« הקודםהמשך »
22 and ever. Amen.—But I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word 23 of exhortation ; for I have written to you in a few wordst. Know,
that our brother Timothy is set at liberty t, with whom, if he. 24 come soon, I shall see you. Salute all that preside over you, and * 25 all the saints. They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all,
REFLECTIONS. Let those whom God, in the course of his providence, .hath called to preside over the souls of others, remember to watch over them with a becoming diligence, considering that an impartial account will shortly be required ; considering, that if they do not properly conduct themselves in this important office, their blood, who perish by their neglect, must be required at their hands. And let the people committed to their care be concerned, that the faithful servants of Christ may discharge their office with joy, and not with grief ; that they may not from time to time be sent with groanings, and with tears, to the presence of their great Master, to lament the obstinacy, perverseness, and rebellion of those over whom God hath made them watch. men and shepherds. The grief would now sensibly affect the minister ; yet, on the whole, as he would be to God a sweet savour in Christ, in them that perish, as well as in them that believe, the greatest detriment would fall on those who have made such ungrateful returns to the divine goodness and to their fidelity.-That all other duties may be more regularly and properly discharged, let private Chris. tians be engaged to pray earnestly for their ministers ; for those especially who make it apparent, that they desire to maintain always a good conscience : and that whatever sacrifices they may be called to make to it, they are determined in all things to live reputably and honourably, so that the ministry may not be blamed, but the Christian profes. sion in general adorned. And God grant, that none but persons of such a character may be introduced into the ministry, or supported and countenanced in it !
Let pastors and people, be often looking to him who is the great shepherd of the sheen, and whose relation to the flock is established on the blood of the everlasting covenant. Ever may the thoughts of that blood engage us to regard him with all due veneration and love; ever may we be looking to him who, through this blessed Saviour, ap- ., pears as the God of peace, for every blessing we respectively need. We all need his gracious influence, to implant the first principles of the divine life ; and we need them to make us perfect to do his will, and to work in us those things which may render us more completely pleasing in his sight. And therefore let an humble dependence on his grace be daily maintained and expressed; considering of how great importance it is to be acceptable in the sight of God, and to approve
t“ Briefly," on these subjects, considering their importance. M. [As this epistle is far from being a brief one, perhaps this expression may refer only to the exhortations in the cluse. ED.)
“ Sent away.” M. [Q. Is not this mention of Timothy a presumptive argument that Paul was the writer of this epistle? Eo.
ourselves at all times to him. That it may be so, may grace be with us all, and continue with us, from the first entrance on the Christian life, through the whole course of it, till it presents us blameless in the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy. Amen.
THE EPISTLE OF JAMES.
THIS epistle and the six following have been called catholic, or gen
eral, because they are not inscribed to particular churches or per. 8018, but 10 Jewish or Gentile converts dispersed in several countries. The author of this epistle was not James the elder, the son of Zebedee, but the son of Alpheus, and the brother or kinsman of our Lord, called James the less, one of the twelve apostles. This epistle is supposed to have been written about the year 60. The design of it was, to correct those errors both in doctrine and practice into which the Jewish Christians had fallen, and to establish the faith and animate the hope of sin. cere believers under their present and their approaching sufferings.
SECTION 1. .
The Apostle, to fortify Christians under their trials, represents the be
nefit of them, and God's readiness to communicate wisdom and grace, in answer to the prayer of faith ; also the vanity of all worldly enjoyments. Ch. i. 1-16.
I TAMES a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the 2 J twelve tribes in dispersion, greeting. My brethren, count it 3 all joy when you fall into a variety of trials ; knowing that the 4 proof of your faith worketh patience ; and let patience have its
perfect work, that ye may be perfect and complete, deficient in 5 nothing. But if any of you be deficient in wisdom, let him ask
it from God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not, and it 6 shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering ;
for he that wavereth is like a billow of the sea, driven on and tos7 sed by the wind. Let not that man therefore think, that he shall 8 receive any thing of the Lord. A double-minded man is unset
tled in all his ways. 9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in his exaltation as a To Christian : but the rich, in his humiliation of mind ; for as the Il flower of the grass he shall pass away. For no sooner is the sun
risen* with a scorching heat, but the grass is dried up, and the flower thereof falleth, and the beauty of its form is perished :
* Gr. “ For the sun riseth.” M. No sooner is unnecessarily supplied.
12 so shall the rich man also fade away in his paths. Happy is the
man, who endureth temptation ; for being approved, he shall re
ceive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them 13 that love him. Let no man, who is tempted, say, I am tempted
of God; for God is incapable of being tempted by evils, and he 14 tempteth not any man. But every man is tempted, being allured 15 by his own lusts, and ensnared* : For indeed lust having conceiv
ed, bringeth forth sin ; and sin, when it is finishedt, bringeth 16 forth death. Therefore be not deceived, my beloved brethren, with its fættering form.
REFLECTIONS. Let us learn this holy caution, and guard against those baits of lust under which death is concealed ; remembering that God has made us with a power of determining our own actions; that he tempts none to evil, nor appoints to any such temptations as he knows to be in their own nature irresistible. Be our spiritual enemies ever so powerful, or ever so artful, they cannot do us any hurt, till we betray ourselves into their hands. Yet certain it is, that their artifice and their power, in conjunction with the advantage which the corruption of our own hearts give them, make it requisite that, conscious to ourselves of our deficiency in wisdom, we should ask it of God. Let the liberality with which he gives it, and the royal freedom with which he has promised it, encourage us to ask it with such constancy, that we may receive daily supplies; and with firm confidence in his goodness, that we may not waver, and be like a wave of the sea tossed by the wind.
