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God, who knew both their Hearts, had accepted the Sacrifice of the latrer, and rejected that of the fore mer. Now could Abel any way help this, or was he at all accessary thereto? On the contrary, was not che Fault evidently in Cain alone? And does not God himself tell him fo, and caution him againft giving Way to his Anger. And the LORD said unto Cain, W by art thou wroth? And why is thy Countenance fallen? if thou doeft well, mali thou not be acrepted? And if thou doeft not well, Sin lieth at the Door. As if he had said, Instead of being angry with thy Brother, wherein thou finneft, amend thyself, and thou shalt be as much in my Favour he; but, if thou wilt not, thank chyself only, if thou are not accepted.
But what Effe&t had this mild and merciful Expoftulation and Warning of an almighty and benevolent Crearor, upon that hardened Rebel, the wicked and bloody Cain? Though, would he buc have turned his Eyes inward, upon his own per. verfe and deceiiful Heart, he must have been lena fible he was himself alone to blame, though his more righteous Brother was so far from having done him a real Injury, that he had never so much as harboured a Thought to wrong him; yet such Enmity and Hatred did the innocent Abel's upright Conduct create in his envious and gloomy Breast, that he could not be at rest till he had murdered him ; being in this without a Rival ; that he had even surpassed the utmost Ambition of that Monfier in Wickedness, Caligula, whose most superlative Wantonness in Villany went no farther chan'ro with all the Romans had but one Neck, that he might exterminate them all at one Blow; since he, for aught appears to the contrary, destroyed, at one single Siroke, the fourth Pare of Mankind. Such are the baletul Fruits of that truly diabolical Pastion, Envy!
· It was not to be imagined, at a Time when the
Almighty more immediately took Cognizance of what was transacted upon Earth, than he seems to have done since the Return of ihe Children of Ifrael from the Babylonish Caprivity, that fo barbarous a Murder should be passed over with Impunity : Accordingly, we find God calling him to an Account for it directly: And the Lord faid unte Cain, where is Abel thy Brother? How mildly and mercifully does the LORD of Life yet once more treat this now inhuman Murderer! He did not ask this Question to be informed himself; he knew but too well ; as the impious Cain found immediately after, but to lead him to Repentance. He does not therefore only say, Where is Abel, buc adds this Circumstance thy Brother; as what infi. nitely aggravated his Guilt! And what Answer does the hardened Rebel return to his omniscient and omnipotent Creator First, I know not : A direct Lie! And then, Am I my Brother's Keeper? As if he had said, Why do you ask me so impertinent a Question? What is it to me where he is? If you want bim, go look him. Such a swift Progress had Sin made in his Soul in so short a Time ! And to fuch a Height of Impiery was he arrived in an Iu« Aant !
But the Moment was now come, when this obdurate Monter was to hear his temporal Doom pronounced by the Judge of all the Earth, and to receive the immediate Reward of his Iniquiry. And he said, what has thou done? The Voice of thy Brother's Blood crieth unto me from the Ground. And now art thou curfed from the Earth, which hath opened her Mouth to receive thy Brother's Blood from thy Hand. When thou tilleft the Ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thée her Strength. A Fugitive and a Vagabond malt thou be in the Earth.
We may here see, and be astonished thereat, the
merciful. merciful Manner of God's Dealing with the re. bellious Children of Men! Heinous and unprovoked as Cain's Offence is, he does not inftantly cut him off, and send him down, with his Sins full blown, into the Pit, but allows him Time for Re. pentance. And indeed even the wicked Cain Teems, in some measure, moved thereat ; for he cries our directly, My Punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold thou bast driven me out this Day from the face of the Earth ; and from thy Face Rall I be bid, and I fall be a Fugitive and a Vagabond in the Earth ; and it Ahall come to pass, that every one that finderb me fall say me.
