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by Dr. John Thomas
"God doth not mean," saith he, "exactly what He says.
Trouble not your consciences about the letter of His word.
He knows that the circumstances in which you are placed prevent a rigid construction of it.
Besides, the times are changed, and the world is better than it used to be.
He takes the will for the deed.
The spirit is everything; the letter is nothing; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
Eat, then, and drink, and be merry.
Be diligent in business, fervent in the cause of your church, serving your clergy; and when you die, ye shall be as gods in the elysian fields"!
But, the serpent in the flesh manifests itself in all the high places of the earth.
It obtrudes itself upon all occasions, and through all the channels of human life.
Popes, cardinals, and priests; bishops, ministers, and deacons; emperors, kings, and presidents; with all who sustain them, and execute their behests, are but the fleshly media through which the thinking of the flesh finds expression.
They are "the high things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God," which are to be cast down.
They are faithless of this knowledge, which they make of no effect by their traditions; and "whatsoever is not of faith is sin".
My business will be to show what this knowledge is; and, if it be found that I speak not according to "the law and the testimony" it will be because there is no light in me; and that, like them, I speak my own thoughts as of the flesh, and not according to the gospel of the kingdom of God.
As I have remarked before, sin is personified by Paul as "preeminently a sinner"; and by another apostle, as "the Wicked One".
In this text, he says, "Cain was of that Wicked One, and slew his brother".
There is precision in this language which is not to be disregarded in the interpretation.
Cain was of the Wicked One; that is, he was a son of sin -- of the serpent-sin, or original transgression.
The Mosaic narrative of facts is interrupted at the end of the sixth verse of the third chapter.
The fact passed over there, though implied in the seventh verse, is plainly stated in the first verse of the third chapter.
These texts conjoined read thus: "And Eve gave unto her husband, and he did eat with her.
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived.
And the eyes of them were both opened, and they knew that they were naked".