James 1A servant, &c. It is to be observed that James does not style himself an apostle. This circumstance has been adduced as an argument to show that the author of the Epistle was not one of the twelve; it cannot, however, be considered an argument of very great weight.—The twelve tribes. There were but two tribes of the children of Israel now remaining. Ten had been carried into captivity, whence they never returned. The Jews were, however, accustomed to retain the original phraseology in designating their nation. For another example of this usage, see Acts 26:7. Though this expression would seem to include the Jews generally, yet the Epistle is evidently intended for those only who had embraced Christianity.—Scattered abroad; from Jerusalem. This letter may have been addressed to the disciples who were scattered abroad after the death of Stephen, (Acts 8:1,) and before the preaching of the gospel was extended to the Gentiles. This supposition is confirmed by the fact that no allusion is made in the Epistle to Gentile converts, or to any of those questions which agitated the church every where, after Gentile converts came in.
Temptations; trials; that is, the privations, suffering, and poverty, which they were called upon to endure.
Wisdom, direction and guidance in the trying circumstances in which they were placed.—Upbraideth not; does not send the suppliant away with reproaches.
In faith; with confidence in the goodness and mercy of God.—He that wavereth; vibrating between faith in divine protection, and anxious distrust.—Like a wave of the sea; never at rest.
A double-minded man; that is, a man having his mind distracted between the alternate feelings of faith and distrust.
Exalted; in his privileges and hopes as a Christian.
Made low; made penitent and lowly in mind by divine grace.
Fade away in his ways; pass away from his position of worldly greatness and elevation. The meaning is, that, since his wealth, with all that pertains to it, is so fleeting and transitory, he should not dwell upon the possession of it with feelings of satisfaction and pride, but rejoice only in the possession of the humble and lowly graces of the Christian spirit.
When he is tried; after his trials are over.
Do not err; in supposing that you can shield yourselves from responsibility for sin, by pleading the power of outward temptations.
Begat he us; as his spiritual children. That is, he formed in us, by his own power, that new temper of mind which characterizes his children.
Swift to hear, slow to speak; always ready to learn, but slow to offer reproofs or instructions to others.
Looketh into; that is, earnestly and intently.—The perfect law of liberty; the gospel; so designated because it releases the soul from the bondage of sin.—The work; the duties which the gospel enjoins.—In his deed; in his doing; that is, his doing of the work referred to above.
His tongue, &c. The meaning is, that, unless a man's outward conduct is in accordance with the requirements of Christ, his pretences to inward piety are vain. If even the tongue is uncontrolled, it reveals the falseness and hollowness of his professions of sanctity.
Pure religion, &c.; that is, true religion consists not in rites and forms, not in opinions, not in outward zeal,—but in the right moral and spiritual condition of the heart. Its end and aim is to substitute in the soul principles of heartfelt benevolence and moral purity, instead of the selfishness and corruption which naturally reign there. The various truths of the gospel reveal the way and the means by which this is to be done.
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