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than a horse or ule, which have no understanding. * 2. The very worst degree of vileness, whereby he, who impiously attempted to be equal to God, and seemed to have acquired a dominion over man, the noblest of God's creatures, is depressed below the beasts of burthen. 3. A state of never-ending misery. The beasts die and pesish, and never come into judgment. But the serpent, accursed above the beasts, cannot escape judgment: Everlasting, fire is prepared for the devil and his angels. It could not but be acceptable to man, to hear that sentence pronounced, by which that enemy,, who had made him obnoxious, is himself doomed to be accursed.
IX. The second benefit is the destruction of his power ; expressed by three several phrases.
The first, Upon thy belly shalt thou go ; that is, thou shalt be constrained to creep on the ground, nor suffered any longer to fly at man, twist thyself round him, and kill him with thy envenomed embraces. Pareus says judiciously : “ He himself is also forced to creep on his breast; because being once thrown headlong down from heaven, he is now condemned to creep for ever on the ground amidst earthly filth, nor able any more to raise his head to heaven. Thus Rev. xii. 9. the judgment of the old serpent, the devil, by which he is now bound fast, is called his casting out into the earth ; where, in a hostile manner, he persecutes, but cannot overpower the woman.'
X. The other expression, Dust shalt thou eat, doubtless denotes a state of the greatest degradation. For the scripture-phrase, to lick the dust, is applied to conquered enemies, who lie prostrate at the conqueror's feet : His enemies shall like the dust ;They shall lick the
* Psal. xxxii. 9.
+ Matth. xxv. 41.
Psal. lxxii. 6.
dust like a serpent ;* They shall bow down to thee with their face towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet.f But there seems a much greater emphasis in these words, when the serpent is commanded to eat dust; as also when it is said, And dust shall be the serpent's meat. I Which, if I mistake not, signifies in general three things. 1. The restraining the devil's power to earthly-minded men, who are glued to the earth, and seek their good and happiness in earthly things. Those alone he shall be able to devour, without having any right over others. And this tends much to the great benefit of the church. For when the wicked are devoured by the devil, offences are removed out of the way of righteousness, the church is delivered from their vexations, and Satan's kingdom diminished in this world. 2. As to the elect, it signifies the restricting the
power of the devil to their body, which, on account of sin, is said to be dust, and to return to dust. That body the devil will devour, that is, bring down to death and keep under the power thereof, till the resurrection : he shall have no power over the souls of the elect. And even that destruction of the dusty body is of benefit to believers : for at the same time the old man is destroyed, who had hitherto harboured in their members. 3. It denotes that wicked pleasure, which the devil takes in drawing the reprobate to sin, and consequently to eternal destruction, and in vexing the godly as much as
It was the meat, that is, the delight, of the Lord Jesus, to do the will of him that sent him, and to turn men to God. On the contrary, it is the delight of Satan to push on the wicked to evil, and to vex the beloved children of God. Which as it is the greatest wickedness, so also the highest degree of misery. * Micah vii, 17. + Is. xlix. 23. Is. lxv. 25.
& John ir. 34.
XI. Lest any one should hiss this exposition off the stage, as if it was new and never heard of before, I shall subjoin the comments of Fagius and Pareus. Fagius writes thus : " If we now, as we certainly ought, refer these things to that spiritual serpent, I mtan-Satan, whom the Hebrews call NACHASH KADMONI, the old serpent, who acted in the serpent, a brute animal, as in an instrument, they signify, that this our old crafty enemy, who before walked as it were in state, is now thrown down and confounded ; to eat dust, signifies to consume earthly-minded men, who are enslaved to their affections. Satan is a spirit, such therefore must be his food ; here are sins to stay his hunger. For as the serpent creeps on the earth, lives on the earth, broods on the earth ; so the disposition of Satan is to entice men to the earth, to hurry them to earthly things, and draw them aside from those that are heavenly.” Thus far Fagius : from whom Pareus does not greatly differ. His words are these : “ He is also condemned to eat earth, that is, to feed on the earthly nastiness of vice and wickedness, as the filthy swine feed on excrements. Which that impure spirit does, when he not only pollutes and delights himself with the defilements of the world, as swine with wallowing in the mire ; but also plunges the reprobate into the same, and destroys them with himself: this is Satan's sweetest food. For wherewith any one is delighted, that he accounts his meat and his pleasure ; according to that saying, Enry is the best food : again, Enty feeds on the living, &c. Augustine advances no unelegant doctrine, where he says, The sinner is earth ; the sinner therefore is given up to the devil for food. Let us not be earth, if we would not be devoured by the serpent.” Thus far Pareus. Ambrose, lib. 1. de pænitentia, c. 13. quoted by Rivet, VOL. II.
Exerc. 35. in Gen. explains dust by the flesh of man, and maintains, that the devil is permitted by God to feed on this flesh, that is, to torment and tear the bodies of believers, but not to have any power over the soul.
XII. The third expression, by which the destruction of the devil is set forth, is the bruising his head. In the head of the serpent are his poison, craft, strength, and life. The head of the serpent therefore signifies the crafty subtilty of the devil, his venomous power, and all that tyrannical dominion, which, by sin, he has acquired over man. The bruising his head is the abolishing of all his power, according to the apostle's explication,* And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The symbol of this bruising was that extraordinary power granted to the disciples of Christ, mentioned Luke x. 19. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. And Mark xvi. 18. they shall take up serpents ; namely, without being hurt, as appears from the history of Paul, Acts xxviii. 5. Which power of depriving serpents of their venom, and of bruising their heads without harm, Tertullian, as quoted by Grotius on Luke x. 19. testifies was not quite extinct in his time among Christians. Though the devil imitated this miracle in the temple of Isis in Egypt, as Bochart has remarked from Ælian, Hierozoic. lib. i. c. 4. at the close ; yet our Lord expressly declares, that the destruction of his kingdom was thereby signified, when, to serpents and scorpions, he adds, all the power of the enemy. Thus the devil was constrained, by his juggling tricks and delusions, to give a prelude to his own destruction,
* Rom. xvi. 20.
XIII. The third benefit God promises here, is the putting enmity between the serpent and the woman and her seed: which words include man's sanctification. For when man becomes an enemy to the devil, then he abhors and avoids all intercourse with him, hates and detests his works, endeavours to destroy him and his kingdom in himself and others, and most willingly does what he knows shall mortify the devil. And though the devil, on that account, wages war against him, because he endeavours after godliness; yet he is so far from suffering himself to be thereby diverted from that which is good, that, on the contrary, he goes on with the greater alacrity to oppose him. While a man continues unsanctified, he cultivates peace with the devil; and calmly submits to his dominion : enmity and hostility against the devil can only proceed from an infused principle of holiness. And this is what God promises to man, when he says, I will put enmity, &c. he not only commands the woman, to have no intimacy or friendship with the devil, or to have any commerce with a sworn enemy; nor, by this sanction, did he again open a door of repentance for our first parents, as Pareus observes on this place ; but he' also promises, that, by the unsurmountable efficacy of his power, he would perform and bring it about; namely, that he would put that enmity against the devil, which cannot subsist, where there is not the love of God. Rivet says well, Exerc. xxxvi. in Gen. “ When a state of enmity is foretold, in the same breath it is also foretold, that men shall return to such soundness of mind, as displeased with that grievous yoke of Satan's tyranny, to seek the shaking it off : and having once happily succeeded, afterwards to watch by a continual struggle against being entangled therein again.” But fullest of all Clop. penburg, Schol. sacrific. p. 75. “ There could have.