Imágenes de páginas

of his countenance plainly indicated; upon which God expostulates with him, and gives him to understand it was his own fault that his offering was not pleasing, and if he did well, he should be accepted; if he sinned he should be punished for his offence.

But this reproof made no impression on Cain; instead of being sensible of bis fault, he became incensed against his brother, and taking occasion not long after to discourse with him when they were together in the field, he fell upon him and slew him. But he is soon called to an account; for God enquiring of him where his brother was, he very insolentiy as well as falsely answered, “He knew “ not :” And, as if he had been affronted by the question concerning him, he cried, “ Am I my brother's keeper?” But the Lord not only charged him with the murder of his brother, but convicted him of it also. " What hast thou “ done,” said he, “the voice of thy brother's blood crieth “ to me from the ground? And now art thou cursed from “ the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy “ brother's blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the

ground it shall not henceforth yield unto thee its “ strength : Nor is that all; but a fugitive and a vaga“bond shalt thou be upon the earth.”

This sentence was gentle in comparison of the horrid crime; but Cain, amazed at it, began to be sensible of the heinousness of his offence and of the misery to which he was reduced.

My offence ;'** said he, " is too great to obtain pardon.”

man—a rejector of revelation and of the atonement. “ If thou dost well, shalo thou not be accepted”-or rather bave the dignity--the honour of the priesthood, which from the first belonged to the elder brother, but which he forfeited by rejecting the proper sacrifice. This was perhaps the ground of the quarrel, and which issued in the murder of pious Abel.

My offence, &c. All the versions make Cain speak like one in despair, Gen. iv. 13. The vulgar Latin makes him say, My iniquity is greater than that I should obtain pardon. Pagnine, Tremellius, the French, and ours, My Iniquity is greater than I can bear. The former is the meaning which the LXX. and Chaldee Paraphrase have given it: But why should we not translate it with some Rabbins, Is my iniquity greater than that it can be pardoned ?

This was an expression of despair rather than of repentance; and he seems not so sensible of his sin as of his punishment.

Behold, said he, thou hast driven me out 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 slay me.” But God having taken this cause under his immediate cognizance, and fixed the punishment, secured him

against that dread, declaring that whosoever should slay Cain, vengeance should be taken of him sevenfold—that is, in a very grievous manner.

God intimating thereby, that vengeance is to be left to him, and that it is not lawful for private persons of their own authority to kill any one. And that none by mistake might slay Cain, “God set a mark upon him, lest any finding him “ should kill him.”+ Upon this, Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, which is to the eastward of Eden, beyond the country of Ba

* Every one, &c. From hence some have pretended that there were other peo. ple on earth not descended from Adam ; but it should be remembered that the murder of Abel did not happen till near 130 years after the creation; and though we read of only three of Adam's children, yet there were, probably, many others, whose offspring in that space of time might be very numerous.

Cain went out from the presence, or faces," of the Lord, as the Hebrew word is-that is, from the cherubic faces, or emblem of his presence, where divine wor. ship was performed, and thus renounced religion. He then dwelt in a country afterwards known by the name of Nod, and there built a city, where probably the ir: religious part of Adam's posterity, and his own, which might be numerous, joined him as their governor. But the following elucidation is more satisfactory. The word Nod, verse 16, is the same with that, verses 12 and 14, translated a Vagabordo Why it was rendered differently in these two places we know not: had the word been uniformly translated Vagabond, the sense would have been clear through. out. Verse 12, God says “ Thou shalt be (Nod) a Vagabond.” Ver. 14, Cain says, “I shall be (Nod) a Vagabond ;” and verse 16, Moses says, " he went from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of (Nod)—a Vagabond,”—Dying from place to place, pursued by the terrors of a guilty conscience. Dr. Hunter's Sacred Biog. Lect. v.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

* What this mark was, is matter of mere conjecture ; probably it was the pecuiar cast of his countenance, pointing him out as a monster of wretchedness, in himself, and an object of horror to others.

[ocr errors]

bylon; and having taken a wife, she conceived and bare him a son, named Enoch, after whom Cain called the City which he afterwards built. Enoch begat Irad; Irad begat Mehujael; Mehujael begat Methusael ; and Methusael begat Lamech. Of him the Scripture takes particular notice, and seems to point him out as the person who first introduced polygamy, for he married two wives, called Adah and Žillah. By the first he had two children : Jabel, who invented the use of tents, and the management of cattle ; and Jubal, who was the inventor of Musical Instruments. By his wife Zillah he had a son called TubalCain, who first discovered the art of working metals, and made armour and farlike weapons. This is the register of Cain's posterity for seven generations, which Moses might enumerate perhaps to shew who were the inventors of certain arts, and instrumental in corrupting the better seed of Adam. But of Cain's more immediate race, none were so eminently barbarous as Lamech; for his wives, knowing that all men hated him for his cruelty, were under great apprehensions for his personal safety; upon which to satisfy them, he boastingly said, that none could resist him, for he had murdered a man, though he was wounded ; and making himself secure to them, he tells them, that if Cain's death were to be avenged seven-fold, his would be seventy times seven, valuing himself upon more murders than Cain could. And thus much for the descendants of Cain, who were all swept away by the deluge.

