Hebrews 11:4
By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous when God gave approval to his gifts. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
Sermons
A Voice from the GraveM. Leishman.Hebrews 11:4
AbelW. M. Putxshort.Hebrews 11:4
AbelE. Monro.Hebrews 11:4
AbelB. D. Johns.Hebrews 11:4
Abel, the Model SpeakerR. Newton, . D. D.Hebrews 11:4
Abel; Or, Man's ReligionHomilistHebrews 11:4
Abel's FaithS. Charnock.Hebrews 11:4
Abel's OfferingR. Brodie, M. A.Hebrews 11:4
Abel's OfferingRichard Nicholls.Hebrews 11:4
Abel's SacrificeT. Manton, D. D.Hebrews 11:4
Accepted of GodHebrews 11:4
Dead, Yet LivingHebrews 11:4
Dead, Yet SpeakingK. Arvine.Hebrews 11:4
Earthly ImmortalityH. W. Beecher.Hebrews 11:4
External Worship Rendered by Two Kinds of MenT. Manton, D. D.Hebrews 11:4
Faith the Secret of Accepted WorshipDean Vaughan.Hebrews 11:4
Influence After DeathJ. N. Norton, D. D.Hebrews 11:4
Influence Seen After Many DaysC. Wadsworth.Hebrews 11:4
Infuence Lost in Form But not in ForceScientific Illustrations and SymbolsHebrews 11:4
Posthumous InfluenceE. B. Coe, D. D.Hebrews 11:4
Posthumous InfluenceS. Steel.Hebrews 11:4
Posthumous InfluenceNew Cyclopaedia of IllustrationsHebrews 11:4
Posthumous InfluenceScientific Illustrations and SymbolsHebrews 11:4
Speech from the SpeechlessJ. R. Howatt.Hebrews 11:4
The After-Glow of LifeH. W. Beecher.Hebrews 11:4
The Dead SpeakingC. A. Bartol.Hebrews 11:4
The Faith of AbelD. Young Hebrews 11:4
The Ministry of the Dead to the LivingScientific Illustrations and SymbolsHebrews 11:4
The Moral Influence We Exert After DeathJ. Cumming, D. D.Hebrews 11:4
The Sacrifice of AbelW. Jones Hebrews 11:4
The Sacrifices of Cain and AbelR. W. Dale, LL. D.Hebrews 11:4
The Speech of the DeadH. Melvill, B. D.Hebrews 11:4
The Teaching of the DeadH. Kollock, D. D.Hebrews 11:4
The Voice of AbelThomas Whitelaw, M. A.Hebrews 11:4
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice, etc. The text brings before our notice three chief points.

I. THE SUPERIORITY OF ABEL'S SACRIFICE. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." This superiority was manifest:

1. In the sacrifice which was offered. In itself Abel's sacrifice was "more excellent" than that of Cain. In endeavoring to ascertain in what respect it was more excellent, it seems to us that we are not justified in going beyond the statements of the sacred Scriptures. And we are not aware of any satisfactory reasons for entertaining the opinion that Cain and Abel had a knowledge of the significance of the different kinds of sacrifices corresponding to that which was communicated by the Mosaic legislation. The narrative in Genesis 4. shows in what the superiority of Abel's offering consisted. "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." Each brought of his own. Cain, being "a tiller of the ground," offered of the things which the earth had yielded as the result of his culture; Abel, being a shepherd, offered from his flock that which had been reared as the result of his care. This seems appropriate. But Abel selected the best of his flock for his offering, while Cain does not appear to have made any such selection, but to have offered that which was most readily obtained. Gurnall states the case well: "Abel is very choice in the matter of his sacrifice; not any of the flock that comes first to hand, but the firstlings. Neither did he offer the lean of them to God, and save the fat for himself, but gives God the best of the best. But of Cain's offering no such care is recorded to be taken by him." When the heart is right even the best of our possessions will seem too poor to offer unto God.

2. In the spirit of the offerer. This is the chief thing. The quality or the quantity of the offering itself is of little importance as compared with the spirit in which it is offered. "By faith Abel offered." This is the grand distinction. Abel had faith in God, while it is clearly implied that Cain had not. Abel seems to have been humble; Cain was manifestly proud and presumptuous. This is clear from his anger at the non-acceptance of his offering, and his dreadful daring in bandying words with Jehovah. How could an offering from such a character be acceptable to God? In his sight it is not the material but the moral and spiritual qualities that determine the worth or worthlessness of an offering. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar," etc. (Matthew 5:23, 24).

II. THE DIVINE TESTIMONY TO ABEL'S CHARACTER. "By which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts."

1. The matter of this testimony. "That he was righteous." He was a true believer in God, a sincere and humble worshipper of him, an upright and honorable man. Our Lord spake of him as "Abel the righteous;" and St. John says that his works were righteous. "Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering."

2. The manner of this testimony. "God testifying of his gifts." In what way did God manifest his acceptance of Abel's offering? Many suppose that it was consumed by fire from heaven, while that of Cain remained untouched. But this seems to us very improbable; for the descent of fire to consume a sacrifice was very exceptional, and if it had taken place on this occasion it would almost certainly have been recorded. We are acquainted with only six cases recorded in the Bible in which a sacrifice was consumed by fire of supernatural origin (Genesis 15:17; Leviticus 9:24; Judges 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26; 2 Chronicles 7:1). And each of these cases was an extraordinary one. That no mention is made in the Scriptures of such fire in connection with Abel's offering points to the conclusion that there was no such fire. Alford says, "We must rather think of some appearance or word of Jehovah by which the preference was shown." Probably Abel was conscious that his offering was accepted by God, and Cain that his was rejected, by an inward witness; the acceptance and rejection were intimated to the offerers by the direct action of the Divine mind upon their minds.

III. THE ABIDING INFLUENCE OF ABEL'S LIFE. "By it he being dead yet speaketh." By reason of his faith his life is a permanent power for good to men. He speaks to us truths of the greatest importance; e.g.:

1. That God will graciously accept the worship of sinners when it is offered in a right spirit.

2. That faith is essential to the true spirit of worship. "By faith Abel offered unto God," etc. "Without faith it is impossible to please him," etc.

3. That when the true spirit of worship exists man will offer his best to God. Abel offered "of the firstlings of his flock and. of the fat thereof." When we feel aright toward God we shall humbly and heartily present unto him the best of our thoughts, affections, services, and possessions. - W.J.







By faith Abel offered
I. CARNAL MEN MAY JOIN WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD IN EXTERNAL DUTIES OF WORSHIP.

1. Natural conscience will put men upon worship.

2. Custom will direct to the worship then in use and fashion.

3. Carnal impulses will add force and vigour to the performances.

(1)Vainglory.

(2)Secular aims and advantages. Use

1. It serves to inform us that the bare performance of the duties of religion is no gracious evidence. Cain may sacrifice as well as Abel. A Christian is rather tried by his graces than by his duties; and yet this is the usual fallacy that we put upon our own consciences. Use

2. If it be so, that carnal men may join with the people of God in duties of worship, here is direction: in all your duties put your hearts to this question, Wherein do I excel a hypocrite? So far a natural man may go. As Christ said (Matthew 5:47).

II. THAT THERE IS A SENSIBLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GODLY AND THE WICKED IN THEIR SEVERAL DUTIES AND PERFORMANCES.

1. Why is it so?(1) They have another nature than wicked men. Water can rise no higher than its fountain; acts are according to their causes; nature can but produce a natural act. The children of God have the Spirit of grace bestowed upon them (Zechariah 12:10).(2) They have other assistance. The children of God have a mighty Spirit to help them (Jude 1:20).

2. Wherein lies the difference between the worship of the godly and the worship of carnal men that live in the Church. I answer, In three things mainly — in the principle, in the manner, and in the end.(1) In the principle. Natural men do nothing out of the constraints of love, but out of the enforcement of conscience; duty is not their delight, but burden.(2) There is a difference in the manner how these duties are to be performed; this is to be regarded as well as the matter. A man may sin in doing good, but he can never sin in doing well. A man may sin though the matter be lawful, for the manner is all (Luke 8:18).(3) There is a difference in regard of the end. Now there is a general and a particular end of worship.(a) A general end, and that is twofold; to glorify God and to enjoy God; the one is the work of duty, and the other is the reward of duty. Now carnal men are content with the duty instead of God and satisfy themselves with the work wrought, though there be no intercourse between God and their souls. Therefore a godly man looks at this, what of God he hath found. You must not be content with the duty instead of God.(b) There is a peculiar aim, and that is always suited to the particular part of worship, and that is a right intention.

III. THIS SENSIBLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DUTIES OF THE GODLY AND THE WICKED IS OCCASIONED BY THE INFLUENCE AND EFFICACY OF FAITH. Here I shall state —

(1)What this faith of Abel was;

(2)I shall handle the general ease. What this faith of Abel was.

