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11 particular, he is in effect guilty of all. For he that saith, “ Thou
shalt not commit adultery," hath also said, “ Thou shalt do no
murder.” If therefore thou art not an adulterer, but committest 12 murder, thou art a transgressor of the law. So speak, and so act, 13 as those that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall
have judgment without mercy, who hath not exercised mercy; and on the other hand, mercy rejoiceth against judgment, and einboldens our hopes before the God of mercy.
REFLECTIONS. The apostle could not intend to condemn those civil distinctions. which are founded upon the different relations and circumstances of mankind in the present world; but surely God intended to teach us, how little esteem he sets upon Riches, by bestowing them on many of the most undeserving of mankind, while he with-holds them from his dearest children: and to admire them and others, on account of their riches, while we pour contempt on the poor, as poor, though so many of them are distinguished by the riches of the divine favour, must be highly unreasonable, and to God highly offenisve. As for those who are poor in this world, but rich in faith, let them adore the divine munificence to them, and think with pleasure of those durable riches, and of that everlasting kingdom, which God has prepared for them as their inheritance. Whatever our stations be, let us pray that the royal law may be inscribed upon our heartsy, and that we may love our neighbours as ourselves guarding against that mean and prohibited respect of persons, which would expose us to conviction, as transgressors of the law. Let us also learn to guard against that partiality in our obedience to it, which is utterly inconsistent with sincerity. Let us remember, that the divine authority equally establishes every precept of it, and that the generous nature of the gospel-dispensation, as a law of liberty, will be a sad aggravation of our presumptuous violation of it. A consciousness of those many defects and imperfections, which the best of men may see reason to charge themselves with, should certainly engage our most earnest application to God for mercy; and as we desire to obtain it, let it be our care to exercise mercy to others, both in the candour of our censures on the one hand, and the readiness of our liberality on the other.
The inefficacy of a mere historical faith. Ch. ii. 14, &c.
14 M A NY of you seem to value yourselves upon the mere professione
I of Christianity. But what advantage is there, my brethren,
if any one say, He hath faith, but hath not suitable works? Can 15 [this] faith save him. If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute 16 of daily food, and one of you say to them, Depart in peace, be war
med and fed to the full ; but if ye give not to them the things ne. 17 cessary for the body, what doth it profit? So also faith, if it have 18 not works, being by itself, is dead. But perhaps one may say:
Thou hast faith, and I have works : Shew me thy faith without * 19 thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou
believest that there is one God; thou doest well : the devils also 20 believe and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith 21 without works is dead? Abraham our father, was he not justified 22 by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? Thou
seest that faith co-operated with his works, and by works r his faith 23 was perfected. And so the scripture was fulfilled, which saith
(Gen. xv. 6.) “ Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to
him for righteousness : he was even called the friend of God, 24 18. xli. 8.) You see then that a man is justified by works, 25 and not by faith only. In like manner also Rahab the harlott;
was she not justified by works, when she received the spies, and 26 sent them out another way ? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
REFLECTIONS. Let this great and important lesson, which the apostle here teaches so plainly, and inculcates so largely, be never forgotten. It is true indeed(as St. Paul elsewhere fully proves) that we are justified by faith in Christ, without the works of the law. The works of the Mosaic law are by no means necessary; and it is not by our obedience to any law, but by embracing and resting upon the mercy of God in Christ, for our salvation, that we obtain it. Nevertheless, it is vain to pretend to such a faith, if good works are not produced by it; and we might as soon expect the guardianship and counsel, the offices and consolations of friendship, from a dead corpse, as happiness from a mere assent, even to the most important doctrines. Let us therefore endeavour to shew our faith by orer works. Let us be ready, with Abraham, to offer up our dearest conforts to God. Let us, with Rahab, be willing even to expose our lives in the defence of God's people, and his cause; otherwise our faith, being of no better a kind than that of the devils, will leave us the companions of their misery and despair ; even though the conviction should now be so powerful as to make us tremble ; or a false persuasion of our enjoying privileges to which we are utter strangers, should give as strong an emotion to any of the safter passions. Let faith then be active and influential. Let love be without dissimulation. Let us not love merely in word, but in deed, and charge it upon our consciences to be ready to authenticate by the most substantial offices of humanity, the profession we at any time make of friendly wishes, or kind intentions. Otherwise, such professions will be worse than unprofitable, as, by encouraging only a false dependence and expectation, they will make the disappointment proportionably grievous and afflictive, to those whom we hypocritically, or lightly, pretended to compassionate or succour. . * “ By.”D. The author has here followed most of the printed copies. But the C. 1'. WITHOUT thy works, is supported by the Alex. and other MSS. and confirmed by v. 20. It is therefore retained by M. and W.
