Page images
PDF
EPUB

6

And we,

Son of God. We think, on the contrary, a great injury has been done by this system of interpretation, inasmuch as this system afforded an opportunity to unbelievers to cavil at Christian doctrines, especially to our brethren of the house of Israel, who, as a nation, are still opposed to the religion of the holy Jesus. Rabbi Isaac in his work, CHIZZUK EMOONAH, attempts to controvert the doctrines of Christianity by the views propounded by Roman Catholic divines; and the passage under review fur. nished him with matter for a whole chapter. He begins the twelfth chapter of his book by quoting the text which heads this paper, and then, with an air of triumph, proceeds as follows:

" And that which the Nazarenes advance, from this text, as an argument in favour of their doctrines respecting their creed, saying, that the expression, He shall bruise thy head,' refers to Jesus, who shall kill Satan, whom the Scripture surnamed Serpent,' may be answered thus : Their argument proves nothing ; for if what they say be true, viz., that • He shall bruise thy head,' has reference to Jesus, who shall kill Satan —that is, He shall destroy him, who is the author of sin—then those that believe in Him (i.e., Jesus), would never sin any more; but since they sin to this very day, as a matter of course their position is worth nothing. And even the passage itself upsets their assumption, for it afterwards states, and thou shalt bruise his heel.' Now, after he is dead, how is he to bruise Him? And if Satan was the cause, as they affirm, that the Jews and the nations of the earth should put Him and His disciples to death, then He did not kill Satan, but Satan was the cause of His death, as well as of the death of his apostles. moreover, find, that His Apostle Paul contradicts this their dogma, in his epistle which he addressed to the Romans, in the twentieth verse of the sixteenth chapter. The following are his words :- And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. Also in his first epistle which he addressed to the Thessalonians, in the eighteenth verse of the second chapter, he speaks thus :- Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again ; but Satan hindered us.' Now, from these declarations, it appears that Satan, even in Paul's time, after the death of Jesus, was yet alive, and domineered over those who believed in Him (i.e., Jesus), and this is just the reverse of their creed, for they believe that the declaration, 'He shall bruise thy head,' has respect to Jesus, who killed Satan, as it was already mentioned above."

We do not for one moment think that Rabbi Isaac handled the passage under consideration—to say the least-cleverly, or that his arguments were conclusive, or that he proved anything against the Christian religion. On the contrary, he proves that Christianity may be true, though the passage under consideration were altogether expunged from the Bible; for St. Paul, as Rabbi Isaac himself shows, was an apostle of Jesus, notwithstanding that he contradicted the theory that the declaration, “He shall bruise thy head," referred to Jesus killing Satan. Still we cannot help regretting, that an opportunity was afforded to that Rabbi, and now afforded to his votaries, to cavil against the Christian religion, in conse.

* A work written professedly against the doctrines of Christianity ; but on a fair examination of the work, its object proves to be to combat more the theories of Popish writers than the sacred truths of the New Testament. Wagenzeil translated it into Latin, and aptly termed it Tela igrea Satana.

We are

quence of the theories which some Christian divines palmed upon it. As for Rabbi Isaac, we sincerely lament that the zealous defender of his faith did not devote more time than he did to the simple, but most sublime New Testament, when he would have found that the doctrines taught therein bear the closest affinity to those taught in the Old, and that there existed the most striking and beautiful harmony in both, which bear the inspired stamp of one and the same divine Author. And we most affectionately say to our Jewish brethren,* amongst whom we live and move, Waste not your precious fleeting moments in scanning the theories of feeble, fallible men, in order to prove them wrong, but go to the fountain head, to the divine Treasury of the Christian religion, and from thence judge of the Christian faith, and reply to the oft-repeated, powerful appeal -Is CARISTIANITY TRUE OR FALSB ?

We consider the first prophecy not to be a prediction respecting one individual only, but an announcement respecting multitudes without number. We look upon this solitary verse as a prophecy extending itself over the whole surface of time, furnishing an epitome of this world's history, from the fall of man to the final discomfiture of Satan. accustomed to determine one prophecy by comparing it with others, when we wish to arrive at its right meaning. The Apostle's declaration is our principle of prophetic interpretation-viz., " that no prophecy of Scripture is of separate or detached interpretation." We find, then, by a reference to the book of Psalms, the prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and almost all the prophets, that the subject of the announcement, now under review, runs through their predictions, depicting in graphic and comprehensive terms the incessant conflicts and struggles between the Church of God and the synagogue of Satan, of which this earth shall be the platform, and which shall terminate in the complete discomfiture of the latter, though not altogether without injury to the former.