1. There was a faith of his being accepted with God when his service was suited to the institution. Such a promise was intimated to them, as appears by God's expostulation with Cain (Genesis 4:7).

2. It was a faith in the general rewards and recompenses of religion. Abel looked to the good things to come, and so his hopes had an influence upon his practice: Cain's heart was altogether chained to earthly things, therefore he looks upon that as lost which was spent in sacrifice.

3. It was a faith in the Messiah to come.For the reasons of the point, Why faith makes this difference between worship and worship, that it makes the duties and worship of believers to be so different from that of carnal men?

1. I answer, because it discerneth by a clearer light and apprehension. Faith is the eye of the soul. A beast liveth by sense, a man by reason, and a Christian by faith.

2. Faith receives a mighty aid and supply from the Spirit of God. Faith plants the soul into Christ, and so receives influence from Him; it is the great band of union between us and Christ, and the hand whereby we receive all the supplies of Jesus Christ. Christ lives in us by His Spirit, and we live in Him by faith.

3. As it receives a mighty aid, so it works by a forcible principle, and that is by love; for "Faith works by love" (Galatians 5:6). We live by faith, and we work by love. Where faith is, there is love; and where love is, there is work. Affection follows persuasion, and operation follows affection.

4. It discourseth and pleads with the soul with strong reasons and enforcements. Faith is a notable orator to plead for God; it pleads partly from the mercies, and partly from the promises of God.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. THE NATURE OF ABEL'S OFFERING.

II. THE PRINCIPLE BY WHICH HE WAS ACTUATED IN PRESENTING IT.

III. THE TOKEN OF THE ACCEPTANCE OF ABEL'S SACRIFICE. Learn:

1. The value of religious observances.

2. In order to be accepted, our observances must proceed from right views.

3. It is not on the footing of innocence we are accepted, but of expiation.

4. Your services are not less acceptable because there may be others who engage in the same acts of worship whose character is such as God cannot approve.

5. However holy your character may be, it is hereafter, not here, that you are to look for your reward.

(R. Brodie, M. A.)

Homilist.
I. THE RELIGION OF MAN HAS TO DO WITH SACRIFICE.

II. THE RELIGION OF MAN IS VALUABLE ONLY AS IT IS BASED ON EVANGELICAL FAITH.

III. THE RELIGION OF MAN HAS EVER BEEN OF IMMENSE WORTH. Paul speaks of faith as doing three things.

1. Giving Divine acceptableness to existence.

2. Giving moral righteousness to existence.

3. Giving an honourable and lasting significance to existence.

(Homilist.)

I. ABEL'S FAITH SPEAKS. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (ver. 6). Homage to the all-wise Creator, gratitude to the all-bountiful Benefactor, submission to the all-powerful Ruler, sacrifice to the all-loving Father, are not enough. The first and indispensable element in all acceptable service is faith in the Redeemer, and implicit confidence in "Him who justifies the ungodly."

II. ABEL'S OFFERING TESTIFIES: "Without shedding of blood there is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). It was an embodiment of the truths which were afterwards more fully developed in the sacrificial system of the Mosaic economy, and which are now revealed in the gospel in all their clearness, simplicity, and fulness. Not that Abel understood them in all the height and depth, length and breadth of their spiritual significance. Abel looked upon the bud: we behold the flower. Christ having come, and having offered up Himself as a sacrifice for human sin, "a lamb without spot and blemish," a light is reflected back upon all the sacrificial offerings of ancient days, which enables us to see that one grand truth was prefigured by them all, and that one solemn voice was uttered by them all. "'Without shedding," &c.

III. ABEL'S ACCEPTANCE HAS A VOICE: "To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted unto righteousness" (Romans 4:5). The important point is, that God gave him evidence of his acceptance in response to his faith. And what was this but another version of the great gospel doctrine that "a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," yet not by a faith which is unaccompanied by works, but by a faith which reveals itself through works? Abel believed God's promise, and complied with God's prescription as to offering a bleeding sacrifice; and Abel's faith was counted unto him for righteousness: that is, God, in justifying Abel, had regard to faith.

IV. ABEL'S DEATH CRIES: "They who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). The account of Abel's untimely end is simply given (Genesis 4:8). It was an early and a bitter fruit of sin, a ghastly revelation, and a woeful foretaste of the promised enmity between the serpent's seed and the woman's. A decisive indication that these two seeds were to be found in two different sections of the human family. That fratricide was the first blow in the world-wide and time-long conflict that had already been predicted. The culmination of the battle was when Christ despoiled the principalities and powers of evil by His cross. Yet the enmity is not ended. In consequence of Christ's death the victory of the seed of the woman is secure; but till the final triumph comes, they must suffer persecution. Just because they are the woman's seed and Christ's seed, the thing is inevitable.

V. ABEL'S GRAVE SHOUTS: "The Lord will avenge the blood of His servants" (Deuteronomy 32:43). God regards the saints as His peculiar possession, as the work of His hands. Christ esteems His people, not simply as His servants, disciples, followers, friends, but as members of His body, linked to His heart by the most tender ties of sympathy. Hence He watches over them with jealous care, protects them when in danger, feels for them and with them when they suffer, and avenges them when they are wronged. Sometimes in His wise but mysterious Providence He may suffer their liberties to be destroyed and their lives to be spilt; but "Vengeance is mine; I will repay!" saith the Lord. Witness Cain, Pharaoh, Ahab, Jezebel, Haman, Belshazzar, Herod, Nero, and others.

VI. ABEL'S MEMORY ECHOES: "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance" (Psalm 112:6). For sixty centuries at least the name of Abel has been enshrined in affectionate remembrance, not for great deeds done, but for simple faith cherished, and for bitter suffering endured. Worth observing that being and suffering are sometimes as sure passports to renown as doing. Not the great actors on time's stage alone have their names transmitted to posterity, but the great sufferers as well. Not those alone who have lived brilliantly, but those also who have walked humbly. And this perhaps is right, for after all it may be questioned if to believe strongly, to live humbly, and to suffer patiently are not greater achievements than to act largely and to speak loudly.

(Thomas Whitelaw, M. A.)

I. EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE IN SUFFERING SHALL ADD TO THE GLORY OF THE SUFFERER; and those who suffer here for Christ without witness, as many have done to death in prisons and dungeons, have yet an all-seeing witness to give them testimony in due season. "The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance"; and nothing that is done or suffered for God shall be lost for ever.

II. WE ARE TO SERVE GOD WITH THE BEST THAT WE HAVE, the best that is in our power, with the best of our spiritual abilities; which God afterwards fully confirmed.

III. God gives no consequential approbation of any duties of believers, BUT WHERE THE PRINCIPLE OF A LIVING FAITH GOES PREVIOUSLY IN THEIR PERFORMANCE.

IV. OUR PERSONS MUST BE FIRST JUSTIFIED, BEFORE OUR WORKS OF OBEDIENCE CAN BE ACCEPTED WITH GOD; for by that acceptance He testifies that we are righteous.

V. THAT THOSE WHOM GOD APPROVES MUST EXPECT THAT THE WORLD WILL DISAPPROVE THEM, and ruin them if it can.

VI. Where there is a difference within, in the hearts of men, on the account of faith and the want of it, THERE WILL FOR THE MOST PART BE UNAVOIDABLE DIFFERENCES ABOUT OUTWARD WORSHIP. SO there hath been always between the true Church and false worshippers.

VII. GOD'S APPROBATION IS AN ABUNDANT RECOMPENSE FOR THE LOSS OF OUR LIVES.

VIII. THERE IS A VOICE IN ALL INNOCENT BLOOD SHED BY VIOLENCE.

I. ABEL'S OFFERING HAD REFERENCE TO A DIVINE COMMAND AND PROMISE. Abel acknowledged his sin, and believed what God had said in reference to pardon, hence his sacrifice was one of faith.

II. THE COMPARATIVE WORTH OF ABEL'S OFFERING. By faith he offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. The meaning is that it was a fuller sacrifice, it embraced more, it meant more than that presented by Cain. "Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof." The latter phrase evidently indicates that the life was taken before the sacrifice was offered. Hereby was admitted —

1. The deadly nature of sin. Sin leads to destruction. The fact of atonement being necessary proves the enormity of sin.

2. The hope of pardon. To Abel it became apparent that there was a way by which man could rise, a plan by which he could become reconciled to God.

III. THE ASSURANCE OF ACCEPTANCE ABEL RECEIVED. "He obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts." This assurance would probably be twofold, the outward and the visible, and the inward and spiritual. The witness from without would be given by fire descending and consuming the sacrifice. But there was also the inward testimony Abel receives. He obtained witness that he was righteous. His sins were blotted out, he was at peace with God, and the Spirit of God was his witness that he was accepted. He was made a partaker of the righteousness, which is by faith.

IV. ABEL, BECAUSE OF HIS FAITH AND SERVICE, IS YET SPOKEN OF. "He being dead, yet speaketh."

(Richard Nicholls.)

