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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas


"If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?

" The allegorical signification of the sentence upon the Serpent kindled the first scintillation of hope in the human heart of the appearance of One, who should deliver the world from all its ills, and advance it to a higher state.

The promise of such a personage, and of such a consummation, was the nucleus of that "faith, which is the assured expectation of things hoped for, and the conviction of things unseen".

The belief, and spiritualizing influence, of this hope, became the ground of acceptance with God in the earliest times.

Faith in this promise was established as the principle of classification among the sons of Adam.

Belief in what He promises is belief in God; and its influence upon "the fleshy tablet of the heart" is most edifying in its effect, making the subject of it "a partaker of the divine nature".

Atheism in its scriptural import is not the denial of God's existence.

None but a fool would say, "There is no God".

It is Worse than this.

It is to believe that He exists, and yet to treat Him as a liar.

To do this, is not to believe His promises; and he that is faithless of these, is "without God,"a[qeo" -- ie., an atheist in the world.

In the beginning, this kind of atheism soon manifested itself in the family of Adam.

Cain, who was conceived in sin, true to his paternity, was as faithless of God's word as the Serpent; while Abel believed on God.

Hence, the apostle says, "By faith Abel offered unto God a fuller sacrifice (pleivona qusivan) than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it he being dead yet speaketh".

This is an important intimation, importing that no religious services are acceptable to God, which are not predicated on the belief of His promises; "for without faith it is impossible to please God".

This was, therefore, the ground of Cain's reprobation.

"The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and his offering he had not respect".

This made Cain fierce and sullen.

He refused to "bring the firstlings of the flock, and of the fat thereof".

He did not believe in its necessity, having no faith in the remission of sins by the shedding of sacrificial blood; nor in the fulfilment of God's promise concerning him, who, being "bruised in the heel," or slain as Abel's accepted lamb, should arise, and "bruise the Serpent's head," in destroyrig the works of sin.

This is what Cain did not believe; and his faithlessness expressed itself in neglecting to walk in "the way of the Lord".