James 4

* Here are cautions against corrupt affections, and love of this

world, which is enmity to God. (1-10) Exhortations to undertake

no affairs of life, without constant regard to the will and

providence of God. (11-17)

1-10 Since all wars and fightings come from the corruptions of

our own hearts, it is right to mortify those lusts that war in

the members. Wordly and fleshly lusts are distempers, which will

not allow content or satisfaction. Sinful desires and affections

stop prayer, and the working of our desires toward God. And let

us beware that we do not abuse or misuse the mercies received,

by the disposition of the heart when prayers are granted When

men ask of God prosperity, they often ask with wrong aims and

intentions. If we thus seek the things of this world, it is just

in God to deny them. Unbelieving and cold desires beg denials;

and we may be sure that when prayers are rather the language of

lusts than of graces, they will return empty. Here is a decided

warning to avoid all criminal friendships with this world.

Worldly-mindedness is enmity to God. An enemy may be reconciled,

but "enmity" never can be reconciled. A man may have a large

portion in things of this life, and yet be kept in the love of

God; but he who sets his heart upon the world, who will conform

to it rather than lose its friendship, is an enemy to God. So

that any one who resolves at all events to be upon friendly

terms with the world, must be the enemy of God. Did then the

Jews, or the loose professors of Christianity, think the

Scripture spake in vain against this worldly-mindedness? or does

the Holy Spirit who dwells in all Christians, or the new nature

which he creates, produce such fruit? Natural corruption shows

itself by envying. The spirit of the world teaches us to lay up,

or lay out for ourselves, according to our own fancies; God the

Holy Spirit teaches us to be willing to do good to all about us,

as we are able. The grace of God will correct and cure the

spirit by nature in us; and where he gives grace, he gives

another spirit than that of the world. The proud resist God: in

their understanding they resist the truths of God; in their will

they resist the laws of God; in their passions they resist the

providence of God; therefore, no wonder that God resists the

proud. How wretched the state of those who make God their enemy!

God will give more grace to the humble, because they see their

need of it, pray for it are thankful for it, and such shall have

it. Submit to God, ver. #7|. Submit your understanding to the

truth of God; submit your wills to the will of his precept, the

will of his providence. Submit yourselves to God, for he is

ready to do you good. If we yield to temptations, the devil will

continually follow us; but if we put on the whole armour of God,

and stand out against him, he will leave us. Let sinners then

submit to God, and seek his grace and favour; resisting the

devil. All sin must be wept over; here, in godly sorrow, or,

hereafter, in eternal misery. And the Lord will not refuse to

comfort one who really mourns for sin, or to exalt one who

humbles himself before him.
11-17 Our lips must be governed by the law of kindness, as well

as truth and justice. Christians are brethren. And to break

God's commands, is to speak evil of them, and to judge them, as

if they laid too great a restraint upon us. We have the law of

God, which is a rule to all; let us not presume to set up our

own notions and opinions as a rule to those about us, and let us

be careful that we be not condemned of the Lord. "Go to now," is

a call to any one to consider his conduct as being wrong. How

apt worldly and contriving men are to leave God out of their

plans! How vain it is to look for any thing good without God's

blessing and guidance! The frailty, shortness, and uncertainty

of life, ought to check the vanity and presumptuous confidence

of all projects for futurity. We can fix the hour and minute of

the sun's rising and setting to-morrow, but we cannot fix the

certain time of a vapour being scattered. So short, unreal, and

fading is human life, and all the prosperity or enjoyment that

attends it; though bliss or woe for ever must be according to

our conduct during this fleeting moment. We are always to depend

on the will of God. Our times are not in our own hands, but at

the disposal of God. Our heads may be filled with cares and

contrivances for ourselves, or our families, or our friends; but

Providence often throws our plans into confusion. All we design,

and all we do, should be with submissive dependence on God. It

is foolish, and it is hurtful, to boast of worldly things and

aspiring projects; it will bring great disappointment, and will

prove destruction in the end. Omissions are sins which will be

brought into judgment, as well as commissions. He that does not

the good he knows should be done, as well as he who does the

evil he knows should not be done, will be condemned. Oh that we

were as careful not to omit prayer, and not to neglect to

meditate and examine our consciences, as we are not to commit

gross outward vices against light!

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