I. WHAT WAS THE SPECIAL OCCASION OF THIS SACRIFICE? That may be gathered out of the phrase used (Genesis 4:3). God taught Adam by revelation, and he his son by instruction, that men should at the year's end, in a solemn manner, sacrifice with thanks to God, when they had gathered in the fruits of the earth. This tradition was afterwards made a written law (Exodus 22:29). These solemn sacrifices at the end of days had a double use.

1. To be a figure of the expiation promised to Adam in Christ.

2. To be a solemn acknowledgment of their homage and thankfulness to God.

1. The general use of these sacrifices was to remember the seed of the woman, or Messiah to come, as the solemn propitiatory sacrifice of the Church. And indeed there was a notable resemblance between those offerings and Jesus Christ: Abel offered a lamb; and Christ is the Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). And because of these early sacrifices, therefore is that expression used (Revelation 13:8). And He also is the first-fruits (Psalm 89:27). Though God had other children by creation besides Christ, yet He is the first-born. What shall we gather from hence? That in all our addresses to God we must solemnly remember and honour Christ. We must do duties to God, so as we may honour Christ in them. It may be you will ask, How do we honour Christ in doing of duties?

(1)When you look for your acceptance in Christ, as Abel comes with a lamb in faith.

(2)This is to honour Christ in duties, when you look for your assistance from the Spirit of Christ.

(3)When the aim of the worship is to set up and advance the mediator.

2. The special use of this worship was to profess their homage and their thankfulness to God. They were to come as God's tenants, and pay Him their rent. Therefore God puts words into the Israelites' mouths (Deuteronomy 26:10). The note from hence is — That in the times of our increase and plenty we must solemnly acknowledge God. The best way to secure the farm, and keep it in our possession, is to acknowledge the great Landlord of the whole world — Lord, I have been a poor creature, and Thou hast blest me wonderfully. There is a rent of praise and a thank-offering due to God.

II. The second question is, WHAT WAS THE WARRANT OF THIS WORSHIP? Was it devised according to their own will, or was it commanded by God? The reason of the inquiry is because some say that before the law the patriarchs did, without any command, out of their private good intention, offer sacrifice to God; and they prove it, because the Gentiles that were not acquainted with the institutions of the Church used the same way of worship. But this opinion seemeth little probable —

1. Because this is above the light of corrupt nature to prescribe an acceptable worship to God.

2. It was by some appointment; for no worship is acceptable to Him but that which is of His appointment.

3. There could have been else no faith nor obedience in it, if the institution had been wholly human; there is no faith without some promise of Divine grace, no obedience without some command.

4. The wonderful agreement that is between this first act of solemn worship and the solemn constitutions of the Jewish Church doth wonderfully evince that there was some rule and Divine institution according to which this worship was to be regulated, which, probably, God revealed to Adam, and He taught it, as He did other parts of religion, to His children: therefore it was done by virtue of an institution. Abel looked to the command of God, and promise of God, that so he might do it in faith and obedience.The note from this — That whatever is done in worship must be done out of conscience, and with respect to the institution. But you will say, What is it to do a thing by virtue of an institution? For answer —

1. I shall show you what an institution is. Every word of institution consists of two parts — the word of command, and the word of promise.

2. What is it to do a duty in respect to the institution? I answer, it is to do it in faith and obedience: faith respects the word of promise, obedience the word of command. But now how shall I know when I do duty in faith and obedience?I answer —

1. You come in obedience when the command is the main motive and reason upon your spirit to put you upon the duty. It is enough to a Christian to say, "This is the will of God" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

2. Would you know when you come in faith? when you look to the word of promise? You may know that by the earnest expectation and considerateness of the soul.

III. The third question is, WHEREIN LIES THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO SACRIFICES?

1. In the faith of Abel. Abel's principle was faith, Cain's distrust.

2. In the willing mind of Abel. Cain looked upon his sacrifice as a task rather than a duty; his fruits were brought to God as a fine rather than an offering, as if an act of worship had been an act of penance, and religion was his punishment.

3. In the matter offered. It is said of Cain's offering (Genesis 4:3), "That he brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord." The Holy Ghost purposely omits the description of the offering. Being hastily taken, and unthankfully brought, it is mentioned without any additional expression to set off the worth of them; it should have been the first and the fairest. But for Abel, see how distinct the Spirit of God is in setting forth his offering (ver. 4); not only the firstlings, that the rest might be sanctified, but he brought the best, the chiefest, the fattest. All these were afterwards appropriated to God (Leviticus 3:16, 17).Now observe from hence — That when we serve God, we must serve Him faithfully, with our best.

1. God must have the best of our time. Consider, we can afford many sacrilegious hours to our lusts, and can scarce afford God a little time without grudging. Is not there too much of Cain's spirit in this?

2. With your best parts. You come to worship God not only with your bodies, but your souls, with the refined strength of your reason and thoughts (Psalm 108:1).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

The text carries us back to the world's youngest days, and it introduces us to the world's earliest brothers, the children of the first man. But how different the after history of the brothers who were thus named! Cain, the fondly imagined destroyer of the serpent, growing up into his slave; Abel, the first to experience death, and the first to triumph over it by a power that was mightier than his own. Cain, the first rebel — Abel, the first pardoned sinner; the one Divinely branded as "that wicked one who slew his brother," the other bearing his appropriate and lasting surname of "righteous Abel."

I. FIRST, HE IS BROUGHT BEFORE US AS OFFERING AN ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE. Perhaps the main difference will be found in the fact that Cain's was a eucharistic, Abel's an expiatory sacrifice. In the one there was a recognition, in the other there was a refusal of the ordinance of God, that without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin. Moreover, the apostle declares that the sacrifice of Abel was offered in faith. Now, faith must have respect to some revelation that has been previously given, as well as to some other blessing which the future will reveal. Some have wondered sometimes why, if sacrifice were of Divine origin, there should be no express enactment on record. But even if there be no record of it, it would be rash to conclude that there was therefore no revelation. There lurks in this supposition the fallacy of believing that the book of Genesis bore to the Jewish the same relation which the book of Leviticus bore to the Mosaic dispensation — that it was written not by the historian but by the law-giver. But we cannot imagine that the patriarchs knew no more of truth than is recorded in the historian's narrative. Indeed, we know they did; for Abrabam had revelations of a future state, and Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, as we learn from the New Testament, concerning the coming of the Lord in judgment. Neither of these things is recorded in the book of Genesis. Whatever this promise is, it is a promise of spiritual blessing. You look into it further, and you discover that there is in it a promise of a Redeemer — a promise of a Redeemer of superior nature to the destroyer, and yet to be of the seed of the woman. You look further into the promise, and find that He is to be bruised. If His essential power is greater than the power of His adversary, then any suffering that comes upon Him must be endured by His own consent. If it be voluntary, then this leads you to another step in the argument — it must be vicarious; it must be undertaken for some one else; undertaken as a substitute for some one whom He has voluntarily pledged Himself to redeem. Then here comes the great idea of satisfaction — suffering endured by a Saviour in the room and in the stead of another. But if vicarious, you go further still. In such a Being — in a Being of such acknowledged power, it must be available; it must be efficacious for the destruction of the evils that were introduced by the adversary. Now, if you will just think of this argument, I fancy you will find that it will hold, and that it is not improbable that, in the absence of direct revelation our first parents discovered in the earliest promise the Divine nature of the Redeemer, the mystery of His incarnate life, and outlines of that grand and wonderful scheme of redemption by which He offered Himself, the Just, or the unjust, that He might bring us to God. Here, then, is the foundation of the rite of sacrifice; and you cannot wonder that the faith of Abel, resting upon the scheme of mediation, should find visible expression, analogous to the way in which the offering was to be wrought out, by the offering of the firstling upon the altar, nor that God attesting that sacrifice, and honouring the spirit which prompted it, should have accepted it in the consuming fire.

II. We find, in the second place, THE RESULTS OF THIS FAITH — THAT GOD GAVE HIM A TESTIMONY. He received a Divine testimony: "by it he obtained witness that he was righteous — God testifying of his gifts." God is said to have testified to the acceptance of his offering, and to have witnessed to his own personal acceptance as well. The manner of this testimony is not distinctly stated, but the analogy would be that it was given by fire. God testified to his gifts and to his faith. God testified to his gifts; and those gifts were the gifts of blood. He was the first saved sinner, and he stands typal and exemplary of all the rest. God set His seal thus early upon the one method of reconciliation that all the ages might learn the lesson. Human nature, if it would be accepted in heaven, must not come and stand in its erectness, as if it had never sinned; it must be contrite in its trust; it must be firm in its reliance upon the sacrifice which has purged its sin away. Here is salvation costlier than human price can buy; here is salvation fuller than imagination can conceive; here is salvation lasting through all the ages of eternity; and it is offered — offered upon understood and easy terms. Here is a Redeemer gifted with every qualification, and infinite in His willinghood of love. And this Redeemer wills to save you; He has paid the price; He does not want any paltry price of yours.

