« ZurückWeiter »
where there is no law there is no transgression, and consequently no obedience. There was, then, a law of offerings which Cain transgressed and Abel obeyed. Hence the one was accepted and the other rejected by the Lord.
Olympas. Can you not, Reuben, find in Paul's writings some comment upon the offerings of Cain and Abel ?
Reuben Paul to the Hebrews says, “ By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain."
Olympas. This, then, is demonstration that there was not only a command for sacrifice, but also some testimony of promise concerning it: for as there can be no obedience without law, there can be no faith without testimony. In the original there is no word for excellent: it is simply " more sacrifice.” And the Hebrew may be translated in conformity to this, Gen. iv. 4. "Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord: Abel also brought it, and of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof." That Paul so understood it, is farther evident from these words : “God testified of Abel's gifts." “More sacrifice,” then indicates more gifts. But it was not only because of the number of gifts, but of the principle from which he offered, that he was approbated. Faith distinguished the sacrifice of Abel. Therefore there was some promise, some testimony of God regarded in the offering of Abel, not seen nor regarded in that of Cain. We cannot doubt what the promise was. It was the hope of Adam and of Eve concerning the seed of her's that was ordained to break the serpent's head. Abel's lamb, then, was Christ in type. That rock was
Christ said Paul, when speaking of Horeb. That lamb of Abel was, in the same style, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Have we any account of slain beasts before the days of Cain and Abel, Thomas ?
Thomas Dilworth. That they were slain by God's own appointment before Cain was born, we are not told in so many words; and yet, as you say concerning sacrifice, we are sure they were killed by divine authority; for God clothed Adam and Eve with their skins.
Olympas. Might not those animals whose skins our first parents wore have been killed for food, or have died à natural death?
Thomas Dilworth. Man was not allowed to kill and eat till after the flood; and we cannot conceive why animals should already have died; or if they had, we cannot imagine that God would have taken the skins of diseased animals to cover man, respited as he then was, from the grave. There is but one conclusion admissible, viz.—that God taught sacrifice to Adam and Eve immediately after the Fall, and covered them with the skins of the first victims of death. The blood of atonement was the first blood that fell
this earth ; and before a sinner died a sin offering was made.
Olympas. That is a glorious fact. Satan thought to kill and destroy the whole human race; but before any one died even a natural death a sacrificial lamb was slain, and expiation taught from the day that God tore off the flimsy tattered figleaf garments of our parents and covered them with the spoils of the first death which the sun saw, the winds breathed, or nature heard. Mark
the difference between the two suits—that prepared by Adam and that put on by God! How much more permanent and useful the skins of sacrificial victims compared with fig-leaves! Do you recollect, Reuben, when reading the fifth chapter of Romans, what was the definition of the word atonement ?
Reuben. I think you said it meant a covering, inasmuch as the Hebrew word copher is rather anglicized than translated by coffer or covering, The verb to cover is frequently translated to atone, to propitiate ; because there must be a hiding or covering of faults—an expiation-before there can be a reconciliation or a remission.
Olympas. You are right in your recollections. Pray tell me, James, did God accept the offering of Cain?
James. No: he accepted that of Abel, but not that of Cain.
Olympas. Tell me, Thomas, how was this known?
Thomas. By some sensible demonstration. I think when going through Genesis before, you said it was probably consumed by fire from heaven, as was the sacrifice at Aaron's consecration—those offered by Gideon, Solomon, and Elijah on Mount Carmel, &c.
Olympas. We could not explain the wrath of Cain on any other principle, than that there was a manifest acceptance of Abel's offering and a rejection of his. Filled with jealousy and envy, his countenance fell; being the first born, and consequently expecting more, he received less Lord his junior brother. What, Mary, did the than say to him?
Mary. He promised him acceptance on doing well, and that he would still have the rights of the first-born. And if he failed of these rights, sin was the cause the only thing in his way.
Olympas. How did this controversy end, Susan ?
Susan. Cain killed his brother when they were in the field. But the Lord called him to an account for it, and pronounced a curse upon the very ground that had received the blood of the good Abel.
Olympas. He cursed Cain also; but on his suing for mercy
God gave him a sign or pledge that he should not be killed by the hand of violence; for so means the mark here spoken of. It is a sign, token, or pledge, and not a particular mark on his person. Observe that the first death grew out of religious pride and jealousy. Cain was a persecutor --Abel was a martyr. He died in faith. The first death of an animal was a sinoffering--a covering from guilt. The first man that suffered death was a martyr to the faith in sin offering; and the first Deist was a murderer. Do you recollect, Reuben, any thing that John says on this subject ?
Reuben. He asks why did Cain kill Abel ? and responds, “Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous."
Olympas. Wicked men sometimes, like Cain, thank God for health, peace, and competence ; but they have not that faith in sacrifice which "works by love and purifies the heart.”
Reuben. Would you please inform us why you call Abel's offering a sacrifice ?
Olympas. Paul says, “ by faith he offered more sacrifice than Cain." I shall interrogate you at our next reading on faith; and especially on the faith of Abel. Meanwhile, what came of Cain after this time?
Reuben. He went into the land of Nod, married a wife, founded a city, and named it for his son.
Olympas. Where did he find his wife?
Reuben. You told us that independent of Cain and Abel, at the time of the birth of Seth, allowing the other children of Adam to have been married at the age of twenty, and to have only doubled every twenty-five years, there would have been when Seth was born, and at the time of Cain's departure to Nod, (or the place of the vagabond, as the word indicates,) at least thirty-three thousand souls. Amongst these Cain certainly might have found a wife.
Olympas. And what, Thomas Dilworth, were the fortunes of Cain's family?
Thomas. They appear to have been an enterprizing people. Cain founded a city, and gave birth to a numerous family. Indeed the most useful inventions and social improvements were introduced by Cain's descendants.
Olympas. Tell me, Susan, who was it invented tents for graziers and the keeping of travelling herds ?
Susan. Jabal, the son of Lamech. He was “the father of all that dwell in tents and keep cattle.”
Olympas. And who, Edward, invented harps and organs ?
Edward. Jubal, the brother of Jabal. He was