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Gen 4:16-17

After Cain had slain his brother Abel, he is said to have "gone out from the presence of the Lord." The word presence does not express the idea intended to be conveyed. The true rendering is face. "And Cain went out from the face of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod toward the east of Eden." This describes the spiritual result, which followed in the Cainite sect consequent upon the destruction and complete elimination of the principle of charity denoted by Abel.

We can all see that no one can be separated from the omnipresent God; for it is written: "whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up to heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. Yea, darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to thee."

From this we see that something deeper is involved in the statement "that Cain went out from the face of the Lord" than is indicated by the mere letter. What is the deeper meaning?

The Divine Word frequently speaks of the Lord's presence, also of His face; and, thought of spiritually, these two expressions mean very different conditions. The understanding is the created receptacle of the Lord's truth: and it is by means of the Divine truth in the understanding that man perceives the Lord's presence. The will is the created receptacle of the Lord's love; and it is by means of the Divine love in the will that man sees the Lord's face. "Presence," then, refers to the understanding and "face" to the will.

The sect called Cain, in this story, retained many truths in the understanding; and in that sense did not lose the Lord's presence; for He was present by means of their knowledge of truth; but this sect departed entirely from the principle and life of charity; they averted and turned their wills away from the Divine love; and that is what is meant by Cain going out from the face of the Lord.

A man's face is an index of his heart. He may prevent his thoughts from appearing before men, but he cannot prevent the affections of his heart from showing themselves in his face. Modesty cannot do otherwise than blush when it is offended. Guilt, when brought home to a man, makes the face turn pale. This is a law. God's face is therefore used in the Bible, to denote His love. Thus all who are in deep charity of life see the Lord's face. The Cainites had departed from charity; they were in mere faith alone; therefore Cain, the name given, to the sect which separated from the Adamic Church, and which exalted faith above charity, lost the perception of the Divine love - went out or away from the Lord's face.

Going farther and farther away from the thought and practice of charity, they came into a state of mind represented, in this allegory, by the Land of Nod. This land was not a geographic locality. It means almost the same thing that Is indicated by the "far country" in the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is an untranslated Hebrew word, and means literally a state of exile and vagabondism. Cain said of himself: "I shall be a fugitive and vagabond in the earth." This, as we have seen, indicated the internal state of the Cainites. Their hearts ran away from every obligation of charity and their understandings had no settled convictions on questions of right and wrong. This was their spiritual state.

Now, it is a spiritual law that one's internal state will ultimately lead one into an environment that corresponds to it. This law worked a change in the spiritual environment of the Cainites. They withdrew from the influence of the Divine love and came and dwelt in an external state denoted by the land of Nod. When a man gives way to doubt and uncertainty in regard to the things of faith, he becomes a mental wanderer and has no spiritual habitation; and if goodness is excluded from the heart at the same time, such a man begins to regard all matters of faith and religious truth as things of mere human speculation. No man can retain a clear belief in the truth unless he is in the endeavor to live a life of charity. The faith of the disobedient man is a wandering thing; he is driven about by every wind of doctrine. Faith without charity is therefore weak and unstable, and the heart has no defense against the inrush of evils of every kind.

This was realized in the lives of the Cainites. This is what is meant by Cain going out from the face of God and dwelling in the land of Nod.

But notice one thing: The land of Nod was toward the east of Eden. Here we see a great mercy. The east is the symbol of the Lord - the source of all spiritual heat and light. Eden is the symbol of the love that turns the mind toward the Lord and disposes it to receive light from Him. So when it is said that Cain dwelt in Nod toward the east of Eden, there is conveyed the idea that there still remained with the Cainites the capacity of knowledge concerning what was genuinely good and true. Their understandings were toward the east of Eden. Their minds were not, at this time, wholly closed against the knowledge of truth: They still retained the capacity of knowing the truth.

We see this in our own day. There are men who are driven hither and thither doctrinally, who are in fluctuating and doubtful states; and yet they dwell toward the east of Eden - have capacity left for believing in the good and the true. All such can be rescued. Many such have been rescued and brought into beautiful states of faith and life. But they must be rescued. If not, they finally close the way toward the east of Eden and come into the dreadful state that results from the infernal marriage of evil and falsity in their minds.

This happened to the Cainites. It is told in the story of Cain knowing his wife in the land of Nod. The wife is introduced, into the story of the spiritual decline of this sect of the Most Ancient Church, to represent the state of it when it went out from what is denoted by the face of the Lord.

The faith that belongs to the understanding is as a husband and the love that belongs to the will is as a wife. In a state of regeneration, the faith of the understanding is married to love in the will. This is the heavenly marriage of good and truth. But in the unregenerate, falsity in the understanding is married to evil in the will. This is the infernal marriage of evil and falsity. The former constitutes heaven, the latter constitutes hell.

The Cainites were in faith alone; Cain's wife was the affection in the heart for that doctrine. It was there from the beginning; for it is not said that he found and married his wife in the land of Nod, but that he knew her in the land of Nod.

What does this mean? It means that the Cainites came into a moral state in which they made prominent, confirmed and were conjoined to the affection in their hearts for the doctrine, for the heresy, of salvation by faith alone. This became the permanent state of the people called Cain. They were closely conjoined to the affection that grew up in their hearts for the persuasion of faith separate from charity.

The heresy of faith alone became then the parent of other heresies. Enoch, who is said to have been born to Cain, was another heresy that sprang up in this schismatic branch of the Most Ancient Church. And from it other heresies descended, like sons from a father. Thus it is said: "Unto Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begat Mehujeal, and Mehujeal begat Methusael and Methusael begat Lamech." These names stand for derivitive heresies in the Cainite line of departure from Adam.

The city which Cain is said to have built, and named after his son Enoch, represents the doctrine which the Cainites constructed as an intellectual dwelling place for the heresy of faith alone. This very thing has been done over again in the Christian Church. The doctrine of the vicarious atonement, and the imputed righteousness of Christ, whereby the sinner is saved by mere faith alone, is the city Cain built for his son in Protestant Christianity.