III. Abel is presented in the text as EXERTING AN UNDYING INFLUENCE. "By it he being dead yet speaketh." He is brought before us as an historical exemplification of the power of faith. He has gained by it an undying memory; he is thrown by it among the moral heroes of the olden times. There issues from him, because of it, an influence which spreads and grows for ages. He teaches to after generations many great lessons; he teaches the lesson of contrition, and of gratitude, and of humble hope, and of far-sighted reliance which fastens its gaze upon the Cross, and stays its spirit there!

(W. M. Putxshort.)

The great lesson we learn is this: there is one appointed way of approaching God, and only one; no other way devised by human cunning or human invention can or will bring us to God; and faith is the principle by which we do thus approach God. There are two classes which this speaks to —

1. Those who are convinced of the right way to heaven, and willing to walk in it.

2. Those who are wholly mistaken as to the way of salvation. Of the latter first. There is an inclination in man to strike out a way of his own, and that, usually, exactly contrary to God's appointed way to final happiness.Thus here is God the Creator appointing a way for man to walk in, and man refusing to walk therein is therefore lost. The common occasion on which men will choose their own way is in the means of salvation being by Christ, in the necessity of the aid of the Spirit, in the necessity of showing forth that work of the Spirit by holy living; very often such men begin their whole scheme of contradiction by denying the doctrine of original sin. By this means men try to make their way to heaven, What in these particulars is God's appointed way?

1. Man says he is not a sinner by birth and practice, root and branch a sinner, but he is only very weak, very various, some better than others, and so forth. God says, "There is none that doeth good; no, not one."

2. Or again, some say, Your amiability and morality are so great you need not think of any means of salvation; you may deserve heaven by the beauty of your own character or the force of your own works.

3. Again, some men talk of their own unaided strength helping them to perform good works.

4. And again; some men tell us there is no need of good works at all, but that a man may live in the constant habit of sin, and yet please God, and consider himself a servant of God; what says the Word of God? "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." "We are His workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works."Thus, then, man's way in the world greatly differs from God's way of salvation. But again, the example of Abel speaks to Christians too. Do I speak to some such now — men who will not accept the means which God has appointed to bring them near to Himself? who wish to belong to Him, and try to be reconciled, and believe Christ only can do it, and yet will not go to the means ordered by God, but strike out ways of their own, and then wonder why they do not gain their end?

1. There are some such who will not receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, choosing to expect a fitness which the Bible does not speak of: and thus, though Christ has appointed this way of approaching Him, they persist in refusing to walk in it. How is it you dare thus to trifle with God? How can you hope to be better or happier while, like Cain, you will come to God in your own devised manner, however well arranged, and not in His revealed, appointed method of approach?

2. Or again; some men will not pray; they think hearing is enough, or knowing is enough, or feeling is enough, or thinking is enough. They will not pray, while prayer is the very life of the soul.

3. Or again; some men will not read the Bible; the call of business or domestic life is the excuse they plead against ever reading the Word of God; and yet we are told to "search the Scriptures."

4. Again; some men will not come to church, thinking they can serve God as well at home, not seeing how it can matter, if they pray at home, whether they pray there or at church; not seeing that the whole consists in one being God's appointed means, the other not. Thus do men, good on the whole, sin as Cain, by choosing their own ways, in certain particulars, to approach God, and despising and neglecting others. Remember, it is by faith you will follow Abel. Use God's appointed means — faith.

(E. Monro.)

I. ABEL AT THE ALTAR.

1. The principle of the offerer — "Faith."

2. The material of the offering — "A more excellent sacrifice."

(1)Select.

(2)Suitable.

(3)Surprising. "More excellent than Cain."

(a)The privileges of both were the same.

(b)The mother esteemed Cain, but ignored Abel.

(c)Revelation was very meagre.

(d)The bad example of a constant associate. Wickedness is contagious. The religion of Abel was sin-proof. The Divine in him was mightier than the satanic in his brother.

II. ABEL THE RECIPIENT OF A DIVINE TESTIMONIAL. Previously we saw Abel giving to God; here we see him receiving from God. Those who give also get (John 1:12).

1. The testimonial. "Righteous" — justified — absolved from all wrong — accepted as one right in all his relationships — with conscience, the world, death, judgment, God.

2. The testifier, "God." The authority is the highest and the truest. The keys of destiny hang at His girdle. His smile is heaven.

III. ABEL THE PROCLAIMER OF DIVINE TRUTH. "Being dead, yet speaketh." Most men speak before death; many speak when dying; but Abel speaks after death. There is a peculiarity in the influence of Abel. He teaches —

1. That fallen man may again approach God.

2. That worship must be through the medium of sacrifice.

3. That acceptance with God is the highest favour.

4. That a godly life is immortal in its influence.

(B. D. Johns.)

Faith is spiritual sight. It is the apprehension of the unseen. It is the realisation of the Invisible. "By faith," by an exercise of that soul's sight which faith is, "Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." The Searcher of hearts saw in Abel, saw not in Cain, that sight of the Invisible which is the condition of worship. The difference lay not in the form of the offering, but in the spirit of the offerer. In vain we obtrude our poor human assistance for the discrimination of the two sacrifices. God required no outward sign, no visible or tangible material, to inform or to guide His judgment. His eye could pierce, at once and by intuition, to the discerning of soul and spirit. And here we read what He judged by — not the substance of the sacrifice, but the heart's heart of the worshipper. "By faith" — by that soul's sight of which the Omniscient alone can take knowledge — "Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." "By which" sacrifice — or, "by which "faith — for the relative is ambiguous in the Greek — "he obtained witness that he was righteous" — "he was attested as righteous" — the testimony of God, in Holy Scripture, was borne to him as being righteous — "God testifying of his gifts." It was not the sacrifice which made him " righteous" — it was the "righteousness" which offered, and which consecrated the offering. "He was attested as righteous, God testifying of His gifts." We know not how, by what visible or invisible token, the acceptance, the " respect," was evidenced to the one offerer, and its absence indicated to the other. The reference of the text is to the record in Scripture. "And by it he being dead yet speaketh." The same ambiguity rests upon "by it" as upon "by which" above. "By the sacrifice"? or, "by the faith"? By the sacrifice offered in faith? or, by the faith in which the sacrifice was offered? It is a distinction without a difference as regards the doctrine. We have three lessons to learn.

1. "By faith Abel offered." Faith has a province in the present. The past belongs wholly to her — the future belongs wholly to her — the present belongs to her in part. There are things present of which sight and sense can take notice. But the spiritual, the heavenly, the Divine, is ever present — and of this the senses tell nothing. There are two kinds of worship, as there are two characters and classes of worshippers. There are those who come to worship with "earthly, sensual, diabolical " minds. There are those who bring something in their hands — it may be a few herbs or flowers, it may be a sheaf of corn or a bag of money, it may be the bread and wine of a Sacrament, it may be the bended knee or the uttered liturgy of a Church calling itself Reformed, calling itself Evangelical — and who yet never "stir up themselves to lay hold of" the Invisible and the Eternal — come together with earthward eyes and earth-bound souls — do not speak one word to God Himself as Spirit and Life and Love — do not breathe really into His ear one syllable of deep heartfelt confession, praise, or prayer — go as they came, self-satisfied or else murmuring, earth-filled or else empty, giddy and trifling or else disconsolate — at all events, without that faith which is the realisation of God Himself — and therefore to them and to their offering He has not, cannot have, respect.

2. "God testifying of His gifts." There is a worship to which God "has respect." That worship varies in shape and form. Once it was embodied in ritual. A service of rule and ceremony, of incense and vestment, of gift and sacrifice. Now it is a service of greater simplicity — of words read from a book, of Psalms recited or chanted, of hymns sung and accompanied, of instruction and exhortation spoken and listened to. Yet the idea of worship is one and the same. Six thousand years ago Abel worshipped: we worship to-day. The idea, as the object, of worship, is unchanged. If it is effectual, if it is successful, God "testifies" of it still. Generally, in His Word — assuring us of its acceptance if it be this and this. Personally, in the soul — giving an answer of peace — calming, satisfying, strengthening, comforting, according to the need of each one.

