“By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.”—Hebrews 11:4
The Holy Ghost hath here marked down, by his servant the apostle, in the very first offerings which we read of in the bible, the vast importance of faith; by which it most decidedly proves, that it is faith which gives efficacy to all the offerings of his creatures. Faith in what? Nay—there can be but one view of faith throughout the word of God; namely, faith in the promised seed to bruise the serpent’s head. This was the first promise which came in upon the fall. Every offering, therefore, offered unto God, unless it had an eye to this, became offensive. Cain did not offer the first-fruits of the ground with an eye of faith in Christ—hence, he was the first deist the world ever knew. Abel, by faith, offered the firstlings of his flock with an eye to Jesus—and hence the testimony that God respected his offering. What a striking evidence is here, ray soul, of the vast and infinite importance of faith. Cain made an offering to God, and by so doing, he did, as the deists now do, acknowledge God to be his Creator; but not looking to him as a Redeemer, and thereby intimating that he needed none, both his person and his offering were rejected. Meditate on this, my soul, and learn by grace to mix faith in all that concerns thy soul. Oh keep an eye on Jesus, convinced that “there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” And if, through the gracious teachings of the Spirit, in taking of the things of Jesus, and shewing them unto thee, thou art able daily to apprehend by faith, and bring him (as the bee doth from the flower) his person, his work, his character, his relations, his grace, and righteousness, as the sent, and sealed, and anointed, of the Father, full of grace and truth; by thus living upon him, and living to him, and making him what he is to all his people, the Alpha and Omega of thy salvation; faith in him will give a sweet leaven to all thy poor prayers, and praises, and offerings, and thou wilt find favour with God, to the praise of the glory of his grace, who maketh thee accepted in the Beloved.
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."