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motives, principles, and feelings. inwardly feel, while we penitently acknowledge, that we are miserable sinners. And let us rest for pardon, peace, and acceptance, in nothing but in the cross of Christ and him. crucified.
We return to the history. The mortification which Cain felt by the preference given to Abel's offering, filled him full of anger against his brother. But why should he be angry with him? Was it Abel's fault that his offering was rejected? No. It was his own fault, and such he should have felt it to be. Instead of being envious and revengeful against his accepted brother, he ought to have been humbled for his own deficiencies. unhappily there was no such right feeling in him; evil passions took possession of his soul; and as God was far removed above his power, he sought some nearer object on which his vengeance might fall. His disappointment and wrath were manifest in his look. Nor was his anger removed even by the kind expostulation of God. For God did condescend to expostulate with him: "Why art thou
wroth," said the Lord to Cain, "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 unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." This is exceedingly like the kind manner of the father towards the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son, and is as much as to say, "why art thou angry with others? Is not the rejection of thine offering owing to thyself alone? If thou art as humble and pious as thy brother, and offerest thy sacrifice in faith as he, shalt thou not be accepted equally with him? and still have the authority over him, and the honour which belongs to thy birth-right? And if thou hast not these right views and affections, is it not thine own sin?"-May not sinners be thus reasoned with in every age?
it that you are not favoured
Whose fault is
and blessed of
God? Is not the cause to be found in yourselves if you are rejected? "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his evil way and live?" "Surely my
ways are equal, but your ways are unequal." "The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." To such a rule of proceeding what possible objection can be made? Here each one bears his own burden, and according to his own individual state and character he stands or falls. Then let every man prove his own work, and examine himself whether he be in the faith. Let him see to it that he come unto God in the appointed way, and then he shall assuredly find mercy even as others.-But with Cain the expostulation availed not. The mortification which he had received rankled in his heart; he could not forgive what he considered as a humiliation, and he brooded over revenge upon him, whom he unjustly considered as the cause of his disgrace. Ah! who that knows his own heart is not aware that such dispositions are natural to man, and that he is too commonly ready to be enraged against others, when only himself is to blame.
II. We will now consider the commission of this atrocious act. It is related in these
words which stand as the text.-" 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." It seems from this narration that the murder was not committed immediately, but after he had had time for deliberation, so that he had not even the excuse of the heat of a momentary passion; it was a deliberate cold-blooded act. It seems too that there was deceit and guile in his behaviour; he talked with his brother in their usual manner, as it seems, having war in his heart, while smooth words were on his tongue. At length he found a suitable opportunity : when they were together, and probably alone, in the field, he rose up against Abel, and slew him.-Behold now the misery and mischief which sin has brought into the earth. See a pious youth weltering in his blood by a violent and untimely death. See his own brother standing over him with murderous hands, and with every ungovernable, diabolical passion swelling in his heart, and depicted in his countenance. There you see
the consequences of the fall of man. you may contemplate what human nature is. There you may behold yourselves. Hold up this glass to your own face. Shrink not from the examination of the features. They are those of the natural man, born in the likeness of his fallen progenitor. There see of what you are capable; what, but for the grace of God, you might commit. These subjects will lose their utility, even though the historical relation may keep up their interest, if we do not thus make them applicable to ourselves. Here too we meet with the first instance of the
power of death over the human race; and as Abel was probably the first of mankind that died, his death, especially under such circumstances, must have been peculiarly distressing to his parents. Their sin would be thus powerfully called to their remembrance, and the painful sensations which they must feel through the death of one son, and the wickedness of the other, would be greatly aggravated by the thought, that these were both the sad consequences of their own transgression.
Here also we read of the first martyr, and