, “the appetites that thou gavest us, they deceived
us;
and therefore we sinned against thee.” But, as God, notwithstanding,
punished Adam for hearkening to the voice of his wife, so he will
punish
those who hearken to the dictates of their corrupt inclinations. For
God
compels no man to sin. Adam might have withstood the solicitations of
his
wife, if he would. And so, if we look up to God, we should find grace
to
help in the time of need. The devil and our own hearts tempt, but they
cannot force us to consent, without the concurrence of our own wills.
So
that our damnation is of ourselves, as it will evidently appear at the
great day, notwithstanding all men’s present impudent replies against
God.
As Adam speaks insolently in respect to God, so he speaks with enmity
against his wife; the woman, or this woman, she gave me. He lays all
the
fault upon her, and speaks of her with much contempt. He does not say,
my
wife, my dear wife; but, THIS WOMAN. Sin disunites the most united
hearts:
It is, the bane of holy fellowship. Those who have been companions in
sin
here, if they die without repentance, will both hate and condemn one
another hereafter. All damned souls are accusers of their brethren.
Thus it
is, in some degree, on this side of the grave. “The woman whom thou
gavest
to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” What a
disingenuous
[deceitful] speech was here! He makes use of no less than fifteen
words to
excuse himself, and but one or two (in the original) to confess his
fault,
if it may be called a confession at all. “The woman which thou gavest
to be
with me, she gave me of the tree;” here are fifteen words; “and I did
eat.”
With what reluctance do these last words come out? How soon are they
uttered are they uttered? “And I did eat.” But thus it is with an
unhumbled, unregenerate heart; It will be laying the fault upon the
dearest
friend in the world, nay, upon God himself, rather than take shame to
itself. This pride we are all subject to by the fall; and, till our
hearts
are broken, and made contrite by the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we
shall be always charging God foolishly. “Against thee, and thee only,
have
I sinned, that thou mightest be justified in thy saying, and clear
when
thou art judged,” is the language of none but those, who, like David,
are
willing to confess their faults, and are truly sorry for their sins.
This
was not the case of Adam; his heart was not broken; and therefore he
lays
the fault of his disobedience upon his wife and God, and not upon
himself;
“The woman which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree,
and I
did eat.”
    Verse 13. “And the Lord God said, What is this that thou hast
done?”
What a wonderful concern does God express in this expostulation! “What
a
deluge of misery hast thou brought upon thyself, thy husband, and thy
posterity? What is this that thou has done? Disobeyed thy God, obeyed
the
devil, and ruined thy husband, for whom I made thee to be an
help-meet!
What is this that thou hast done?” God would here awaken her to a
sense of
her crime and danger, and therefore, as it were, thunders in her ears:
for
the law must be preached to self-righteous sinners. We must take care
of
healing before we see sinners wounded, lest we should say, Peace,
peace,
where there is no peace. Secure sinners must hear the thunderings of
mount
Sinai, before we bring them to mount Zion. They who never preach up
the
law, it is to be feared, are unskillful in delivering the glad tidings
of
the gospel. Every minister should be a Boanerges, a son of thunder, as
well
as a Barnabus, a son of consolation. There was an earthquake and a
whirlwind, before the small still voice came to Elijah: We must first
show
people they are condemned, and then show them how they must be saved.
But
how and when to preach the law, and when to apply the promises of the

