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Korah and his companions were con- | the same order of beings has distindemned as no longer fit to be applied to guished some with peculiar advantages a sacred use. This is done in order to above the rest, who can lay ought to express more forcibly the divine detest- the charge either of his goodness or ation of the act, while at the same his equity? There may have been wise time we may freely admit that the main and benevolent reasons with which we weight of the curse undoubtedly fell are unacquainted for such a proceeding; upon the principal agent, whose doom and it is most rational to infer the meris mystically expressed in the terms cy, justice, and wisdom of all acts that appropriate to a natural serpent. But are resolvable into the sovereign pleasnotwithstanding the intrinsic weight ure of an infinitely merciful, just, and and pertinency of the considerations wise being. (2.) It is not clear to what above adduced in justification of the extent the serpent's sentence is to bo sentence upon the natural serpent, ma- regarded as a real punishment. To ny persons are perplexed in the attempt punish is to inflict misery; but we do to reconcile it with the divine attributes. not find any intimation of pain or torThey see not the propriety of inflicting ture consequent upon the denunciation. a punishment upon a brute serpent for the serpent might be deteriorated as to the crime of a rational agent. Certain its properties; it might be lowered in it is, however, that whatever difficulty the scale of creation; it might be transexists on this score, it is a difficulty formed from a shape and appearance equally affecting the allegorical inter- the most beautiful in the eyes of man, pretation, since it is alike improper to into a form the most disgusting; and represent the Deity acting in contradic- all this without any diminution of its tion to equity and benevolence in ficti- corporeal pleasures. It will not be pretious as in real history. To attribute tended that the serpent endured any injustice to God, even in a fable or apo- mental suffering by the change. It had logue is a blasphemy of which no mor- none of the anguish which rends the al or pious author can be guilty. But human heart in the sense of degradathe difficulties arising from this source tion. It had no pangs of conscious may perhaps be in some measure re- disgrace, no anticipation of death; it moved, and the sentence freed from had the means left of providing its objection, if due weight be given to the food; it could protect itself from its enefollowing remarks. (1.) It may be suf- mies; and as far as we can perceive, ficient to rest the vindication of the the diminution of its powers brought transaction solely upon the sovereignty no diminution of its enjoyments. In of God, who has a right to dispose of what sense then, strictly speaking, was all his creatures in whatever manner it punished? (3.) Important benefits he pleases. What they have and are resulted from the vengeance exercised proceeds from his creative will; and
upon the serpent. It evidenced God's he is most assuredly free to take away righteous hatred and abhorrence of sin; what he has freely given. In withhold- and was an instructive emblem to the ing from one that which he has bestow- fallen pair of the divine punishment ed upon another, who will dare to ar- with which transgression is inevitably raign his justice? Who art thou that visited, as our Lord's cursing the barren repliest against God? Shall the thing fig-tree was designed to teach his disformed say to him that formed it, why ciples emblematically the destructivo hast thou made me thus ?" If the sov
consequences 'not bringing forth fruits ereign Creator have reduced any partic- meet for repentance. Without this ular species in the scale of being, or in standing monument of the penalty of
sin, they might have flattered them- shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat. selves that their criminality in tasting But another phrase for the extremest the forbidden fruit was not very hein- subjection and degradation. To what ous; and that their present degraded extent this sentence involved the doom state was owing rather to the natural of a change in the external form and course of things, than to their own motion of the serpent, it is not possible wickedness. Nothing therefore could confidently to affirm. If the suggesmore effectually convince them of the tions thrown out in a preceding note re- ' heinousness of their guilt, and the cer- specting the primitive shape and aptainty of the divine vengeance due to pearance of the creature here employed it, than the immediate punishment of be well founded, there was doubtless a tha: creaturt whic!ı was no more than signal transformation made to pass upthe mere instrument of evil. It was on him in consequence of the curse now casy for them to infer, if the mere in- inflicted. From having formerly move strument of evil be thus punished, whated by the aid of wings, or with the will become of the real authors and head and brcast elevated above the actors ? Delaney. (4.) The sentence of ground, he was now reduced from this the serpent and its immediate execution imposing posture, and become in the fullmay have served too as a typical prophest sense of the term, a reptile, vile and ecy of the victory to be obtained over sin, loathsome, and incapable of eating any death, and Satan, by our blessed Re- food but what should be more or less deemer. As the literal sense does not mingled with the dust. Still we can. exclude the mystical, the cursing of the not strenuously insist on this interpreserpent may have been designed as a tation. The curse might have taken symbol, a visible pledge, of the male- effect without any external change of diction to be visited, in the fulness of shape or aspect, just as the woman's time, upon the prime instigator. Im- pain in parturition, though natural to mediately after the fatal transgression her from the beginning, was made a our first parents would become fully curse by being greatly increased in insensible of their ruin and degradation. tensity. The essence of the sentence They would feel that they had violated was the degradation denounced, and a sacred command, that they had lost in this sense, it was equally applicable their primeval innocence, and had then to the natural and the spiritual serpent. only the melancholy prospect of future Satan was to be cast down from heav. misery. In this situation, trembling en to earth and overwhelmed with everwith apprehension and conscious of lasting disgrace. Rev. 12. 9. It has their weakness, how gladly would they indeed been a maiter of doubt how far accept any intimation of mercy from the sentence, dust shalt thou eat,' their offended Creator ? Such an inti- holds literally true of the common sermation was given in the scene transpir- pent, or whether it is peculiar to him. ing before their eyes. The instantane. But the meaning probably is, that the ous effect of the sentence upon the rep- serpent, in consequence of his creeping ule would be to them a certain pledge on the ground, should of necessity that the promise now symbolically swallow dust with food. Such must, made would in the appointed time be in the nature of things, be the caso. fulfilled. Viewed in this light the dread That other creatures take dust into the visitation upon the instrument of the stomach in some measure may be true; temptation, may be amply accounted but, if it be, it shows no inappropriatefor in perfect consistency with all the ness in this particular of the sentence. divine attributes. — Upon thy belly . It is not said that the serpent should
15 And I will put enmity be- seed: it shall bruise thy head tween thee and the woman, and and thou shalt bruise his heel. between thy seed and
r Matt. 3. 7. & 13. 38. & 23. 33. John 8. 44. Acts 13. 10. 1 John 3. 8. $ Ps. 132. 11. Is. 7. 14. Mic. 5. 3. Matt. l. 23, 25. Luke 1. 31, 34, 35. Gal. 4. 4.
