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Creator's works, it shall not be always thus; we look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, over which the second death shall have no power, " there shall be no more curse."
(3). Gen. iv. 8. Cain rose up against Abel his brother,
and slew him. How soon did the evil consequences of Adam's transgression begin to manifest themselves ! Here we see the firstborn, Cain, hurried by the power of the Evil One into guilt of the deepest dye. His want of faith, as we read (Heb. xi.) his pride of heart, rendered his sacrifice displeasing unto the Lord; and jealous of the favour shewn to Abel and his acceptable offering, Cain bated him after the fashion of this world, because his own works were evil and his brother's righteous. In Cain, we behold the first persecutor as well as the first murderer, and the prophecy pronounced upon the Serpent at the Fall of man, lamentably fulfilled; “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed;" an enmity which has ever since existed between sin and holiness. We know not what we do when we yield to the temptations of envy and hatred. Reader, beware of the approach of sins which have so destructive a tendency, which are the agents of him “who was a murderer from the beginning:" pray for the love of God to be shed abroad in your heart, inclining you to love all who bear his image, and to delight in “the excellent of the earth.”
(4). Ger. v. 24. And Enoch walked with God. WE read in the New Testament a little more of the character of Enoch than these few words convey. In Heb. xi. we are told what was the principle of Enoch's character by which he “ pleased God.” It was “faith,” he walked by faith, not by sight, he, by faith, beheld Him who is invisible, and set God always before him. St. Jude, in his epistle says, moreover, that by faith he foresaw the second coming of our Lord to judgment, and prophesied of it to the men of that corrupt and wicked generation. The expression “walked with God” implies that he was at peace with God; “for how can two walk together except they be agreed ?" (Amos iii. 3.) he led a life of communion with him, desiring only his will and pleasure, and striving to fulfil all God's designs upon himself and others. And he received this special testimony of God's favour, that he
“ translated," removed from earth to heaven without
dying. Do we thus walk with God ? Do we live as in the divine presence ? Do we maintain communion with God, are we in a state of friendship with Him, do we converse with him in the retirement of our own hearts, and approach him with holy boldness and freedom ? “ The Lord's hand is not shortened,” and bis grace which enabled Enoch thus to walk is sufficient for us if we seek it through the merits of our Redeemer, and though we cannot escape death we may yet look forward through death to a joyful resurrection.
(5). Gen. vii. 12. The rain was upon the earth forty
days and forty nights. For the wickedness of man God drowned the earth with a flood, and every human being perished, with the exception of Noah and his family. The destruction was gradual as we see by the text: for a time, no doubt, the bewildered sufferers, retiring before the increasing deluge, encouraged one another with the assurance that the waters would abate; that God was too merciful to execute this threatened judgment upon so many.
But at length the highest tops of the highest mountains were covered! the day of grace was past! and they who had refused to hearken to Noah's exhortations, experienced the truth of his predictions. It is dangerous to follow a multitude to do evil: for although numbers may countenance us in sin now, a time is coming when each one must answer singly for himself. Never again, it is true, will God drown the world with a flood; but a period will arrive when the earth and all that is therein shall be burnt up. " Wherefore, seeing we look for such things, let us be diligent that we be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless."
(6). EPIPHANY. Isai. xlix. 6. I will also give thee for
a light to the Gentiles. The meaning of the word Epiphany is “manifestation;" and at this season we commemorate the “manifestation" or “shewing” of Christ to the wise men of the East, who by divine direction followed the leading of a star which guided them to the house in Bethlehem where the young child was. At the time of our Saviour's birth, no nation except the Jews had any knowledge of the true religion ; but when in the fulness of time God sent his son into the world, He came “a light to lighten the gentiles" also, and to offer salvation to every creature. Deeply are we bound to observe this festival with humility and joy, remembering the fearful cruelties and abominations from which the gospel delivered our nation ; for at the time when the wise men found the Saviour, our land was buried in the superstitions of a horrid idolatry, which sacrificed even human victims in the so-called sacred groves of the Druids, the ancient priests of Britain. Thanks be to God! that awful darkness has past away, and the bright light now shineth. How do we shew our thankfulness? Do we walk as children of the light, in pureness and heavenly-mindedness suitable to the glorious prospect opened to us ? Do we prize the light of Gospel Truth as the inestimable gift of God by his son Jesus Christ?
(7). Gen. xii. 2. Thou shalt be a blessing. What more than this can any one desire ? All the wealth of the world is as nothing to it.