3. Finally, "he being dead yet speaketh." The immortality of faith is a voice also. Abel speaks still. He, you will say, has a place in the Bible — and the text is of course exceptionally true of Scripture saints. Those to whom God hath borne witness in that Book which hath immortality, of course share the immortality of the Book and of its Author. It is true even of the wicked — even of the bad immortality which a place in the Bible gives if it give not the good. It is true of the Cains as well as the Abels — of the Ahabs as of the Elijahs — of the Gallios and the Demases as much as of St. Luke and of St. Paul. But we speak now of the undying voices of the faithful. Is it not true of them that they almost gain in audibility by distance? When did Paul himself ever speak as he spoke in the great Reformation, fifteen hundred years after he fell on sleep, quickening Luther and Calvin, quickening Germany and England, with that life which has carried mind and might with it across two hemispheres? Nor is it only of inspired men, or of Bible characters, that the words of the text are true. "Being dead he yet speaketh" has an application, not to heroes of faith alone, but to very common inmates of very obscure homes. This will be in exact proportion as they have been enabled to live and to die in the light of a Divine revelation which is no respecter of persons. It is not only where biographies have kept alive the memory, and made the example of some Brainerd or Swarz, some Martyn or Patteson, vocal for ever to Christian homes and Christian Churches.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Both these sacrifices were in themselves acceptable to God, for under the Levitical institutions, wheat and barley were offered by the Divine command, as well as lambs, and bullocks, and goats. But the" faith" of Abel made his sacrifice" more excellent" than that of Cain; and "by his faith," not by his sacrifice, "he obtained witness that he was righteous God" in some way, "bearing testimony" to him when he was presenting" his gifts."

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

God is not taken with the cabinet, but with the jewel; He first respected Abel's faith and sincerity, and then his sacrifice; He disrespected Cain's infidelity and hypocrisy, and then his offering.

(S. Charnock.)

He being dead, yet speaketh.
1. It is a natural desire of the human heart to prolong its relations to the world after death. All expect to die, but no one desires to be forgotten. We want to get the better of death.

2. This is, in one sense, a strange desire. Can we not trust our fellows without stretching out one dead hand from the grave to guide? Would it not be better to be forgotten? Still, we do not love to think of sundering wholly our relations with this world.

3. The desire for posthumous influence is an instinct implanted by God, a sign of the grandeur of the human soul, and suggestive of its destiny.

4. This desire of posthumous influence can be realised in three ways.(1) First, by our speech. It is not by the mastery of words alone that influence is perpetuated — by poet, scholar, or philosopher. You may lead a humble life, but your deliberate or casual speech will do a blessed or a baneful work ages hence.(2) By what we do. While one may with his wealth found a hospital, endow a college, equip a library, or build a fountain in the central square of some city, it is possible that an inconspicuous life may become a perpetual fountain for good after that life on earth has closed.(3) By what we are. Character is of all the most potent. Invisible as the wind and inaudible as the light, it is a real and enduring force. It is here that man exerts the greatest power for good or evil. It is here that a soul propagates influence on and through the ages for ever.

5. The influence that lives after us is not always what we intended it should be. In a moment of forgetfulness or passion we may speak that which will be remembered when all the good words we have uttered are forgotten.Lessons:

1. We infer from these solemn facts the immense extension of responsibility. "Plant a tree, Jamie," said Sir Walter Scott, "it will be growing while you are sleeping." So with our acts.

2. Those who have left us are still with us by their posthumous influence.

3. Remember that this continued activity of the dead is not the whole of the idea of a future life. We have a grander goal. There is another shore beyond the blue horizon, which the ship will surely reach; another nest to which we fly, where our ears again shall be gladdened by songs from those we have known, and by those whom, not having known, we influence. Those whom God has taken, who were, still are.

(E. B. Coe, D. D.)

I. THAT ALL THOSE PROJECTS AND ANTICIPATIONS, THOSE PURSUITS AND ENJOYMENTS, WHICH HAVE NOT A REFERENCE TO OUR ETERNAL STATE, ARE VAIN, FOOLISH, AND DELUSIVE. Ambitious men! some of these dead cry to you, — I have been surrounded by that glory which dazzles you; I have possessed those dignities for which you are struggling; I have been eulogised and applauded by men: but whither have all my honours conducted me? To the tomb! Whither will yours conduct you? To the tomb!" Covetous men! listen to what some of these dead cry to you: "I have accumulated riches; I have acquired revenues almost exhaustless. But of them all, what have I carried with me to the grave? A coffin and a shroud! What will you carry with you of the riches that you are amassing? A coffin and a shroud!" Sensualists! listen to what some of these dead cry to you: "I have indulged myself in every pleasure; I have refused nothing to my senses; I have rioted in sensual joys. But where did these joys terminate? In the tomb, in remorse, in perdition! What you are, I have been; what I am, you will shortly be."

II. THAT LIFE IS BOTH SHORT AND UNCERTAIN, Visit the repositories of the dead, and learn that " man that is born of a woman, is of few days: that he fleeth as a shadow, and continueth not." Do you not there hear those who were most advanced in age saying to you: "My associates spoke of the length of my life, of the number of my years, but now that I compare this life with the eternity which for me has swallowed up all time, how does it appear? Less than an atom, compared to the immensity of the universe; less than a drop of water, compared to the extended ocean."

(H. Kollock, D. D.)

Those who spend their days on earth usefully and well, live after death by their example. A father's worth, and a mother's care, and a neighbour's kindness, will be remembered long, and, in many cases, be imitated by those who come after. The upright live after death by their precepts. They may have been wholly disregarded by those to whom they were first addressed; but the good seed will take root, and, sooner or later, yield fruits of increase. On the other hand, we are told that "the name of the wicked shall rot" (Proverbs 10:7). Their influence may have been exceedingly great, but it shall become less and less, until it wholly dies away. If any one desires, then, that his name shall be remembered after death with feelings of gratitude and satisfaction, let him strive to be good.

I. A MOTHER'S influence after death. "When I was a little child," says one, "my mother used to bid me kneel beside her, and place her hand upon my head while she prayed. Before I was old enough to know her worth, she died, and I was left too much to my own guidance. In the midst of temptations, whether at home or abroad, I have felt myself, again and again, irresistibly drawn back by the pressure of that same soft hand. A voice in my heart seemed to say: ' Oh, do not this wickedness, my child, nor sin against God! ' I did not dare to disregard the call." Who has not heard of reprobate sons, after years of vice, stopped short in their course by remembrances of scenes of innocence and peace, in which a mother's anxious concern, a mother's reproving look, and a mother's gentle voice, speaking from the dead, exerted an influence more powerful than she could possibly have possessed while sitting under her own roof, and by her own fireside? Let Christian parents use this influence well, and the effect of their instructions shall never die.

II. TEACHER'S influence after death. The instructor's office is seldom estimated aright. How many difficulties to be overcome! How much discretion to be used! The tear of fond regret will glisten in the eye as the scholars, grown to adult age, make mention of their old teacher — the teacher in his grave. "He, being dead, yet speaketh." Have not instructors a high incentive to prove themselves faithful?

III. The PHILANTHROPIST'S influence after death. Kind and compassionate ones, go on in your useful ways. You are purchasing for yourselves immortality.

IV. An AUTHOR'S influence after death. "Books," says Addison, "are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind." The author dies. Not so his works. He still speaks through many lands by many tongues. Though already entered into his rest, he is, in reality, vigorously at work. He is moulding the minds, and influencing the hearts of untold thousands.

V. The CLERGYMAN'S influence after death. His life may have passed noiselessly away. His spirit — the fragrant memory of his life — lingers with his flock, and "He, being dead, yet speaketh."

VI. The influence of every GOOD PERSON after death.

(J. N. Norton, D. D.)

Every man that plays a part in the great drama of human life, leaves, at his departure, an impress and an influence, more or less extensive and lasting. No fact is more self-evident, or more universally admitted, than the text; and no fact withal is more generally disregarded by the living. And, just in proportion to the width of the sphere in which the departed moved, and the strength of intellectual and moral character they possessed and developed, will be the duration and the plastic power of that influence they have left behind them. This is the fair side of the portrait; and were the influence left behind by the dead universally of this holy character, then would men be throughout their biography like visitant angels of mercy passing athwart our miserable world, distilling balm and scattering light among men's sons; or as transient gales from the spicy lands of the East, or glorious meteors arising in rapid succession amidst the moral darkness of the earth, imparting light and fearlessness to its many pilgrims, and this would be bettered by every successive generation, till it arose and expanded to its millenial blessedness and peace. But alas! if many of the dead yet speak for God, and for the eternal welfare of humanity, many, many also speak for Satan, and ply after, as before their death, the awful work of sealing souls in their slumber, and smoothing and adorning the paths that lead to eternal death. Thus the departed sinner, as well as the departed saint, "being dead yet speaketh." Thus our sins as well as our virtues survive. Thus we exert a posthumous influence which adds either an impulse upon the advancing chariot of salvation, or throws stumblingblocks and obstacles in its way. If any earth-born joys are admitted as visitants amid the celestial choirs, the joy that springs from having written saving and sanctifying works, is the sweetest that reaches the hearts of the saved. And I can fancy a Baxter, a .Newton, a Scott, a Rutherford, rejoice with exceeding joy when the angels that minister to them that are to be heirs of salvation, bring word that, in consequence of the "Awakening Call to the Unconverted," or "The Force of Truth," or the "Letters from the Prison of Aberdeen," some sinner has been aroused from his lethargy, and made a partaker of grace, and mercy, and peace. And if, as we believe, any poignant recollections from this side "the bourne whence no traveller returns," roach the memories of the lost, not the least bitter will be the remembrance of having written volumes which are circulated by every library, and sold by every vender, in which the foundations of morality are sapped, and the youth of our world poisoned throughout the whole range of their moral economy. Oh, it will be the sorest sting of that worm which never dies, that their name, and their creed, and their principles after them, gather converts on earth, and carry fell desolation to homes that had otherwise been happy, and corruption to hearts that had else beat high with philanthropy and piety.

