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ness as the offender, and about as much of principle, on hearing his lamentable complaint, allows him to depart unpunished.But let us look higher. The poets, too many of them, partake of the leaven of Cain. Their strains are plaintive, but selfish. They talk of their poetical sorrows, forgetful of the general sufferings of mankind at large; forgetful, too, of their own actual follies, iniquities, and sins. One of this tribe, in particular, shewed himself enamoured of the character of Cain, by taking him for a subject. And we may depend upon it, as a general rule, that poetic feeling is no proof of real feeling; that all, even the most admired qualities, of the unconverted or natural man, are specious and false; and that there may be a warm imagination, where there is a cold heart. Cain laments his being hid from God's face, after neglecting the way of seeking it by the only sacrifice which God himself would accept. Thus bleating elegists bemoan the sufferings of mortality, but reject that Sovereign Remedy for all our sufferings, which God in his infinite mercy has provided, in the sacrifice and passion of Jesus Christ!
HAGAR THE FIRST SENTIMENTALIST.-By a sentiment, we generally understand some expression of fine feeling, which naturally commends itself to others, as soon as heard; and, appearing to come from the heart, at once makes its way to the heart. A sentiment, to be approved, must find something responsive in those who hear it. This is essential to its success. Thus every sentiment is a sort of clap-trap.
Sentiments have a charm, the secret of which, perhaps, does not lie deep. Human nature is corrupt and selfish. If by any means it can be made to appear generous and refined, we feel pleased. The delusion puts us, for the time, in good humour with ourselves and we would rather thus gild over our depravity, than go to work, in good earnest, to get it remedied. Hence the charm of sentiments; which dress out the corruption of human nature, just as flowers dress out a five-days' corpse.
The first clear instance of such sentiments that I meet with in the Bible, is in the mouth of Hagar. With regard to Lamech's words to his two wives, their meaning has been questioned. Abram's reply, at the end of the fourteenth chapter of Genesis, expresses the feelings of an honest heart. But in the speech of Hagar, we seem to discover the true spirit of modern sentiment. The second time she departs from her master's house, she takes with her Ishmael, her son. Their stock of water is exhausted; she throws the child under a bush; goes away and leaves him; sits down at a distance, and exclaims, " Let me not see the death of the child!" Here we have what many would
call true feeling. Here we have that, which would excite responsive emotions in many hearts. She cannot bear to see the child die, and therefore leaves it. The mother in Josephus Ben Gorion goes a little further. In the general distress, the city being besieged, she knows that her child when starved to death will not be buried: she therefore proclaims her resolution, by way of providing for him a certain tomb, being also hungry, to kill and eat him. We have sentiment in both cases.
Now a sentimental person is generally supposed to be very gentle, and tender-hearted. But we shall readily discover some things in Hagar, rather at variance with such a frame. She despises her mistress, by whom her station had been so signally advanced. There is nothing very kindly in this. She shews a haughty, unsubdued temper when oppressed. This again has nothing tender and gentle. But we need not look further, surely, than the transaction now before us. When she says, "Let me not see the death of the child," we may pretend to call this feeling. But do we not see that, in reality, her conduct in thus abandoning her offspring was hard and selfish? One step further, and we come to the mothers of India: who cannot bear to see their infants want, and therefore cast them to the crocodiles of the Ganges.
The leader of modern sentimentalists was Rousseau. he did exactly what Hagar did; that is, he abandoned his children. In doing this, he pleaded duty. This it is, which constitutes all that is basest in sentiment. When we do wrong under a sentimental plea of duty, we cannot sink much lower in moral degradation. We have then found the bathos-the depth, beyond which there is no lower deep.
During the war of the English and French against the Blacks in St. Domingo, an officer once absented himself from head-quarters, at a time when he was much wanted; then shewed himself for a moment; and then wished to disappear again. He had been to see some of his friends; and was going away to see some more, in a different direction. The speech by which he excused himself to his commanding officer, was a true specimen of the sentimental: "I am come, general," said he, "to discharge a duty! I go, to discharge another!"
Search us, O God, and know our hearts. Try us, and know our thoughts!'
ADAM THE FIRST MAN.-In enumerating those of the elders who through faith obtained a good report, St. Paul, in the xith of Hebrews, sets before us a twofold series. The first begins with Abel, and ends with the matron Sarah (4-11); the second begins with Abraham, and ends with the harlot Rahab (17—31).
The series is in each place regular, according to chronological order. In the latter instance, we have Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab; as in the former, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah: Abraham, who was so eminent for his faith, appearing in each.
Now since the former series proceeds regularly from Abel downwards, we might be led to expect that the Apostle would have begun one step higher, and told us something respecting Adam, the father of Abel: in which case, we should have had two series of six each, instead of one of five and the other of six, as they now stand. But on this subject we find him silent. The case of Adam, it seems, is one on which it did not please Him, by whose inspiration the holy Scriptures were written, here to give us information. Yet though it was deemed proper to omit the mention of him, the symmetry which appears in every part of the Bible, and no where more than in the writings of St. Paul, was not to be violated: and therefore, instead of speaking of Adam at the beginning, the Apostle speaks of something else, which comes at the beginning with equal propriety; namely, the creation of the world. Consequently, in the verse preceding the mention of Abel, we do not find" by faith Adam,' &c., as afterwards, "by faith Enoch," "by faith Noah," &c.; but "through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God." Thus Adam is passed over in solemn silence. We hope that our common father repented, believed, and was saved: we think we see reasons in Scripture for this hope but here the question is not determined. Interesting as it may appear, however, there is one by which each of us is still more closely affected: namely, whether the old Adam, in each of us, is giving place, by daily sanctification and growth in the divine life, to the new. Fallen in the first Adam, may we find salvation in the Second!
