“Wo unto them, for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsayings of Core.”
Cain was a religious man; his religion was of a kind of which he could claim to be the author, and was consequently new schoolism, or a new kind in his day. In its external form it was something like that revealed to Abel from heaven; for he offered sacrifices to the Lord, and doubtless the best he had, as it was the fruit of the ground; and he also appeared to indulge a sincere belief that his offering would be as acceptable as that of his brother Abel. Abel offered of the firstlings of his flock, and the fat thereof; and the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering; but unto Cain, and unto his offering, he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and in the issue killed his brother. This was the first religious quarrel in which blood was shed, that had ever occurred in the world. The difference between the religion of Cain and that of his brother Abel, will more fully appear by considering the way of Cain. The way of Cain was a way of his own, contrived by himself, and unauthorized by the God of heaven, and consequently unaccepatble to the Lord; neither Cain nor his religion were respected; for the way of Cain did not recognize the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty; and he was evidently unwilling that the Lord should distinguish, single out, elect, or respect Abel and not himself, or of the same lump make one to honor and another to dishonor. The government of the Lord he was unrecondiled to; yet he could be, and was, a religious man. His way, however, was not God’s way, nor his thoughts God’s thoughts; hence all his ardent piety and zeal availed him nothing. His offering, we have said, was unquestionably the best that he could command; and human reason would decide that it was as good as any part of Abel’s flock; but those who have been taught by the Spirit of God will discover that while Cain’s religion was a system, m modern language called Arminianism, Abel’s was all of grace, in its figurative import. The sacrifice of Cain was the fruit of his industry, he being an EFFORT man, and the product of that ground then groaning under the curse of God for man’s sake; “And who can bring a clean thing out “of an unclean? Not one.” While Abel’s lamb was not the fruit of his work, but, like Jacob’s. savory mean, was made ready to his hand, and pointed figuratively to the blessed Lamb which Abraham told his son. Isaac, God would provide himself with for an offering; and which was more fully manifested when the ancient Baptist, on the shore of Jordan, saw the Holy Ghost in visible form. like a dove, descend and rest upon him as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. Hence while Cain’s religion was a system of Arminianisms, Abel’s was a system of grace; the former showing what Cain had done,. the latter what God would do. The first, mere human invention, the second, a divine appointment; the way of Cain to be defended by force of arms; the religion of Abel, by that God to whom Abel’s blood cried from the ground. Now let an inquiry be made. Who are they in our time that have gone, or are going, in the way of Cain?
But, secondly. “Run greedily after the error of Balaam.” Balaam was a prophet; but not approved of God; although he as well as the beast upon which he rode, were constrained to declare some truth. Balaam was a missionary, and had a mind to go among the heathen and prophesy for Balak, king of Moab, to which work he had a call; and, like many of his kind in our day who love his error, he asked permission of the Lord, and was suffered. Whatever might have been the outfit of this famous foreign missionary, the formation of a special board was superceded by the royal bounty of Balak; as it appears that Balaam had only to arise and saddle his ass, and away he went to prophesy in a foreign land, moved not by the love of God, nor regard to men; but he loved the wages of unrighteousness, and he taught Balak to cause Israel to sin.
Let us again inquire seriously. Are there any in this our day, who love the error of Balaam? If there are, wo to them! thy shall perish in the gainsayings of Core, or Korah. The account of Korah and his company, their gainsayings, rebellion, and awful end, are given in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Numbers. Korah, in an unhallowed union of effort with Dathan and Abiram, and their men, made an unauthorized attempt to assume the priesthood; and like many of our young men of the Theological School, denied the reality of any special call to the work of the ministry; and while in the very act of disputing the point with the Lord’s ministers, the earth opened her month and swallowed them up alive.
The awfully solemn considerations involved in the foregoing subject, cannot fail to produce emotions of the deepest interest in the hearts of all who fear the Lord and tremble at his word, to see the thousands who are at this day so very tenacious of the way of Cain; or a way, like his, unauthorized by the Lord, and in which they may offer to the Lord unholy offerings; such, for instance, as their sinful hearts, their filthy lucre, their unconverted infants or their dead works; and the multitude of greedy dogs, who love the wages of unrighteousness as well as their ancient missionary brother Balaam did, and who are hurrying on after his error, believing gain to be Godliness, and at the same time knowing as we do, that as God is true, they shall assuredly perish in the gainsayings of Core.
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
January 15, 1836.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 272 – 275