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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

The Cherubim and sword were to guard the Way of the Tree, so that it could not be approached.

If they were disposed to make a circuit to avoid the Cherubim, the flaming sword, or devouring flame, flashed on every side; "it turned every way to keep it" from being invaded by their presumption.

From this arrangement, they either saw the tree of life no more; or, saw it only in the distance.

The latter is the more probable.

The sight of it from time to time would remind them of what they had lost; and, from what they had learned of the effect producible upon the eater of its fruit, it suggested the possibility of mortal man putting on immortality.

This was a thing to be desired.

But they could not get at the tree; how could they then attain it?

There were but two of them, and neither of them could answer the question.

There were no scriptures testifying to them as to us, "This is the way, walk ye in it" They were ignorant of "the way leading unto life"; and, if they had not been "taught of God," they would have remained ignorant of it for ever.

The thinking of the flesh could never have discovered it; for the obtaining of immortality involved the belief and practice of things which it was utterly impossible for the heart of man to conceive.

We have an illustration of this in the endeavour of the heathen philosophers to solve the problem.

Being ignorant of God's knowledge they ran into the most absurd speculations.

They thought that immortality was a sort of ghost inside of a man that went to the fields of Elysium when death dissolved its union with the body.

They regarded this innate principle as a particle of the divine essence from which proceeded all virtuous actions; while vice was the natural result of the operation of the matter of the body, which was essentially malignant.

The apostle refers to this in part when he says, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools".

Hence, he styles "the wisdom of the wise" "foolishness"; and, as the Corinthians had received the gospel of the kingdom, which teaches a very different doctrine, he inquires of them, "Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

" Has He not shown the absurdity of their speculations about "souls," "immortality," and "the nature of the gods"?

They had no idea of immortality being conferred only upon men who might be accounted worthy of a certain kingdom.

This was a doctrine which the flesh, with all its thinking, and with all its logic, had no conception of.

It never thought of the kingdom of God and the name of a particular personage, as the channel through which immortality was to flow.

It was lost in reveries about Elysium and Tartarus: and the river Styx which flowed between them; and about Charon and his ferry-boat; and ghosts; and three-headed Cerberus; and the snake-haired Furies; and Pluto, "king of hell".

But of "glory, honour, incorruptibility, and life," an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance, the recompense or reward to the subjects of a righteousness by faith -- of such a "prize" as this, to be sought after by doing the will of God, they were as utterly ignorant as an unborn babe.

Well might the apostle say in the language of the prophet, "Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither have entered into the heart of men, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.