Genesis 3:15


I. THE DOOM OF DEGRADATION (ver. 14).

II. THE DOOM OF HOSTILITY (ver. 15). Three stages: -

1. The enmity.

2. The conflict.

3. The victory. Lessons: -

1. See the wondrous mercy of God in proclaiming from the first day of sin, and putting into the forefront, a purpose of salvation.

2. Have we recognized it to the overcoming of the devil? - W.









I will put enmity between thee and the woman.
I. THAT THERE IS A CONTINUAL CONFLICT BETWEEN SATAN AND EVERY BELIEVER IN JESUS CHRIST, WHOM HE REPRESENTED IN THE FIRST PROMISE, ACCORDING TO THE PURPOSE AND GRACE OF ALMIGHTY GOD.

II. In that stern combat which the Lord of glory, God manifest in the flesh, was to wage with Satan, it was declared that the enemy should bruise the heel of the seed of the woman, and that Jesus should not get the victory unwounded. And thus it is with His spiritual offspring; as "He was, so are they in this world." We learn, therefore, secondly, THE CHRISTIAN'S SUFFERING IN HIS CONFLICT WITH THE OLD SERPENT.

III. But although the conflict may be fierce, and long, and stubborn, we are not permitted to doubt on which side the victory will fall. Hence I would observe, thirdly, THE ASSURANCE OF TRIUMPH GIVEN IN THE TEXT TO THE SEED OF THE WOMAN — THE BELIEVING MEMBERS OF CHRIST. Satan will bruise their heel, but, as assuredly, they shall bruise his head. As Jesus assumed human nature, that He might avenge Himself and His people upon Satan, so shall they triumph in Christ. The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly, who are in Christ Jesus.

(R. P. Buddicom, M. A.)

Here, in this verse, first springs a river which flows right through the broad wilderness of Time, refreshing every generation as they pass; and will yet, beyond the boundary, make glad forever the city of our God. In this verse the gospel of grace takes its rise. If we saw only the tiny spring we should not be able fully to estimate its importance. It is our knowledge of the kingdom in its present dimensions and its future prospects that invests with so much grandeur this first, short message, of mercy from God to man. We know the import of that message better than they who heard it first. And yet, as the native on the mountains near the sources of the Nile can drink and satisfy his thirst from the tiny rill that constitutes the embryo river, while he who sails on its broad bosom near the sea can do no more; so those who lived in the earliest days of grace might satisfy their souls at the narrow stream then flowing, as well as those who shall be found dwelling on the earth at the dawn of the millennial day. From the feeble stream that burst through the stony ground near the closed gate of paradise righteous Abel freely drank the water of life: the same, and no more, shall they do who shall see the knowledge of the Lord covering the earth in the latter day. God opened a spring in the desert as soon as there were thirsty souls sojourning there. Here, as we have said, the gospel springs. But this is not the beginning of mercy. Its date is more ancient; its fountainhead is higher. "God is love": there, if you will trace mercy to its ultimate source — there Redemption springs, thence Redemption flows. One or two things of an introductory character must be at least stated, inasmuch as they are essential to the comprehension of the main lesson. And the first of these is the existence and agency of an evil spirit, the enemy of man. "Didst thou not sow good seed in thy ground?" said the surprised and grieved servants to their Master; "whence, then, hath it tares?" "An enemy hath done this," said the Lord. Man has been damaged by the impact of evil after he came from his Maker's hands: and the damage, now that help has been laid on the Mighty, may be removed. There is a healing for the deadly wound. The enemy, in this text and in other instances all through the Scripture, is impersonated as the serpent. Now a series of lessons directly practical.

1. There is a kind of friendship or alliance between the destroyer and his dupe. The root of the ailment lies here. If the first pair had not entered into a covenant with the wicked one, there would not have been a fall. Neither at the first nor at any subsequent period has the enemy come forward as an enemy, declaring war, and depending on the use of force. Not the power, but the wiles of the devil have we cause to dread. If either he or we should assume the attitude of adversary, our cause were won.

2. Enmity must be engendered between these two friends. The first and fundamental necessity of the case is that the friendship should be dissolved. As long as the adversary by his wiles succeeds in making it sweet, and as long as the dupe loves it, so long is the captive held. Nothing in heaven or earth can do a sinner any good until he has fallen out with his own sin!

3. God will put enmity between a man and the enemy who has enticed, and so overcome him. When created beings are involved in sin, as a law of their being they cannot break off by an effort or wish of their own. The spirit that launches once into rebellion against God, goes on helplessly in rebellion forever, unless an almighty arm, guided by infinite love, be stretched out to arrest the fallen — the falling star. It is profitable to remember that we are helpless. It is only a cry out of the depths that will reach heaven, and bring help from One that is mighty. "Lord, save me, I perish," is a prayer that reaches the Redeemer's ear: it melts His heart, and moves His hand. To put enmity between a man and the devil who inhabits his heart — to change his affections, so that he shall henceforth loathe what he formerly loved, and love what he formerly loathed — this is God's prerogative. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."

