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forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field—in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground-for out of it wast thou taken ; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Three things you will observe in this sentence; first, the ground is cursed for Adam's sin ; secondly, Adam and all his descendants are doomed to hard labour-to eat their bread in the sweat of their brow; and, thirdly, men shall return to his earth, all his high thoughts, all his noble aims cut short by the words, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return!
And, brethren, has not this sentence, too, been carried out ? Speaking, as I do, to men who toil for their daily bread, who, from early boyhood to old age, go forth to labour in the fields, what better witnesses can I have to confirm what Holy Scripture tells us of the consequences of the Fall? Is it not quite true that the ground is cursed for Adam's sake? Will it bear any fruit without careful tillage ? And can that tillage—that ploughing, weeding, cleaning, reaping, be ever anything but a work of toil ? Can we eat our bread except by the sweat of our brow? True, that many seem exempt from manual labour ; but labour, of one kind or the other, there surely is for us all ;-scarcely, in any circumstances, can we find one who does not have, in some way—by the sweat of his brow-by the labour of mind, if not of body, to provide for the support of his life.
And then note another thing. All, poor and rich alike, share the doom of death. Take a man whose outward circumstances are most easy-who has wealth and station, and all the good things of life, yet can he not reckon on the continuance of his enjoyments: dust he is, and to dust he must return; but a few short years, and he must follow the generation of his fathers: by no art or effort can he keep off what is appointed for him and all his fellows; like the poorest and most miserable, he must know decay, and sickness, and death. And what do I gather from this? what is the lesson for us to learn from these undoubted facts in our condition ? Why, that this world is not our rest; that here we have no abiding city: that our happiness—if it is to last—if it is to be sure, must be built upon God. God in mercy has taken away the gloss and bloom which there was, before the Fall, upon this outward world, on purpose that He might raise our affections to things above. He has made us subject to labour, disease, and death. He has so shut out the possibility of our arriving at any high degree of happiness or knowledge here, by the gradual weakening of our faculties as we grow old, as to compel us to seek for it elsewhere—to seek for it in another world, where there shall be nothing to prevent the full attainment of it: where the former things shall have quite passed away—where there shall be no more curse, no more toil, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more death. Then if this be so, good arises out of what appears a most hopeless evil. True, that we are driven out here from the Garden of Eden, and by no power can we win back our way to that happy seat while we are on earth. The flaming sword turns every way to keep the way of the Tree of Life. We cannot have our thirst for knowledge satisfied—we cannot shake off the necessity to labour—
we cannot live a life of ease—we cannot put off the hour of death. But why care for what we have lost, when, by the mercy of God, that loss may turn out our great gain? And it will turn out a great gain if we walk by faith, and not by sight. As in Adam we all must die, there is life for all of us in Jesus Christ. He is that seed of the woman by whom the mischief is undone, Who for us has bruised the serpent's head-He is that second Adam in whom we may once again be restored to God's likeness, once again, but not on this side the grave, be placed in a fairer garden than that which we have lost,
“For though that seat of earthly bliss be failed
A fairer Paradise is founded now
Led by Him-led by our Lord—we may pass unchallenged by the fiery guards, and, without reproach, put forth our hand, and take of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live for ever!
CAIN AND ABEL.
1 ST. JUAN III. 11, 12.
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that ye should
love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
We considered last Sunday the sad history of the Fall, as it is contained in the third chapter of Genesis. The subject before us this morning—as my text would shew-is taken from the ensuing chapter—the fourth. There we have recorded, in a few verses, the “birth, trade, and religion of Cain and Abel, the murder of Abel, and the curse of Cain.”
It is to this portion, then, of God's holy word, and to the facts there set forth for our learning, involving the history of the two first sons of Adam, the two first brothers that were born into the world, that I would now address myself. May I be enabled to explain it aright ! and may we all lay the lessons that it teaches us to beart!
And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived, and bare Cain ; and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.
Here, then, we have the meaning of the name Cain“gotten,” or “ acquired,”—a name given in fondness and in thankfulness. For to Adam and Eve, in their exile from Paradise, the birth of their first child would assuredly be a source of great gladness.
Had they been able to see a little way into the future, how differently would they have felt! Had they known what the boy would grow to be, they had never made his birth their joy, they had never spoken of him as a “ gain,” an“ acquisition !”
But, in mercy, God hid the evil to come as yet from their eyes. He allowed them the solace which they naturally found in the birth of their first child.
And soon a second child was given them-Abel-a word that means “vanity,”—the name perhaps given them in after days, to denote how short his time was, and his hapless end.
When the boys grew up they followed each the calling that suited him best. One, Abel, was a keeper of sheep, the other, Cain, was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.
Each offered of the produce of his calling—one the fruit of his tillage, the other the fruit of his flock.
At first sight we can see no reason why the one should have been preferred before the other. But we are told it was so—The Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering: but unto Cain and his offering He had not respect.