365 days with Newton

6 JULY

A murderous heart

‘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.’ Genesis 4:8
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Genesis 4:8–16

We have here the first effort of Satan to manifest his enmity against the servants of God. It is a specimen, or sample, of the religious history of mankind from the beginning to this day. We have the murder of Abel, the cry of his blood, the judgement of Cain.
The murder. Cain talked with Abel. The subject of the converse is not recorded. If we may conjecture from what we hear with our own ears, it is not improbable that Abel was reproached as a hypocrite, despised as an enthusiast and a bigot, and that Abel’s humble joy in the Lord’s acceptance and his steadfastness in preferring sacrifices with blood, together with the free and faithful advice he gave his brother to acquaint himself with God and be at peace, provoked Cain to slay him. Something like this may perhaps be inferred from the Apostle’s account of the cause (1 John 3:12). Now from hence we may observe for our own instruction the desperate wickedness of the heart. The carnal mind of Cain was enmity against God. He thought himself injured and affronted because Abel was preferred. His Maker was out of his reach and therefore he wreaked his displeasure against his faithful servant. Thus it is with all persecutors in whatever degree they are permitted to act. For thy sake we are killed [Romans 8:36]. If a person does not show any sign of the fear, love and image of God, he shall pass unnoticed; but if he does, he will be sure to meet with opposition.

FOR MEDITATION: We have likewise to encounter with the spirit of the world that knows not God, and cannot well bear with those who serve him according to the gospel. Through mercy we are exempted from those heavy sufferings by stripes, imprisonment and death, which many believers have been called to. Yet in one way or other, we experience what the Apostle says, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Unkindness and opposition we shall be sure to meet with, and often from our dearest friends (Matthew 10:35–36).
John Newton to William Wilberforce (the MP’s uncle), 4 July 1771

SERMON SERIES: GENESIS, NO. 12 [1/4], GENESIS 4:8

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