In this Speech of Cain, we have a lively Piature of the deceitful and desperately wicked Heart of Man! When it comes to his own Turn to suffer, though his Life is spared, he complains, his Pue " nishment is intolerable': And why? • Because he
is driven from the Face of the Earth. Now this is all Self ; it was not Sorrow for his Sin, but on account of his Sentence. But then again the next Complaint promises something like Contrition, • And from thy Face shall I be hid.' But, alas ! how short is this godly Fic! He returns again to bis own Sufferings, and what his own guilty Con: Science suggested unto him, namely, • That he « Tould be a Fugitive and Vagabond, and should • be Asin by the first that mer him."
The lacrer Part of his Fears God condescends graciously to remove: And the LORD said unto him, therefore, whosoever Nayeth Cain, Vengeance shall be taken on him feven-fold. And the LORD fet a Mark upon Cain, left any finding him should kill him. Well, and what is the Effect of all this unmerited, Mercy of Heaven upon this wicked Murderer? Why, we find it in the very nexe Verse: And Cain went out from the Presence of the LORD, and dwelled in the Land of Nort, on the Eaft of Eden.
No sooner is his Life, as he thinks, secured to him, for fonie Time, and the Rod removed from over his Head for the present, but the fi:ft Ule he makes of this Blessing, is to fly from the Face of his merciful Creator, instead of endeavouring to regain his Favour and Pardon by a timely and hearty Repentance Ic is therefore no Wonder, that he is transmitted down to us in the Gospel by the Title of Cain, that wicked one, as of a Perfon who was not to be reclaimed, and of whole Salvation therefore there was no room to hope.
Equally guilty of tranfgrefsing this Commandment, were the Sons of Jacob, who bore an irre. coileable Hatred to their Broiher Jofeph, becau e ther Father thewed most Love to him, (tor which, however, he was not to be commended,) and be. cause of his Dreams, which portended his having a Superiority over them. Now, on these two AC counts, though it does not appear that he fought any way to supplant his Brethren in the Favour of his Father, and though he was not responsible for his Dreams, as not having it in his Power either to procure, or avoid them, they envied him greatly ; even so far, that, to prevent the Accomplishment of his Dreams, they conspired his Death, and had actually murdered him, had not Reuben diverted them from it. Thus were they, at least intensionally, guilty of the same Sin with Cain ; and thor Heaven in its untearchable Wisdum, thought proper to bring Good out of Evil, and by its overruling Providence, caused this their Sin to be productive of signal lappiness ; yet, as the Ways of God are never unequal, we may be well assured, unless they prevenred it by timely Repentance, it would have involved them in the same endless Perdition ; but as we find them afterwards twice acknowledging their Guilt, and as they were all blessed by their Father on his Death-Bed, there is Reason to presume the best of them
Again, even Aaron and Miriam were guilty of the fame Sin, in envying and murmuring against Mofes ; and had por the Lord interposed in Time, by punishing Miriam with the Leprosy, Heaven alone knows what might have been the Consequence ; whether it might not havé occafioned an Insurrecrion amongst the People, which might have caused them all to be cut off. As it was, we find her struck with an incurable Disease, from which she had never been delivered, but for the Intercession of Mofes.
But Korah, and Dathan, and Abiram, who were guilty of the fame Offence, in transgressing this Commandment, as they carried it much farther, escaped not so well: On the contrary, so shew how heinous the Sin of Envy is in the Sight of Heaven, and to deter all succeeding Ages from it, the Al. mighly thought proper to make a moft dreadful Example of them, by causing the Earth to open and swallow them all up, together with their Wives, Families, and Adherents, to the Number of two Hundred and fifty : Nor was this all, for no less than fourteen Thousand and seven lundred perished next Day on the same Account.
• The next Instance, we shall produce of the mę. · lancholy Consequences of violaring this Law,
Thall be the wicked Saul, the first King of Israel.: This unhappy Man, was not satisfied that the Lord had chofen him from amongit the Children of Israel, Though of the smallest Tribe, and the least Family, of char Tribe, to let him over the whole People ; but because, alter David's having Rain Goliah, the Ifraelitish Women çame out to meet him, and said, SAUL hath sain his Thousands, and David bis ten Thousands, he fought, by all means imaginable, to compass his Deach : So naturally does Envy produce Murder ! In vain, however, were all' his Contrivances and Arempts to that Purpose ; for he