4. Notice now the relation which Christ our Redeemer bears to the breach of peace between a man and his Tempter. Over and above the promise that enmity will be put between the serpent and the woman, it is said in the text that enmity will be put between his seed and hers. We are guided by the Spirit of inspiration in the interpretation of this clause. We know certainly from Scripture "her seed" means first and chiefly the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. As enmity between the two friends must be generated, and as only God can efficiently kindle that enmity, so it is only through Christ the Mediator that such a breach could be made. He is Mediator between God and man, for reconciling the alienated; He is Mediator between man and Satan, for alienating the united. As His acceptance with the Father is our acceptance with the Father, when we are found in Him; so His breach with the adversary is our breach, when we are found in Him. His two-fold mission is to break up one friendship and begin another.

5. The part which Christians act in the quarrel. Christ was the first fruits in this enmity; but, afterwards they that are Christ's. In Him the strife began; and it is continued in His members after the Head is exalted. The feud is hereditary, inextinguishable, eternal. The Church on earth is the Church militant; that is, the Church soldiering. There is another wing of the grand army, called the Church triumphant. Those who remain in the body wield the sword: those who have been admitted into heaven wave the palm and wear the crown. The real business in hand for Christians is not heaven, but holiness. The issue may be left in the Leader's hands: the duty of the soldiers is to stand where they are placed, and strike as long as they see a foe. Until the trumpet shall sound, calling the weary to rest, our part is to fight.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

These words have been appropriately called the "Protevangelium," the first gospel. At first sight it seems strange that these words should be considered the beginning of the gospel. The form is not that of a gospel but of a curse. It is the first curse that we meet with in reading the Bible. But think a moment. On whom, on what is it a curse? It is a curse on the great adversary of mankind. It is a curse upon evil — on sin, and death and hell. It is a curse upon our curse. You will observe, and it is well worth noticing, that there is no curse pronounced upon the man, nor upon the woman either. But can the gospel come in the form of a curse? It can — nay, it must. There are those who, shutting their eyes to the terrible fact of sin with all its dreadful consequences, as they are seen in the world, please themselves and try to please others by preaching a gospel of easy good nature, of love and mercy and goodwill to all mankind — a sort of universal salvation on the easiest terms possible, or without any terms at all. But sin and its terrible consequences are fearful facts that cannot be ignored. "Love is the fulfilling of the law," and the end of the gospel; but hatred — hatred of sin — is the only portal to true, and pure, and holy love. When the Spirit, the Comforter, comes, what is the first thing He does? He convinces of sin (John 16:8, 9).

I. As soon as we look at it, we recognize, speaking generally, A GREAT CONFLICT ENDING IS VICTORY. Of this conflict there is a threefold presentation.

1. First, there is a personal conflict: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman." Here it is worth while to notice that the Hebrew tense admits of a present as well as a future interpretation. So it is not only, "I will put enmity"; but, "I am putting and will put enmity between thee and the woman." The work is begun. The unholy alliance, into which Eve had been beguiled by the Evil One, is already broken. She is already a changed woman. She is no longer on the serpent's side. She is on the Lord's side. There is enmity between her and the serpent.

2. After the personal comes the general conflict: "Enmity between thy seed and her seed." What is meant by the two "seeds"? We would not have very much difficulty in guessing, but we are not left to guess work. We are very plainly told in the later Scriptures. For example, in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John, the Jews had been congratulating themselves on belonging to the promised seed — "We be Abraham's seed" (verse 33). Our Saviour said, in reply: "I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill Me." That is a strange thing for Abraham's seed. You may be Abraham's seed literally, but certainly not spiritually. "They answered and said unto Him: Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them: If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham." Notice how distinctly He recognized the spiritual sense of the term, not the literal. "If ye were Abraham's children ye would do the works of Abraham." "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning. That is the reason ye seek to kill Me." Or turn to Matthew 23:33, where, addressing the same kind of people, the Saviour says — "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers" (i.e., ye seed of the serpents), "how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" Or take the parable of the tares (Matthew 13:38): "The good seed are the children of the kingdom. But the tares are the children of the wicked one." Perhaps most definite of all is a passage in the 3rd chapter of the 1st Epistle of John. Read from the 8th verse: "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." Then follows something like a definition of the two seeds. "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one and slew his brother." You see how plainly it is stated that the seed of the serpent are those who follow the deeds of the serpent; they are those who inherit the wickedness of their father the devil, as it is put here. And, of course, if the seed of the serpent are those who inherit the wickedness of the evil one, the seed of the woman are those that inherit the saintliness of the woman. It is as plain as anything can be, that it is the spiritual, and not the literal, seed that is meant; that character is in view, and not simple descent.

3. Not only is there a personal and a general conflict, but there is a special one. "Thee and the woman" — personal. "Thy seed and her seed" — general. "It" (or he, because the pronoun is masculine) "shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" — special. Now, I do not say that Christ is very plainly indicated here. The time had not yet come for this. The hope of the coming personal Saviour was only gradually unfolded. But I do say that certain lines are drawn which, when produced, are found to converge on Christ, who occupies the point of sight, away on the distant horizon. Observe, further, that it is only at this point that victory comes in: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman," only conflict there; no victory. "And between thy seed and her seed," only enmity, no victory. But come to the point of sight, and there is not only conflict, but victory — "He shall bruise thy head." Apart from the Captain of our Salvation, there was nothing for us but defeat. Though victory is finally assured to all the true seed of the woman, it will be His victory, made theirs by faith.