gospel, wisdom is profitable to direct. “And the Lord God said unto
the

woman, What is this that thou has done?”
    “And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” She
does
not make use of so many words to excuse herself, as her husband; but
her
heart is as unhumbled as his. What is this, says God, that thou hast
done?
God here charges her with doing it. She dares not deny the fact, or
say, I
have not done it; but she takes all the blame off herself, and lays it
upon
the serpent; “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” She does not
say,
“Lord, I was to blame for talking with the serpent; Lord, I did wrong,
in
not hastening to my husband, when he put the first question to me;
Lord, I
plead guilty, I only am to blame, O let not my poor husband suffer for
my
wickedness!” This would have been the language of her heart had she
now
been a true penitent. But both were now alike proud; therefore neither
will
lay the blame upon themselves; “The serpent beguiled me, and I did
eat. The
woman which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I
did
eat.”
    I have been the more particular in remarking this part of their
behavior, because it tends so much to the magnifying of Free-grace,
and
plainly shows us, that salvation cometh only from the Lord. Let us
take a
short view of the miserable circumstances our first parents were now
in:
They were legally and spiritually dead, children of wrath, and heirs
of
hell. They had eaten the fruit, of which God had commanded them, that
they
should not eat; and when arraigned before God, notwithstanding their
crime
was so complicated, they could not be brought to confess it. What
reason
can be given, why sentence of death should not be pronounced against
the
prisoners at the bar? All must own they are worthy to die. Nay, how
can
God, consistently with his justice, possibly forgive them? He had
threatened, that they day wherein they eat of the forbidden fruit,
they
should “surely die;” and, if he did not execute this threatening, the
devil
might then slander the Almighty indeed. And yet mercy cries, spare
these
sinners, spare the work of thine own hands. Behold, then, wisdom
contrives
a scheme how God may be just, and yet be merciful; be faithful to his
threatening, punish the offense, and at the same time spare the
offender.
An amazing scene of divine love here opens to our view, which had been
from
all eternity hid in the heart of God! Notwithstanding Adam and Eve
were
thus unhu7mbled, and did not so much as put up on single petition for
pardon, God immediately passes sentence upon the serpent, and reveals
to
them a Savior.
    Verse 14. “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, because thou
hast
done this, thou art accursed above all cattle, and above every beast
of the
field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the
days
of thy life;” i.e. he should be in subjection, and his power should
always
be limited and restrained. “His enemies shall lick the very dust,”
says the
Psalmist. (Verse 15.) “And 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.”
    Before I proceed to the explanation of this verse, I cannot but
take
notice of one great mistake which the author of the WHOLE DUTY OF MAN
is
guilty of, in making this verse contain a covenant between God and
Adam, as
though God now personally treated with Adam, as before the fall. For,
talking of the second covenant in his preface, concerning caring for
the
soul, says he, “This second covenant was made with Adam, and us in
him,
presently after the fall, and is briefly contained in these words,
Gen.
3:15 where God declares, `The seed of the woman shall break the
serpent’s
head; and this was made up, as the first was, of some mercies to be
afforded by God, and some duties to be performed by us.” This is
exceeding
false divinity: for those words are not spoken to Adam; they are
directed
only to the serpent. Adam and Eve stood by as criminals, and God could
not
treat with them, because they had broken his covenant. And it is so
far
from being a covenant wherein “some mercies are to be afforded by God,
and
some duties to be performed by us,” that here is not a word looking
that
way; it is only a declaration of a free gift of salvation through
Jesus
Christ our Lord. God the Father and God the Son had entered into a
covenant
concerning the salvation of the elect from all eternity, wherein God
the
Father promised, That, if the Son would offer his soul a sacrifice for
sin,
he should see his seed. Now this is an open revelation of this secret

