« PreviousContinue »
or good for food; and to consider first whether it be consistent with our duty to wish for it before we indulge ourselves with it. We
further learn from the Fall of the first human kind, to keep our desired for knowledge, within due bounds; and in respect to spiritual and divine things, to be contented with what it has pleased God to reveal; and we should likewise learn from their sad fate, to be satisfied with the condition of human nature.
The Creator has made many different orders of beings, and placed them in different ranks, according to his good pleasure ; it is therefore sinful to wish to be any other kind of creature than we are; and still more $0, to be envious of the perfections of God himself.
Since the Devil suggested wickedness to our first rents, and the Scriptures inform us, that he is the pro. fessed enemy of mankind in general, we must endea. vour to guard our minds against his artful insinuations, Whenever we find in our hearts
inclinations trary to our own duty, we should immediately have recourse to God by prayer, that he may by his grace enable us to overcome the evil one, who will flee away if thus resisted.
From the behaviour of our first parents, immediately after they had disobeyed God's command, we see that Sin naturally leads to shame and fear; we may also perceive, that mere Human Reason cannot give to sinners any certain hope of pardon, much less of immor. tality; therefore instead of seeking to justify ourselves, and claiming forgiveness, and eternal life, as our natural right, we should be ready to confess our sins, and rely on divine mercy for pardon, which God, after the fall, graciously promised to all mankind, as his own free gift, through the seed of the woman, who alone can bruise the Serpent's head.
The first Covenant was not renewed to mankind after the fall; all the descendants of Adam are heirs to.. - the second only, and have not by nature any right to the hope of life eternal. This is the gift of Goo through the seed of the woman, our Lord Jesus Christ.
It does not become us to murmur and repine, that we have not the same privileges as Adam and Eve had at first ; for in all probability we should have abused them as they did.
It is true, that the Tree of Life is not within our reach. Death is entered into the world, apd every one that is born must submit to it; but im. mortal happiness is still attainable, and we may learn the conditions of it from the Scriptures ; let us there. fore, with thankful hearts, acknowledge the Divine goodness to fallen man; submit with patient resignation to the natural evils of humanity, and even to death itself; since God has provided a remedy, which will prevent our spiritual enemy from effecting our final de struction, if we comply with the terms of salvation.
THE DEATH OF ABEL.
From Genesis, Chap. iv. AND' Eve bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.
And she again bare his brother Abel, and Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord..
And Abel he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof; and the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering. C4
But unto Cain and his offering he had not respect ; and Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth, and why is thy countenance fallen?
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And to thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
And the LORD said unto Cain, where is Abel thy brother: And he said, I know not, am I my brother's -keeper ?
And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.'
And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood froin. 'thy hand.
When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
And Cain said ủnto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Behold thou hast driven me this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid, and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth, and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall stay
And the Lord said unto him, Therefore every one that slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him
And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
And Cain's wife bare Enoch, and he builded a city and called the name of the city after the name of his son Enoch.
And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and Adam's wife bare a son, and she called his name Seth : for God, said she, hath given me another seed instead of Abel whom Cain slew.
And to Seth there was also a son born, and he called his nanre Enos ; then began men to call themselves by the name of the LORD *.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. In this section we have a convincing proof that the Devil continued his temptations after the fall, and that he artfully adapted them to the circumstances of mankind. Under the first covenant he tempted them to eat of the Tree of Knowledge ; he afterwards tempted them to depart from the Ordinances of God, by, means of which they might attain to the Righteousness that cometh by Faith. He also tempted them to the indulgence of every unlawful desire, and to the practice of every kind of wickedness.
Abel seems to have been of an amiable, religious diseposition. Cain, on the contrary, of a morose, unthank, ful temper. But the particular cause of his inveterate batred to bis brother was, that the LORD God had rem jected his sacrifice, and accepted Abel's. There is reacon to suppose (as. we observed before) that sacrifices were appointed of God himself, because, before the fall, Man was not allowed to kill any thing for food : in Eden he lived upon fruits, therefore it is not likely that he would have thought of appeasing the anger of God, by killing an innocent creature : but, as the Al
* See the margin of the Bible. C 5
MIGHTY was pleased to reveal to Adam and Eve his gracious purpose of sending a restorer of righteousness, it is likely that he instituted the rite of sacrificing animals, as a representation of the great sacrifice to be made by Christ, and as a mean whereby mankind might express faith or belief in the promises of God ; for these purposes (it is presumed) God commanded them to offer unto Him some of the fruits of the earth, as an acknowledgment of their dependence on Him; and some of their flocks, as a sacrifice for sin ; and, that as a mark of His acceptance, God sent fire from Heaven to consume the offering : thus by accepting the innocent victim in their stead, God intimated that He would pardon their transgressions, for the sake of their Redeemer, if they testified their Repentance and Faith in the way he appointed.
It is strongly implied in this section, that the LORD God continued to manifest his Divine presence to kind, after the fall; and, it is no improbable conjecture, that some peculiar spot was sanctiiied by His appear
Let us, then, suppose, that Cain and Abel re. paired to this holy ground*, and offered their sacrifices. Cain's consisted only of some fruits of the earth ; from which we may infer, that he presumed to appear before God as a just person, wanting no repentance, but merely acknowledging God's goodness and bounty.
Abel, conscious of his own imperfections, offered of the firstlings of his flock, as the sacrifice of atonement agreeably to the divine institution, by which he testified his repentance and his faith, in the promises and appoint. ments of God; this Faith rendered his Sacrifice acceptable t; the want of it occasioned Cain's to be re.
* See Bishop Sherlock on Prophecy. + Heb. xi. 4.