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THE DEATH OF ABEL.
UPON the rejection of Cain's sacrifice, and the acceptance of Abel's, the wrath of the vindictive brother broke out into a paroxysm which terminated in a most unnatural and horrible murder. It is supposed that Cain, shortly after God's expostulation with him on the subject of his unjust anger, enticed Abel to a distance from his home, and then having first provoked him to a quarrel, treacherously put him to death. "And Cain talked with Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him." Here was realised one of the most awful issues of sin. This is the first event of a very afflicting nature mentioned in Scripture after the fall, and it was, in truth, a sad evidence to Adam, that "the wages of sin is death." His best beloved son was torn from him by the desperate ferocity of a brother, who was henceforth to bear the mark of God's curse to the end
of his days. To Cain the ground refused its supplies. He became a fugitive and a vagabond upon earth, and was shunned as a creature under the ban of Omnipotence. The miserable man, after he had heard the divine denunciation, "went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden." The time chosen by the artist is after the accomplishment of the murder. Abel is extended on a rocky eminence, and his mother lying beside him overcome by grief and horror. The head of her dead son rests upon her lap. Adam has fallen on one knee; his eyes are raised to heaven in a transport of agony, with an expression of silent reproach at the severity of the divine visitation. The scene around is wild and desolate, the perfect antipodes of that paradise in which the first man and woman had once dwelt. At a distance are visible the altars, which had been raised by the brothers for their respective oblations. On Abel's the fire still burns, on Cain's it is extinct, and just above the latter the fiery blast of God's wrath pursues the flying murderer.
"IN the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened."* The artist has endeavoured to represent this terrible scene in its most fearful and destructive climax. The abruption of the great deep is taking place at this dreadful moment. The whole frame of nature is dislocated and convulsed. The sun, the moon and a comet are in conjunction in the sky, portending ruin, desolation, and death. On the right hand side of the picture, the waters are seen rushing down into an almost interminable gulf, formed by the upper crust of the earth giving way, and yawning to its inmost depths to receive them. Just beyond, the lower region of a precipitous mountain is crowded with persons and animals, exhibiting the most frantic expressions of horror. The former are some praying and some blaspheming, while the latter are howling their terrors to the conflicting elements. Beneath an extensive ledge on which they stand, the foaming billows are pouring downward in one wild hissing vortex, which bears away thousands in its mighty sweep. The rocks above, torn by a thunderbolt from the crest of the mountain, are toppling down upon the agonized multitude. Beyond the horizontal line the mountains are bursting, rocks are upheaved, the ocean rises from its bed, while the sluices of the skies are unlocked, and the torrents which pour from them obscure the sun. In the mean time the ark rests midway upon a mountain in the distance, the holy family waiting until the arm of Providence shall raise the water to float it upon its unruffled bosom; the strife of nature being removed beyond the immediate vicinity of this frail sanctuary, by the express agency of God.