II. Let us now look at THE FACTS IN HISTORY, TO WHICH THE PROPHECY POINTS, AND WHICH CONSTITUTE ITS FULFILMENT. In the first place, we see the development of this conflict right along from the time of its first beginning; "from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias, slain between the temple and the altar"; and from the days of the first martyr, Stephen, down to the present time, when in heathen lands converts still must seal, at times, their testimony with their blood, and when in Christian lands "those that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer" certain kinds of persecution, and keep up a constant conflict with the powers of evil. The conflict will go on, and will not cease until the last of Satan's captives shall be rescued from his grasp and brought as sons to glory; when there shall be the great gathering of the people around Shiloh, the Prince of Peace, the Captain of our Salvation. But of all that long conflict, the crisis, the decisive action, is that to which our attention is specially called in the prophecy — the conflict that the Lord Jesus had to wage against the powers of darkness and the machinations of evil men when He was here upon the earth. Our Saviour, having taken our place, had this warfare to fight all through His life. Have you not often asked yourself the reason of the great difference between the death of the Lord Jesus and the death of so many martyrs, who endured unheard of tortures without flinching or uttering a cry? Had the Master less courage than the servants? Was He less able to endure suffering than Stephen, or any of the martyrs? Oh, no! It was because He had sufferings to bear that none of them had any knowledge of. He had their battle to fight as well as His own. As the Captain of their Salvation and ours, He stood in the front and thickest of the battle, and by His strong agony gained the victory for them and us. Now that He has gained the victory, that victory is secured for all the rest, who may well face death in any form bravely, now that the Captain of their Salvation has conquered all its terrors for them. It is secured for all the seed; and we have a picture of its consummation in the book of Revelation, where is celebrated in thrilling imagery the final victory of the saints of the Lord "by the blood of the Lamb." But while victory has been secured for us, it must also be accomplished in us. There must be a conflict and a victory in every human heart. There is not only the special conflict, which the Lord Jesus so victoriously waged, and the general conflict ending so triumphantly for all the seed, but there must be a personal conflict in each individual soul.

(J. M. Gibson, D. D.)

The promise plainly teaches that the Deliverer would be born of a woman, and, carefully viewed, it also foreshadows the Divine method of the Redeemer's conception and birth. So also is the doctrine of the two seeds plainly taught here — "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed." There was evidently to be in the world a seed of the woman on God's side against the serpent, and a seed of the serpent that should always be upon the evil side even as it is unto this day. The church of God and the synagogue of Satan both exist.

I. THE FACTS. The facts are four, and I call your earnest attention to them.

1. The first is, enmity was excited. Satan counted on man's descendants being his confederates, but God would break up this covenant with hell, and raise up a seed which should war against the Satanic power. Thus we have here God's first declaration that He will set up a rival kingdom to oppose the tyranny of sin and Satan, that He will create in the hearts of a chosen seed an enmity against evil, so that they shall fight against it, and with many a struggle and pain shall overcome the prince of darkness. The Divine Spirit has abundantly achieved this plan and purpose of the Lord, combating the fallen angel by a glorious man: making man to be Satan's foe and conqueror.

2. Then comes the second prophecy, which has also turned into a fact, namely, the coming of the champion. The seed of the woman by promise is to champion the cause, and oppose the dragon. That seed is the Lord Jesus Christ. The conflict our glorious Lord continues in His seed. We preach Christ crucified, and every sermon shakes the gates of hell. We bring sinners to Jesus by the Spirit's power, and every convert is a stone torn down from the wall of Satan's mighty castle.

3. The third fact which comes out in the text, though not quite in that order, is that our Champion's heel should be bruised. Do you need that I explain this? You know how all His life long His heel, that is, His lower part, His human nature, was perpetually being made to suffer. He carried our sicknesses and sorrows. But the bruising came mainly when both in body and in mind His whole human nature was made to agonize; when His soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, and His enemies pierced His hands and His feet, and He endured the shame and pain of death by crucifixion. Before the throne He looks like a lamb that has been slain, but in the power of an endless life He liveth unto God.

4. Then comes the fourth fact, namely, that while His heel was being bruised, He was to braise the serpent's head. By His sufferings Christ has overthrown Satan, by the heel that was bruised He has trodden upon the head which devised the bruising.

II. Let us now view over EXPERIENCE AS IT TALLIES WITH THESE FACTS. He means to save us, and how does He work to that end?

1. The first thing He does is, He comes to us in mercy, and puts enmity between us and the serpent. That is the very first work of grace. You began to hate sin, and you groaned under it as under a galling yoke; more and more it burdened you, you could not bear it, you hated the very thought of it. So it was with you: is it so now? Is there still enmity between you and the serpent? Indeed you are more and mere the sworn enemies of evil, and you willingly acknowledge it.

2. Then came the Champion, that is to say, "Christ was formed in you the hope of glory." You heard of Him and you understood the truth about Him, and it seemed a wonderful thing that He should be your substitute and stand in your room and place and stead, and bear your sin and all its curse and punishment, and that He should give His righteousness, yea, and His very self, to you that you might be saved.

