Page images
PDF
EPUB

God possesses it entirely: He directs its thoughts and faculties; it is His. What a proof of the divinity of Jesus Christ ! Yet in this absolute sovereignty He has but one aim—the spiritual perfection of the individual, the purification of his conscience, his union with what is true, the salvation of his soul. Men wonder at the conquests of Alexander : but here is a conqueror who draws men to Himself for their highest good ; who unites to Himself, incorporates into Himself, not a nation, but the whole human race.' On another occasion Napoleon said : ‘From first to last Jesus is the same; always the same—majestic and simple, infinitely severe and infinitely gentle. Throughout a life passed under the public eye, He never gives occasion to find fault. The prudence of His conduct compels our admiration by its union of force and gentleness. Alike in speech and action, He is enlightened, consistent, and calm. Sublimity is said to be an attribute of divinity ; what name then shall we give Him in whose character were united every element of the sublime? I know men ; and I tell you that Jesus is not a man. Everything in Him amazes me. His spirit outreaches mine, and His will confounds me. Comparison is impossible between Him and any other being in the world. He is truly a being by Himself. His ideas and His sentiments, the truth that He announces, His manner of convincing, are all beyond humanity and the natural order of things. His birth, and the story of His life; the profoundness of His doctrine, which overturns all difficulties, and is their most complete solution ; His gospel ; the singularity of His mysterious being, His appearance, His empire, His progress through all centuries and kingdoms : all this is to me a prodigy, an unfathomable mystery. I see nothing here of man. Near as I may approach, closely as I

examine, all remains above my comprehension-great with the greatness that crushes me. It is in vain that I reflect—all remains unaccountable. I defy you to cite another life like that of Christ.'”

[ocr errors]

may

as

Account for the strange coincidence as we will, there is no denying either that the Divine programme foretold long before Mosaic times of the advent of a great Deliverer who should be the woman's seed, or that one answering to the prediction did actually appear in our world 1,800 years ago; nor that this individual is now more widely regarded than ever before as the Saviour of mankind. His coming is admitted to have introduced into the world a new moral force, a force which is opposed to evil in all its forms. He appeared as the great antagonist of moral evil, and of its author. It is asserted of Him that “He was manifested to take away our sins," that He came “ to destroy the works of the devil," and, more, to destroy him himself. No candid mind can fail to see in the advent of Jesus Christ of Nazareth an apparent fulfilment of the promise given in Eden.

2. THE SUFFERINGS OF THE SEED. These were dimly intimated in the original prediction, but largely described, we have seen, in later Messianic prophecies; and we ask, Was suffering a conspicuous feature in the history of Jesus Christ of Nazareth ? The question scarcely needs a reply, for it is universally recognised that He was the Prince of sufferers. To no form of human suffering was the “ Man of sorrows" a stranger, and all His sufferings came upon Him because He willed to be the Saviour of men. It was in His struggle with the serpent that He was bruised and crushed, His heel or human nature bruised even to death! "He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost." His incarnation itself involved the suffering of supremest self-denial. He emptied Himself of His Divine glory and became an "obedient servant.” He suffered being tempted; He had not where to lay His head. He was misunderstood and reproached, doubted and disbelieved, provoked and insulted, stricken, smitten, and afflicted. For His love He had hatred, from His friends faithless desertion, from His foes relentless malice. No sorrow was ever like

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

His sorrow ; He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, He hid not His face from shame and spitting. Reproach broke His heart and filled Him with bitterness, and when He voluntarily assumed all the guilt of sinners and tasted death for every man, He had to endure the deepest of all sufferings, the sense of being forsaken of God. The woman's Seed was beyond all question the great sufferer. And He Himself spoke of His dying sufferings as inflicted by the great enemy of man; "the prince of this world cometh,” He said on the last night of His life, "and hath nothing in Me.” “Now is your hour and the power of darkness," He said to His captors in Gethsemane. He recognised too that His own death was the destruction of His foe, that the two bruisings synchronised. “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out"; ? and again He said in connexion with His own death, “the prince of this world is judged.”