† So she had been, but was reclaimed. The falsehood she told the spies was a sin of ignorance, the effect of her heathenish education. M. .
SECTION V. Cautions against being too forward in assuming the office and character of
teachers; a strict government of the tongue recommended. Ch. iii. 1-12
ITVY brethren, be ye not many teachers, knowing that we who
IVI bear that ofice, Tif we err] shall undergo greater judg: 2 ment than others. For in many things we all offend. If any one
offend not in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle in the 3 whole body. Behold we put bridles into the mouths of horses, 4 that they may obey us; and we turn their whole body. Behold
also how the ships, though they be so large, and agitated by vio
lent winds, are turned by a very small helm, whithersoever the 5 steersman pleaseth. So also the tongue is but a little member,
yet boasteth great things. Behold how great a quantity of mate6 rials a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of in
iquity. The tongue is so set, and holds such rank, among our members that [if impure) it defileth the whole body, and inflam: 7 eth the circle of nature, and is set on fire by hell. Every species
of wild beasts and birds, of reptiles and fishes, is subdued, and hath 8 been subjected by men. But the tongue no man can subdue ; if 9 is an insuperable evil, full of mortal venom. By it we bless God,
even the Father ; and by it wc curse men, who are made after the 10 likeness of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth the blessing
and the curse. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain from the same opening send forth sweet water 12 and bitter? Can a fig-tree, my brethren, produce olives? or a vine,
figs? Sono fountain produceth brackish water and sweet. In like manner we ought to maintain a consistency in our discourse.
REFLECTIONS. Let this pathetic discourse of the apostle concerning the difficulty and importance of governing our tongues aright, engage us to the strictest care on this great article of practical religion, of which sa many are careless, in which the most are so far deficient, as to entitle those to the character of perfect men, who do not here offend. Let us entreat the assistance of divine grace, that we may keep our mouths as with a bridle ; that we may steer this important helm aright, lest by the mismanagement of it, we shipwreck even our eternal hopes. Let us be cautious of every spark, where there are so many combustible materials ; and take heed, lest wę and others be defiled, and infernal flames kindled and propagated. It is indeed a difficult, but in conses quence of this a glorious toil, far more glorious than to subdue the fiercest animals, or the haughtiest enemies : let us therefore resolutely make the attempt, and learn to employ our tongues, as indeed the glory of our frame, to bless God even the Father. And let the remembrance of that similitude of God, in wbich men are formed, make us tender of all their interests ; but especially careful, that we do not injure them by unkind reproaches, or detracting speeches; and sa
much the rather, that we may maintain a consistency between the words of devotion addressed to God, and those of converse with our fellow-creatures. So shall the well-spring of wisdom, rising up in our hearts, and streaming forth from our lips, be as a fiowing brook. Let those, who are by providence called to be trachers of others, set a double guard upon their words, not only in public, but in private too, as peculiar notice will be taken of them; and the lionour of religion, one way or another, be greatly affected by the tenour of their discourses. And let the awful account which such are to give, the greater judgment they are to expect, prevent any from intruding themselves into such an office, without suitable qualifications, and a regular call. May God enable them to judge rightly concerning that call; and where it is indeed given, may his grace furnish them for their work, and his mercy cover those many imperfections, which the best will see room to acknowledge and lament.
