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the sword of the destroying angel of death at the last. What we want is more faith to apply to it, to learn and to feel its blessedness, ever remembering it is as "faith grows exceedingly," that the soul shall be more and more “thoroughly furnished” to every good word and work. It is as we are taught of the Spirit to see that the Lord accepts us in Christ, that we shall find our peace to be as a river, and our righteousness as the waves of the sea.
PRAYER. O Holy and Almighty God, I pray Thee enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. Give me Thy Holy Spirit to teach me, to make me know what I am in Thy sight. Make me to feel my own sinfulness. Teach me how to behold the Lamb of God that taketh
the sin of the world. Let me find grace in Thy sight by drawing near to Thee in faith. Grant that I may draw all my hope of Thy favour from the blood and righteousness of Jesus. Give me Thy Holy Spirit, to bear witness with my Spirit, that I am Thy child. And give me grace,
O my God, to think and speak and live as becomes a child of God, and a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For His sake, accept me now and evermore. AMEN.
THE MURDER OF ABEL.
" 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 from thy hand; " When thou tillest the ground, it shall not hence
forth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.” GENESIS IV. 8–12:
Cain has rejected the way of acceptance with God, and remains at enmity with Him. The open door was set before him, but he would not enter in. And now we have to mark the evil heart of unbelief bringing forth its own fruits. Had Cain drawn nigh to God, God would have drawn nigh to him; and being reconciled to God by faith, he would have
found a new heart and a right spirit put within him, and his works would have been accepted, as well as his person. Instead of this, his heart remains hard, dark, and full of every evil. It remains without love; hatred to God is there, and hatred to his brother whom God alone could have taught him to love, “ for love is of God.” This hatred in the heart of Cain, at first only a root of bitterness, showing itself in displeasure at the acceptance of his brother's offering and the rejection of his own, grows and brings forth at last its full ripe fruit, even that of murder. Cain rises up against Abel his brother and slays him.
One verse in the Bible tells us this awful history of the first murder ; but oh! how much is said in those few words! Who can rightly conceive all that had passed in the mind of Cain, before he was led thus to act ? By whom must he have indeed been possessed before he could thus do, what no example before him had ever taught him to do: who but the evil one himself could thus have guided him to take away the life of his brother?
The deed is done, and the short and simple narrative of Scripture tells us not of Cain's state of mind, or of the horror which must have been his, when he thus found himself guilty of his brother's blood. But the voice of the Lord God is heard. He was present as they talked in the field; He had “known long before ” the thought of Cain, and He saw the first shedding of man's blood by man. “Where is Abel thy brother ? ” saith he to the murderer, who doubtless had fled from the scene of his own dreadful deed, or perhaps had hastened to cover over in the earth, the remains of the first dead. We
We may observe in Cain's answer the voice of the Devil speaking by him. He answers with a lie, “I know not:" and then in the reckless state of his heart goes on to speak insolently and profanely to the mighty God, “Am I my brother's keeper?” How awful is the answer of God! “What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground?” How are we to understand this expression that the blood cried unto God? It cried for vengeance; it required vengeance, we may say, from God. The attributes of God, that is, His character as God, required that He should avenge the blood which had been shed. His sovereignty required it, for He had given life, and who should dare to destroy it? His justice required it, for He was Abel's God, in whom Abel trusted, and Abel had been unjustly slain. His holiness required it, for He
is of “purer eyes than to behold iniquity," and can “by no means clear the guilty.” He proceeds therefore to pass sentence upon the murderer, and Cain goes forth doubly cursed of God. The earth had already been cursed, and man condemned to eat bread in the sweat of his brow: but now to Cain it was doubly cursed, even when he tilled it, it should not bring forth fruit. Man had already been driven forth from Eden into the wide world ; but now upon that world Cain was to be a wanderer and a fugitive, deprived of every feeling of home and of its comforts : and deprived of the knowledge of any place concerning which he might feel that there the Lord had recorded His name, and there He would come to him and bless him.
Well might the unhappy one exclaim, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” When the first curse was pronounced, even then redeeming mercy had stepped in, and the full weight of the curse had been reserved for One who from all eternity was able and willing to be made a curse for man. But Cain has cut himself off from all that was left of good for man on earth and cursed from the earth must he spend the remainder of his wretched days upon it. His words show a full understanding of his sentence: “from thy face shall