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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

The Serpent was one of "the living things that moved upon the earth," and which the Lord God pronounced "very good".

Moses says, it was more subtle, or shrewd, than any of the creatures the Lord God had made.

It was, probably, because of this quality of shrewdness, or quickness of perception, that Adam named it nachash; which is rendered by dravcwn in the New Testament, from devrcomai to see; as, drakonta ton ofin ton arcaion the Dragon, the old serpent.

It was doubtless, the chief of the serpent tribe, as it is styled "the" serpent; and, seeing that it was afterwards condemned to go upon its belly as a part of its sentence, it is probable it was a winged-serpent in the beginning: fiery, but afterwards deprived of the power of flight and made to move as at present.

Its subtlety, or quickness of perception by eye and ear, and skilfulness in the use of them ( panourgiva ), was a part of the goodness of its nature.

It was not an evil quality by any means; for Jesus exhorts his disciples to "be wise as the serpents; and unsophisticated ajcevraioi ) as the doves".

This quality of shrewdness, or instinctive wisdom, is that which principally strikes us in all that is said about it.

It was an observant spectator of what was passing around it in the garden, since the Lord God had planted it eastward in Eden.

It had seen the Lord God and His companion Elohim.

He had heard their discourse.

He was acquainted with the existence of the Tree of Knowledge, and the Tree of Lives; and knew that the Lord God had forbidden Adam and his wife to eat of the good and evil fruit; or so much as to touch the tree.

He was aware from what he had heard, that the Elohim knew what good and evil were experimentally; and that in this particular, Adam and Eve were not so wise as they.

But, all this knowledge was shut up in his own cranium, from which it could never have made its exit, had not the Lord God bestowed upon it the power of expressing its thoughts in speech.

And what use should we naturally expect such a creature would make of this faculty?

Such a one, certainly, as its cerebral constitution would enable it to manifest.

It was an intellectual, but not a moral, creature.

It had no "moral sentiments".

No part of its brain was appropriated to the exercise of benevolence, veneration, conscientiousness, and so forth.

To speak phrenologically, it was destitute of these organs; having only "intellectual faculties" and "propensities".

Hence, its cerebral mechanism, under the excitation of external phenomena, would only develop what I would term an animal intellectuality.

Moral, or spiritual, ideas would make no impression upon its mental constitution' for it was incapable, from its formation, of responding to them.

It would be physically impossible for it to reason in harmony with the mind of God; or with the mind of man, whose reasoning was regulated by divinely enlightened moral sentiments.

Its wisdom would be that of the untutored savage race, whose "sentiments," by the desuetude of ages, had become as nothing.