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to the destinations of Providence, and the, we blame; it is not the shepherd's life, but discoveries which time brings to light! " And good Abel the shepherd that we esteem. she again bare his brother Abel.” The word “ And in process of time it came to pass, that denotes vanity, or a breath of air. Was this Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an name given him through the unreasonable offering unto the Lord. And Abel he also prejudice and unjust preference of a partial brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of mother? Or was it an unintentional predic- the fat thereof; and the Lord had respect tion of the brevity of his life, and of the la- unto Abel, and to his offering :". What is mentable manner of his death? But the ma- any condition, any employment, unconnected terials of which life is composed, are not so with, unsupported, unadorned by religion! much its days, and months, and years, as How wretched a creature is the mere citiworks of piety, and mercy, and justice, or zen of this world, whose views, pursuits, and their opposites. He dies in full maturity, enjoyments, all terminate in time! The man who has lived to God and eternity, at what- who sees not his comforts and his successes ever period, and in whatever männer he is as coming from the hand of God; and whose cut oti
. That life is short, though extended heart rises not in gratitude to the Giver of all to a thousand years, which is disfigured with good, is a stranger to the choicest ingredient vice, devoted to the pursuits of time merely, in the cup of prosperity. But can God, the and at the close of which the unhappy man great Gou, stand in need of such things as is found unreconciled to God.
these? “ Is not every beast of the forest Behold this pair of brothers, then, growing his, and the cattle upon a thousand hills ?" in wisdom and in stature; gladdening their Yes, yerily : religion was not instituted for parents' hearts. They arrive at the age of the sake of God, but of man: for man cannot reason, of vigour, of activity; they feel the be profitable to his Maker, as he that is wise, law of God and nature upon them. Though and good, and pious, may be unto himself. the heirs of empire, they must labour for Religion is pressed upon us by the very law their subsistence" Abel was a keeper of of our nature; and it is absolutely necessary sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground."* to human happiness. The earth will no longer spontaneously yield
Cain observes the fruits of the earth arrive ner increase. The clods must be turned up, at their maturity. He knows that all his and the seed' must be cast into the furrow, care and skill, without the interposition of through the care, foresight, and industry of Heaven, could not have produced a single man, else in vain will the heavens shed their grain of corn. He had observed the seed influence; and in vain will the blessing of which he cast into the ground, dying, in orthe Most High be expected. That cattle der to be quickened; he saw from putrefacmay furnish either the fleece for clothing, or tion a fresh stem springing up, and bearing milk for food, they must be protected from thirty, sixty, an hundred fold; and a power inclement seasons, and ravenous beasts; they more than human conducting this wonderful must be conducted to proper pasture, and progress. Of the first and best, therefore, he provided with water from the brook. And brings an offering unto the Lord ; not to en this is the origin of the first employments rich his Maker, but to do honour to himself. wnich occupied our elder brethren in a state Abel's flocks and herds likewise, through the of nature. And here it is observable, that blessing of the Almighty, increase and mul. the different dispositions of the brothers may tiply; he adores the hand that makes his be traced in the occupations which they fol- wealth; and presents the firstlings of his lowed. Pious and contemplative, Abel tends flock to the Lord. But, alas ! his offering, his flock; his profession allords more retire in order to be accepted, must bleed and die. ment, and more leisure, for meditation; and The innocent lamb which he had tended the very nature of his charge forms him to with so much care, had fed from his hand, had vigilance, to providence, and to sympathy. carried in his bosom, must by his hand be His prosperity and success seem to flow im- slain, must find no compassion from the tenmediately, and only, from the hand of God. der shepherd's heart, when piety demands Cain, more worldly, and selfish, betakes him-him-must be consumed to ashes before his self to husbandry; a work of greater indus- eyes. “ And the Lord had respect unto Abel, try and art; the necessary implements of and to his offering. But unto Cain, and to which, suppose the prior invention of sundry his offering, he had not respect.” What branches of manufacture ; and in whose made the difference? Not the nature and operations, and their effects, art blending with quality of the things offered, but the disponature, would claim at least her full propor- sition of the offerers. Our text illustrates tion of merit and importance. But it is not and explains the passage in Genesis, “ By the occupation which has merit or demerit; FAITH Ābel offered unto God a more excelthe man who exercises it, is the object of cen- lent sacrifice than Cain.” Cain came before sure or of praise. It is not the husbandry of God as a righteous man; Abel as a sinner. Cain, but wicked Cain the husbandman that Cain brought an offering of acknowledgment; * Genesis iv. 2.