ABEL THE FIRST SHEPHERD.-Abel, being a keeper of sheep, was the better prepared to offer that sort of sacrifice which the Lord was pleased to accept, from the firstlings of his flock, and the fat thereof; while Cain, being only a tiller of the ground, was the less prepared to offer any, save from the fruit of the ground, which the Lord would not regard. Afterwards, together with sacrifices of animals, vegetable offerings might be made; as appears from the Levitical ritual, which appoints not only the bodies and blood of beasts, but flour, corn, oil, and wine. But sacrifices of animals were indispensable, as typifying the sacrifice of "the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." It seems probable, indeed, that in the earlier ages of the world, animals could ALONE be offered. See
the sacrifice of Noah, Gen. viii.; and that of Abram, Gen. xv. Hence we discern, in the sacrifice of Cain, a more determined obstinacy, and a more decided rejection of the promised Saviour.
It is not mentioned in vain also, according to this view, that Abel was a keeper of sheep. It seems that from love to evangelical truth, and zeal for the accepted mode of serving God, he pursued this vocation, to which his brother Cain preferred another. Let me explain myself. Fruits might be eaten; flesh at this time might not be eaten. Cain therefore, cultivating the ground, made provision for food, but not for sacrifice. Abel, on the contrary, keeping sheep, made provision for sacrifice, but not for food. If in like manner we are informed that the patriarchs of subsequent ages-Abraham, for instance—were rich in flocks and herds, even when these were allowed for food, still their seeking such riches was not perhaps without regard to the same object; namely, that they might always be abundantly supplied with the means of such sacrifices as the Lord would accept. And when Jacob, departing from the East for Canaan, took with him his flocks, it might partly be with the same design as when the Israelites, departing from Egypt, insisted upon taking theirs; namely, to sacrifice to the Lord. And accordingly, shortly after, when overtaken by Laban, Jacob, we read, at the time of the solemn covenant that was made between them," offered sacrifice upon the mount:" (in the original, na na, killed a killing-i. e. sacrificed beasts.) Thus it appears, that he had not encumbered his flight with the flocks and herds in vain. In this point of view, too, there is a particular interest in the bold avowal of the sons of Israel to Pharaoh, that they were shepherds; knowing, as they did, that every shepherd was an abomination to the Egyptians. This was not merely the avowal of an offensive truth, but a confession of their religion; which would lead them to keep such animals as would enable them to offer sacrifices, abominable in the Egyptians' eyes. In this point of view, also, it is particularly interesting to notice those cases, in which one child of a family seems to have had an especial devotion to the keeping of sheep, while it was neglected or despised by others. This seems, in fact, to have been an especial devotion to the service of the altar, which shewed the promised salvation through Him that was to come; an especial hope in Christ, the Lamb of God, such as was not felt by others. Thus the sheep are kept by the younger, Abel, not by the elder, Cain; by the younger, Rachel, not, apparently, by the elder, Leah (Gen. xxix. 6, 9: "for she," that is, Rachel, kept them;" the she being here emphatic, NY 12);
the younger, David, and not by the elder, Eliab, &c. (1 Sam. xvi. 6-11.) Hence will appear the true nature of Eliab's scorn of David's "few sheep" (1 Sam. xvii. 28): it was a scorn not only of David's vocation, but of his religion; and probably had much of the leaven of Cain's feelings towards his younger brother Abel. Hence, too, supposing David to have been thus influenced, in his care for the flock, by a particular desire to provide the means of honouring God at all times in his own appointed way of sacrifice, will appear the peculiar fitness of taking him from this vocation, to feed Israel, the Lord's inheritance; since God has declared that those who honour him he will honour. David, the true servant of the Lord, was taken from following the sheep. Moses, the true servant of the Lord, was taken from following the sheep. But Saul, who departed from the commandment of the Lord, was taken from following the
According to this view of the importance to be attached to the vocation of Abel, as a shepherd, a portion of the fourth chapter of Genesis may be thus expounded:-Abel was a keeper of sheep, because he wished to be ever prepared with such sacrifices as the Lord would accept, and so to be partaker of the righteousness which was by faith in Christ, the promised Seed, and true sacrifice; but Cain was a tiller of the ground, because he cared not to offer any such sacrifices, and stood upon an offering and a righteousness of his own. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD, having none besides to offer, and caring to offer no other and Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof, prepared and rejoiced to offer that sacrifice which the Lord required, and which pointed to the sacrifice of Christ. And the LORD had respect unto Abel, and to his offering, which was a sacrifice of blood; and therefore was accepted, with him who brought it, through faith in Jesus, who should come; but unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect, because the offering was disallowed, and therefore the bringer of it continued in his sins; and indeed by presenting it increased their number, just as much as a Jew would by offering a swine, or cutting off a dog's neck. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell: he that was not justified being also unsanctified. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? Why should Cain be offended at that which was the consequence of his own conduct? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? Thou mightest have been accepted, by the way of faith, sacrifice, and atonement. But thou hast rejected this way, and standest