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same thing with God, had it been best and right, infinite wisdom and goodness would not have acted otherwise." And as I said before, we should have been quite another, or different race of beings, and the world must have been far different from that which we now inhabit. A world where sin, disorder, suffering and affliction could find no entrance, which appears to short-sighted creatures that it would have been best if it had been so, but an infinitely wise being saw it best that it should be as it is, and has formed the best possible plan, and every thing will finally and ultimately redound to his glory and the happiness of his creatures. All sufferings in this present state should be considered as chastisements, inflicted for our profit, that we may be made partakers of the divine holiness and happiness." God deals by his creatures infinitely better than good and tender parents do by their children; all their dealings toward them is intended for their good, though children may not be able to see how it can be so, no more than we can see, or understand in all respects, how God's dealings towards his children can be for the best.But we may rest assured that all is for the best, and by walking in the ways of righteousness will give us peace, "and when the Redeemer of mankind opens to us the inexhaustible treasures of felicity and glory, when we shall behold the termination of the divine plan, then will every difficulty disappear, and the adorable goodness of God shine in splendour, every heart will exult with joy and gratitude, and every tongue will be tuned to his praise, and thankful for those very ufferings which have worked a far more and
eternal weight of glory, than ever we could have known, if we had not known evil. This is the period, the glorious and certain period, to which we should direct our thoughts, if we would form just ideas of the nature of evil, and why it has been permitted, which, however great, is not absolute, since it leads to real and infinite good." This digression, I think, will not be unacceptable to the reader. I now return.
After Adam's transgression, the next sin of which we are informed, was that of Cain killing his brother Able. It was a wicked act of murder, because his brother had done nothing to offend him. Cain had no cause to find the least fault with him. If Able's offering was accepted, and Cain's rejected, Able was not to blame; it was not his act; and he might have been sorry that his brother's offering was not also accepted.* There never was one more innocent than this brother, which makes Cain's crime the more unjust and wicked, because the Lord had said to him, Why hast thou wrath, and why is thy countenance fallen; and mercifully given him encouragement, If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule
Jewish story tells us, that the dispute arose from another cause, or that the above was not the whole cause. Cain had a twin sister, and Able also, (their names I have forgotten, but this is immaterial.) Adam wished to separate them as to kindred, as far as he could, and that on this account, he wished Cain to take Able's twin sister to wife, and Able to take Cain's twin sister. But Cain would have his own twin sister; from this arose a dispute, "and Cain talked with his brother Able" about it "when they were in the field." Able told him he was wicked in not being obedient to his father, anti not to do as his father wished he should. On which Cain was angry, "and rose up against his brother and slew him." There may be some truth in this story, as we know that there has been many disputes and murders about women, since that time.
over him. But notwithstanding this encouragement, wicked Cain kills his innocent brother.If any crime ever deserved punishment beyond this life, or eternal punishment, this did. But we will see how the Lord dealt with him. He brought him immediately to an account, (as every one to this day is brought for doing evil, though if not by an outward voice, they feel immediately or soon after condemned.) And the Lord said unto Cain, where is Able, thy brother?Now see how saucy he speaks. And he said I know not, am I my brother's keeper? He deserves to be punished for speaking thus disrespectful, if for nothing else. But the Lord does not appear to be angry, neither with Cain nor Adam, there is not the least appearance of anger, which shews that he is not such a wrathful being as he has been represented. But the Lord mildly and kindly questioned him as he had done Adam.Saying, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. Now for the punishment. I do not think the poor creature should be punished for ever. But I may not be a proper judge of the demerit of the crime; we will leave that to the Infallible Judge, and hear what he says. And now art thou cursed from the earth, 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. If he thought that this was greater than he could bear, what must he have thought if the Lord had told him in the language of many preachers, who so freely roll out eternal damnation, and punishment for sin. But
no,the Lord is more tender and merciful than such preachers, or than mankind are to one another. Behold, thou has driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid: and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth: (hard fare, but it was a bad crime,) and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. But no not so. The Lord had passed sentence of punishment upon him, and it should be no more. And he mercifully informs Cain, that whosoever shall slay thee, vengeance shall be taken on him seven fold. Then if vengeance should be taken on him seven fold, who should punish or afflict Cain more than the Lord had pronounced upon him. Then it is certain, he will not let the devil punish him for ever. Many people think Cain is in hell, but they have not the least reason to think so, when God pronounced upon him all the punishment he should have, and did the same as forbidding all others to add thereto. Cain had fears, (like every murderer, for they are always in fear,) that whosoever should find him should slay him; but he had no fears of being punished in another world, because God had not threatened him with any such punishment.
Many commentators, and other writers and preachers, say a great deal about the exceeding great sin of Adam, and how he ruined a world. If according to their faith a great part of the human family are to be damned and tormented for ever, because Adam, as some writers say, ate an apple, or on account of his transgression, it was a wonderful sin indeed.
But God, who in all respects, acts perfectly just, and therefore proportions punishment according to the demerit of sin, it appears, did not consider the demerit of the sin of Adam, near so great, as that of the sin of Cain: for the punishment inflicted on Cain, was vastly greater than that which he pronounced against Adam; which clearly shows, that he considered Cain's sin was much the greatest. And though the sin of Adam is represented to be so very great as to ruin a world, (for they will not have it that Christ was able to make good the injury, at least he will not,) they do not say so much about Adam's being lost, as they do about Cain; many appear to be almost sure that he is in hell. But how unjust do they make God to be in this respect. also, (I say also, because they make him unjust in his dealings towards mankind in almost every respect,) that Cain should be punished eternally in another world, when neither he nor his father before him had had the least intimation given them, of such punishment.
We now pass on to the time when the world became so wicked, (speaking after the manner of men,) the Lord repented that he had made man on the earth.
We read that "Noah was at that time a preacher of righteousnes," (Gen. vi. 6.) and though the people were so very wicked, we do not read that he preached one word, or gave them the least intimation, that they should be punished in hell for their sins.