Adam, being deprived of his pious son Abel, God was pleased to supply the loss by the gift of another, whom he named Seth; for, said Eve, “ God hath given me another " son instead of Abel whom Cain slew." This man had a son named Enos, of whom it is said that in his time men began to call upon the name of the Lord ; which may be understood of a public worship.* Through this

Good men had always prayed to the Lord, both privately and socially in their families; but men being now multiplied, it is supposed that in the time of Enos,

public assemblies for the worship of Jehovah were first instituted, or at least re· markably revived. Others conceive that the words signify that then men began


Seth, Adam's line is by Moses continued in ten generations before the flood, with the age of each of those longlived fathers. Among these, in the seventh degree from Adam, lived Enoch, to whom this singular testimony and character was given, That God was so pleased with him, that he translated him immediately to heaven. Enoch* left behind him his son Methuselah, the longest lived of all the Patriarchs, and Lamech, the father of Noah, whose birth was congratulated with this prophetic rapture by his father, That he should prove a comfort to his family for the curse which the Lord had laid upon the earth : This prophecy was verified; for Noah, by his faith and piety, delivered the church, and preserved it from utter destruction.

By this time the world began to grow populous, and though Seth and his progeny for some ages were shy of conversing with Cain and his family, yet time wore off that aversion, and as the world grew more replenished with people, the generation of the righteous indulging themselves in too great a liberty, entertained a more free and familiar conversation with the wicked offspring of Cain, than was either proper or becoming. By which means having exposed themselves to the allurements of

to call (to invocate or pray) IN the name of the Lord -that is of the Lord (Jesas) the promised Messiah, the Mediator between God and man. Others think that public preaching began to be used-men began to call-proclaim-preach, in the name of the Lord. Some eminent revival of religion, however, seems plainly intended.

[ocr errors]

** Enoch. From the New Testament we learn that “ before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God;" and St. Paul adds, Heb. xi. 9. “ that with“out faith it is impossible to please him.” It was by faith therefore, that he attained to such a high distinction; now, as faith has relation to a testimony, it cannot be doubted that he was acquainted with the way of reconciliation by the promised Redeemer, and embraced the promise, as the ground of his confidence towards God; nor can we conceive that he could be ignorant of the first coming of Christ, whose second appearance he predicted. (Jude, v, 14.) This faith of Enoch was accompanied, as true faith always is, by holiness of heart and life, which is emphatically called" walking with God." His translation to heaven, without sickness or death, was at once a high testimony of Divine approbation, and an early assurance to the world of a future state.

[ocr errors]

their women, the lust of the eye prevailed upon the Sons of God * to intermarry with them. It is highly probable that the offspring of the righteous, who professed themselves to be the Sons of God, were by this time much degenerated from the piety of their ancestors : for we find, immediately after, that God complained of the wickedness of man in general. But however depraved they were before this alliance with the wicked, their sins were soon multiplied and aggravated ; so that God, perceiving the corruption to be general, and daily increasing, is said, (speaking after the manner of men) to repent that he had made man on the earth, and to be grieved at his heart. But Noah, a man of singular eminence in piety, found favour in his sight, and for his sake, his family, consisting of eight persons, were exempted from the general destruction, which was soon to overwhelm mankind.

Of this approaching judgment, the merciful God gave warning long before he executed it; for though the wickedness of man was so great, that God said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man ; my justice provokes, my mercy intercedes; I am at strife with myself

, how to deal with this sinful generation : yet since man is also flesh, I will not sweep him away with a sudden destruction, I will yet give him time to return, and repent ; his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. The hundred † and twenty years are almost expired, the term

By " the Sons of God," we generally understand the posterity of Adam who persevered in the worship of Jehovah ; and by the daughters of men, the descendants of Cain, who were addicted to impiety and vice; and that the intermarriages of these soon destroyed the remains of religion and virtue, and so hastened on the general destruction : But it is not without reason that others conceive that by “ the Sons of God,” are signified persons of power or authority (and magistrates are called Gods, Psalm lxxxii. 11.) who abusing their influence, took, that is by force, the daughters of men, (i. e. of the inferior ranks of society) and ravished them at their pleasure : and this seems to be the violence and corruption complained of Gen. vi. 11. &c. which a holy God so much resented, and so awfully punished.

+ Hundred, &c. This is a great instance of God's forbearance, and shews the difference between the mercy of God and that of man.' For man seldom gives warning where he intends to strike ; and more seldom strikes, but where he intends to destroy, "Why dost thou give notice of thy Judgments thou art about

« AnteriorContinuar »