3. Next, do you recollect how you were led to see the bruising of Christ's heel and to stand in wonder and observe what the enmity of the serpent had wrought in Him? Did you not begin to feel the bruised heel yourself? Did not sin torment you? Did not the very thought of it vex you? Did not your own heart become a plague to you? Did not Satan begin to tempt you? Did he not inject blasphemous thoughts, and urge you on to desperate measures; did he not teach you to doubt the existence of God, and the mercy of God, and the possibility of your salvation, and so on? This was his nibbling at your heel. He is at his old tricks still. He worries whom he can't devour with a malicious joy.

4. But, brethren, do you know something of the other fact, namely, that we conquer, for the serpent's head is broken in us? How say you? Is not the power and dominion of sin broken in you? Do you not feel that you cannot sin because you are born of God? Some sins which were masters of you once, do not trouble you now. Oftentimes the Lord also grants us to know what it is to overcome temptation, and so to break the head of the fiend. I ought to add that every time any one of us is made useful in saving souls we do as it were repeat the bruising of the serpent's head. In all deliverances and victories you overcome, and prove the promise true — "Thou shall tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shall thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name."

III. Let us speak awhile upon THE ENCOURAGEMENT which our text and the context yields to us; for it seems to me to abound.

1. I want you, brethren, to exercise faith in the promise and be comforted. The text evidently encouraged Adam very much. Adam acted in faith upon what God said, for we read, "And Adam called his wife's name Eve (or Life); because she was the mother of all living" (verse 20). She was not a mother at all, but as the life was to come through her by virtue of the promised seed, Adam marks his full conviction of the truth of the promise though at the time the woman had borne no children.

2. Notice by way of further encouragement that we may regard our reception of Christ's righteousness as an instalment of the final overthrow of the devil.

3. Next, by way of encouragement in pursuing the Christian life, I would say to young people, expect to be assailed. If you have fallen into trouble through being a Christian be encouraged by it; do not at all regret or fear it, but rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy, for this is the constant token of the covenant.

4. Still further encouragement comes from this. Your suffering as a Christian is not brought upon you for your own sake; ye are partners with the great SEED of the woman, ye are confederates with Christ. You must not think the devil cares much about you; the battle is against Christ in you. I have heard of a woman who was condemned to death in the Marian days, and before her time came to be burned a child was born to her, and she cried out in her sorrow. A wicked adversary, who stood by, said, "How will you bear to die for your religion if you make such ado?" "Ah," she said, "Now I suffer in my own person as a woman, but then I shall not suffer, but Christ in me." Nor were these idle words, for she bore her martyrdom with exemplary patience, and rose in her chariot of fire in holy triumph to heaven. If Christ be in you, nothing will dismay you, but you will overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil by faith.

5. Last of all, let us resist the devil always with this belief, that he has received a broken head. I am inclined to think that Luthers way of laughing at the devil was a very good one, for he is worthy of shame and everlasting contempt. Luther once threw an inkstand at his head when he was tempting him very sorely, and though the act itself appears absurd enough, yet it was a true type of what that great Reformer was all his life long, for the books he wrote were truly a flinging of the inkstand at the head of the fiend. That is what we have to do: we are to resist him by all means.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

There are four things here intimated which are each worthy of notice —

1. The ruin of Satan's cause was to be accomplished by one in human nature. This must have been not a little mortifying to his pride. If he must fall, and could have had his choice as to the mode, he might rather have wished to have been crushed by the immediate hand of God: for however terrible that hand might be, it would be less humiliating than to be subdued by one of a nature inferior to his own. The human nature especially appears to have become odious in his eyes. It is possible that the rejoicings of eternal wisdom over man was known in heaven, and first excited his envy; and that his attempt to ruin the human race was an act of revenge. If so, there was a peculiar fitness that from man should proceed his overthrow.

2. It was to be accomplished by the seed of the woman. This would be more humiliating still. Satan had made use of her to accomplish his purposes, and God would defeat his schemes through the same medium: and by how much he had despised and abused her, in making her the instrument of drawing her husband aside, by so much would he be mortified in being overcome by one of her descendents.

3. The victory should be obtained not only by the Messiah Himself, but by all His adherents, blow if it were mortifying for Satan to be overcome by the Messiah Himself, considered as the seed of the woman, how much more when in addition to this every individual believer shall be made to come near, and as it were set his feet upon the neck of his enemy?

4. Finally: though it should be a long war, and the cause of the serpent would often be successful, yet in the end it should be utterly fumed. The "head" is the seat of life, which the "heel" is not: by this language therefore is intimated, that the life of Christ's cause should not be affected by any part of Satan's opposition; but that the life of Satan's cause should be that of Christ.

(A. Fuller.)

