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CAIN AND ABEL. “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but 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. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering : but unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
“ 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 henceforth yield unto thee her strength. A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear.”Gen. iv. 1-13.
P. I have been thinking, again, dear children, of Adam and Eve. Think of them! How lonely they must have been without God; Eve could not have been such good company for Adam, as she had been.
W. This world was such a large wide place for them to live in ; I dáre say they would feel afraid sometimes.
P. But in time, their lonely quiet dwelling-place would become more cheerful. Adam would still know that God is good. “For,” he would say to Eve, “See! I have health of body, and strength, that I may work.” Perhaps he would have a spade to dig the ground with, or some other instrument which we have not heard of.
W. And, perhaps, an old dog to go out with him.
P. He might have had ; and while he and his dog would get up in the early morning, as early as the lark, and go out in the fields, Eve might stop at home to get ready the breakfast; and every day, as they sat down to their meals, many pleasant thoughts might come to them.
L. Yes; Adam might think, “I worked for that dinner myself; it is a good thing to earn one's food”—that would be a pleasant thought.
Ion. And he would think, “God has not gone away from us quite ; see what good things he makes for us !”-that would be a pleasant thought.
P. And God soon gave them something else which made their home more pleasant. Soon, Adam would not only go home to listen to the voice of Eve, but to hear the crying noise of a little child.
Ada. A baby, papa ?
P. Yes ; the first babe that had ever come into this world. Ah! a little beautiful creature, and a precious gift. We have so many babes in this world, that people do not often think how beautiful they are. But, suppoșe now, that down in this great place there were only men
and women living, and no one had ever heard of a baby, or seen one,suppose that nobody ever knew what was meant by a baby, and then God were to send us one, -oh, what wonderings there would be !how all people would rush to see it! They would say
L. I know what they would say, papa. They would say, “Look at its dear little hands! and its little toes.”
P. They would have much else to wonder at. They would wonder at its innocent look—they would be delighted to see it growing; to watch it when it tried to walk, or began to talk-they would like to hear it ask questions; and to tell it about this world and heaven. Everybody would feel interested in that child, because it was the first one they had
Ion. I suppose that that is how Adam felt when he saw the first babe.
P. I dare say he did: but Eve would think about it more than Adam would. Eve would sit down and think to herself, “I have gotten a man from the Lord;" and would think how, when he grew up, she would teach him to obey God, and to love his father and mother, -that he should be a good boy, and should always do what was good and right. But oh, poor Eve! she did not know the troubles before her; she did not think that even this little child would sin, as she had done; she did not know that he would learn to do evil much more easily than he would learn to do good.
The Bible tells us that she called him Cain; and that in time she had another son, whom she called Abel.
L. Then there were four people in the world. When Adam went home from his work in the fields, how he would like to see his two boys growing up together.
P. The Bible does not tell us what sort of boys they were; but I should think, from what we hear of them as men, that they had very different dispositions from the beginning.
There would, therefore, be a difference in their thoughts
CAIN was, I am afraid, of a selfish disposition, and perhaps would be mostly thinking about himself; whilst ABEL would be more often thinking about others: and this difference would make a great difference in their characters.
Abel would think much about his father, mother, and Cain. Let us suppose that he saw his mother loving Cain very much-how would he feel?
L. He would feel very glad, I should think.
P. But suppose that Cain, who was so selfish, saw that his mother loved Abel very much
W. He would not feel glad, would he?
P. I think not. He would care more about himself than his brother - he would think to himself, “Why does not my mother love me instead?” He might even feel angry, and not wish his brother to be loved at all.
Ion. This would be a very bad feeling, papa.
W. I have heard of that word before. To be envious, means the same as to be jealous-so that envy grows out of selfishness.
P. That is very true; and you will find in this world, one day, that even worse feelings grow out of selfishness.
In time, Adam's two boys grew up to be men, and went out to work every day, as their father did. While they were working they would have time to think. Which do you suppose would think most of all their mother had said about God?
L. Abel would-because he did not think so much about himself.
P. We may be almost sure that he would. The Bible says that ABEL was a keeper of sheep-a shepherd; while CAIN was a husbandman, who tilled the ground.
When Abel counted his sheep, and noticed the grass which God had made for their food, his thoughts would be of God's kindness and love. But Cain-he would put the grains of corn in the dark ground; and, after covering them over, he would leave them there for many months, knowing that while he was away, God would make them spring up. Yes, he would know that God did it; but when he saw the ripe fields of corn, perhaps he would only think to himself, “See what I have done!-what a rich man I shall be !”
Ion. I should not wonder at his thinking so.
P. But it was bad to think only about himself. He who thinks much of himself, thinks little about God. He forgets God, and forgets to thank Him.
L. So that something else grows out of selfishness—"not-thankfulness”—I know what it is called-ingratitude.
P. And something worse than that comes from selfishness. Hear what happened.
One day you might have seen Cain and Abel, both of them, busy picking up large stones.
Ion. How foolish!
P. Hush, Ion-listen. Large heavy stones they would look for, and each one would make a heap for himself, in some place in the field.