* Genesis iv. 3, 4.
Abel a propitiatory sacrifice. Cain's gift be- disobedience a slight evil, which introduced speaks a grateful heart: Abei's a contrite such desperate wickedness into the world; spirit. Cain eyes the goodness of God; Abel which transformed man into the most savage his mercy and long-suffering. Cain says, of beasts ! “ He rose up against Abel his " Lord, I thank thee for all thy benefits to- brother, and slew him.” Now was death for ward me; Abel, “Lord I am unworthy of the first time seen; and seen in his ghastlithe least of thy favours.” Cain rejoices in est form! Death before the time? The the world as a goodly portion; Abel, by death of piety and goodness! Death inflictfaith, discerns and expects a better inhe-ed by violence, and preceded by pain! Death ritance. Cain approaches, trusting in an embittered to the sufferer by reflecting on imperfect righteousness of his own, and de- the hand from which it came; the hand of a parts unjustified; Abel draws nigh, depend- brother, the hand which should have suping on the perfect righteousness of a Medi-ported and protected him, which should ator, and goes away righteous in the siglit of have barred the door against the murderer, God.
not borne the fatal instrument itself! At In what manner the divine approbation and length the feeble eyes close in peace; and displeasure were expressed, we are not in the pain of bleeding wounds, and the pangs formed; whether by a celestial fire seizing of fraternal cruelty are feit no more. and consuming the one offering and leaving dust returns to the earth as it was, and the the other untouched; or by a voice from spirit unto God who gave it.”. The spirit heaven, declaratory of the mind of God. But returns to God, to see his unclouded tace, we are assured that it was sufficiently noti- formerly seen through the medium of natural fied to the parties themselves. On Abel, un objects, and of religious services; to underdoubtedly, it had the effect which a sense of stand, and to enjoy the great mystery of the the favour of God will always produce upon atonement, hitherto known only in a figure. a good mind, a mind which esteems the Happy Abel, thus early delivered from the loving-kindness of the Most High more than sins and sorrows of a vain world! And life; sweet complacency and composure of thus death, at whatever season, in whatever spirit,“ the peace of God which passeth all form, and from whatever quarter it comes, understanding,” On Cain it produceth a is always unspeakably great gain to a good very different effect; he was very wroth, man. * and his countenance fell." Men are often Such was the life, and such the untimely angry when they ought to be grieved; and end of “righteous Abel ;" for so our blessed remorse for their own unworthiness frequent-Lord styles him, who fell a martyr to religion. ly becomes resentment against their innocent The reinainder of Cain's history; the short neighbours; and not seldom it changes into view given us of the character of his descendsullenness, insolence, and rebellion against ants, together with the birth of Seth, given God himself. Observe the goodness and con- and appointed of God to preserve the sacred descension of God; he vouchsafes to reason line, to propagate the holy seed, in place of with, to warn, and to admonish this peevish, Abel, whom Cain slew; will, with the perpetulant man; and gives encouragement to mission of God, furnish matter for another a better temper and behaviour. “ If thou Lecture. Let us conclude the present, by doest well, shalt thou not be accepted ?" He setting up the character of Abel as an object promises to support him in his right of pri- of esteem, and a pattern for imitation. mogeniture, unworthy as he was—" To thee Faith in God, and in a Saviour to come; and shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over the righteousness which is of God by faith, him;" but at the same time, he points out are the leading and striking features of this the danger of persevering in impiety, and of portrait ; and by these, “ being dead, he yet prosecuting his resentments—" If thou doest speaketh;" or if you choose to adopt the marnot well, sin lieth at the door.” But the ginal reading, “is yet spoken of.” It is a soul, of which envy,'malice, and revenge, desirable thing to enjoy a good name while have taken possession, is lost to the better we live, and to be remembered with kindness feelings of human nature ; is deaf to remon- after we are dead. But reputation is the gift strance, and insensible of kindness. The in- of others: it is often gained without merit, nocent are simple and unsuspicions; intend- and lost without a crime. Whereas true ing no evil, they fear none." Cain, it would goodness is a real, unalienable possession; it appear from the letter of the narration, and cleaves to us in death ; it accompanies us to the scene where the action is laid, decoyed the world of spirits; it instructs the world his brother into solitude, under the mask of while we live; it speaks from the grave; it familiarity and friendship; “ he talked with shines in the presence of God in heaven. him," they were in the field. What a horrid Here, my friends, it is lawful and honourable aggravation of his guilt! A deed of violence! to aspire. Permit others to get before you in Murder! a good man's, a brother's murder! wealth or in fame; grudge not to your neighDeliberately resolved on, craftily con lucted, bour' the superiority in wit
, or strength, or remorselessly executed! Was man's first beauty; but yield to none in piety, in purity
in faith, in charity; aim at the highest ho- “ Through the eternal Spirit he offered himnours of the Christian name; be humble, and self without spot to God.” Were Abel's days be every thing.