Through the promised Messiah a great many things pertaining to the curse are not only counteracted, but become blessings. Under His glorious reign, "the earth shall yield its increase, and God, our own God, delight in blessing us." And while its fruitfulness is withheld, it has a merciful tendency to stop the progress of sin: for if the whole earth were like the plains of Sodom in fruitfulness, which are compared to the garden of God, its inhabitants would be as Sodom and Gomorrah in wickedness. The necessity of hard labour too in obtaining a subsistence, which is the lot of the far greater part of mankind, tends more than a little, by separating men from each other, and depressing their spirits, to restrain them from the excesses of evil. All the afflictions of the present life contain in them a motive to look upwards for a better portion: and death itself is a monitor to warn them to prepare to meet their God. These are things suited to a sinful world: and where they are sanctified, as they are to believers in Christ, they become real blessings. To them they are but light afflictions, and last but for a moment; and while they do last, "work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." To them, in short, death itself is introductory to everlasting life.

(A. Fuller.)

It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Homilist.
That there were two grand opposing moral forces at work in the world, "the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent," is manifest from the following conceptions: —

1. The universal beliefs of mankind. All nations believe in two antagonistic principles.

2. The phenomena of the moral world. The thoughts, actions, and conduct of men are so radically different that they must be referred to two distinct moral forces.

3. The experience of good men.

4. The declaration of the Bible. Now in this conflict, whilst error and evil only strike at the mere "heel" of truth and goodness, truth and goodness strike right at the "head." Look at this idea in three aspects: —

I. AS A CHARACTERISTIC OF CHRISTIANITY. Evil has a "head" and its "head" is not in theories, or institutions, or outward conduct; but in the moral feelings. In the liken and dislikes, the sympathies and antipathies of the heart. Now it is against this "head" of evil, that Christianity, as a system of reform, directs its blows. It does not seek to lop off the branches from the mighty upas, but to destroy its roots. It does not strike at the mere forms of murder, adultery, and theft; but at their spirit, anger, lust, and covetousness. This its characteristic.

II. AS A TEST OF INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIANITY. Unless Christianity has bruised the very "head" of evil within us it has done nothing to the purpose.

1. It may bruise certain erroneous ideas, and yet be of no service to you.

2. It may bruise certain wrong habits, and yet be of no real service to you.

III. AS A GUIDE IN PROPAGATING CHRISTIANITY. The great failure of the Church in its world-reforming mission may be traced to the wrong direction of its efforts.

(Homilist.)

Suppose a man should come into a curious artificer's shop, and there with one blow dash in pieces such a piece of art as had cost many years' study and pains in the contriving thereof. How could he bear with it? How would he take on to see the workmanship of his hands so rashly, so wilfully destroyed? He could not but take it ill and be much troubled thereat. Thus it is that as soon as God had set up and perfected the frame of the world, sin gave a shrewd shake to all; it unpinned the frame, and had like to have pulled all in pieces again; nay, had it not been for the promise of Christ, all this goodly frame had been reduced to its primitive nothingness again. Man by his sin had pulled down all about his ears, but God, in mercy, keeps it up; man by his sin provokes God, but God, in mercy, passeth by all affronts whatsoever. Oh, the wonderful mercy — oh, the omnipotent patience of God!

(J. Spencer.)

The first promise (Genesis 3:15) is like the first small spring or head of a great river, which the farther it runs the bigger it grows by the accession of more waters to it. Or like the sun in the heavens, which the higher it mounts the more bright and glorious the day still grows.

( J. Flavel..)

What delight there is to us in first things! The first primrose pushing through the clods telling of winter gone, and summer on the way: the first view of the sea in its wondrous expanse of power: the first sense of peace that came by a view of Christ as Saviour. A certain authoress who became very famous, speaks of the exquisite sense of delight she felt when she began her first literary work in the reviewing of books: the opening of the first parcel was as the "bursting of a new world" on her eyes.

(H. O. Mackey.)

The words are considerable —

1. For the person who speaketh them, the Lord God Himself, who was the first preacher of the gospel in paradise. The draught and plot was in His bosom long before, but now it cometh out of His mouth.

2. For the occasion when they were spoken. When God hath been but newly provoked and offended by sin, and man, from His creature and subject, was become His enemy and rebel, the offended God comes with a promise in His mouth. Adam could look for nothing but that God should repeat to him the whole beadroll of curses wherein he had involved himself, but God maketh known the great design of His grace. Once more, the Lord God was now cursing the serpent, and in the midst of the curses promiseth the great blessing of the Messiah. Thus doth God "in wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2). Yea, man's sentence was not yet pronounced. The Lord God had examined him (ver. 8-10), but before the doom there breaketh out a promise of mercy. Thus mercy gets the start of justice, and triumpheth and rejoiceth over it in our behalf: "Mercy rejoiceth against judgment" (James 2:13).

