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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

If, therefore, God had abandoned Adam and his posterity to the sole guidance of the newly-developed propensities, the earth would long ere this have been peopled by a population not a whit above the aborigines of Australia, or the savage tribes of Africa.

Notwithstanding the antagonism established between His law and the flesh, by which a whole- some conflict has been maintained in the world, a vast proportion of its people are "blind of heart" and "past feeling," in consequence of their intellect and sentiments having fallen into moral desuetude; or of being exercised upon the reasonings of the flesh, as were Eve's upon the speculations of the Serpent.

The unilluminated thinking of the flesh gives birth to the "works of the flesh; which are, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, dissensions, sects, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like".

Unchecked by the truth and judgments of God, the world would have been composed solely of such characters.

Indeed, notwithstanding all His interference to save it from the ruinous consequences of its vicious enmity against His law, it seems to have attained a state of immorality in the apostolic age well nigh to reprobation.

"They were," says the apostle, "without excuse: because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Professing themselves to be wise (or philosophers) they became fools, and changed the glory of the Incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible men, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.

For this cause, God gave them up unto vile affections: working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful".

Such is the carnal mind, or thinking of the flesh, as illustrated by the works of the flesh: a hideous deformity, whose conception is referable to the infidelity and disobedience of our first parents: by whom "sin entered into the world, and death by sin".

It is the serpent mind; because it was through his untruthful reasonings believed, that a like mode of thinking to his was generated in the heart of Eve and her husband.

The seed sown there by the Serpent was corruptible seed.

Hence the carnal mind, or thinking of the flesh, unenlightened by the truth, is the serpent in the flesh.

It was for this reason that Jesus styled his enemies "serpents, and a generation of vipers".

Their actions all emanated from the serpent-thinking of the flesh, which displayed "a wisdom not from above," which was at once "earthly, sensual, and devilish"; as opposed to that which "is from above," and which is "first pure, then peace- ful, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy".

The carnal mind, or serpent in the flesh, is the subject of a two-fold manifestation -- namely, individually and collectively.

An individual manifestation is more or less observable in persons who "mind the things of the flesh," or "earthly things".

To do this is to be "after the flesh," and "in the flesh"; of whom it is testified, "they cannot please God".

By a figure, sin is put for the serpent, the effect for the cause; seeing that he was the suggester of unbelief and disobedience to man, by whom it entered into the world.

Hence, the idea of the serpent in the flesh is expressed by "sin in the flesh"; which was "condemned in the flesh" when Jesus was crucified for, or on account of, sin, "in the likeness of sinful flesh".

In the animal man there dwelleth no good thing.

The apostle affims this of himself, considered as an unenlightened son of the flesh.