Cautions against censoriousness, animosities, and the love of the world: pray
er for divine influences recommended. Ch. ii. 13.-iv. 10.
13 INHO is wise, and a man of sense among you ? Let him
VV shew, out of a good conversation, his works with the 14 meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter zeal, and contention 15 in your hearts, boast not, and lic not against the truth. This is
not the wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sen16 sual, diabolical. For where zeal and contention is, there is con17 fusion, and every evil work. But the wisdom which is from above,
is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easily to to be entreated, full of
mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those that make
peaca. iv. Whence are wars and fightings among you? Is it not hence ; ? from your lusts, which war in your members ? Ve covet, and have
not: ye kill, and ye earnestly desire, and cannot obtain : ye fight, 3 ye wage war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and re.
ceive not the thing you desire because ye ask amiss, that ye may A squander them away upon your lusts. Ye adulterers, and adulter
esses*, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity
against God? Whoever therefore will be a friend to the world, is 5 adjudged to be an enemy of God. Do you think the scripture
speaketh in vain ? Doth the holy Spirit that dwelleth in us, 6 lust to envy? No. But he gives greater grace: as it is said (Prov.
iii. 34.) « God setteth himself in battle array against the proud, y but to the lowly he giveth grace." Subject yourselves therefore 8 to God: resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near
to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, () ye 9 sinners, and purify your hearts, O ye double-minded. Lanient,
* So called in a spiritual sense, fixing their love on the world.
and mourn, and weep : Let your laughter be turned into mourn10 ing, and your joy into sorrow. Humble yourselves before the
Lord, and he will raise you up.
· REFLECTIONS. If we desire the character of wisdom, let us learn from the oracles of eternal truth, how it is to be obtained by meekness and a good conversation. Let us avoid that infernal wisdom, here so severely and justly branded, which consists in knowing the most effectual methods to distress others. On the contrary, let us pray, and study, and labour for that which is from above, and of which so amiable a character is here given. And so far as it can be obtained without injuring conscience, let us cultivate universal peace ; and let a gentle and placable temper, an impartial and sincere disposition, be ever inviolably preserved, even when we are obliged to contend with others, about matters of the highest importance ; remembering, that the more sacred the cause is, the more solicitous we should be that we do not injure it by a passionate or iniquitous management of it. Thus let us now the fruits of righteousness in peace ; and wait the promised harvest; leaving wars and contentions to others; lamenting them, and praying that God would cause them entirely to cease. And that we may be less obnoxious to those temptations, whereby others are betrayed into them, let us endeavour to gaurd against those lusts and passions which give a disproportionate value to the objects about which those contentions arise. Does God brand them with this character of adultery ? Let us preserve our souls pure from such affections, as ever we desire that our prayers should be acceptable to God. May his grace subdue all the workings of firide, of luxury, and of envy ; and produce in our hearts more and more of that humility, to which he will give more grace ; engaging us, when thus invited, to draw near to him, to ask aright what we need from him, trusting his promise that he will draw nigh to us, and that when we humble ourselves before him, he will raise us up. Cleansing our hands, let us endeavour to purify our hearts too. So may those who have hitherto been double-minded, hope to attain an establishment in religion, in conjunction with that established peace, which no carnal affection, even when most fully gratified, can either afford or adınit.
Cautions against evil speaking, and vain confidence in futurity, or in any
worldly possessions : afflicted Christians encouraged to wait patiently for the coming of the Lord, Ch. iv. 11-v. 148.
II DRETHREN, speak not evil of one another. He that speak
D eth evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil
of the law, and judgeth the law, But if thou judge the law, thou 12 art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is onc lawgiver, who
is able to save and to destroy. Who art thou that judgest another?