3. They are considerable for their matter, for they intimate a victory over Satan, and that in the nature which was foiled so lately. In the former part of the verse you have the combat; in the text the success.(1) The conflict and combat: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed." I shall not consider the conflict now as carried on between the two seeds, but between the two heads, Christ the Prince of life, and the devil "who hath the power of death" (Hebrews 2:14). It was begun between the serpent and the woman; it is carried on between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent: but the conflict is ended by the destruction of one of the heads; the prince of death is destroyed by the Prince of life.(2) The success and issue of the combat. Where observe —(a) What the seed of the woman doth against the serpent, "He shall bruise thy head";(b) What the serpent doth against the seed of the woman, "Thou shalt bruise his heel."(α) There is something common to both; for the word bruise is used promiscuously both of the serpent and the seed of the woman. In this war, as usually in all others, there are wounds given on both sides; the devil bruiseth Christ, and Christ bruiseth Satan.(β) There is a disparity of the event, "He shall bruise thy head," and "Thou shalt bruise his heel"; where there is a plain allusion to treading upon a serpent. Wounds on the head are deadly to serpents, but wounds on the body are not so grievous or dangerous; and a serpent trod upon, seeketh to do all the mischief it can to the foot by which it is crushed. The wound given to the head is mortal, but the wound given to the heel may be healed. The seed of the woman may be cured, but Satan's power cannot be restored. The devil cannot reach to the head, but the heel only, which is far from any vital part. (1st.) For the first clause, "It shall bruise thy head." The seed of the woman crushed the serpent's head, whereby is meant the overthrow and destruction of his power and works (John 12:31; 1 John 3:8). The head being bruised, strength and life is perished. (2nd.) For the other clause, "Thou shalt bruise his heel."Where —(1) Note the intention of the serpent, who would destroy the kingdom of the Redeemer if he could; but he can only reach the heel, not the head.(2) The greatness of Christ's sufferings; His heel was bruised, and He endured the painful, shameful, accursed death of the cross. Doctrine: That Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, is at enmity with Satan, and hath entered the lists with him; and though bruised in the conflict, yet He finally overcometh him, and subverteth his kingdom.

I. That Jesus Christ is the seed of the woman. That He is one of her seed is past doubt, since He was born of the Virgin, a daughter of Eve. That He is "The seed," the most eminent of all the stock, appeareth by the dignity of His Person, God made flesh (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16). As also by His miraculous conception (Luke 1:35; Matthew 1:23). Now, if you ask what necessity there was that the conqueror should be the seed of the woman, because the flesh of Christ is the bread of life, and the food of our faith? I shall a little insist upon the conveniency and agreeableness of it.

1. That thereby He might be made under the law, which was given to the whole nature of man (Galatians 4:4).

2. That He might in the same nature suffer the penalty and curse of the law, as well as fulfil the duty of it, and so make satisfaction for our sins, which as God He could not do. He was "made sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5:21), and was "made a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13; Philippians 2:8). "He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross."

3. That in the same nature which was foiled He might conquer Satan.

4. That He might take compassion of our infirmities, having experimented them in His own person (Hebrews 2:17, 18).

5. That He might take possession of heaven for us in our nature (John 14:2, 3).

6. That after He had been a sacrifice for sin, and conquered death by His resurrection, He might also triumph over the devil, and lead captivity captive, and give gifts to men in the very act of His ascension into heaven (Ephesians 4:8).

II. That Christ is at enmity with Satan, and hath entered into the conflict with him.

1. We must state the enmity between Christ and His confederates, and Satan and his instruments.(1) There is a perfect enmity between the nature of Christ and the nature of the devil.(2) An enmity proper to His office and design. For He Came "to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8); and was set up to dissolve that sin and misery which he had brought upon the world.

2. The enmity being such between the seeds, Christ sets upon His business to destroy Satan's power and works.(1) His power. Satan bath a two-fold power over fallen man — legal and usurped.(2) His works. There is a two-fold work of Satan — the work of the devil without us, and the work of the devil within us.

III. That in this conflict His heel was wounded, bitten, or bruised by the serpent.

1. Certain it is that Christ was bruised in the enterprise; which showeth how much we should value our salvation, since it costs so dear as the precious blood of the Son of God Incarnate (1 Peter 1:18, 19).

2. But how was He bruised by the serpent? Certainly on the one hand Christ's sufferings were the effects of man's sin and God's hatred against sin and His governing justice; for it is said, "It pleased the Father to bruise Him" (Isaiah 53:10). Unless it had pleased the Lord to bruise Him, Satan could never have bruised Him. On the Other side, they were also the effects of the malice and rage of the devil and his instruments, who was now with the sword's point and closing stroke with Christ, and doing the worst he could against Him. In His whole life He endured many outward troubles from Satan's instruments; for all His life long He was a man of sorrows, wounded and bruised by Satan and his instruments (John 8:44). But the closing stroke was at last; then did the serpent most eminently bruise His heel. When Judas contrived the plot, it is said, the devil entered into him (Luke 22:3). When the high priest's servants came to take Him, He telleth them, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53). The power of darkness at length did prevail so far as to cause His shameful death; this was their day.

3. It was only His heel that was bruised. It could go no further; for though His bodily life was taken away, yet His head and mediatory power was not touched (Acts 2:36). Again, His bodily life was taken away but for a while. God would not leave His soul in the grave (Psalm 16:10). Once more, though Christ was bruised, yet He was not conquered. So for Christians, He may divers ways wound and afflict us in our outward interests, but the inner man is safe (2 Corinthians 4:16).

IV. Though Christ's heel was bruised in the conflict, yet it endeth in Satan's final overthrow; for his head was crushed, which noteth the subversion of his power and kingdom. To explain this, we must consider —

1. What is the power of Satan.

2. How far Satan was destroyed by Christ. First: What is the power of Satan? It lieth in sin. And Christ destroyed him, as He "made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness, and made reconciliation for iniquities" (Daniel 9:24). Secondly: How far was Satan destroyed or his head crushed?