cut short by the hand of violence ? So " MesSalvation, men and brethren, has, from the siah the Prince, was cut off, but not for himbeginning, flowed in one and the same chan- self.” Was Abel hated of, and slain by his nel. There was not one gospel to the ante- brother ? Christ " was despised and rejected" diluvian, and another to the postdiluvian of his own, and died by the treachery of a world; one method of redemption to the Jews, familiar friend in whom he trusted, and by and another to the Gentiles; but “ Jesus the cruelty of those who were his brethren Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and according to the flesh. Did the blood of for ever.” Abel, Abraham, Moses, David, Abel cry to God from the ground, for venSimeon, Paul, and all who have been, or shall geance on the head of him who shed it? O, be saved, lived and died in the faith of Christ. with what oppressive weight has the blood “ Neither is there salvation in any other; for of Jesus fallen, and how heavily does it still there is none other name under heaven given lie on the heads of them, and of their chil. among men, whereby we must be saved."* dren, who with wicked hands crucified and This, therefore, is the great commandment slew him! Could the blood of Abel atone of God to us in these days of meridian light for his sin ? No: but the blood of Christ and glory, namely, “ that we should believe cleanseth him, and every believer, from all on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love sin. Yet Abel died as a righteous man, one another."
Christ as a sinner. Abel, a guilty creature, Was Abel a type of Christ, as well as a be- was justified and accepted through an imliever in him? The scripture indeed saith puted righteousness; Christ
, who was “ holy, it not expressly; but surely, without strain- harmless, undefiled, and separated from siring, we may discern some striking marks of ners," was condemned and suffered, because resemblance. What saith Moses? “ Abel - The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all." was a keeper of sheep." What saith Christ? Abel suffered death once for all; the body of “ I am the good shepherd : the good shepherd Christ was offered once for all,” and by that giveth his life for the sheep.” What did one sacrifice, " he hath for ever perfected Abel? “He, through faith, brought of the them that are sanctified.” But we pursue firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof, the similitude and the contrast no farther. an offering unto the Lord.” What did Christ? May God bless what has been said. Amen
And to his holy name be praise.
* Acts iv. 12,
HISTORY OF CAIN.
For this is the message that ye neard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain
who was of that wicked one, and slow his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.-1 JOAN u. 11, 12.
It is a pleasant task to attend the footsteps | be placed before the eyes of men; that sin of the wise and good, through the thorny should be viewed in her native loathsomeness maze of human life: to draw nigh with the and deformity, to excite, if possible, aversion devout, to the altar of God: to learn patience and disgust. To direct men in the journey of the meek, compassion of the merciful, and of life, it is necessary to erect beacons, the kindness of the generous: to love and admire admonition of hidden dangers and death; as them in life, and to regret them in death. well as to set up indexes, to point out the But ah! how painful to trace the progress, right path. The two first men who were and to mark the appearances of " the carnal born into the world, are designed of Provimind, which is enmity against God," and dence to answer this valuable purpose, to hatred to man from the first conception of an those who should come after them. Abel, ill design, to the final execution of a deed of though dead, continues to instruct men in the horror! “ Lust, having conceived, bringeth excellency, amiableness, and importance of forth sin, and sin when finished, bringeth true religion ; Cain stands to all generations, forth death.” Nevertheless, it is highly im- a fearful example of ungovernable passion, portant, that even objects of detestation should hurrying a man on to blood, and plunging
him into despair. Having considered the dened throuyh sin, dictated the reply, "I former as a pattern for imitation, we are now know not, am I my brother's keeper ?" Is this to consider the history of the latter, as afford- the eldest hope of the first human pair? Is ing an useful and seasonable warning to look he not rather the first born of that accursed to ourselves, “ lest we also be hardened, being, who is a liar and a murderer from through the deceitfulness of sin."
