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Of rejoicing under

Chap. i.

the cross, &c. to the Christian church, not only these, but other errors, which the corrupt part of the nation had built on them; such as, that God is the author of sin, and that whoever professes the true religion, is sure of salvation, whatever be his temper or moral $ conduct. In these mistaken notions the converted Jews seem to have been confirmed by certain passages in Paul's Epistles, which they wrested to their own destruction. These pernicious errors, so ruinous to the souls of men, and so dishonoura-` ble to the character of God, were, in the first ages of Christianity, the source of an extreme corruption of manners, which prevailed among some sects of Christians, particularly among the Simonians, Nicolaitans, and other Jewish heretics, to which there are frequent allusions in the apostolical Epistles. Wherefore to expose the dangerous tendency of these errors, and to guard the faithful against them, the apostles, Peter, James, John, and Jude, wrote the seven Epistles called catholic or general; none of which however more strongly opposes these false doctrines, than St. James in this Epistle.

THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JAMES.

CHAP. I.

1 We must rejoice under the cross, 5 ask wisdom of God, 19 hear the word, and do thereafter. 27 What true religion is.

JAMES, a servant of God &

of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,a greeting. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations ;b

3 Knowing this, that the

a Scattered abroad. At this time the Jews were very numerous, and found in most of the cities of Europe and Asia; to these James addresses this Epistle.

b Temptations, trials, affliction and persecution for the sake of the Gospel; for we are directed to pray against temptations.

trying of your faith worketh patience.

4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

5 If of any lack wisyou dom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed:

that he shall receive any thing 7 For let not that man think of the Lord.

8 A double-minded c man is unstable in all his ways.

c Double-minded, having two minds or opinions, without fixed principles.

Ask wisdom of God.

James.

9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted;

10 But the rich, in that he is made low; because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth; so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

13 Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man;

14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15 Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

16 Do not err, my beloved

brethren.

17 Every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,d with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth,

What true religion is.

that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.

19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

21 Wherefore, lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls:

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty,e and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

e

27 Pure religion, and unde

Law of liberty. The Gospel is delivers man from the slavery of called the law of liberty, because it passion, the burdensome rites of the Mosaic law, and the punishment of

d Lights, all spiritually good things. sin.

Chap. ii.

Of temperance, &c. filed before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

CHAP. II.

1 We must not regard the rich, and despise the poor. 14 Faith without works 17 is dead.

MY brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect persons.

of

2 For if there come unto your assembly, a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment ;

3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool;

4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts ?a

5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, which he hath promised to them, that love him?

6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment-seats?

a

7 Do not they blaspheme

Rich men threatened.

that worthy name by the which ye are called?

8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

9 But if ye have respect to persons ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.b

11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

13 For he shall have judg ment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwith

b Is guilty of all. Some have been unable to perceive the justness of this passage; but it is very evident that a person, who will deliberately commit any one sin, would also, if under

Judges of evil thoughts; judges a proportionally strong temptation, possessed of evil thoughts. commit any other.

James.

Of faith standing ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe and tremble.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man! that faith without works is dead?

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

23 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called, The Friend of God.

24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.c

с Te see then, &c. Some have thought that St. James here contradicts St. Paul's account of justification; but rightly understood, they perfectly agree. Paul speaks of the works of the law, by which he says, Rom. iii. 20, no flesh shall be justified; for since the law requires perfect and sinless obedience under penalty

and works.

25 Likewise also, was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. CHAP. III. 3 We are not rashly or arrogantly to reprove others, 5 but rather to bridle the tongue. 13 They that be truly wise are mild and peacea

of death, and since all have sinned, it is evident, that man cannot be jus tified by the deeds or works of the law. Then Paul concludes ver. 28,

that man is justified by faith, without

the deeds of the law; but he does not hence conclude, that man is under no moral obligations, or that there are no works necessary to justification. On the contrary he every where insists upon works of repen tance, faith and love, by which, if sincere & unremitted, although from the nature of man, perhaps imperfect, God, through the redemption there is in Christ Jesus, is graciously pleased freely to pardon and justify man. These are the works, by which St. James says, man is justified, and not by faith only. He does not say, that man is justified without faith; but from the 22 verse of this chapter, it is evident, that his works are accompanied by faith, and that they render faith perfect. So that according to Paul, man is justified, not by the works of the law, but by faith, which produces good works, or which works by love; and according to James, man is justified by works, not of the law, but such as proceed from faith, are accompanied by it, and render it perfect.

Of restraining the tongue. Chap. iii.

ble, without envying and strife. MỸ brethren, be not many MY masters,a knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

2 For in many things we offend all.b If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man,c and able also to bridle the whole body..

3 Behold we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

4 Behold also the ships, which, though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.d

5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

6 And the tongue is a fire,e a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members,

of

a Be not many masters, do not many

you

become masters or teachers. b We offend all, we all offend.

A perfect man. The apostle does not mean absolute perfection, for he has just said, we all offend in many things; he only means a good degree of self-control and circumspection.

d Listeth, willeth or pleaseth. e The tongue is a fire, &c. What is said in this and the following verses concerning the tongue, are what is called figurative expressions, and is designed to shew how many and great evils proceed from false, profane, and intemperate language,

Of true wisdom.

that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire

of hell.

7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind :

8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; & therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter ?

12 Can the fig-tree, my brethren, bear olive-berries? either a vine, figs; so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

13 Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge, among you; let him shew, out of a good conversation, his works with meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work.

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