1. Negatively.(1) Non ratione essentiae, not to take away his life and being. No; there is a devil still, and shall be, even when the whole work of Christ's redemption is finished (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41). Then eternal judgment is executed on the head of the wicked state.(2) Non ratione malitiae, not in regard of malice; for the enmity ever continueth between the two seeds, and Satan will be doing though it be always to loss, "The devil sinneth from the beginning" (1 John 3:8). Therefore he is not so destroyed as if he did no more desire the ruin and destruction of men. He is as malicious as ever.

2. Affirmatively, it remaineth that it is ratione potentiae, in regard of his power. But the question returneth, How far is his power destroyed? for he still governeth the wicked, and possesseth a great part of the world. Therefore the devils are called "The rulers of the darkness of this world" (Ephesians 6:12). He molesteth the godly, whether considered singly or apart, or in their communities and societies. Singly and apart he may sometimes trouble them and sorely shake them as wheat is winnowed in a sieve. "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat" (Luke 22:31). And in their communities and societies. "Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say; many a time have they afflicted me from my youth" (Psalm 129:1, 2).

Use 1. Thankfulness and praise to our Mediator.

1. Satan's design was to dishonour God by a false representation, as if envious of man's happiness (Genesis 3:5). And so to weaken the esteem of God's goodness. Now in the work of our redemption God is wonderfully magnified, and represented as amiable to man; not envying our knowledge and delight, but promoting it by all means, even with great care and cost (1 John 4:8).

2. To depress the nature of man, that in innocency stood so near God. Now that the human nature, so depressed and abased by the malicious suggestions of the devil, should be so elevated and advanced, and be set up far above the angelical nature, and admitted to dwell with God in a personal union, oh! let us now cheerfully remember and celebrate this victory of Christ. Our praise now is a pledge of our everlasting triumph.

Use 2. To exhort us to make use of Christ's help for our recovery out of the defection and apostasy of mankind. Oh! let Satan be crushed in you, and the old carnal nature destroyed.

Use 3. To show us the nature of Christ's victory, and wherein it consisteth; not in an exemption from troubles, nor in a total exemption from sin for the present.

1. Not in an exemption from troubles. No; you must expect conflicts. Though Satan's deadly power be taken away, our heel may be crushed.

2. It is not a total exemption from sin. Necessary vital grace is only absolutely secured; yon shall receive no deadly wound to destroy your salvation. Use:

4. To animate and encourage Christ's servants in their war against Satan's kingdom, at home and abroad, within and without: "Not to give place to the devil" (Ephesians 4:27). Christ whom we serve is more able to save than Satan is to destroy.

( T. Manton, D. D..)

The promise of the recovery of mankind out of Satan's bondage, and from under God's curse, contains in it these principal heads, all of them expressed or implied in those few words, being so many grounds of our faith.

1. That God's promise of grace is every way free, not solicited by Adam, and much less deserved, as being made unto him now, when he had offended God in the highest degree, and stood in enmity against Him, and therefore must needs proceed from God's free will.

2. That it is certain and infallible, as depending, not upon man's will, but upon God's, who speaks not doubtfully or conditionally, but positively and peremptorily, that He will do it Himself.

3. That it shall be constant and unchangeable: the inward hatred and outward wars between Satan and the holy seed shall not cease till they end at last in Satan's total and final ruin.

4. That it shall not extend to all the seed of the woman according to the flesh, but to some that are chosen out of her seed. For some of them shall join with Satan against their own brethren.

5. The effect of this gracious promise shall be the sanctifying of their hearts, whom God will save, manifested in the hatred of Satan and all his ways; which though they had formerly embraced, yet now they should abhor.

6. This work of sanctification shall not be wrought upon them as a statuary fashions a stone into an image; but God shall make use of their wills and affections to stir them up and to set them against Satan, as this word — enmity — necessarily implies.

7. Those affections shall not be smothered and concealed in the inward motions of the heart, but shall outwardly manifest themselves in serious endeavours for the opposing of Satan and his power, as the war here mentioned and intimated by the wounds on both sides, necessarily supposeth.

8. The work of sanctification, though it shall be infallible and unchangeable, yet shall be imperfect, as is implied in the bruises which the godly shall receive by Satan's hand, not only by outward afflictions, but by inward temptations, which shall wound their souls by drawing them into divers sins, all implied in that phrase of bruising the heel.

9. Those wounds which they receive at Satan's hands shall not be deadly, nor quench the life of grace, which the devil shall not be able to destroy, as is intimated in that part of the body which shall be wounded, which is the heel, far enough from any vital part.

10. The author of this work of sanctification shall not be themselves, but God by His Spirit. For it is He that shall put enmity into their hearts against Satan and his seed, as the words import.

11. This work of sanctification by the Spirit shall be established by their union with Christ their Head, with whom they shall be joined into one body, as is implied when Christ and His members are termed one seed.

