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an attempt. “Your adversary, the devil, goeth . about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour: be therefore sober, be vigilant;" resist him immediately, « lest he beguile you through his subtlety.” And remember too, that he is not your only tempter. If Eve fell through his seductions, Adam was ensnared by her blandishments : such trials (and they are severe ones) you may meet with. Those who are connected to you by blood or affection, may endeavour to seduce you from the ways of God: listen not to them: let the authority of God be paramount in your soul. Be ready to sacrifice every thing that comes in competition with your duty to him.
4. This history teaches us the dangerous error of · those men who suppose that they are acceptable to God, merely because they discharge the moral and social duties. None of these were violated by Adam ; yet he fell under the sentence of condemnation. Your religion (if I may call it a religion) might appear reasonable, if there were no God to whom
you sustained important relations, and if there were no future world for which you were bound to prepare. But since there is a God and a futurity, it is the extreme of folly to rest on those hopes on which you lean. 6 You shall have your reward” in the esteem, the approbation, and love of your fellow-men whom you benefit: but expect not the approbation of that God " who is not in all your thoughts.” The young ruler in the gospel was as moral as you, yet he was not esteemed by the Saviour one of his disciples.
5. Finally, my brethren, let us be all led by this history to examine ourselves. Let us listen to the voice of God crying to us, “ Where art thou?" We were all born in the image of corrupted and fallen
Adam; exposed to the curses of that covenant which he violated: have we been also “ created in Christ Jesus to good works?” Have the lineaments of“ the second Adam, the Lord from heaven,” been impressed upon our soul? Have we from the depth of our misery looked with faith and love to him who “ came to destroy the works of the devil?” If we have not, in vain do we hope to enter into the Paradise of God. Satan may whisper to us, as he did to our first parents, “ Ye shall not die;" but neither his assurances, nor our confident expectations of felicity, shall be able to avert from us the stroke of death, everlasting death.
CAIN AND ABEI.
GENEsis iv. 1-17.
In the last discourse we contemplated the earth in its original glory, and afterwards despoiled of its beauty by sin: we beheld man formed in the image of God, and saw him afterwards deprived of this image and sunk in that abyss of guilt and wretchedness, from which he could be raised only by the grace of God. This grace was extended to him. Instead of that violated covenant which now spake nothing but indignation and wrath against our great
progenitors, they were admitted into a new and better covenant, which was confirmed by significant rites, and which included the promise of salvation through a Redeemer. In the present discourse we shall see in the history of the two first born among men, an image of what we still behold upon earth, where some through an evil heart of unbelief depart from the living God," and refuse to accept the offers of mercy made through the blood of Jesus; whilst others flee to his grace as their only refuge and sanctuary. We shall see the commencement of that combat which still continues between “ the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent,” the pious and the ungodly; the former fighting under the standard of the Redeemer and with the armour of righteousness; the latter endeavouring by every method, however unjustifiable, by secret arts and
violence, to injure the cause and the people of God.
To our first parents expelled from Eden, some consolation was communicated on the birth of their eldest son. Parental hopes and joys were then for the first time exercised upon the earth; and they were exercised with the greater force, because experience had not then shown how often these hopes are blasted, and these joys withered for ever. ten,” exclaims the exulting mother, “a man from the Lord.” She formed, no doubt, a thousand tender anticipations : she looked forward to the time when he would be adorned with every virtue ; when he would be beloved by God, and by those who should afterwards be born in the earth; when his affection and cares would cheer her declining years; when he would watch by her in her closing hours, smooth for her the pillow of sickness and of pain, and receive her last sigh. Her hopes were still more elevated if we
66 I have got
translate her exclamation, as it may and perhaps should be translated, “ I have gotten the man, even Jehovah,” the promised seed, the predicted deliverer. She imagined perhaps that this, her child, would restore her to a felicity greater than that which she had forfeited by her sin; that he would introduce her to a more blissful Eden than that in which she had first opened her eyes upon the works of God; that he would banish every grief from her heart, and wipe every tear from her eye, and re-impress upon
, her the image of the Highest. To express her joys and expectations she called him Cain, a word signifying a possession or acquisition that is highly valued. (Deut. xxxii. 6. Prov. viii. 22.)
Alas! how dearly was she afterwards taught the vanity of earthly expectations! With what unutterable anguish did this son whom she pressed to her bosom with so much ecstacy, wring her soul! How did he teach her the danger of making to ourselves an earthly idol, and suffering any thing below the skies to entwine too closely around our hearts! How did his conduct warn her to wait for the season appointed by God for the fulfilment of his promises; and to avoid hasty expectations, lest instead of a blessing, we embrace a curse.
She again became a mother. But on this second son she appears to have fixed less sanguine expectations, and he seems to have engaged a smaller share of her affections; she therefore called his name Abel, or vanity. Ah! my brethren, who of us has not found that those things which we most highly esteem, become often the sources of our deepest anguish; that our bitterest woes often spring from the bosom of what we regard as our dearest “ acquisition :" and on the contrary, that those things and persons on which
we write s vanity,” which hold but a small rank in our estimation, are highly favoured by God, and deserve the greatest affection from us.
The occupations of these brethren were different; the elder was a husbandman, the younger a shepherd. They were not on this account differently esteemed by God: he “is no respecter of persons.” In every profession, except those which are in themselves unlawful, he has his faithful worshippers, the objects of his special love. Cain and Abel differed in a more important point; Cain was envious, malignant, unbelieving, self-righteous, a haughty despiser of salvation by faith in the promised seed, and not by his own works. Abel was an humble believing worshipper in the way which God had appointed; and we are told by the Redeemer himself that he was “ righteous.” Perhaps the furious passions and envious dispositions of Cain were cherished by the criminal partiality of his parents, considering him as a possession and his brother as vanity ; and by being led to suppose that the special favour of God was due to him as his birth-right. Parents, as you value your own felicity and that of your offspring, avoid all such invidious distinctions between your children: let this affecting history which we are considering; let the anguish which flowed from this source in the family of Jacob, serve as beacons, warning you to avoid this dangerous error. Christians, observe in these two brethren the sovereignty of divine grace “One is taken and the other left.” Isaac, in like manner, had but two sons, and one of them is a reprobate. There are but few families like that which dwelt in Bethany, all of whom love and are beloved by the Redeemer; there are many where the ties of blood are the only uniting principle; where there is