The intensity of suffering can be estimated only in relation to the character of the sufferer; for that which is acute suffering to one is none at all to others. We must not judge of the sufferings of Christ by our own standard, but learn from Himself what the experiences through which He passed when He became “the woman's Seed” cost Him. The Gospels give us the story of His outward life and of His teachings, but they say little of His feelings : it is from the prophetic book of Psalms mainly that we learn something of them. Who can study the 22nd, 40th, 69th, or similar psalms without feeling that the depths of mental and spiritual anguish were sounded by the Son of man. Sorely was He bruised by the serpent and his seed -scribes and Pharisees, Jews and Romans, traitors, executioners, and revilers! Moreover, the hand of God was laid heavily on the willing Substitute ; as it is written, “the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” If the advent of

1 John xii. 31. · John xvi. 11.

[ocr errors]

2

Christ answer to the first point of the Adamic prediction, assuredly His experiences in life and in death answer to the second. But it remains to consider

3. THE TRIUMPHS OF THE SEED. The work of redemption being still in progress and avowedly incomplete, it is impossible to indicate under this last point anything more than the incipient fulfilment of the prophecy as to the destruction of the tempter of mankind by the woman's seed. Four thousand years rolled by before the great Deliverer appeared, eighteen hundred only have passed since His advent. Sufficient time has not elapsed to show the full results of His work. But the interval has been long enough for great effects to have resulted already, and above all for the general tendency of the results to have become apparent. Can we then point to any tangible, unquestionable victories won for mankind over moral evil and its author by “the seed of the woman"? Its main results are spiritual ones, and these are, of course, not cognisable by human sense-intangible, invisible. The cleansing of human consciences, the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation between God and men, the justification of sinners, the bestowal of eternal life,-all these great and supremely important changes are not of a kind to be adduced in evidence of the bruising of the serpent's head, because they are not evident, they cannot be seen or heard or handled by men; and while they may serve as evidence to those who are themselves conscious of being delivered from the kingdom of Satan and translated into the kingdom of Christ, yet they cannot be adduced in argument with unbelievers.

But if spiritual changes such as these take place in considerable numbers and over any large sphere, they must needs produce other changes in the world which will be of a visible, tangible nature, and which may consequently be cited as evidence of the ever-increasing victories of Christianity. For it must be borne in mind that just as it was through his “seed," or human agents that the serpent bruised the heel of the Saviour, so it is through His people that Christ is at present triumphing over Satan. The first fatal blow He Himself delivered by His spotless life, atoning death, and glorious resurrection ; and He will Himself give the last blow also, at His coming again in glory. Indeed, as Scripture puts it, He has already in a sense destroyed, not only the works of the devil, but their author. It is written, “ He hath destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil," as well as delivered many of his captives. The crisis of the long conflict is past, the victory has been won,

, though much of the fruits have yet to be reaped. So it may be said the power of France was crushed at Sedan, though a long period elapsed ere the full fruits of the conquest were enjoyed by Germany. Her hosts could not all at once close the campaign and rest on their laurels. Many a strong fortress still held out, many a weary siege had yet to be laid, many a soldier had yet to fall, and many a million had yet to be expended before France, disarmed and helpless, acknowledged her defeat and submitted to the conqueror's terms. No one questions that Sedan practically settled the ultimate result of the war, sending the discrowned monarch and his hosts into captivity, though it was some time before the transferred imperial crown was placed on the victor's brow at Versailles, and before the treasures of France were poured into the lap of Germany.

It is thus with the long conflict between the serpent and the woman's seed. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus practically won the day, though the full fruits of victory are not reaped yet. In Him, man, born of a woman, resisted Satan's temptations, fulfilled all righteousness, suffered the just for the unjust, tasted death for every man, broke its bonds and rose again from the dead, triumphant alike over the wiles, the malice, and the power of Satan. There is ample and unquestionable historic evidence of these facts,

« PreviousContinue »