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

I. THE FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN MINISTER "BEING DEAD, YET SPEAKETH" IN HIS WRITINGS.

II. A CHRISTIAN MINISTER "BEING DEAD, YET SPEAKETH" BY THE MOUTH OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN UNDER HIS MINISTRY.

III. THE FAITHFUL MINISTER OF CHRIST "BEING DEAD, YET SPEAKETH" THROUGH HIS EXAMPLE. It IS said of the virtuous and amiable Fenelon, that his life was even more eloquent than his discourses.

IV. A FAITHFUL MINISTER "BEING DEAD, YET SPEAKETH," THROUGH THE MEMORY AND CONSCIENCE OF THEM THAT HEARD HIM.

(M. Leishman.)

St. Paul seems to make it part of the recompense of Abel that he speaketh, though dead. The speaking after death appears given as a privilege or reward; and it will be both interesting and instructive to survey it under such point of view.

I. Let us, therefore, examine, in the first place, THE FACT HERE ASSERTED OF ABEL, and then consider it as constituting a portion of his recompense — a recompense which, if awarded to one of the righteous, may lawfully be desired by all. We conclude that Adam was not left to invent a religion for himself when he carried with him from Paradise a prophetic notice of the seed of the woman. In the words which precede our text, the apostle states that "by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." It would be hard to define wherein the faith was exhibited, if not in the nature of the offering. Cain, as well as Abel, displayed faith in the existence of God, and owned in Him the Creator and Preserver. But Abel alone displayed faith in an appointed expiation, conforming himself, on a principle of faith, to what had been made a fundamental article in the theology of the guilty. So that, by and through his sacrifice and its consequences, was Abel the energetic preacher of the great scheme of redemption, the witness to our race, in the very infancy of its being, of a Mediator to be provided and a Mediator to be rejected. And not only then. He sealed his testimony with his blood, but he was not silenced by death. We still go to his sepulchre when we seek an eloquent and thrilling assertion of the peril of swerving from the revealed will of God. He rises up from the earth, which drank in the blood of his offering and then of himself, and warns the self-sufficient that their own guidance can lead them to nothing but destruction. I hear the utterances of this slaughtered worthy. They are utterances, loud and deep, against any one amongst us who is too philosophical for the gospel or too independent for a Redeemer. They denounce the rationalist who would make his theology from creation, the self-righteous who would plead his own merit, and the flatterer who would think that there may be a path to heaven which is not a path of tribulation.

II. And now let us consider the fact alleged in our text under THE LIGHT OF A RECOMPENSE TO ABEL. The manner in which the fact is introduced indicates that it was part of the reward procured to Abel by his faith, that he should be a preacher to every generation. But that with which a righteous man is rewarded must be a real good, and, as such, may justly be sought by those who copy his righteousness. This opens before us an interesting field of inquiry. If Abel were recompensed by the being appointed, as it were, a preacher to posterity, it seems to follow that it may fitly be an object of Christian desire to do good to after-generations, and that it is not necessarily a proud and unhallowed wish to survive dissolution and be remembered when dead. It cannot indeed become us as Christians to make our own fame or reputation our end; but it is another question whether Christianity afford no scope for the passion for distinction which beats so high and prompts to so much. Let it be, for example, a man's ruling desire that he may be instrumental in spreading through the world the knowledge of Christ, and we may say of him that he is actuated by a motive which actuates the Almighty Himself, and that there is something in his ambition which deserves to be called god-like. It is not possible that a grander aim should be proposed, nor a purer impulse obeyed, by any of our race. And where this ambition is entertained — and it is an ambition in which every true Christian must share — can there lawfully be no consciousness of the worth, no desire for the possession of the recompense awarded to Abel? We believe of this worthy that, having his own faith fixed on a propitiation for sin, he must have longed to bring others to a similar confidence. Would it then have been no recompense to him had he been assured that the memory of his sacrifice was never to perish? Could it have been a recompense only on the supposition that he craved human distinction and longed, like candidates for earthly renown, to transmit his name with honour to posterity? Not so. It has been for the good of the Church that Abel has preached, and still preaches, to the nations. Many, in every age, have been strengthened by his example, many animated by his piety, many warned by his death. Thus the result of his surviving his dissolution has been the furtherance of the objects which we may suppose most desired by Abel. And the like may be declared of others. I take the case of some great champion of the faith, some bold confessor, who zealously published the truth and then sealed it with his blood. The place where this man preached, and that where he died, are hallowed spots; and the tomb in which his ashes sleep is an altar on which successive generations consecrate themselves to God. The martyr survives the stake or the scaffold, and leads on in after-ages the armies of the Lord. The, tyrant who crushed him made him imperishable, and he died that he might be life to the faith of posterity. And is it not reward to the worthies of an earlier time that they are thus instrumental in upholding the doctrines which they contended for as truth; that they still publish the tenets in whose support they lifted up their voices till the world rang with the message; and that districts or countries are so haunted by their memories, that the righteous seem to have them for companions and to be cheered by their counsels? And who further will doubt that a reputation such as this, thus precious and profitable, might be lawfully desired by the most devoted of Christ's followers. There is something grand and ennobling about such ambition. It seems to me that the man who entertains and accomplishes the desire of witnessing for truth after death, triumphs over death in the highest possible sense. I could almost dare to say of such a man that he never dies.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

These are strange words, are they not? — a dead man speaking. Yet they are true, although Abel has been dead a long time. But we must attend to what Abel is saying just now to us, for he being dead is yet speaking.

1. He says, "Take care how you worship God." Do not be misled by bad examples. When you come to worship, come as Abel did, to worship before the Lord, and to hear what He says, and try to do it.

2. But Abel speaks this also — "Beware," he says, "of envy." The Bible tells us that Cain hated Abel, because Abel's works were good, while his were evil. Bad people always hate good people, just because they are good, and so different from themselves. They begin with envy, then envy becomes prejudice, and prejudice grows into spite, and then spite becomes hatred.

3. Abel's tone gets graver still when he says, "There are some things that can never be mended." No, never I When once Cain had struck that blow at his brother, could he bring Abel back to life again? When you are ten years old, can you go back and become just nine? When a man is thirty years old, can he ever again become ten? No; you see there are some things that can never be undone. Now the Lord says, they that seek Him early shall find Him.

4. But Abel also says, There is not such a thing as a secret. Cain thought, maybe, he could easily hide his crime. But no! God saw it.

(J. R. Howatt.)

