James 5* The judgments of God denounced against rich unbelievers. (1-6)Exhortation to patience and meekness under tribulations. (7-11)Cautions against rash swearing Prayer recommended in afflictiveand prosperous circumstances, Christians to confess their faultsto each other. (12-18) The happiness of being the means of theconversion of a sinner. (19,20)1-6 Public troubles are most grievous to those who live inpleasure, and are secure and sensual, though all ranks sufferdeeply at such times. All idolized treasures will soon perish,except as they will rise up in judgment against theirpossessors. Take heed of defrauding and oppressing; and avoidthe very appearance of it. God does not forbid us to use lawfulpleasures; but to live in pleasure, especially sinful pleasure,is a provoking sin. Is it no harm for people to unfit themselvesfor minding the concerns of their souls, by indulging bodilyappetites? The just may be condemned and killed; but when suchsuffer by oppressors, this is marked by God. Above all theirother crimes, the Jews had condemned and crucified that Just Onewho had come among them, even Jesus Christ the righteous. 7-11 Consider him that waits for a crop of corn; and will notyou wait for a crown of glory? If you should be called to waitlonger than the husbandman, is not there something more worthwaiting for? In every sense the coming of the Lord drew nigh,and all his people's losses, hardships, and sufferings, would berepaid. Men count time long, because they measure it by theirown lives; but all time is as nothing to God; it is as a moment.To short-lived creatures a few years seem an age; but Scripture,measuring all things by the existence of God, reckons thousandsof years but so many days. God brought about things in Job'scase, so as plainly to prove that he is very pitiful and oftender mercy. This did not appear during his troubles, but wasseen in the event, and believers now will find a happy end totheir trials. Let us serve our God, and bear our trials, asthose who believe that the end will crown all. Our eternalhappiness is safe if we trust to him: all else is mere vanity,which soon will be done with for ever. 12-18 The sin of swearing is condemned; but how many make lightof common profane swearing! Such swearing expressly throwscontempt upon God's name and authority. This sin brings neithergain, nor pleasure, nor reputation, but is showing enmity to Godwithout occasion and without advantage It shows a man to be anenemy to God, however he pretends to call himself by his name,or sometimes joins in acts of worship. But the Lord will nothold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. In a day ofaffliction nothing is more seasonable than prayer. The spirit isthen most humble, and the heart is broken and tender. It isnecessary to exercise faith and hope under afflictions; andprayer is the appointed means for obtaining and increasing thesegraces. Observe, that the saving of the sick is not ascribed tothe anointing with oil, but to prayer. In a time of sickness itis not cold and formal prayer that is effectual, but the prayerof faith. The great thing we should beg of God for ourselves andothers in the time of sickness is, the pardon of sin. Letnothing be done to encourage any to delay, under the mistakenfancy that a confession, a prayer, a minister's absolution andexhortation, or the sacrament, will set all right at last, wherethe duties of a godly life have been disregarded. To acknowledgeour faults to each other, will tend greatly to peace andbrotherly love. And when a righteous person, a true believer,justified in Christ, and by his grace walking before God in holyobedience, presents an effectual fervent prayer, wrought in hisheart by the power of the Holy Spirit, raising holy affectionsand believing expectations and so leading earnestly to plead thepromises of God at his mercy-seat, it avails much. The power ofprayer is proved from the history of Elijah. In prayer we mustnot look to the merit of man, but to the grace of God. It is notenough to say a prayer, but we must pray in prayer. Thoughtsmust be fixed, desires must be firm and ardent, and gracesexercised. This instance of the power of prayer, encouragesevery Christian to be earnest in prayer. God never says to anyof the seed of Jacob, Seek my face in vain. Where there may notbe so much of miracle in God's answering our prayers, yet theremay be as much of grace. 19,20 It is no mark of a wise or holy man, to boast of beingfree from error, or to refuse to acknowledge an error. And thereis some doctrinal mistake at the bottom of every practicalmistake. There is no one habitually bad, but upon some badprinciple. This is conversion; to turn a sinner from the errorof his ways, not merely from one party to another, or from onenotion and way of thinking to another. There is no wayeffectually and finally to hide sin, but forsaking it. Many sinsare hindered in the party converted; many also may be so inothers whom he may influence. The salvation of one soul is ofinfinitely greater importance than preserving the lives ofmultitudes, or promoting the welfare of a whole people. Let usin our several stations keep these things in mind, sparing nopains in God's service, and the event will prove that our labouris not in vain in the Lord. For six thousand years He has beenmultiplying pardons, and yet his free grace is not tired norgrown weary. Certainly Divine mercy is an ocean that is everfull and ever flowing. May the Lord give us a part in thisabundant mercy, through the blood of Christ, and thesanctification of the Spirit.
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