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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

"In me, that is, in my flesh," says he, "dwelleth no good thing".

Hence, whatever good was in him, did not originate from the thinking of the flesh excited by the propensities, and traditions of Gamaliel; but from "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus"; that is, from the influence of "the testimony of God" concerning "the things of the kingdom and name of Jesus Christ," upon "the fleshy tablet of his heart," most assuredly believed.

Submission to this "made me free," says he, "from the law of sin and death".

This attests the truth of the Lord's saying, that "if the truth made a man free, he should be free indeed".

Sin, though still in the flesh, should no more reign in his mortal body, nor have dominion over him.

If it were not for the law, or truth, of God, we should not know what sin is; for, says the apostle, "I had not known sin, but by the law"; "for without the law, sin is dead".

If a man committed theft, or adultery, or any other thing, he would not know whether he did right or wrong in God's esteem, if God had not said they shall not be done.

The lower animals steal, kill, and obey their propensities uncontrolled; but, in so doing, they do not sin, because God has made them with the ability and disposition so to do, and has not forbidden them.

Wrong consists not in any particular act of which we are capable; but in that act being contrary to the letter and spirit of the divine testimony: in other words, right is the doing of the will of God.

Hence, if we saw a man bowing down before an image of the Virgin Mary, which is death by His law, and He commanded us to kill him, we should do wrong to refuse, although He has said, "Thou shalt not kill".

Men have lost sight of this truth.

They know not, or seem not to know, that the only true standard of right and wrong, truth and error, is the divine law.

Hence, they inflict upon themselves and one another all sorts of pains and penalties, making their lives miserable, because of nonconformity to standards of faith and morals, which know no other paternity than the serpent-thinking of sinful flesh.

Sin was in the world from the fall to the giving of the law through Moses.

But it did not appear to be sin to those who obeyed its impulses; because, there being no such law as the Mosaic, "the sons of God" did not know when they might have erred.

They were not held accountable to any future retribution for doing things, which, under Moses' law, were punishable with death.

They were amenable only to "the way of the Lord," even as the disciples of Jesus are at this day.

This required them to walk by faith in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, whose love was shed abroad in their hearts by the testimony they believed.

The Serpent in the flesh shows itself in individuals in all the colours of its skin.

It manifests itself in all the deceptions men practise upon themselves and one another.

Its most insidious and dangerous manifestations emanate from the pulpit, and ecclesiastical thrones.

In these, the Serpent presents himself to mankind, presumptuously entertaining them with things he does not understand.

From thence he delights them with the assurance of wisdom upon principles in harmony with their nature.