Very little is known of Abel, of whom this is spoken, except that he represented before God the spiritual element, while his brother represented the carnal and the secular. He must have been a man whose moral nature was impressive, mild, gentle. Yet he produced an effect, not only upon his own time, but upon after times. This living after a man is gone, may almost be said to be a universal aspiration. Almost all men, when they rise out of the savage state, begin to come under the influence of this ambition. We are not content, either, with our individual sphere. We desire to be known and felt outside of ourselves, outside of our household, outside of our neighbourhood. And our satisfaction grows if we find that our life affects the life of larger communities, and goes out through the nation and through the world. To a highly poetic nature, it seems as though it were a kind of earthly immortality. There is, however, a great difference in men's ambitions for such prolonged life. There is a great difference in the moral values of this longing for extended being and influence. If it be the ambition of vanity; if men desire, while alive, to be felt in order that they may be praised; if their thought of other persons is simply how to draw from them revenue for themselves, or how they can make themselves idols, and make men believe that they are gods — if it be this, then it is a base and perverted form of that which is a very good thing in its nobler and higher form. And such men are very poor indeed, and contemptible, after death. Selfishness, by its own law, not only moves in simple circles, but is short-lived. What men do for themselves is soon expended, and is soon forgotten. Only that part of a man's life which includes other men's good, and especially the public good, is likely to be felt long after he himself is dead. The physical industries of this world have two relations in them — one to the actor and one to the public. Honest business is more really a contribution to the public than it is to the manager of the business himself. Who built that old mill which has ground the bread of two generations? Men do not know. His name may be on some mouldering stone in the graveyard. But it is the man who built it that is working in it still. It was his skill and engineering industry that put it up. The builders of stores, and warehouses, and shops, and dwellings, are not building them for wages merely. They build them upon contract, to be sure; but their interest in them does not expire with the fulfilment of that contract. It is not how much these things have done for them that limits their interest in them, but how much they were able, through these things, to make the brain work in the future, and so to incorporate their usefulness into the lower ranges and economies of human life. So not alone are those men benefactors who are warriors, and statesmen, and scholars, and poets. These other men, too, in a humbler way, but really, ought to have a share of our thought and credit. They who promote industry, and make it more prolific of profit, are benefactors. Oh! that men might know how much benefit there is in mechanical operations and in benevolent art! Oh! that men might take comfort in knowing that when they are dead they shall yet speak. Experience shows that these advances in physical things are more beneficently felt by the poor than by others. They are felt by the rich; but everything that contributes to the convenience and prosperity of the community, and so raises it in the scale, is, first or last, a greater benefit to the poor than to any others. It is not the selfish or personal element that prolongs one's life. A man that is dead is not to be remembered simply because he invented something. He is to be remembered because that which he invented goes on working benefit after he is dead. And so long as it is doing good to men, so long he is to be remembered. It is that which we do for the public good that makes our physical industries virtuous and beneficent. Next, men who organise their money into public uses, live as long as the benefaction itself serves the public. There is many a man who, having money, says to his right hand, to which the Lord denied the sculptor's art, "Thou shalt carve a statue"; and he takes some poor unfriended artist from the village, and endows him, and sends him to Rome, and brings him back, and puts him into life. Powers and Jacksons carve beauteous figures to last for generations; and it is the rich man who patronised them who is working through the men that he fashioned and formed. There is many a man who says, "Oh, tongue I thou art dumb; but thou shalt have tongues that shall speak." And he searches out from among the poor those that are ambitious to learn, and that are likely to become scholars, and puts them forward, and sees that they are educated. And thereafter this worthy minister, this true statesman, that wise and upright lawyer, and this unimpeachable judge, become, as it were, an extension of its own self. A man has the gift of wealth-amassing; and he says to himself, "Selfish gains will die with me, and be buried with me so far as I am concerned." And he thinks of the village where as a boy he played, and remembers its barrenness from want of taste and from poverty, and says, "I will go back there, and that village shall be made beautiful." And not only does he build there, within moderation, and with taste and beauty, a dwelling, but his house becomes the measure and the mark of all the houses in the neigbourhood. It is his fence that set all the people in the village putting their fences right. And more generous ideas in regard to houses and grounds are instilled into the minds of the young. And the young men and maidens, when they get married and settle down in life, exercise better taste in fitting up their homes. Their houses, though small and plain, are more tastefully planned, and there are more trees about their grounds, and more flowers in their gardens. There springs up on every side an imitation of that rich man's example. And in the course of twenty or twenty-five years, he will have generated the taste of the community. Or he goes beyond that. He inspires in all the neighbourhood a disposition for beauty by planting trees along the highway. And when he shall have been dead a hundred years, he will be remembered as the man who made that long walk of beauty. Not only may wealth be organised into institutions of secular pleasure and comfort and beauty, but it may be organised still more potently into institutions of mercy — into houses of refuge; into retreats for the unfortunate; into hospitals for the sick; into orphan asylums; into houses of industry and of employment. You will die in a score of years, perhaps; but not a score of centuries need slay the institution which you have reared. Oh I what a benefaction for any man that has money, and has faith to see how it can work after he has gone, and a heart to set it to work. Being dead, he speaks, and speaks chorally. But even more important are those institutions which go before society, march ahead, as it were, and by distributing intelligence and promoting virtue, prevent suffering. Take, for instance, that single foundation, the Bampton Lectures. A New England man, dying, left a fund the income of which every year was to be devoted to paying for a course of lectures which were to vindicate the authenticity of the Scriptures and the divinity of our Lord, and the evangelical religion. From that fund there has sprung a line of lectures that constitutes one of the most noble monuments of learning and piety that has been known in any language on the globe. Could money be made to work such important results in any other way? These endowments have in them immortality on earth. This is the reason why I say that men ought not to be poor if they can be rich. We may rise to a higher grade and to a more familiar ground, therefore, since it is more frequently inculcated in the pulpit. As virtue and spirituality are higher than physical qualities; as the wealth of society lies more in the goodness of Christian institutions and Christian men than in ease, or abundance, or pleasure, so he most wisely prolongs his life to after-days who so lives as to give form and perpetuity to spiritual influences. Whoever makes the simple virtues more honourable and attractive among men, prolongs his own life. The evil of untruth I need not expound to you. He who makes truth beautiful to men in his day; he who makes men want to be true, and seek after truth, and believe in it, becomes a benefactor. So that I think one single character in Walter Scott's novels is worth more than all the characters put together of many more fashionable novels. All who have opened the Divine nature to men; all who have developed to men higher moral truths, and made them like their daily bread; all who have lifted the life of the world up into a higher sphere — they, although dead, yet speak. They may not be spoken of; but, what is more to the point, they themselves speak, and speak the same language; and all the better, because when a man is dead the prejudices. and the imperfections that fingered about him are dead too. And then his voice becomes clearer, and his testimony is more widely received. Lastly, those who have the gift of embodying moral truths and noble experiences (which are the best truths that ever dawn on the world) in verse; those who have the power to give their higher thoughts and feelings the wings of poetry — they, being dead, speak far back. We hear Homer chanting yet, and chanting the best things that men knew in his day. And the world is still willing to listen to the oldest poet. And: he who has had permission to write one genuine hymn, to send forth one noble sonnet, to sing one stately epic, may well fold his wings and his hands, and say, "Now let Thy servant depart in peace." What are you doing? Young man, what do you propose? Will you build pyramids of stone, or will yon build pyramids of thought? He that puts his life into doing good; he that would purify men; he that would suffer for the sake of suffering men; he that puts the enginery of feeling and the power of business into the work of beneficence in this world, though he may be subject to obloquy, though he may be under a cloud, though he may lose himself, will be remembered when he is dead. The time will come when his name will shine out brighter than the morning star.

(H. W. Beecher.)

From what the apostle says of Abel in our text, we may consider him as the model speaker. It may seem strange to take this view of him when we do not know a single word that he ever spoke. "Actions speak louder than words."

I. THE MATTER OF ABEL'S SPEAKING, or what he spoke about. When a person is. going to make a speech, it is very important for him to choose a good subject. Abel did this. The thing to which the apostle here refers, as that by which Abel speaks to us, is the sacrifice which he offered. Abel was a model speaker because, by what he did, he spoke about Christ and His death. And this is the most important thing that any one can ever speak about.

1. This is an important subject to speak about, because we cannot be good till we know about Jesus and His death.

2. We cannot be happy till we know about Christ and His death.

3. We cannot be safe till we know about Jesus and His death.

II. Abel was a model speaker also because of the MANNER of his speaking. He spoke by his life, or actions; and there are three ways in which this made him a model speaker.

1. In the first place, it made him a plain speaker. Everybody who has heard what the Apostle Paul says about Abel's sacrifice, understands what it meant. When he spoke by that action, Abel was speaking plainly.

2. This made him a loud speaker. He spoke so loudly by that act, that all round the world, wherever the Bible has gone, the voice of what he did has been heard. And if we wish to speak so loudly, that we may be heard for a long time and to a great distance, we must speak by our actions, by doing what God tells us to do.

3. Abel was a model speaker, because the action by which he spoke made him an effectual speaker. The action of Abel in offering his sacrifice spoke very effectually to the Apostle Paul. And nothing that Abel could have said by words about the sacrifice of Christ would have had so much effect in making people feel the importance of that sacrifice as his quiet action in standing by his altar and presenting on it the sacrifice which God had commanded to be offered.

(R. Newton, . D. D.)

There is a double solemnity in the life that we lead. We believe we are to be judged at God's bar for the deeds done in the body; but by those same deeds we are doomed to help or hurt all with whom we are or shall be connected here below. This is not an arbitrary decree: it is the necessary condition of human life. It is a monitory, and at the same time a cheering doctrine. One might think the joyful side of the alternative would alone suffice to make every man good and faithful. As the tree dies, but in its very decay nourishes the roots of a new forest; as the little silkworm dies, but his fine fabric does not perish; as the coral-insect dies, but his edifice breaks the angry wave that has traversed the ocean, and becomes the foundation of greenness and future harvests: so, when you die, be your place lofty or lowly, your self-sacrificing endeavours shall leave enduring riches and a moral bulwark. With what new interest does this thought clothe all the relations of human life! It speaks to you, parents. The dead speak, however brief the term of the moral career, and even though that career be closed while the moral nature still sleeps in God's own charge. The little child, fading like a tender plant, has not wholly perished even from the earth. Though it came but to smile and die, yet has it left an influence not fleeting, but long abiding. That gentle image of innocence, that strange power of patience, shall soften your heart, and make it move with tender sympathy to the distresses of your kind, even to the end of your own days. But a peculiar power belongs to those who have been wayfarers upon earth, who have fought the battle of life, and gained the victory over temptation. They encourage me in my toils; they say to me, "Here is the end of thy griefs"; they warn me against the indulgence of my errors and sins —

"Soft rebukes in blessings ended,

Breathing from their lips of air."What, then, are we doing, what principles cherishing, what dispositions manifesting? How shall we reappear to the contemplative eye of those who shall here outlive us? How would you return in the survivor's memory, were you now to receive from God your summons? As a faithful father who let slip no opportunity to train up his offspring in the way of virtue, who never sacrificed the welfare of his family to his own pursuit of profit and pelf, but sought for them the treasure that is better than gold? And how would it be with you, children, were you called out of the world? You would not utterly vanish. Your parents, at least, would still behold you? Would it be with unmingled satisfaction that your reappearing images would inspire them? But the appeal is to every mortal. "No man liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself." Place thyself in thought on the other side of the grave, and, with reverted eye, mark how it will be. From that position, dost thou look back, and see selfishness, meanness, pride, envy, lust, passion, absorbing love of the world, all from thy life working ruin. according to their nature, on thy associates and fellow-men? God forbid!