t Rom. 16. 20. Col. 2. 15. Hebr. 2. 14. 1 Joha 5. 5. Rev. 12. 7, 17.
eat dust alone of, or more than, other between men and snakes. Such a creatures ; but that it should cat dust, punishment would be utterly disproporwhich is certainly the fact. But the tioned to the crime; and it would be phrase has a tropical import. 'Eating signally unworthy the divine majesty the dust is but another term for grov- to array itself in all the terrors of avenelling in the dust, and this is equiva- ging wrath in order to declare so unlent to being reduced to a condition of important a fact. Some further and meanness, shame, and contempt. Thus higher meaning then it must have been the prophet Micah speaking of the na- intended to convey, and what else tions being confounded, says ch. 7. 17, could that be than a symbolical pre• They shall lick the dust like a ser- diction of Satan's continued hostility pent,' i. e. they shall be utterly over- to man, and of the final subjugation of thrown and made vile, debased, and his empire in the world by the Redeemcontemptible.
er, here pointed out as 'the seed of the 15. And I will put enmity, &c. The woman.' It is clear, however, beyond duuble sense or twofold application of all contradiction that the sentence does, the terms of the serpent's curse, the in the first instance, apply to the natone having reference to the instrument, ural serpent.- - Between thy seed the other to the agent, is to be recog- and her seed. That is between thy nised here also. Nothing is more no- posterity and her posterity, as seed is 'torious than the fixed and inveterate often used for children. By the seed antipathy which naturally subsists be- of the serpent is to be understood all tween man and the whole serpent tribe. wicked men who are called serpents, A hatred of serpents is apparently inhe-generation of ripers, children of their rent and instinctive in every human father the devil ; and as the seed of the breast, and may be considered, as per- woman is set in opposition to these, it haps it was designed, as a shadow of must necessarily follow, since Eve is that deeper and more irreconcilable ha- the natural mother both of good men tred which was henceforth to exist be- and bad men, that it denotes a limited tween the seed of the woman and their portion of the human race, including great enemy, the devil, the old serpent. first and chiefly the Lord Jesus Christ, It could be no present consolation, nor who in allusion to this promise is called ground of future hope to Adam, to learn by way of eminence the seed, Gal. 3. that serpents should sometimes bite 16, 19, who came 'to destroy the works
the heels of his posterity, while they of the devil,' Heb. 2. 14. 1 John, 3. 8, in return, should sometimes trample and secondly, all the members of Christ these disgusting creatures to death. his true people, the sincerely pious in Nor in this can we discover any par- every age and country. These constiticular connection or correspondency tute the spiritual body here called the with the offence; for so dire an aposta- seed of the woman, and they all bear the cy would certainly be visited with some most implacable hatred to the wicked greater vengeance than the antipathy I one, while he on the other hand is ac
16 Unto the woman he said, I wand thy desire shall be to thy will greatly multiply thy sorrow husband, and he shall • rule over and thy conception; u in sorrow thee. thou shalt bring forth children :
w ch. 4. 7. x 1 Cor. 11. 3. & 14. 34. Eph. 3.
u Ps. 48. 6. Isa. 13. 8. & 21. 3. John 16. 21. I Tim. 2. 15.
