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Here, if I do not fail for want of proper skill in arranging the divine word, it is hoped will be seen what Moses meant by the woman's falling in with the serpent's temptation. The serpent signifies wisdom. And as
And as we have seen two laws, we will now look for two serpents and two wisdoms. When Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh, by the command of God, as they were commanded, “ Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.” Exodus 7, 10. By this rod is represented divine Power, and by this SERPENT is signified divine WISDOM. When Pharaoh saw this sign of the power and wisdom of the God of the Israelites, he called on his Magicians who cast down their rods, which also became serpents. These reds turned to serpents signify the power and wisdom of the earthly nature. The superiority of the power and wisdom of God, over the power and wisdom of the flesh, is represented by Aaron's rod's swallowing up the Magician's rods. See Num. 21, 8, 9. " And the Lord said unto Moses, make thee a fiery serpent, and sit it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole ; and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived." It may be proper to observe those fiery serpents were all of the same nature, they were but one in nature, which represents the wisdom of the flesh, while the serpent of brass represents Christ or the wisdom of God. James 3, 15, 16, 17. " This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, fall of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy," 1 Cor. 2, 6. Howbeit, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world.” Having obtained a clear idea of these two wisdoms, it may not be deemed improper to suggest, that as there fis revealed in the scriptures, but one tree of life, but one bread of life, and but one divine wisdom ; so there is but one tree whose fruit produces death and but one visdom of the earthly nature. Hence it is reasonable to conclude that the serpent, who
beguiled the woman, was the wisdom of this world which cometh to nought, and is in all ages the same, though it act in a thousand different forms, it rises from sensual appetites and administers death. To this agrees the short but comprehensive history of temptation, sin and death which we have in the Epistle of James 1, 13, 14, 15. · Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lusts, and enticed. Then, when last hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” The curse pronounced on the serpent is truly characteristic of the wisdom of the flesh. "Thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every
beast of the field.” This part of the curse is plainly demonstrate ed by the more wretched state to which mankind are drawn or led by carnal wisdom, than any of the beasts of the field suffer in consequence of following natural instinct. “On thy belly shalt thou go. The wisdom of the fleshly nature never goes but when carnal appetites lead. “And dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” This shows that the wisdom of which we speak, is nourished and fed wholly by earthly vanities, and that it will exist no longer than earthly things remain for his support.” See Isaiah, 65, 25. “ And dust shalt be the serpent's meat.”. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed." The law of the carnal mind is enmity against the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, is not subject to it, neither in deed can be. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Christ was bruised for our iniquities, and all mankind through the members of Christ's body, are bruised while in the flesh, by the serpent, the wisdom of this world ; but Christ with the law of the spirit of life will finally conquer and bruise this satan under our feet. If we may suppose we have traviled thus far consistently with the scriptures, we may conceive that man's being drawn out of the garden, was his being depriva cd of that innocence in which he stood prior to transgression.
The cherubims and the flaming sword may be known by their use, which was to guard the tree of life, to prevent man from putting forth his hand and partaking of it, whereby he might live forever. These cherubims held but one
sword which daming sword is the glorious ministration of death, of which St. Paul speaks in 2. Cor. 3, 6 and 7. The cherubims who hold and minister this faming sword are the law and the Prophets. But why may not man be permitted to put forth his hand and take of the tree of life and eat and live forever? Answer. “ Not of works, le st any man should boast." . “ Now we know, that what things soever the law saith; it saith to, them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may becoine guil. ty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom. 3, 19, 20. But here let us cautiously inquire how the law which is holy and the commandment which is holy should be a ministration of death? Answer, it is so only in the letter, in the spirit it is life. See 2. Cor. 3, 6. " Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” St. Paul took much pains in his Epistle to the Romans to make a proper distinction in respect to the spirit of the law and the letter. In the fure part of the 7th chapter he labours to show that we are delivered from the law, dead to the law by the body of Christ, that we should be married to another. But in the 12th verse he says, “\Vherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and goud." Now the Apostle could not mean that we are delivered, by the body of Christ, from that which is holy, just and good, for the righteousness of this law which he says is spiritual in the 14th verse, he shows to be fulfilled in us in the 8th chap. 3, 4. "For what the law would not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the Aesh ; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” The 6th verse of the 7th chapter makes the matter plain. * But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherejn we were held ; that we should serve in newness of sPIRIT, and not in the OLDNESS of the LETTER.”
I have been the more particular in tracing the distinction which the Apostle makes between the spirit and letter of the law, not only that I might show that she law never required the endless destruction of man, or was a ministration of death only in the letter, but more particularly that I might introduce the cherubims or the law and the prophets where they may be seen without a Naming sword.or min. istration of death.
That St. Paul did not believe in the endless continuance of the ministration of death and condemnation, may be seen in much of his writings, particularly in 2d Cor. 3, 7-11. " But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could pot steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance ; which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious ? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that exceleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that'which remaineth is glorious.”
The same spirit of divine inspiration which moved Moses to write the account of the cherubims and the flaming sword which we have seen signifying the ministration of death, directed him to represent the cherubiins in a differeni ministry. Sec Exodus 25, 18–22. “And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold; of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the
And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end even of the mercy-seac shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy-seat with their wivgs, and their faces shall look one to another ; toward the mercy-seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy-seat above upon the ark ; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”
Here are the cherubims, but no flaming sword ; they are over the mercy-seat with out stretched wings; they look one toward another to show their agreement in the ministration of life and mercy; their extended wings show that
there is life in them and that they are ever ready to fly abroad with the tidings of mercy. By the above passage from Exodus, we learn that all things which God gave to Moses in commandment to the children of Israel were brought into the ministration from the mercy-seat from be. tween the cherubims. Thus the commandment was ordained unto life as St. Paul acknowledges in Rom. 7, 10. " And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be upto death." How could the commandment which was ordained unto life, be found to be unto death? See the answer in verse 11. “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment deceived me, and by it slew me.” And in the 12th verse he acknowledges that the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. And to make his subject as plain as possible he asks in the 13th verse this question, “ Was then that which is good made death unto me”? And answers it thus. God forbid.
But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me hy that which is good ; that sin by the commandment might become ex. ceeding sinful.”
Of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum. “ He that soweth to his ficsh, shall of the flesh reap corruption ; but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.”
EXTRACT FROM AN ANTIENT WRITER ON UNIVER. SAL SALVATION.
The Apostle Paul exhorting to prayers for all men, urge eth and backs his exhortation upon this ground, that this is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. 1. Tim. 2, 3.
The letter of this text is full and express, God will have all men to be saved, and should we press it, there are almost as many arguments as words in it. For