Trusting in that supply of grace we receive from him, let us go forth calmly and cheerfully to meet such trials as the infinite wisdom of God shall appoint for us, how various and pressing soever they may be ; remembering they tend to improve our patience, and by patience to perfect every other grace; and that if we be not overcome, we shall be approved and made more meet to receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to them that love him. And O, that the love of this blessed Lord, who has procured as well as promised it, may always render us superior to every trial, and more than conquerors through him that has loved us, and thereby hath acquired to himself so just a claim to our supreme affection. With hearts faithfully engage ed to him, and established in the firmest resolutions for his service, Ict us look with indifference upon those worldly circumstances, about which they who have no sense of a higher interest are exceedingly solicitous; and let us regulate our value of all the good things of life, by a regard to their aspect upon our religious characters and hopes. If low circumstances may improve these, let us look upon them as true exallation ; and if wealth, and dignity, and applause, may endanger these, let us rather fear them, than aspire to them. Whatever we have obtained of those things which the men of the world are
* The original words have a singular beauty and elegance, alluding to the drawing fishes out of the water, with the hook concealed under the bait.
t“ When her full time is come.” W. M, note.
most ready to covet and admire, is transitory and fading as the grass, or even as the flower of the field ; and sometimes ilke those beautiful, but tender productions of vegetable nature, is consumed by the excess of those causes to which it owes its existence and its beauty. “Give us, O Lord, durable riches, and righteousness, and that honour which cometh from thce, and is immortal, as its great original."
He urges the goodness of God, as a motive to every virtue ; and recom
mends a candid reception of his word, and a concern to follow its directions ; 10 bridle the tongue and succour the afflicted. Ch. i. 17, &c.
17 T VERY good gift, and every perfect gift* is from above,descend.
L ing from the Father of lights, with whom there is no varia18 bleness, nor shadow of turning. Of his own will he impregnated
us with the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits 19 of his creatures. Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man 20 be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. For the wrath of 21 man worketh not the righteousness of God. Therefore laying
aside all filthiness, and overflowing of malignity, with meekness
receive the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving 23 yourselves. For if any one be a hearer of the word, and not a
doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a mirrort : 24 for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and immediately for. 25 getteth what manner of person he was. But he who looketh into
the perfect law of liberty, the gospel, and continueth therein, this
man, not being a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, shall be 26 happy in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious,
not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his heart, this man's religion 27 is vain. Pure and undefiled religion before God, even the Father,
is this, to take the oversight of orphans, and widows in their affiction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
REFLECTIONS. With all gratitude let us direct our eyes and our hearts to the un. changeable Father of lights, and acknowledge every good and perfect gift, as descending from him ; but above all, the invaluable gift of his regenerating grace, to which, if we are the first fruits of his creatures, we are certainly indebted, and are thereby laid under the strongest engagements to consecrate ourselves continually to his service. Let us therefore listen with a most obedient regard to every intimation of his will, and set a guard upon all our passions, that they may move in sweet and harmonious subjection to it. Especially,
* In the Gr. two different words are used, but the author could not think of two English ones corresponding. Might not the latter be rendered Donation ?
t“Or, Glass.”—It is to be remembered that Looking-glasses were not then invented. Ed.
let us be słoiu to wrath, and not imagine that we can be justified in the exorbitances of our angry transports, because they may possibly arise in the cause of religion. The righteousness of God is not to be promoted, but on the contrary, will be disgraced and obstructed, by such outrageous, ungovernable sallies. Let every impure and maligo nant affection be therefore banished from our minds, and let us pray that the word of God may be so ingrafted into our souls, as to become the effectual means of our salvation). Let us not rest in a mere forgetful hearing, or indeed in an ineffectual remembrance ; but having looked into the gospel, that perfect law, which by binding the soul, gives it the truest liberty, let us by divine assistance continue therein, and improve to the immediate purposes of reformation, whatever knowledge we thereby gain ; correcting whatever we observe amiss in ourselves. Particularly, let us study a proper command over our tongues, and cultivate those charitable dispositions and offices, in which true and undefiled religion is here said to consist ; that widows and orphans' may give us their blessing, as their guardians and friends ; and that an unspoiled life, untainted with the vices of a degenerate age, may bear witness, that though in the world, we are not of it, and that we act in consistency with thosc sublime and holy ends to which we profess as Christians to aspire.
Cautions against undue respect to men's external circumstances, and
a partial observation of the divine precepte. Ch. ii. I-13.
M Y brethren, hold not* the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 M the Lord of glory, in a partial respect of persons. For if
a man come into your synagogue with a gold ring, and splendid 3 dress, and there come in also a poor man in sordid raiment; and
ye have a respect for him who weareth a splendid dress, and say
to him, Sit there in an honourable place ; and say to the poor 4 man, Stand thou there, or sit here under my foot-stool ; and dis
tinguish not in yourselves their characters, but regard their apa 5 pearance, you even become judges who reason illt. Hearken, my
beloved brethren: Hath not God chosen the poor of this world to
be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised 6 to them that love him? But you have dishonoured the poor man.
[And why this partiality ?] Do not the rich tyrannize over you, 7 and drag you to their tribunals? Do they not blaspheme the hon8 ourable name by which you are called? But if you fulfil the royal
latv according to the scripture, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as. 9 thyself,” ye do well. But if ye accept the persons of men, ye 10 work iniquity, being convicted by the law as transgressors. For
whoever shall keep the whole law, but allowedly offend in one
* “ Do ye not hold?” M.
+ “Verily do ye not make a differences and are become judges possessed of evil thoughts." Ib. VOL. II.