the beginning? “I know not:" Falsehood Cain has now accomplished his bloody pur- must be called in to cover that wickedness pose. His envied, hated rival is now re- which we are ashamed or afraid to avow. moved out of sight: the virtues of his brother“ Am I my brother's keeper ?” How dreadno longer reproach him: Abel stands no ful is the progress of vice! How crime leads more in the way, to intercept the rays of the on to crime! Envy begets malice; malice favour of God, or of man. Is he not now inspires revenge; revenge hurries on to then at rest? No eye saw him commit the blood; bloodguiltiness seeks shelter under murder. And if it were known, who shall untruth, and untruth attempts to support itcall him to account? No eye saw him! Yes, self by insolence, assurance, and pride: and the eye of Cain saw him: yes, the eye of God haughtiness of spirit is but one step from saw him: hence the whole earth becomes all destruction. Ah, little do men know, when eye to behold him, all tongue to accuse him. they indulge one evil thought, or venture on Who shall call him to account? That shall one unwarrantable action, what the issue is Cain; his own conscience shall avenge the to be! They vainly flatter themselves it is murder: that shall the hand of every man, in their power to stop when they please, fly whither he will ; for every man is con- But passion, like a fiery unmanageable steed cerned to destroy him, who makes light of the hands of an unskilful rider, by one inthe life of another: that shall God, from whom considerate stroke of the spur, may be exhe cannot fly. Revenge, like "a devilish cited to such a pitch of fury, as no skill can engine," recoils on him that employs it; or, tame, no force restrain ; but both horse and like the flame of Nebuchadnezzar's fiery rider are hurried together down the precifurnace, catches hold of, and destroys the pice, and perish in their rage. ministers of vengeance, not the objects of it. The milder, and more indirect admonitions
The mournful tidings must soon reach the and reproofs of God's word and providence ears of the afflicted parents. What were being misunderstood, slighted or defied, jusnow thy feelings, Eve, when he, who was tice is concerned, and necessity requires, to expected to be a Saviour, turns out a de- speak in plainer language, and to bring the stroyer? Which is the heavier affliction, a charge directly home: and that severity is son prematurely and violently cut off; or a most awful, which was preceded by gentle. son living to present an object of horror and ness, patience, and long-suffering. God at detestation to their eyes ? & pious child dead, length awakes to vengeance; "and he said, is beyond all controversy, a possession in- What hast, thou done? The voice of thy finitely preferable to a profligate alive. Alas! brother's blood crieth unto me from the what shall they do? To overlook the mur- ground.” 1**And mark, how every creature der, is to become partakers in the guilt of arms itself in the cause of God. The dead it; to punish the murderer, as justice de- earth is represented as acquiring sensibility, mands, is to render themselves childless. and refusing to cover blood: the silent ground Ah! how do the difficulties and distresses of becomes vocal, and loudly accuses the crimitheir fallen estate increase upon guilty men nal; the stones of the field are at war with every day! The cause, which was too hard him who has made God his foe: nay, the for Adam to determine, God takes into his earth is made not only the accuser, but the own hand.
“And the Lord said unto Cain, punisher of the guilty; for this new transWhere is Abel thy brother ?"* Offences gression it falls under a heavier curse. Adam committed in secret, and offenders, whose for his offence, was doomed to eat bread with power and station bid defiance to earthly the sweat of his brow; was doomed to labour, tribunals, fall properly under the immediate yet to labour in hope of increase; but Cain cognizance of heaven. Behold the throne is shall spend his strength for nought and in set, and the judgment opened. How meek vain. The ground shall present greater and gentle is God with this murderer! He rigidity to the hand of cultivation : shall cast would draw confession from his mouth, not out the seed thrown into it, or consume and as a snare, but as an indication of contrition. destroy it; or at best produce a lean and The end which God has in view, in making scanty crop. Cain and the earth are to be inquiry after blood, is, not the conviction and mutually cursed to each other. It seems to punishment; but the conviction, pardon, and tremble under, and shrink from the feet of a recovery of the criminal. What a question. murderer ; it refuses henceforth to yield un“Where is thy brother?" put by God him to him her strength, and considers him as a self to the wretch whose hands were yet monstrous misshapen birth, of which she is reeking with his blood. What heart, lar- ashamed, and which she wishes to destrov.