22, 23, 24. 1 Tim. 2. 11, 12. Tit. 2. 5. i Pet, 3. 1. 5, 6.
tuated by an equally deadly hostility or injury would be attended with most against them, and is incessantly plot- trifling consequences. In a serpent, on ting their injury and ruin. The war- the other hand, the life is more concen. fare between these contending parties trated in the head. It is the head that now commenced which has ever since is always struck at in the attempt to been kept up, and will continue till a kill, and that which the serpent when complete victory over the devil and his in danger is most anxious to protect. angels shall be obtained by Christ and From the malice of Satan he might his people. — 1 It shall bruise thy head. suffer afflictions and persecutions, but Heb. 287 79707477 it, or he, shall in comparison with his better part they bruise, smite, or crush these as to thy should be but as a bruise of the heel head; the masculine he denoting that which could not endanger the spiritual Christ is more especially to be under- and eternal life of the soul. This was stood by the seed here spoken of. It out of the reach of the utmost efforts of was to be in consequence of his suffer- the enemy. But as to him, his most ings and death, and the power with vital part was most exposed, and upon which he was to be invested as Me- that would the crushing foot of the diator, that the power of Satan was to promised seed fall with all its weight. be broken and a signal victory obtain- 16. I will greatly multiply thy sored over him. This was in fact the first row and thy conception. Meaning acgospel promise, and though Adam and cording to the Hebrew idiom, thy sor. Eve did not then probably understand row in conception, i. e. the sorrow and its full import, yet it must have been a pain of pregnancy and parturition. In great consolation to them to be assured this sense the term 'conception,' octhat the present advantage gained by curs in several instances. See Gen. 16. the adversary was not to be a perma- | 4. Judg. 13. 3.- -1 Thou shalt bring nent one; that their posterity, though forth children. Heb. Da sons, under they might suffer in the struggle, should which term daughters also are compreyet finally prevail and crush his evil hended, as appears from Ex. 22. 24. empire in the world. Subsequently Ps. 128. 6.- | Thy desire shall be to they were no doubt both instructed thy husband. Heb. 17p7wn teshukah. more largely in the bearing of the prom- That is, thy desire shall be subject to ise, and it is reasonable and charitable the will and pleasure of thy husband ; to presume that by faith in its provis- thine obedient regards shall be to thy ions they received the pardon of their husband; he shall be the lord of thy personal transgression, and again be- wishes and thus mainly control thy coming heirs of that eternal life which happiness. Arab. "The direction of thee they had forfeited by sin, were received shall be with thy husband. The same at death into a far more glorious Para- phrase occurs ch. 4. 7, to express the dise than that which they lost on earth. deference and obsequious respect which
- Shall bruise his lieel. The least Abel should evince towards Cain his vital part in man, and where a bruise l elder brother, who was to possess this
17 And unto Adam he said, ground for thy sake; in sorrow
Because thou hast hearkened shalt thou eat of it all the days unto the voice of thy wife, ' and of thy life; hast eaten of the tree a of wbich 18 . Thorns also and thistles I commanded thee, saying, Thou shall it bring forth to thee; and shalt not eat of it: b cursed is the e thou shall eat the herb of the
field : y 1 Sam. 15. 23. Z ver. 6. a ch. 2. 17. b Eccl. 1. 2, 3. Isa. 24. 5, 6. Roni. 8. 20.
Eccl. 2. 23. d Job 31. 40.
c Job. 5. 7. 104. 14.
superiority in virtue of his birthright. whenever it shall universally prevail The latter clause, therefore, he shall we may confidently hope that this part rule over thee,' is explanatory of the of her severe sentence will be done words. The sentence we understand away. as a prophecy rather than as an enact- 17. Hast hearkened unto. Hast givment which was to be always binding. en heed to, hast obeyed.- - Cursed It is, if we mistake not, the announce- be the ground for thy sake. As the ment of a fact that should occur with blessing of God upon any of his crearespect to a large portion of the sex and stures usually carries with it the idea of through a long period of time, but not increase, abundance, multiplication, so one that should hold universally or on the contrary the curse involves the perpetually. As Eve in yielding to the opposite of all this, and in relation to tempter acted alone without subjecting the earth implies, that it should be deher desires to the counsel or consent of prived in great measure of its feruility, her husband, so now as a penalty for that it should not pour forth its proher perverseness it is announced, that ducts in the same profusion, nor should she, in the persons of her descendants, man avail himself of them with the should be made to suffer from the cruel same ease, as before. Its productiveand tyrannical treatment of the other ness should be so far impaired that the
Instead of being considered as an fruits necessary to his subsistence equal and a companion, woman should should be, as it were, extorted from it be subjected to degradation and viewed with labour and toil, with weariness as little better than the slave of an im- and sweat. Extensive regions should perious master. We have only to con- be condemned to utter barrenness, sult the history of the race to see how while its spontaneous productions completely this has been fulfilled, par- should be thorns, and thistles, and briticularly in the East, in all ages down ers, and weeds. That which in his state to the present time. Wherever the of innocence would have been merely light of Christianity has not penetrated, a pleasant recreation, was henceforth women have been invariably the sub- to become a drudgery and a burden jects of oppression and have groaned in scarcely to be borne. This was to be the bitterness of their lot, though often for man's sake, or on account of his unaware that any higher destiny was sin, or as far as he was concerned ; and ever designed for them. But the spirit as the earth was created for his use and of Christianity is opposed to this bar- made a part of his possession, it was barous lordship, and in proportion as it right that it should become in conseprevails never fails to relieve woman quence of the curse pronounced upon from marital authority and restore her it instrumental in the punishment of to her proper grade in society; and its offending lord-one who had so