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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

This is styled "the wisdom of God in a mystery;" it is also termed "the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world which none of the princes of this world knew".

It is said to be hidden in a mystery, because until the apostolic age, it was not clearly made known.

This will appear from the following texts: "Now to him that is of power to establish you according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret (cronoiv aiwnioiv) in the times of the ages, but (in the time, or age, of the apostles) is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.

"By revelation God made known unto me, Paul, THE MYSTERY, which in other ages (former ages under the law of Moses) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto the holy apostles and prophets by the spirit, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.

Here is "the knowledge of God," in which are contained "exceeding great and precious promises," the understanding of which is able to make a man wise, and "a partaker of the divine nature".

Now, although these hidden things have been clearly made known, they still continued to be styled the mystery; not because of their unintelligibility, but became they were once secret.

Hence, the things preached unto the Gentiles, and by them believed, are styled by Paul, "the mystery of the faith," and "the mystery of godliness," some of the items of which he enumerates; such as, "God manifest in the flesh, justified by the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory".

Thus an intelligible mystery characterizes the once hidden wisdom of God, and becomes the subject matter of an enlightened faith. This, however, is not the case with regard to religious systems which are not of the truth. Unintelligible mystery is the ultima ratio for all difficulties which are insoluble by the symbols of ecclesiastical communities, whose text of universal application is, that "secret things belong to God, but the things which are revealed, to us and to our children". This is true; but, then, these

things which were secret in the days of Moses, have been revealed by God to the apostles and prophets for our information.

No one has any right to set up his own ignorance as the limit of what God hath revealed.

A thing may be unknown to such a man, but it doth not therefore follow that it is either absolutely unintelligible or a secret.

He may not know of it, or, if explained to him, he may not have intellect enough to comprehend it, or his prejudices, or sectarian bias may darken his understanding -- this by no means makes the thing unintelligible or mysterious to other people.

All that such persons have a right to say is, "We do not know anything about it".

They may confess their own ignorance, and resolve to look into the matter, or not; but they are presumptuously overstepping the bounds of propriety to venture to do more.

Those who have no secondary interests to subserve apart from the truth only desire to know that they may believe and do.

But where to know more would jeopardize the "vested interests" of a sect, and extort the confessions of its leaders and members that they were in error and knew not the truth, investigation is discouraged, and the things proscribed as too speculative and mysterious for comprehension, or, if understood, of no practical utility.

In this way mankind infold themselves as in the mantle of their self-esteem.

They repress all progress, and glorify their own ignorance by detracting from things which they fear to look into, or apprehend are far above their reach.

Beside glorying in men, this unfortunate peculiarity of the human mind has developed the organization of a system of things impiously hostile to the institutions and wisdom of Jehovah.

It is a system of many subordinate parts.

It is animated by one spirit which, under various modifications, pervades and actuates the whole.

It is an evil spirit, and may be detected wherever the dogma of unintelligible mystery is at work.


[1 Cor. ii.,9,10,13; iii,18-21. Rom. xvi.,25,26. Eph. iii.,3,5,6. 1 Tim. iii.9,16.]