Imágenes de páginas

sented by the serpent's bruising the heel of the woman's feed, did not the mischiefs brought upon the house of Israel by the idolatry of Dan well deserve to be painted in colours of the same kind? And when Jacob saw that the venom of the old serpent was not yet spent, but that it would work again in one of his own sons, to the utter ruin of his posterity, could he help looking back upon God's promise of deliverance, and the hope given, that the serpent's head should be bruised? Could this view, and this reflection together, be attended with any other sentiments than those which close this prophecy? I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.

This prophecy, considered in this light, affords a very ancient evidence of the expectation of deliverance from the curse of the fall. The hope of salvation here manifestly relates to the mischief wrought by a serpent biting the heels. And though this image is used to foretel a mischief then to come, and though the salvation itself was still to come, yet the hope was older than Jacob, had been his comfort all along, and was his comfort under the sad prospect he had of his children's iniquity.

Lay these circumstances together, and it is imposfible to imagine any salvation that can answer to these ideas, but that only which arose from the promise, that the feed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head.

This expectation, so earnestly and so warmly expressed by the old patriarch, led some interpreters to apply it to the hopes of salvation through the Meffias, as the only object of worth and dignity sufficient to engage his last thoughts, and to be the comfort and

support of his last hour ; though they did not consider the prophecy itself as leading to this hope, but referred it to a temporal deliverance, to be brought about by one of the fons of Dan b.

But that this prophecy was anciently understood to fix a mark of infamy upon Dan, and not to sing the triumph of the tribe, appears by an old tradition grounded on this prophecy, that Antichrist should proceed from the tribe of Danc. For which opinion, what other ground could there be but this, that the terms in which Dan is described are the very same made use of in describing the tempter, that first and great Antichrist, who was to have perpetual enmity with the seed of the woman, and to wage continual war with the saints, and often to prevail to the bruising their heel

Some intimation of this fort seems to be given in the Revelation of St. John, ch. vii. One would think that Dan was rejected, and accounted as the seed of the serpent, by the leaving all of this tribe out of the number of those who were sealed with the seal of the living God. It seems to be the original purpose of Providence to settle the house of Israel under twelve heads; and yet Levi had no share of the inheritance in the land of Canaan, as the other tribes had, God having provided another maintenance for him; Numb. xviii. 14. Josh. xiv. 3. and xiii. 33:

Adeft huic expofitioni Thargum Hierosolymitanum-Dixit pater nofter Jacob — Expecto redemptionem Meffia Filii David, qui venturus eft ut adducat fibi Filios Ifrael, cujus redemptionem expeétat et defiderat anima mea. Eademque habentur in paraphrafi Chaldaica editionis Complutenfis. Pererius in locum.

. See Calmet's Dictionary under the title Dan.

nor had Dan, in the Revelation of St. John, any share allotted him in the kingdom of the Messias. In both cases the two tribes of the house of Jofeph are admitted to complete the number : so that in the temporal covenant made with Abraham, which gave him the inheritance of the land of Canaan, Levi had no share; in the promise, to be accomplished through him in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, Dan had no share. It is remarkable, that Jacob in blessing the sons of Joseph adopts them to be his own sons, and constitutes them heads of diftinct tribes, Gen. xlviii. 16; by which means the tribes of Israel should have been thirteen : but, as the case happened, this substitution did only keep up the number to twelve. These things did not happen by chance; but I pretend not to account for this disposition of Providence.

That the language of the first prophecy, representing the victory of the woman's seed by bruising the ferpent's head, has been continued in later prophecies, has appeared already ; hence we read of power given over serpents and scorpions, of treading upon the adder, and of trampling the dragon under feet. Now the known use of this language in Scripture, and the application of it to the promised seed, will help us to account for one of the arts made use of by the tempter, when he made his trial on our Saviour.

The tempter plainly wanted to know whether Jesus was the Son of God, that person expected to come, and with whom he well knew what concern he had. In order to know this, he tries whether our Lord would own the character, by assuming the power belonging to it: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down : for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, left at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. The words are taken from the gift Psalm, ver. 11. and 12. These words, considered in themselves, contain, in figurative language, a promise of God's providence and care over that person to whom they are addressed ; and might be applied with great propriety to David himself, or to any other good person specially regarded by God. How came the tempter then to consider these words as belonging only to him, who was to be the Son of God? From the words themselves he could not collect this : but there was another character in the very next verse, and belonging to the same person, which he could not mistake ; for this person, over whom the angels were to have charge, was to tread upon the lion d and adder, and the young lion and the dragon to trample under feet. He knew by. this mark to whom this whole prophecy belonged ; he could not forget who was to bruise his head : and though he avoided to ask our Lord directly, whether he was that person who was to bruise his head ; yet he did the same thing covertly, by trying whether another part of the same prophecy would be owned by him, as belonging to himself. If trampling the lion, and the adder, and the dragon under feet, had meant no more than that the fons of Adam and Eve should now and then destroy the serpents of the field, the

• The word tranflated lion signifies, in the opinion of Bochart, a kind of serpent.


tempter would have had no reason to suppose that he, who was to trample on the dragon, was to be the Son of God.

If we look into the world, where sin and death seem to rule with absolute dominion, and appear in all the forms of violence, fraud, and iniquity ; in diftempers without number, and in miseries too many, too affecting to be described; we shall want no other proof of the completion of the first part

of the

prophecy of the fall. The heel of the feed of the woman has been, and will continue to be, sufficiently bruised, till death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed. On the other side, the children of the kingdom have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, and are training up, under the many trials that surround them, by the assistance of God's holy Spirit, to be heirs of glory and immortality. And the time will come, when the Son of man will come forth conquering and to conquer, and shall appear in full power, and in the glory of the Father, to subdue all his enemies. Then shall the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, be fast bound, and cast into the lake of fire and brimstone ; and the judgments of God denounced against the wickedness of men having their completion, every curse shall cease o.

• Και πάν κατανάθεμα ουκ έσαι έτι. The rendering in our trantlation is, And there shall be no more curse; as if the words contained an assurance against any new curse. But the true meaning is, that every curse should cease ; that the curse of the fall, which had been working in all generations, and all others brought upon the earth, should be utterly extinguished, in consequence of the entire defeat of the old serpent, and the victory of the Son of


« AnteriorContinuar »