The words were applied to Abram, the faithful servant of God, but they belong to all who by a like faith are the spiritual children of Abraham. The true christian is a blessing to himself, having peace with God, he bas peace in his own heart, , and rejoices in the testimony of his conscience that he is a child of God. The true christian is a blessing to his family: though he cannot make his household religious, he takes every means to suppress vice and to encourage what is good, and sets an example to all around him how they ought to walk and to please God. The true christian is a blessing to his country: we read that “righteousness exalteth a nation," therefore every person who contributes to the increase of this righteousness contributes to the general prosperity. Ten righteous persons would have saved Sodom could they have been found in it; God grant that our nation may never perish “for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.” Christians are the salt of the earth," to preserve it from utter corruption. (8). GEN. xiii. 11. Lot chose him all the plain of
Jordan. Why did Lot choose this plain for his residence ? Because he saw it was well-watered, and suitable for the pasturage of his numerous flocks and herds, which had been the cause of separation between him and his uncle Abran). But was the interest of his cattle the first consideration? Had he no thought for his own soul, for the souls of others, that he willingly settled among those who were “ wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly ?” We next hear of him as mixed up with the wars of these sinners, and carried away captive; but that was not the worst; he and his family intermarried with the people of Sodom and it was through God's especial grace that he and his two daughters alone escaped the destruction of the city. We read in the New Testament (2 Peter ii. 8.) that Lot
“vexed his righteous soul" with the wickedness around him, but his sorrow came too late. Had he sought the blessing of the Lord to guide his steps when a choice was before him he would have been spared the forfeit of his peace of mind, the risk to the souls of his family, and the loss at last of the substance he had gathered at such a ruinous cost, for “what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?"
(9). Gen. xvi. 12. He will be a wild man; his hand
will be against every man, and every man's hand against
him : and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. Ishmael, the son of Abraham by his bondmaid Hagar, is the person here spoken of; and his posterity, the Arabs, are to this day exactly what the text describes, wild and free, ranging the deserts and in no degree subject to civilized habits. They have lived from the time of their great Ancestor in a continual state of warfare with the rest of the world, and it is no wonder that mankind in return bas beer at enmity with them. They go so far as to justify their system of robbery by alleging the hard usage which their father Ishmael received at the hands of Abraham, being turned out of doors, and sent to the open plains and deserts for a patrimony. Notwithstanding the hostility excited against the Arabs on account of their plundering habits they have “ dwelt in the presence of all their brethren:” they have still maintained their ground as a distinct people in the country of their ancestors. Who that reflects on the history of this nation comparing it with the ancient prophecy concerning them, can fail to acknowledge the finger of God in this exact fulfilment: “such knowledge is too wonderful” for man.
(10). Gen. xviii. 19. I know him, that he will commani
his children and his houshold after him, and they shall
keep the way of the Lord. This was the testimony of the Lord Almighty to the practice of Abraham, who was called “the Friend of God.” It holds out example and encouragement to all who have the charge of children or servants to instruct them in religion. It was on account of his carefulness for the souls of those belonging to him that Abraham was honoured with divine communications, as we read in the verse preceding the text. If we are in earnest ourselves we cannot help being anxious for the spiritual welfare of all connected with us or influenced by us, and we see by the praise bestowed on Abraham that it is not enough to shew then
the right way, to teach them the law of the Lord, but we must use such authority as we possess to constrain them to a holy enlightened obedience. It is both a false kindness and a neglect of duty, it is treachery to the cause of God, to allow those under our rule to rebel against the laws of our heavenly master; and if any fail to bring their families to a knowledge of christian duty, or connive at the transgression of God's commandments, they must not be surprised if their own service be neglected. Whoever expects family blessings must make conscience of family duty.
(11). Gen. xix. 26. His (Lot's) wife looked back from
behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. It is no where stated in Scripture what was the exact nature of this punishment inflicted upon Lots's wife, nor is it a question of any importance, but the reason of the punishment is clear enough, she hankered after those scenes she was compelled to leave, and on which her heart was still set, although the abounding wickedness of Sodom had drawn down God's judgments upon it. Her conduct proved that connexion with “righteous" Lot had not turned her from Satan unto God, for had she truly feared the Lord she would have hasted to escape without betraying the lingering spirit which had already appeared in others of the family. You may perhaps consider this looking back as a very trifling matter, but trifles often mark the real character, her sin originated in the love of that which she was bidden to renounce, which induced ber to “turn from the holy commandment delivered unto” her. Those who resemble Lot's wife in wilful disobedience may well fear to resemble her, if not in the manner, yet in the suddenness of her punishment, and our Saviour expressly gives the warning “Remember Lot's wife.”
(12). Gen. xxii. 2.
Take now thy son, thine only son Ísaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of
Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering. To understand the full force of the trial appointed for Abrahain's faith, we must look upon Isaac not merely as a beloved child, but as the promised son, the ground of all his hopes, since from him in process of time was to descend that seed" of Abraham, “the desire of all nations," in whom “all the families of the earth should be blessed.” It was not, therefore, only parental affection he was called upon to sacrifice, but all the dearly-prized expectations which the word of God himself had raised within him, all that made his life honourable and distinguished him in