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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

God only is the source of light; He is the glorious illuminator of the moral universe; and He transmits His enlightening radiance through the medium, sometimes of angels, sometimes of prophets, and at others through that of His Son and the apostles, by His all-pervading Spirit.

Hence it is that the scripture saith, "God is light," whose truth "enlightens the eyes".

But what is the truth?

It is "the light of the glorious gospel of Christ," who is the polished incorruptible fleshly mirror, which reflects the Image of God -- an image, at present, but obscurely impressed upon the fleshy tablets of our hearts; because we know only in part, perceiving things by the eye of faith, until hope shall disappear in the possession of the prize.

God, then, is the source of light; the gospel of the kingdom in the name of Jesus is the light; and Christ is the medium through which it shines; hence he is styled the Sun of Righteousness; also, "the true, light, which enlighteneth every man, that cometh into the world"; "a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel".

Now, the enlightening of every man is thus explained by the apostle: "God," saith he, "who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, is he who hath shined into our (the saints') hearts, with the illumination of the knowledge (pro;" fwtismo;n th`" gnwvsew") of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ".

But "every man" is not enlightened by this glorious knowledge; for to some it is hid.

The tablets of their hearts are so corroded and encrusted with opaque and sordid matter that they are destitute of all reflecting power.

Light will not shine in a black surface.

Hence, saith the apostle, "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of the world hath blinded the minds of them who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine into them".

He darkens the tablets of their hearts by "the care of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches"; and thus prevents them from opening their ears to hear the words of eternal life.

If a man have fight, then, it is very evident that it is acquired from without, and not an hereditary spark within.

When the Lord Jesus appeared in Israel "he shined in the darkness".

This nation was so darkened by the propensities and human tradition, that they did not perceive the light when it shined among them; "the darkness comprehended it not".

If this were the condition of Israel, how intensely dark must have been the world at large.

Still, the Gentile mind was not so totally eclipsed as that of the savage.

The nations of the Four Empires had been greatly mixed up with the Israelites in their history; so that the light of their law must have been considerably diffused among them; though not given to them for their obedience.

Hence, "the work of the law was written upon their hearts" to some extent; and created in them "a conscience, by the thoughts of which they accused or excused one another".

This shining of the truth in the darkness of the nations was considerably increased by the apostolic labours; for "their sound went into all the land, and their words unto the end of the habitable" ( th oicoumevnh ," or Roman Empire).

Now, although this light was almost extinguished by the apostasy, lamps were still kept burning in its presence; so that the eclipse was not so total that the darkness of the Gentile mind was reduced to a savage state.

When the scriptures were again disseminated in the tongues of the nations in the sixteenth century, the light of truth began again to stream in upon them.

The scriptures were then like a book just fallen from heaven.

The world was astonished at their contents; but "comprehended them not".