In accordance, therefore, with St. Peter's rule for prophetic interpretation, we proceed to expound the announcement in the garden of Eden. We consider the woman, on the authority of St. Paul, to have been a type of the Church of Christ. Adam is designated by the Apostle “The figure of Him who was to come,” which was Christ. There can be no doubt but that the relationship in which Adam stood to Eve made him the figure of Christ, who is the husband of His Church. Adam incurred death by the gift he received from the hand of his Father-viz., the woman. So Christ likewise suffered death for those whom His Father gave Him-viz., the Church. The following are the sound words of that learned and judicious divine, Richard Hooker :

“It is too cold an interpretation, whereby some men expound our being in Christ to import nothing else, but only that the self-same nature which maketh us to be men, is in Him, and maketh Him man as we are. For what man in the world is there which hath not so far forth communion with Jesus Christ? It is not this that can sustain the weight of such sentences as speak of the mystery of our coherence with Jesus Christ.t The Church is in Christ as Eve was in Adam. Yea, by grace

* “ Sir Moses Montefiore has [in 1845] given an order to Rabbi Israel, the printer at Jerusalem, to reprint the book 'Chisuck Æmunah,' a copy of which he has sent him, and has also given him £20 towards the expenses. Enald's Journal,

† John xiv. 20 ; xv. 4,

p. 190.

we are every one of us in Christ and in His Church, as by nature we are in those our first parents. God made Eve of the rib of Adam. And His Church He frameth out of the very flesh, the very wounded and bleeding side of the Son of Man. His body crucified and His blood shed for the life of the world, are the true elements of that heavenly being, which maketh us such as Himself is, of whom we come.* For which cause the words of Adam may be fitly the words of Christ concerning His Church, • flesh of My flesh, and bone of My bones,' a true native extract out of Mine own body."'t

Admitting, then, that Eve was a signal type of the Church, there remains no difficulty as to the meaning of the woman and her seed. We understand therefore the expression to be symbolical-viz., the Church of God and her members in every age ; just as we must interpret the serpent and his seed symbolically and spiritually. For the devil has as great a progeny, among men, as the woman, if not greater. John the Baptist addressed the Scribes and Pharisees by the awful appellation--"O generation of vipers." Christ charged the wicked Jews, who were at enmity with Him, and struggled hard to destroy Him—“Ye are of your father, the devil ; and the lusts of your father ye will do.”¥ When He explained the parable of the tares and the wheat, He taught His disciples that “ the tares are the children of the wicked one.” When Elymas the sorcerer withstood the apostles at Paphos, “ Then Saul, filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness." So that the enmity was, and is, put between the Satanic progeny, and those born of God, which constitute the true Church. It is not at all improbable that to such reflections as these does the “ Theory of Progression by Antagonism ” owe its existence. Its noble author the present Lord Crawford and Balcarres-traces " antagonism" between the respective seeds, which his lordship calls “ Sense and Spirit,” soon after the fall ; or, using his technical term, during “ the childhood of man." The following aro his own words :

“ The sacrifices of Cain and Abel, and the murder of Abel by Cain mark the tendencies of the two elements—Sense and Spirit, and their antagonism from the first.

" The two great families of the antediluvian world—1. The Cainitesa race irreligious, active, and progressive--the first to rise to dominion and civilisation, the first builders of cities, inventors of the mechanical arts, music, &c.—(Gen. iv. 21.) And, 2. The Sethites, or “Sons of God'-a race religious, contemplative, dwellers apart in the mountains, and slow to rise to civilisation, typify, similarly and respectively, Sense dominant over Spirit, and Spirit dominant over Sense.

“ The union of the Sons of God' with the • Daughters of Men,' or of the sensual Cainites, occasioned and betokened the gradual succumbing of spirit to sense, and the result was a giant race-gigantic, probably, in strength and stature, and unquestionably so in crime -a sensuality more brutal and universal than has ever since existed, and coupled, too, there is reason to believe, with views of dogmatic or spiritual truth so clear and precise as to enhance its abomination. * 1 Cor. xv.48.

Vol i. p. 626. Oxford edition. 1845.

} | John viii. 44.

§ Acts xiii. 10.

“The world was destroyed by water-eight persons, Noah and his family, being preserved in the ark to re-people the earth, thus cleansed and re-baptized."*

It is our firm belief, that all the Old Testament saints—from Abel to Zachariah, the son of Berachiah, and even further down to the aged Simeon – were engaged in that deadly conflict with Satan and his seed. The enmity which was put between the respective offsprings produced its unavoidable results—strife and contention, and very often broke out into deadly combat, which was the cause of "all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of the latest Christian martyr, according to the prediction in the garden of Eden. The children of God were bruised in the heel, for their bodies were indeed killed, but nothing could be done to their souls, which returned to Paradise ; whilst the head of Satan, as well as of his generation, was always bruised, for they are to be destroyed, both soul and body, in hell-fire. Yea, the man of God, who withstands the wiles of the devil in this world, whilst enduring all his, as well as his messengers' buffeting, is destined ultimately to judge and condemn his great and mortal foe, and take part in the sealing of his predicted doom-viz., " that he should be cast into the bottomless pit.”