P. And then each one would place his large stones on top of one another, until he had built a square place.
L. Do you mean an altar, papa ?
P. Yes; for both of them had been told, by God, to offer up a sacrifice to Him-so, when they had built their altars, each one would go and fetch a sacrifice to offer.
Abel would think, “I will give God one of the lambs that He has given me”—but, when he went to choose one, how particular he would be! He would examine all the lambs in his flock-but he would say to himself, “This one will not do—it is a fine lamb, but it is lame; this one has a spot on it; this one has some of the wool torn off.” No! he would look until he found a perfect lamb—the very best, so that he might please God very much.
Cain, also, would try to find the very best things to offer-he would choose the best grain, the best fruits, and the best flowers; and how pleased he would feel as he looked at the beautiful sacrifice he had to bring!
Ion. That, I should think, was quite right of him, if he did it to please God.
P. But I am afraid, from what happened afterwards, that he did not think of that-I am afraid that he only thought of God being pleased with him. He would think, perhaps, that his offering was a better one than Abels, and would hope that God would show him the most favour.
L. Then that would be thinking of pleasing himself, instead of pleasing God.
P. I should suppose that he thought so, for when Cain and Abel came back to the field where the altars were, and placed their sacrifices on them, and burned them to offer them to God, God would not receive Cain's-God would not look down to see whose sacrifice was the best; but he would look into their hearts to see whose thoughts were best.
W. Ah, the thoughts were the sacrifices that pleased God. God would see Cain's selfish thought, and it would look as though Cain were trying to deceive God, by pretending that he wanted to please Him, more than Abel did.
L. I think so too; so that from his selfishness had grown another bad quality-deceit. That would make three bad things-envy, ingratitude, and deceit.
P. And then another bad feeling followed. When Cain saw that God had not respect unto him, or his offering, how would he feel ?
Ion. He would be very vexed.
P. Yes. We read that "he was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” The evil that was in him was now very strong-he could not stop it-his vexation grew into anger; and, as he thought of himself and his own disgrace, the anger grew into passion.
Do you know what passion is ?
P. It is really madness—and when any one has madness, he cannot tell what he will do. You have read what an awful deed Cain did “ 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." Think of that! and then think how Cain would stand over his dead brother, and look at him.
Ion. I know how he would feel now; he would feel frightened-to find that Abel was so quiet; and he would feel sorry.
P. Ah, he would be very much afraid, and much wonder at what he had done. Perhaps, he would not know what “death” was. He would feel that his brother's body was cold, and would see that he did not
He would call to him-he would shake him—but ah, no! his brother would not heed him; and the selfish, frightened Cain would begin to think that something wrong had happened.
L. He would be very much frightened.
P. He would be more frightened at that which followed. Perhaps he walked about in the fields for the rest of the day, afraid to go home to Adam. Perhaps it was in the evening time, when the dark gloom of the night was coming on, that he heard a voice calling to him.
Ion. What! a voice in the dark?
P. Yes. It was the voice of God, calling from above, “Where is Abel, thy brother ?” while Cain answered, “I know not: am I my brother's keeper?”
W. That was not true, papa ; it was a lie, which was another bad thing. Now, how many bad things had grown out of his selfishness ! envy, ingratitude, deceit, anger, murder, sorrow, and lying-seven bad things. Poor Cain!
P. And then came the punishment. We read in God's word that God said he should be "cursed from the earth.” God told him that the earth should not bring forth any fruit to him, if he tilled it; and said that he should be a fugitive and a vagabond, wandering all over the earth.
Ion. And Cain said, papa, " My punishment is greater than I can bear.”
P. Yes. That was an awful feeling we call it despair ; for indeed it was a great punishment, to be driven away by himself. You may read in another part, that God set a mark on him, so that no one might kill him.
He must truly have felt that he was without hope. When God had marked him, I dare say he fled away that night. How he must have made haste! how would all things make him fear! As he ran in the darkness of the evening, the winds that howled past him and around him would seem to call to him, “ Where is thy brother?” The blacklooking clouds before him would frown upon him and seem to say, “ Where is thy brother ?” And conscience within would call to him very loudly, “Where is Abel thy brother?”
W. Where did he go to, papa ?
P. I cannot say where he went that evening—but we read that he afterwards dwelt in the land of Nod, and there built a city. Think of him in that city, always wearing a mark that he might not be killed! As his own children and other men grew up, it would bring another feeling, the feeling of shame.
Ion. I think he would try to cover up that mark; and perhaps, if he met any one coming he would hide himself behind some rock-for men would point to him, and say as he slunk away, “There goes the man who killed his brother."
P. Very likely-poor fellow ! See how great things grow from little things. Perhaps all this trouble came upon him because, when he was a boy, he cared very little for others, and cared too much for himself. Thus, because he was selfish how many evils followed ?
Ion. I will count them up once more, papa. From SELFISHNESS grew envy, ingratitude, deceit, anger, murder, sorrow, lying, despair, and shame. Nine bad things
P. And something else, which we have not mentioned yet. We will talk of that trouble next week.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;