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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding"?

God, then, had in His own mind a pattern, or design, of all the work that was before him, before He uttered a word, or His spirit began to move.

This design, or archetype, which placed the beginning and the end of all things before Him in one panoramic view, was constructed in harmony with the principles -- the eternal principles of His vast, unbounded realm; which coincide with the immutable attributes of His character.

The work He was about to execute was for His own pleasure; as, saith the scripture, "Thou hast created all things; and for thy pleasure they are, and were created".

But, when the work is finished, which, for His own pleasure, God labours to elaborate, what will it consist in?

This inquiry we make as the spectators of the wonders of creation, providence, and redemption.

We behold the materials of these departments of Eternal Wisdom, and we ask to what are all things tending?

What temple, or edifice, is the Divine Architect raising for His own pleasure and glory?

If we turn our thoughts within us, there is no voice there which unfolds the philosophy of His doing; if we soar into the heavens, or descend into the sea; if we search through the high places of the earth -- we find no answer; for "Who hath known the mind of the Lord, who hath been his counsellor, or who hath instructed him?

" If we would ascertain what God designs to elaborate out of the past, the present, and the future, we must be content to assume the attitude of listeners, that He may reveal to us from His own lips what He intends to evolve in the consummation of His plans.

God, then, has caused a book to be written for our information as to His design -- His ultimate purpose in the works of creation, providence, and redemption, which are the three grand divisions of His labour; and which are all tending to the development of one great and glorious consummation.

This Book, so graciously bestowed, and so inimitably written, is vernacularly styled the bible (oJ bivblo"); or, scripturally, the writings (aiJ grafaiv) and sometimes the holy writings.

These are divided into two parts, popularly styled the Old and New Testaments.

The appeals made by Jesus and his apostles to the writings were to what is now termed the Old Testament; for there were no other writings acknowledged then.

The New Testament was not written in the beginning of the apostolic era.

Indeed it was not so much needed then; for the apostles taught orally the things, which afterwards they in part committed to writing.

The breathings of the spirit, enunciated through the spiritual men of the churches, supplied the place which the New Testament now occupies.

The writings of the prophets, which are the root and foundation of the New Testament, and without the understanding of which the latter is unintelligible aright, are divided into "the law and the testimony"; or "the law, the prophets, and the psalms"; altogether they are styled the word.

This, with "the testimony for Jesus" left on record by the apostles, makes the "word of the Lord" to us, which lives and abides for ever.

All writers and speakers must be unceremoniously tried by this; for, God hath said, that "if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them".

It matters not who the sinner may be; pope, cardinal, archbishop, bishop, minister, or their admirers; or, even one of the saints of God, or an angel himself; nothing he may say, or write, must be received unless in strict conformity to this word; and of this the people must judge for themselves upon their own responsibility; and in the face of their eternal weal, or rejection from the Kingdom of God.

To this Book, then, we appeal for light -- for information concerning the things which shall be hereafter.

If we take up an ordinary book, how could we proceed to ascertain the end the author had in writing his book?