the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
This name was given to Cain by the Lord himself; and it should seem that he, on whom the Lord pronounced the sentence, whatever it might in its fullest sense mean, felt the awfulness of it; for he mentions it with peculiar distress when declaring "his punishment to be greater than he could bear." (See Genesis 4:12-14) I am inclined to think that the word contains more in it than is generally supposed. In the sentence on Cain, it is joined with the word fugitive; so that while, according to our ideas; a vagabond implies a state of restlessness and of wandering, a fugitive carries with it the notion of flight. So that in both, the person was without rest, and always on flight, like Pashur, whose name was Magor-missabib; that is, as the margin of the Bible renders it, fear round about. (Jeremiah 20:3) Even in this point of view the case was truly awful.
I cannot but think, however, that there was much more in Cain's sentence concerning these terms of a fugitive and a vagabond, than what is here supposed. The reader will remember that I do not speak decidedly upon the subject, but only propose my views of the passage. I would humbly enquire, doth not the term mean an everlasting unsettledness and fear, when it is considered on whom the sentence was pronounced, and the cause for which it was passed? Cain had not only murdered his brother, but had rejected, by his offering without a sacrifice, the salvation by Christ: yea, the very murder of his brother was induced from this cause, "because the Lord had respect to Abel and to his offering, but unto Cain and to his offering he had not." The Holy Ghost explains the causeâ€”Abel offered by faith. (Hebrews 11:4) Cain did not. Abel had an eye, by his sacrifice, to Christ, and as such, confessed himself a sinner, who stood in need of salvation. Cain trusted to his own righteousness and was rejected: and hence the Lord said, "If thou doest wellâ€”that is, if thou offerest a pure, unblemished, perfect obedience; shalt thou not be accepted?" As if the Lord had said, whosoever seeks acceptance in himself and his own well-doing, it must be wholly and completely so: a failure in a single point is a failure in all. Cain failed, and hence, became a fugitive and a vagabond; and that for ever. "So that the term can with it, an exclusion from that rest which remain for the people of God." (Hebrews 4:9; Isaiah 28:1-29; Matthew 11:28-30; Psalms 116:7)
I beg once more to be understood, while speaking upon the subject, that I do not speak decidedly. I only conceive that the word vagabond hath somewhat in it of a reprobate state; and I am the more confirmed in this opinion from what Satan said of himself, Job 1:7. He describes himself in the same state of a vagabond. And it is remarkable that the Holy Ghost, by his servant John, declares Cain to be of that wicked one, when speaking of the children of the devil; (see 1 John 3:10-12) And I would ask whether those vagabond Jews spoken of, Acts 19:13, were not of the same race? Jeremiah speaks to the same purport, if I mistake not, (Jeremiah 6:30) under the figure of reprobate silver.
Whether the conjecture be, or be not well founded, certain it is that in Scripture language a vagabond carries with it a high degree of odium, and ought not to be brought into use in common life, as it is too often is done to describe the persons of wandering poor. Many a child of God, it is to be hoped, are among those poor who are removed from parish to parish, and whose poverty is their only reproach. To call such vagabonds, if the Scripture sense of the word be as I have before stated, is unsuitable in man, and offensive to God.
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Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Vagabond'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​pmd/​v/vagabond.html. London. 1828.