The enmity of the old serpent, however, was comparatively trifling before the second person in the Godhead took apon Himself the nature of the seed of the woman. No sooner did Jesus Christ appear in human form than the enmity of Satan became desperate, and produced overpowering exercise. Jesus was born holy, pure, and with a native enmity of sin. No man, be he ever so hostile to the prince of this world, ever hated sin with so perfect a hatred as did the Man Christ Jesus; and as a necessary consequence, no man was ever so odious in the sight of the prince of darkness and his emissaries as was the Man, whose name is the “ RIGHTEOUS BRANCH.” Jesus, by His holy and spotless life, “who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth,” fastened a perpetual stigma on a proud and sensual generation; the rebuke vice received by the blamelessness of His every action, was too tremendous not to stir up against Him the hosts of fallen men, as well as of fallen angels. So that the prediction in the garden of Eden received an extraordinary accomplishment, when Jesus, the Lord our Righteousness, visited this earth. Enmity the fiercest and most inveterate was put between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Evil angels conspired with evil men, and the whole energies of apostasy were concentrated, in order to destroy the champion of God and of truth. Indeed, for awhile the world might have thought that victory was achieved by the malignant hosts of the wicked one. Jesus, the Holy One of Israel, “ came to His own, and His own received Him not;" He had to endure the contradiction of sinners against Himself, and, moreover, to suffer untold anguish and pain, and at last to be nailed to the accursed tree, amid the loathing and reviling of the children of darkness—we say, for awhile the world might have thought that Satan and his allies proved victorious, and Rabbi

+ "Progression by Antagonism," pp. 21, 22. We recommend the work to our readers, as one which throws, to our mind, a great deal of light on the prophecy under review; as well as a valuable manual to students of the antiquity of nations.

Isaac's objection might have, for a moment, some air of plausibility. But, thanks be to our Heavenly Father, there was not the slightest suffering which Jesus endured, which did not go toward liquidating the enormous debt which man owed to God, and which, therefore, tended to our emancipation from Satanic slavery, and dealt out a blow to Satanic despotism. So that, from the beginning, the bruising of Christ's heel was the bruising of Satan's head. By the victory which the devil had thus far achieved, he only effected his own subjection, discomfiture, and downfall. By dying, Jesus accomplished the achievement which from all eternity He had covenanted to undertake. By dying, Christ reinstated fallen man in the position from which he had been driven. Death came against the Son of God, but by submitting to it, He broke the spell of thousands of years, dashing away the chains and opening the graves of an imprisoned and oppressed population. But, moreover, when He descended into the grave, and returned without seeing corruption, then it was made possible that every child of Adam might be emancipated from the dominion of evil; and instead of woe and shame, the wages of sin and transgression, there was the beautiful brightness of a purchased immortality soliciting the acceptance of the sons and daughters of the human race. The Saviour who was dead, and who is alive for evermore, sent proclamation by His Apostles, soon after His resurrection, throughout the universe, that death was abolished, the ruined restored, and the gates of heaven thrown open to the rebel and the outcast. What becomes now then of all the objections against our Lord's bruising the head of Satan? Can there be & more literal or energetic accomplishment of that prediction announced to Satan in the garden—“It” or “he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise its, or his, heel."

The same struggle in which Christ was engaged, during His ministry in this corrupt and fallen world, the Church of God, as we have already hinted, was in like manner all along engaged in. The enmity was put between Satan and her primarily, and that enmity was strikingly developed in every age. It has been the effort of the great enemy and his seed to sweep away from this his dominion the witnesses and upholders of God's truth, whilst the Church of God did everything in her power to vindicate her Master's holy attributes, and expose the vile stratagems and machinations of that WICKED ONE; and the conflict has all along been

most disastrous one. Though according to Christ's gracious promise, the gates, or strongholds, of hell never prevailed against the Church ; it cannot be denied but that she sustained awful consequences, so that her heel was sadly.bruised. Oh! we cannot forget the cruel persecutions which were in every age exercised against the righteous, how by one calamity or another the name godliness was almost clean gone from the earth, and how, when the Church enjoyed some moments of peace, the enemy was actively engaged in sowing tares, which produced a harvest of pernicious heresies—we say, when we consider all this, can we hesitate to add our testimony to the truthfulness of the prediction, that Satan should bruise the heel of the Church? But he has done nothing more ; if he has succeeded to destroy multitudes by the sword, by the flame, by the scaffold, multitudes were raised up to fill their places. Again, if he has succeeded in letting in a tide of pestilential doctrines into the Church, the Lord, who put the enmity between the two parties, raised up a great

« PreviousContinue »