covenant, and therefore God speaks in the most positive terms, “It
shall

bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heal.” The first Adam, God
had
treated with before; he proved false: God therefore, to secure the
second
covenant from being broken, puts it into the hands of the second Adam,
the
Lord from heaven. Adam, after the fall, stood no longer as our
representative; he and Eve were only private persons, as we are, and
were
only to lay hold on the declaration of mercy contained in this promise
by
faith, (as they really did) and by that they were saved. I do not say
but
we are to believe and obey, if we are everlastingly saved. Faith and
obedience are conditions, if we only mean that they in order go before
our
salvation, but I deny that these are proposed by God to Adam, or that
God
treats with him in this promise, as he did before the fall under the
covenant of works. For how could that be, when Adam and Eve were now
prisoners at the bar, without strength to perform any conditions at
all?
The truth is this: God, as a reward of Christ’s sufferings, promised
to
give the elect faith and repentance, in order to bring them to eternal
life; and both these, and every thing else necessary for their
everlasting
happiness, and infallibly secured to them in this promise; as Mr.
Rastan,
an excellent Scots divine, clearly shows, in a book entitled, “A view
of
the covenant of grace.”
    This is by no means an unnecessary distinction; it is a matter of
great importance: for want of knowing this, people have been so long
misled, They have been taught that they must do so and so, and though
they
were under a covenant of works, and then for DOING this, they should
be
saved. Whereas, on the contrary, people should be taught, That the
Lord
Jesus was the second Adam, with whom the Father entered into covenant
for
fallen man; That they can now do nothing of or for themselves, and
should
therefore come to God, beseeching him to give them faith, by which
they
shall be enabled to lay hold on the righteousness of Christ; and that
faith
they will then show forth by their works, out of love and gratitude to
the
ever blessed Jesus, their most glorious Redeemer, for what he has done
for
their souls. This is a consistent scriptural scheme; without holding
this,
we must run into one of those two bad extremes; I mean Antinomianism
on the
one hand, or Arminianism on the other: from both which may the good
Lord
deliver us!
    But to proceed: By the seed of the woman, we are here to
understand
the Lord Jesus Christ, who, though very God of very God, was, for us
men
and our salvation, to have a body prepared for him by the Holy Ghost,
and
to be born of a woman who never knew man, and by his obedience and
death
make an atonement for man’s transgression, and bring in an everlasting
righteousness, work in them a new nature, and thereby bruise the
serpent’s
head, i.e. destroy his power and dominion over them. By the serpent’s
seed,
we are to understand the devil and all his children, who are permitted
by
God to tempt and sift his children. But, blessed be God, he can reach
no
further than our heel.
    It is to be doubted but Adam and Eve understood this promise in
this
sense; for it is plain, in the latter part of the chapter, sacrifices
were
instituted. From whence should those skins come, but from beasts slain
for
sacrifice, of which God made them coats? We find Abel, as well as
Cain,
offering sacrifice in the next chapter: and the Apostle tells us, he
did it
by faith, no doubt in this promise. And Eve, when Cain was born, said,
“I
have gotten a man from the Lord,” or, (as Mr. Henry observes, it may
be
rendered) “I have gotten a man, — the Lord, — the promised Messiah.”
Some
further suppose, that Eve was the first believer; and therefore they
translate it thus, “The seed, (not of the, but) of this woman:” which
magnifies the grace of God so much the more, that she, who was first
in the
transgression, should be the first partaker of redemption. Adam
believed
also, and was saved: for unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make
coats
of skins, and clothed them: which was a remarkable type of their being
clothed with the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    This promise was literally fulfilled in the person of our Lord
Jesus
Christ. Satan bruised his heel, when he tempted him for forty days
together
in the wilderness: he bruised his heel, when he raised up strong
persecution against him during the time of his public ministry: he in
an
especial manner bruised his heel, when our Lord complained, that his
soul
was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, and he sweat great drops of
blood

falling upon the ground, in the garden; He bruised his heel, when he
put it

into the heart of Judas to betray him: ad he bruised him yet most of
all,
when his emissaries nailed him to an accursed tree, and our Lord cried
out,
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Yet, in all this, the
blessed
Jesus, the seed of the woman, bruised Satan’s accursed head; for, in
that
he was tempted, he was able to succor those that are tempted. By his
stripes we are healed. The chastisement of our peace was upon him. By
dying, he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the
devil. He
thereby spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them
openly,
triumphing over them upon the cross.
    This promise has been fulfilled in the elect of God, considered
collectively, as well before, as since the coming of our Lord in the
flesh:
for they may be called, the seed of the woman. Marvel not, that all
who
will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution. In this
promise,
there is an eternal enmity put between the seed of the woman, and the
seed
of the serpent; so that those that are born after the flesh, cannot
but
persecute those that are born after the spirit. This enmity showed
itself,
soon after this promise was revealed, in Cain’s bruising the heel of
Abel:
it continued in the church through all ages before Christ came in the
flesh, as the history of the Bible, and the 11th chapter of the
Hebrews,
plainly show. It raged exceedingly after our Lord’s ascension; witness
the
Acts of the Apostles, and the History of the Primitive Christians. It
now
rages, and will continue to rage and show itself, in a greater or less
degree, to the end of time. But let not this dismay us; for in all
this,
the seed of the woman is more than conqueror, and bruises the
serpent’s
head. Thus the Israelites, the more they were oppressed, the more they
increased. Thus it was with the Apostles; thus it was with their
immediate
followers. So that Tertullian compares the church in his time to a
mowed
field; the more frequently it is cut, the more it grows. The blood of
the
martyrs was always the seed of the church. And I have often sat down
with
wonder and delight, and admired how God has made the very schemes
which his
enemies contrived, in order to hinder, become the most effectual means
to
propagate his gospel. The devil has had so little success in
persecution,
that if I did not know that he and his children, according to this
verse,
could not but persecute, I should think he would count it his strength
to
sit still. What did he get by persecuting the martyrs in Queen Mary’s
time?
Was not the grace of God exceedingly glorified in their support? What
did
he get by persecuting the good old Puritans? Did it not prove the
peopling
of New-England? Or, to come nearer our own times, what has he got by
putting us out of the synagogues? Hath not the word of God, since
that,
mightily prevailed? My dear hearers, you must excuse me for enlarging
on
this head; God fills my soul generally, when I come to this topic. I
can
say with Luther, “If it were not for persecution, I should not
understand
the scripture.” If Satan should be yet suffered to bruise my heel
further,
and his servants should thrust me into prison, I doubt not, but even
that
would only tend to the more effectual bruising of his head. I remember
a
saying the then Lord Chancellor to the pious Bradford: “Thou hast done
more
hurt, said he, by thy exhortations in private in prison, than thou
didst in
preaching before thou was put in,” or words to this effect. The
promise of
the text is my daily support: “I will put enmity between thy seed and
her
seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
    Further: this promise is also fulfilled, not only in the church
in
general, but in every individual believer in particular. In every
believer
there are two seeds, the seed of the woman, and the seed of the
serpent;
the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the
flesh. It
is with the believer, when quickened with grace in his heart, as it
was
with Rebekah, when she had conceived Esau and Jacob in her womb; she
felt a
struggling, and began to be uneasy; “If it be so says she, why am I
thus?”
(Gen. 25:22) Thus grace and nature struggle (if I may so speak) in the
womb
of a believers heart: but, as it was there said, “The elder shall
serve the
younger;” so it is here, — grace in the end shall get the better of
nature; the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. Many of
you
that have believed in Christ, perhaps may find some particular
corruption
yet strong, so strong, that you are sometimes ready to cry out with
David,
“I shall fall one day by the hand of Saul.” But, fear not, the promise
in
the text insures the perseverance and victory of believers over sin,
Satan,