(C. A. Bartol.)

Who can estimate the influence of the great departed on successive generations? Achilles, the Grecian hero, as described by Homer, is said to have formed Alexander, and Napoleon had the Macedonian conqueror ever before his mind. Julius Caesar was the hero of Wellington, and the Commentaries of that Roman general were, like the Iliad to Alexander, his constant text-book. Socrates and Plato, Aristotle and Euclid, have long held sway in the schools of the learned, and continue to form the minds of modern youth as they did those of old. Moses moulded Hebrew legislation, and David gave to his nation a character. Luther breathed his ardent spirit into the piety and church of his fatherland, and Calvin's clear intellect and systematic thought pervaded a large portion of Christendom. The myriad-minded Shakespeare, the sententious Bacon, the translators of the Bible in their expressive Saxon, moulded English literature, while the galaxy of illustrious statesmen, warriors, and merchants of bygone days, made England what it has become. Wallace and Bruce, Knox and Melville, are the representative men of Scotland, and the fathers of their country.

(S. Steel.)

"The cedar," says a Christian writer, "is the most useful when dead. It is the most productive when its place knows it no more. There is no timber like it. Firm in the grain, and capable of the finest polish, the tooth of no insect will touch it, and Time himself can hardly destroy it. Diffusing a perpetual fragrance through the chambers which it ceils, the worm will not corrode the book which it protects, nor the moth corrupt the garment which it guards; all but immortal itself, it transfuses its amaranthine qualities to the objects around it. Every Christian is useful in his life, but the goodly cedars are the most useful afterwards. Luther is dead, but the Reformation lives. Bunyan is dead, but his bright spirit still walks the earth in his 'Pilgrim's Progress.' Baxter is dead, but souls are quickened by the 'Saints' Rest.' Elliot is dead, but the missionary spirit is young. Howard is dead, but modern philanthropy is only commencing its career. Raikes is dead, but the Sunday-schools go on."

Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.
The Amazon, the River Plata, Orinoco, Mississippi, Zaire, Senegal, Indus, Ganges, Yangtsee, or Irawaddy, &c., &c. — these, and such like stupendous rivers, extend their influence to a considerable distance from the coast, and occasionally perplex and delay the navigator in open sea, who finds himself struggling against a difficulty wholly unconscious of the cause. The River Plata, at a distance of six hundred miles from the mouth of the river, was found to maintain a rate of a mile an hour; and the Amazon, at three hundred miles from the entrance, was found running nearly three miles per hour, its original direction being but little altered, and its water nearly fresh. We are reminded by this of other influences which also lose their form, but not their force. Though the man dies, his influence still lives. He no longer acts upon the world in the capacity of public speaker, writer or statesman, but his influence has gone forth and joined the great ocean of thought. The sect or party changes its form and loses its individuality, but its influence has gone forth and is felt in the current of opinion. All the separate and distinct influences of men and sects become universalised in the great sea of eternity.

(Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)

Scientific Illustrations and Symbols
When, says Louis Figuier, the leaves have performed their functions, when the fruits have appeared, matured, ripened, vegetation has entered into a new phase; the leaves lose their brilliant green and assume their autumnal tint. A certain air of sadness pervades these ornaments of our fields which proclaims their approaching dissolution. The leaves, withered and deformed, will soon cumber the ground to be blown hither and thither by the wind. But when separated from the vegetable which has given birth to and matured them, they are not lost to the earth which receives them. Everything in nature has its use, and leaves have their uses also in the continuous circle of vegetable reproduction. The leaves which strewed the ground at the foot of the trees, or which have been disseminated by the autumn winds over the country, perish slowly upon the soil, where they are transformed into the humus, or vegetable moulds, indispensable to the life of plants. Thus the debris of vegetable purposes for the coming and formation of a new vegetation. Death prepares for new life; the first and the last give their hands, so to speak, in vegetable nature, and form the mysterious circle of organic life which has neither beginning nor end. When man has performed his functions here and ended his labours, he too fades like the leaf, and is borne away by the cold breeze of death. But like the leaf in death, so man, though dead, ministers to the living. He has not merely consumed so much of the productions of the earth, leaving nothing in return. He has left behind him his thoughts, his act, his example, his experiences, written or unwritten, and these will all perform their valuable ministration to the living, as do those leaves of autumn to the younger life which grows over their graves.

(Scientific Illustrations and Symbols)

About the middle of the seventeenth century, the venerable John Flavel was settled at Dartmouth, where his labours were greatly blessed. On one occasion he preached from these words: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maranatha." The discourse was unusually solemn. At the conclusion of the service, when Mr. Flavel arose to pronounce the benediction, he paused, and said, "How shall I bless this whole assembly, when every person in it who loveth not the Lord Jesus Christ is anathema, maranatha?" The solemnity of this address deeply affected the audience, and one gentleman, a person of rank, was so much overcome by his feelings, that he fell senseless to the floor. In the congregation was a lad named Luke Short, then about fifteen years old, a native of Dartmouth, who, shortly after the event just narrated, entered into the seafaring line, and sailed to America, where he passed the rest of his life. Mr. Short's life was lengthened much beyond the usual term; and when a hundred years old, he had sufficient strength to work on his farm, and his mental faculties were very little impaired. Hitherto he had lived in carelessness and sin; he was now a "sinner a hundred years old," and apparently ready to "die accursed." But one day, as he sat in his field, he busied himself in reflecting on his past life. Recurring to the events of his youth, his memory fixed upon Mr. Flavel's discourse, already alluded to, a considerable part of which he was able to recollect. The affectionate earnestness of the preacher's manner, the important truths which he delivered, and the effects produced on the congregation, were brought fresh to his mind. The blessing of God accompanied his meditations; he felt that he had not "loved the Lord Jesus Christ"; he feared the dreadful "anethema"; conviction was followed by repentance, and at length this aged sinner obtained peace through the blood of Christ, and was found "in the way of righteousness." He joined the Congregational church in Middleborough, and till the period of his death, which took place in his one hundred and sixteenth year, he gave pleasing evidence of true piety.

(K. Arvine.)

New Cyclopaedia of Illustrations.
Da Vinci's famous painting of "The Lord's Supper," originally adorning the dining-room of a convent, has suffered such destruction from the ravages of time, war, and abuse, that none of its original beauty remains. Yet it has been copied and engraved; and impressions of the great picture have been multiplied through all civilised lands. Behold a parable of posthumous influence.

(New Cyclopaedia of Illustrations.)

Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.
Some stars are so distant that their beams may have occupied thousands of years in journeying to the earth, and yet these bodies, if suddenly annihilated, would still continue to shine upon us for thousands of years to come. So, too, there are great men whose existence has long since terminated, but the influence of whose spirit still irradiates our world. Milton, Shakespeare, and Christ, though gone from our sphere, still shine upon it as spiritual stars of the first magnitude.

(Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)

Between the sowing and the reaping there may be a long interval. The hand that gave either the rich man's abundance or the poor widow's farthing for the spread of the gospel, and the lip that either falteringly or eloquently spoke for Christ, may lie cold in the grave; but the good seed sowed in God's husbandry shall yet yield a glorious harvest. I have seen a little four-paged tract, written half a century ago, that recently found its way into a heathen hamlet, and converted a whole household. There lives on yonder Pacific coast a faithful follower of Jesus whose youthful waywardness brought down a parent's grey head in sorrow to the grave. But the while her weeping words of prayer had buried themselves deep in the boy's bosom; and when they told him of her death it was as if a spirit had come back from eternity to glide through his chambers of imagery, breathing again her tender words, and looking on him with her eyes of weeping love — and the strong man was a child again, a child of grace — yea, a child of glory.

(C. Wadsworth.)

When the sun goes below the horizon he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure. And when a great and good man sets, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goes he leaves behind much of himself. Being dead he speaks.

(H. W. Beecher.)

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