12. By virtue of this union the holy seed shall have an interest in and a title to all that Christ works. For so, in effect, Christ's victory over Satan is called their victory, when it is said the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head, that is, Christ and His members shall do it.

13. For the making way to this union and communion between Christ and His members, He shall take on Him the very nature of man, so that He shall truly and properly be called the seed of the woman.

(J. White, M. A.)

1. Let us mark how God proceeds in His inquiries after sin. He first traces it out step by step, tracks it in all its windings, ere He utters one word of judgment. His dealings hitherto had been with Adam, as the head of creation. Therefore He speaks first to him. Then from Adam sin is traced to the woman, then from the woman to the serpent. By this process it was brought solemnly before the conscience of the transgressors, that they might see what they had done. Even in the order of judgment, how careful to mark His sense of the different kinds of criminality! Such is a specimen of the way in which He will judge the world in righteousness!

2. Let us mark the circumstances in which the sentence was given. It was given in the hearing of our parents. It was not specially directed to them. They were but hearers. Yet the scene was designed for them. This curse on the serpent was spoken in their ears, because "it contained in it God's purpose of grace towards them."(1) That God meant to save them, and not to give them up to the snares of their enemy;(2) That they could only be saved by their enemy being destroyed;(3) That this destruction would be attended with toil, and conflict, and wounds;(4) That it was easy to ruin a world, but hard to save and restore.

3. Let us mark how God hated that which Satan had done. "Because thou hast done this," are the words of awful preface to the sentence. God had no pleasure in the snare or the ruin it had wrought. His words are the expression of deep displeasure against him who had done the horrid deed, and at the deed which had been done. And let us not forget how much of that which Satan has since then been doomed to suffer, as well as of that which be shall hereafter suffer, has its origin here. His sin, by means of which he succeeded in casting man out of Eden, shall be the sin by which he himself shall be cast wholly out of earth, to deceive the nations no more.

4. In undoing the evil God begins at its source. The drying up of the stream will not do; the source must be reached. Sin was the real enemy, and love to the sinner must proceed at once against this enemy, not resting till it is utterly destroyed.

5. God shows that Satan shall not be allowed to triumph. His victory is only temporary and partial. God is taking the sinner's side; and this is the assurance that Satan's victory shall be reversed!

6. God Himself undertakes man's cause. It is not, "there shall be enmity"; but "I will put" it. God Himself will now proceed to work for man. The serpent's malice and success have but drawn forth the deeper love and more direct interposition in man's behalf.

7. God promises a seed to the woman. All that this implied she could not know at the time. But it is evidently declared that she was not to die immediately. The salvation was to come from God, and yet it was to come through man.

8. God is to put enmity between the serpent and the woman, and between the serpent's seed and the woman's seed.(1) The enmity between Satan and the Church. There can be no friendship with him, and no sympathy with his works. Thus the distinction between the Church and the world is as old as Eden; and it is not merely distinction, it is hostility.(2) The enmity between Christ and Satan; between Him who is the representative of heaven and him who is the representative of hell; between Him who is the friend and him who is the enemy of man.(3) The name given to the ungodly — "the seed of the serpent." And it was this expression that Christ took up when He spoke of the "generation of vipers," and said to the unbelieving Jews, "Ye are of your father the devil." By birth we are the serpent's brood, till grace transforms us, and we become the woman's seed; then our friendship with the accursed race is forever broken.(4) The name of the Church — "the seed of the woman." Yes, the seed of her who sinned, who "was in the transgression" — offspring of Eve — of her who was first in apostasy. What tender favour is thus shown to her!(5) The name of Christ. The same as the Church's, the "seed of the woman." Yes, He was indeed "born of a woman" — the Son of Mary — the Son of Eve — the Son of her that had transgressed.

9. There is not only to be enmity, but conflict. That these two parties should keep aloof from each other was not enough. There must be more than this. There must be alienation and hatred; nay, there must be warfare, and that of the most desperate kind. Satan and the Church must ever be at open warfare.The world and the Church must ever be foes to each other.

1. The bruising of the heel of the woman's seed. It is not the woman's heel that is to be bruised, but the heel of her seed; neither is it the woman that is to bruise the serpent's head, but her seed — "it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." It was an inferior part that was to be wounded, not a vital one. Yet still there was to be a wound. The serpent's seed was to have a temporary triumph, and this was fulfilled when Jesus hung on the cross. Then the heel was bruised. Then Satan seemed to conquer. That was the hour and power of darkness. Then "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities." Then that wound was given which defeated him who gave it, and began our victory.

2. The bruising of the serpent's head. It was his most vital as well as his most honourable part that was to be bruised. An intimation this of utter defeat and ruin. He has received many a stroke. His deadly wound was given upon the cross, in that very stroke by which he bruised the heel of the woman's seed. So that from that moment our victory was secure, But the final blow is reserved for the Lord's second coming. Then it is that the great dragon, that old serpent, is to be bound in chains, and shut up in the abyss.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

Near the manchaneel, which grows in the forests of the West Indies, and which gives forth a juice of deadly poisonous nature, grows a fig, the sap of which, if applied in time, is a remedy for the diseases produced by the manchaneel. God places the gospel of grace alongside the sentence of death.

(W. Adamson.)

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