death, and hell. What if indwelling corruption does yet remain, and
the

seed of the serpent bruise your heel, in vexing and disturbing your
righteous souls? Fear not, though faint, yet pursue: you shall yet
bruise
the serpent’s head. Christ hath died for you, and yet a little while,
and
he will send death to destroy the very being of sin in you. Which
brings me
    To show the most extensive manner in which the promise of the
text
shall be fulfilled, vis. at the final judgment, when the Lord Jesus
shall
present the elect to his Father, without spot or wrinkle, or any such
thing, glorified both in body and soul.
    Then shall the seed of the woman give the last and fatal blow, in
bruising the serpent’s head. Satan, the accuser of the brethren, and
all
his accursed seed, shall then be cast out, and never suffered to
disturb
the seed of the woman any more. Then shall the righteous shine as the
sun
in the kingdom of their Father, and sit with Christ on thrones in
majesty
on high.
    Let us, therefore, not be weary of well-doing; for we shall reap
an
eternal harvest of comfort, if we faint not. Dare, dare, my dear
brethren
in Christ, to follow the Captain of your salvation, who was made
perfect
through sufferings. The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s
head.
Fear not men. Be not too much cast down at the deceitfulness of your
hearts. Fear not devils; you shall get the victory even over them. The
Lord
Jesus has engaged to make you more than conquerors over all. Plead
with you
Savior, plead: plead the promise in the tent. Wrestle, wrestle with
God in
prayer. If it has been given you to believe, fear not if it should
also be
given you to suffer. Be not any wise terrified by your adversaries;
the
king of the church has them all in a chain: be kind to them, pray for
them;
but fear them not. The Lord will yet bring back his ark; though at
present
driven into the wilderness; and Satan like lightening shall fall from
heaven.
    Are there any enemies of God here? The promise of the text
encourages
me to bid you defiance: the seed of the woman, the ever-blessed Jesus,
shall bruise the serpent’s head. What signifies all your malice? You
are
only raging waves of the sea, foaming out your own shame. For you,
without
repentance, is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. The Lord
Jesus
sits in heaven, ruling over all, and causing all things to work for
his
children’s good: he laughs you to scorn: he hath you in the utmost
derision, and therefore so will I. Who are you that persecute the
children
of the ever blessed God? Though a poor stripling, the Lord Jesus, the
seed
of the woman, will enable me to bruise your heads.
    My brethren in Christ, I think I do not speak thus in my own
strength,
but in the strength of my Redeemer. I know in whom I have believed; I
am
persuaded he will keep that safe, which I have committed unto him. He
is
faithful who hath promised, that the seed of the woman shall bruise
the
serpent’s head. May we all experience a daily completion of this
promise,
both in the church and in our hearts, till we come to the church of
the
first-born, the spirits of just men made perfect, in the presence and
actual fruition of the great God our heavenly Father!
    To whom, with the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honor,
power, might, majesty, and dominion, now and for evermore. Amen.

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