Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

V C

consequently, contrary to that which was established by the command of God. For Cain brought his offering', which was not accepted: there must, therefore, have been some reason why his offering was rejected. We may, however, collect some information concerning the particulars of this extraordinary departure from the true worship of God by the first-born of men. Cain was told, "if thou dost well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou dost not well, sin lieth at the door." From which we are authorized to draw this conclusion, that sin was the cause, viz. "sin lieth at the door;"; and that his form of worship was not consistent with that, which God had commanded to be. observed.

The offering itself was acceptable to God, but it was not a sacrifice; he brought of the fruits of the earth, (agreeably to the occupation of his life) for an offering unto the Lord. The acceptance, therefore, or non-acceptance of it depended on the state of his mind, and on his obedience to the commands of God: and by attending to the following particulars, we may to a certainty know what was the real cause of the rejection of his offering.

It is clear from the scriptures that the first order of things, as instituted after the fall, continued for a great length of time. In the translation it is said, "and in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord:" in the original, "and it came to pass at the end of days;" which is a customary phrase in scripture for a great length of time.

After the disagreement between Cain and Abel, it is also said in the translation, " and Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden." This passage has frequently been brought forward by deists, to show the inconsistency of going to dwell in the land of Nod. I shall on that account make a few remarks, to silence future objections. I have before observed, that, when man had disobeyed the command of God, and the communication between him and his Maker was cut off, as is plain from the words, "and the voice of God went forth in the garden," God provided a medium of communication by the Cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden. A dispensation, an order of worship, very different from that, when the intercourse was immediate between God and man.

The word Nod, the Hebrew pronunciation of which has been retained in all the translations, means to wander. In this passage it is the participle active, viz. wandering and the words "from the presence of the Lord," though they are truly rendered, have neither meaning nor application: for in the sense here understood, "the presence of the Lord," must have been in the land of Nod, as well as in the place where Cain had hitherto resided. But it is evident that this signified the place where the Cherubim and flaming sword, or emblematical sacred fire, were kept; that it was more immediately " in the presence of the Lord;" because, by this medium, he had condescended to reveal his will to man. These divine symbols were handed down in the believing line of Seth to the Hebrews, who had this tabernacle and sacred fire, before that which was erected by Moses.

These words, " from the presence of the Lord," convey to us this information: that Cain, disapproving of the established order of worship, which God had commanded to be observed, by approaching him who dwelt between the Cherubim, went "from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land, wandering about the east of Eden," or began an order of worship contrary to that, which God had commanded.

'-' =3=3

It is reasonable to conclude that this order of things, which Cain wished to establish, was that without sacrifice, which was the order observed in the paradisaical state, where no sacrificial worship was necessary. Nothing do we read of there but the fruits of the ground; and this deviation from the command of God; this attempt to assume the state of things as ordained in paradise, by rejecting sacrificial wo.rship, appears to have been the reason why his offering was rejected. But we must collect the particulars of this departure from the worship of God, and the cause of the rejection of his offering, from the scriptures.

When man had disobeyed the divine command, and God had graciously promised to send a Redeemer, it became necessary that a medium of representation should be introduced, by which man might look through the type or figure by faith, to the promised Redeemer: and therefore offerings and sacrifices were ordained to be observed, as representative of Christ who was to come. Now as sacrifices, as well as offerings, were commanded; and as nothing was acceptable to God without a sacrifice; had Cain obeyed the divine command; had he brought his sacrifice, and had he believed in the prom.ise of God to redeem man by the coming of the Messiah, who was to be the great sacrifice, as all the sacrifices were to terminate in him; his offering would have been accepted. "And Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof." The offering brought by Abel was accepted; it was offered agreeably to the command of God; therefore it must appear that Abel believed in the promise of God, that Christ would come and redeem man.

Thus we find from scripture, that at this early period of the world there were two professions of religion: 1. the religion of Cain, who did not believe the promise of God to redeem man; which profession, being founded in the pride of man, brought forth the idolatry of the whole world, or the worship of departed men; and which descended through five generations to Lamech: 2. the religion of Abel, who, as above, believed in the fulfilment of the promise, and offered sacrifices as representative of Christ, agreeably to the divine command; which descended through nine generations from Seth to Noah. We may also further remark concerning Cain, that at the beginning, he, for a considerable time, continued to offer sacrifices as well as offerings; because it is said, "and in process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground" only, without a sacrifice : for we cannot suppose that during this long interval, signified by the words, "and it came to pass in process of time" Cain had neither brought offering nor sacrifice. It is proper to remark that the Hebrew Van in the first word of the next verse, which is rendered and Abel, should agreeably to the rule of the Hebrew language, be rendered but, viz. but "Abel brought," that is, "Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord" but "Abel brought even from the firstlings of his flock," which sufficiently proves that Cain despaired of ever seeing the paradisaical state of things restored, which he had supposed would be the case, and therefore presumed to establish the first order of things: while Abel continued in faith to offer sacrifice, believing the promise of God to redeem man by Christ.

One of two things we are under the necessity of admitting, either that Cain for a great length of time after the fall brought neither offering nor sacrifice; or that for a great length of time after the fall, he brought both offering and sacrifice; and then in process of time it came to pass, that he omitted, or held sacrifice unnecessary, and, after the manner of the Eden state, " he brought of the fruit of the ground" only "an offering unto the Lord;" which was the reason that the man was rejected as well as the offering.

The scripture fully justifies this view of the subject; otherwise, where would have been the consistency of the divine legislation, unless some justifiable reason could be assigned why God rejected his offerings? viz. "But unto Cain and his offering he had no respect." Neither can we suppose that there was any partiality shown at this period; because God said, "if thou dost well, shalt thou not be accepted?" or, according to the marginal reading, which is nearer the true sense of the original, "if thou dost well, shalt thou not have the excellency? but if thou dost not well, sin lieth at the door." Which evidently refers, agreeably to the order of primogeniture, to him, that he was to have had the excellency, or honor of the Messiah's coming in his line, had he done well, by continuing in the belief of the promise, and the continuance of the types and sacrifices, which signified the coming of the Redeemer.

These words, also, evidently infer that Cain had had the excellency, or had been accepted in this sense, by the question, "if thou dost well, shalt thou not be accepted?" that is, thou hast heretofore done well, and hast been accepted, and if thou dost well, thou shalt be accepted again. Otherwise, the question would have been unnecessary, unless it had had reference to his having been once considered the head of the line, in which the Messiah would have made his appearance.

Respecting the doctrines of this most ancient church, we cannot doubt that the first grand essentials were, love tp God; charity to man, and faith in the fulfilment of the

[graphic]
« IndietroContinua »