He considers it as an unnatural mother, / say, are on the side of truth, and virtue, and whom no pains can molify, no submission religion : his opinions, he has no inclination reconcile. “ A fugitive and a vagabond shalt dogmatically to propose; he neither wishes thou be in the earth.” When the mind is to make a secret of them, nor expects any changed, every thing changes with it: when one, much less the world, implicitly to adopt a man is at discord with himself, he is eter-them. He is conscious of a desire to do nally from home. The spacious world, good; not over anxious about fame; happy Cain's hereditary domain, is become a vast in the afiection of many friends, and unsolitude ; of a home is turned into a place of conscious of having given cause to any good exile. The person whom all men shun is man to be his enemy. Forgive a digression, every where a stranger; he who is smitten suggested by the occasion, not rambled into of his own conscience, is continually sur- through design; proceeding not from the derounded with enemies.
sire a man has to speak of himself, but from The same principle which engages men a wish, by doing it once for all, to cut off all in criminal eaterprises, in the hope of im- future occasion of speaking, in or of the first punity, throws tlıcm into despair, upon the person. We return to the history. denunciation of punishment. As they for “ It shall come to pass," says guilty, tremmerly expected much higher satisfaction bling Cain, " that every one that findeth me from the execution of their wicked purposes, shall slay me.” This is one of the many than the most successful villany ever could passages of scripture, which the enemies of bestow; so now their own guilty minds out- religion have laid hold of, and held forth as run the awards of justice itself; and the contradictory to other parts of revelation, in awakened conscience does ample vengeance the view of invalidating and destroying the upon the offender at length, amply vindicates whole. Here, they allege, Moses is inconthe cause both of God and man. This is sistent with himself; in deriving the whole strikingly exemplified in the case of Cain, human race from the common root of Adam, His recent boldness and insolence are a and at the same time supposing the world so strong contrast to his present dejection and populous at the time of Abel's murder, as to terror. He now sinks under the apprehen- excite in Cain a well grounded apprehension sion of intolerable chastisements, and fore- of the public resentment and punishment of bodes greater evils than his sentence de- his crimes. Either, say they, there were nounced. His banishment he considers as other men and women created at the same far from being the greatest of the calamities time with, or before Adam and Eve; or else of his condition; he feels himself excluded, Cain's fears were groundless and absurd. A hidden from the gracious presence of God; | learned and ingenious critic has taken the and deserted of his Maker, liable to fill by trouble to refute this objection, by instituting the hand of every assailant. But God re- a calculation founded on obvious probabilities members mercy in the midst of anger; and at least, by which it appears, that at the time the life which he himself was graciously of Abel's murder the world was sufficiently pleased to spare, no one else must, on any peopled, on the Mosaic supposition, that ail pretence whatever, presume to take away. mankind descended from Adam, to render the He only who can bestow life, has a right to public justice an object of well grounded apdispose of it.
prehension to guilty Cain. We pretend not Ye over curious inquirers, who must needs to assert that the calculation of a modern au, be informed of every thing, what does it con- thor is a demonstration of a fact so remote: cern you to know, by what mark God dis- if it be probable, it is sufficient for our purtinguished Cain, to prevent his being killed pose, that of doing away one of the cavils of py any one who might take upon himself to infidelity. be the avenger of blood ? Speculation and The birth of Seth is fixed, by the history, conjecture, which with some pass for illus- in the one hundred and thirtieth year Cration and knowledge, are not the objects Adam: it is therefore reasonable to place the of these exercises ; but whatever assists faith, death of Abel two years earlier, or near it; whatever supports a sound morality, what that is, in the one hundred and twenty-eighth ever conveys real information, inspires a year of the world, “Now, though we should taste for goodness, represses inordinate and suppose,” says the calculator,* " that Adain rinful desire; whatever teaches gratitude and and Eve had no other sons in the year of the love to God, and good will to men, that we world one hundred and twenty-eight but Cain would carefully observe, and earnestly in- and Abel, it must be allowed that they had culcate. As it is no part of our intention to daughters, who might early marry with those wander into the regions of speculation, un- two sons. I require no more than the de. der a pretence of elucidating the sacred his scendants of these two, to make a very contory, it is still less so, to enter the lists of siderable number of men upon the earth, in controversy. Your Lecturer has, no doubt, the said year one hundred and twenty-eight. his opinions and prejudices, like other men:
* Dissert, Chrono!. Geogr. Critiq, sur la Pible. I me his prejudices, however, he is confident to . Dissert. Journai de Paris, Jan. 1712, com. li. p. O.