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here of the great fallen spirit that kept not his first estate, should be at once the reptile of latest appearance in creation, and the one selected by the philosophic naturalist as representative of a reversed process in the course of being, - of a downward sinking career, from the vertebrate antetype towards greatly lower types in the invertebrate divisions." The remark, however, is more striking than true,
It might be shown, that the structural peculiarities of the Ophidians have much about them to indicate a connection between them and the fishes below them, on the one hand, and the birds and mammals above them, rather than, on the other hand, with the invertebrate types of life. For example, in breathing by lungs, in their digestive organs, in the organs which serve in the highest vertebrate animals to give forth sounds, in the bones of the head, in the brain, in the structure of the vertebral column, and in the organs of reproduction.
The sentence pronounced on the serpent assumes two aspects. Its body was cursed, and permanent antagonism between “its seed and the seed of the woman was declared. But here again it is impossible to seperate between the beast and the personal evil — the bad angel — who had thus used it in order to his own purpose. The first expres. sions plainly refer to something in regard to the body of the reptile which in all times was to characterize it as accursed. It has, however, been remarked already, that now, as ever, it follows its own nature. Where then is the curse ? Let us bear in mind what is said of the man, whose whole nature yielded without resistance to the same evil powers. “ Thou art cursed from the earth," was the sentence uttered against Cain; though as to mental and physical constitution all his faculties retained their identity. So here: the instrument and the agent both are set apart as cursed. The former carries the curse about with as it trails on its belly among the dust of the world, loathed, hated, turned away from by man, Cain's curse was not only realized in his own consciousness, but it came home to him as pecuVol. XXI. No. 81.
liarly poignant when he thought, that not only was he avoided, but that, as the race increased, he might count on something more. My punishment,” he said, " is greater than I can bear.” “ It shall come to pass that every one that firdeth me shall slay me.”
And thus is the serpent cnrsed in the very attitude of man to it. The strong expressions as to creeping on “its belly, and eating the dust all the days of its life," have much light shed on them indirectly in other portions of scripture. That the original structure of the serpent was good after its kind connot be doubted; but here that form replete, as all others, with evidences of creative skill, and containing much in it propheti. cal, as it were, of some of the most important parts of the human skeleton, has a far different thought now suggested with it. But the truly good may come to be associated with a curse.
“ Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings." Even vegetation may be made to bear direct testimony to the same truth : “ Master, behold the fig-tree which thou cursedst is withered away” (Mark xi. 21). In Leviticus xi. 42 “whatsoever goeth upon its belly” is characterized as " an abomination," and in Psalm xliv. 25, those cast down, and feeling as if under a curse speak of themselves as those whose “belly cleaveth unto the earth.” Again, such references as the following are suggestive, in connection with this
“ I will send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust” (Deut. xxxii. 24). Man is abased, and he joins the mention of himself with the dust:
My flesh is clothed with worms and with clods of dust" (Job vii. 5); “ Thou hast brought me into the dust of death” (Ps. xxii. 15). The extreme degradation of all opposed to the truth is thus stated : “ His enemies shall lick the dust” (Ps. Ixxii. 9); “ They shall lick the dust like a serpent” (Mi. vii. 17).
In the other part of the curse the agent of evil is especially addressed: he was to have a seed, a people, in the world, who should serve him, and over whom he should
reign as the “prince of this world.” The woman who was in the transgression, was to have a seed likewise, specially distinguished by this, that it should ultimately destroy, cast down, overcome, the seed of the serpent, now to be known as " that old serpent called the devil.” The history which traces and which unfolds the fruits of this antagonism, has very many points in it suggestive of the relation between man and the beasts formed in Eden.
To conclude: how remarkable the influence which this association of man with the serpent has had upon the world! Traditionally it seems to have gone with the human race wherever they wandered, and into what circumstances soever their lot was cast. All the great branches of the human family appear to have come more or less under its influence. In China and India, in Egypt and Persia, in Greece and in Rome, it has been the object of the worship of fear. By a natural law, that which is dreaded comes to Le propitiated, and, according to well-known principles, objects long propitiated come to be regarded with something like esteem. Thus the twofold worship of the serpent. Thus, too, the explanation of its place as a type of blessing, of bealing, of health.
CONFIDENCE, THE YOUNGEST DAUGHTER OF CAUTION.
BY REV. LEONARD WITHINGTON, D.D., NEWBURYPORT, MASS.
Evitando vivit anima, quae ad petendo moritur.
Augus. Conf. Lib. XIII. § 21.
One of the proofs of the Bible's being the word of God is, that it everywhere gives tokens of its coming from an omniscient mind. The test of omniscience is foresight. None can see into the future but God. The prophecies, therefore, as they roll on to their accomplishment, speak the wisdom of him who gave them. But it is not in the direct prophecies alone that the foresight of God is seen. We often find in human writings, and sometimes in authors of eminence, remarks that are sparkling and ingenious, but their truth can by no means endure the test of time. The ink is hardly dry on the paper before the teaching has lost its application and the author's reputation has gone to ruin. As the hill that arises highest into the air is apt to stand upon the strongest granite foundation, so the permanency of a doctrine is the signal of the strength of its origination. The editorials of a partisan newspaper, the speech of a pleader in a private trial, a funeral sermon, and often a political oration, are calculated only for the hour. Their best beauties are like the hues on a cloud after a vernal sunset, dependent not only on a fading ray, but the direction of that fading ray, and soon to be followed by a darkness which obliterates their form and memorial, until they return, on another day, to an existence as transient and as soon to be forgotten.
It is one of the proofs of the divinity of the Bible, that all its principles rest on a permanent foundation. Even when the transient appears, it is only a vesture to wrap up an inmortal form. Generally speaking, we everywhere find the
vestiges of far-reaching foresight. It is the professed object of the prophecies to foresee and foretell ; and every coming age, until the coming of the millennial kingdom, is to magnify the wisdom which prepared its foundation and predicted its accomplishment. But it is not in professed prophecy alone that this permanent wisdom is seen : The Bible never outlives its principles. The oldest book in the world is never out of date. 66 Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” How many instances of this divine permanency may be brought from the sacred record! It seems to us that most of the popular objections to the bigb truths of revelation have been anticipated, showing the foresight that secures their future existence. When Paul says “I speak as a man," he projects himself into the popular sentiment, and takes away the sword of the adversary before he has drawn it from its sheath. In Rom. ix. 19 we have a remarkable passage: "Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth be yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?” How natural is this question on the preaching of the doctrines of Paul, and how many millions of times has this objection been made! So the saying of Peter (20 Ep. iii. 4): “ Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. These simple words contain the first postulate of all the objection's of Hume and others to the miracles; the doctrine of La Place and most of the French infidels, the German objections, and the whole tendency of infidel geology and what the pious geologists are attempting to meet. All is anticipated in its simplest form, and traced to its origin through all its Protean variations. Perhaps there is not a single heresy that has ever infested the church, that has not been “ prevented," in the double sense of that old, pregnant word. I can imagine the shades of the old heresiarchs rising from their sepulchres