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 afflictive

and prosperous circumstances, Christians to confess their faults

to each other. (12-18) The happiness of being the means of the

conversion of a sinner. (19,20)

1-6 Public troubles are most grievous to those who live in

pleasure, and are secure and sensual, though all ranks suffer

deeply at such times. All idolized treasures will soon perish,

except as they will rise up in judgment against their

possessors. Take heed of defrauding and oppressing; and avoid

the very appearance of it. God does not forbid us to use lawful

pleasures; but to live in pleasure, especially sinful pleasure,

is a provoking sin. Is it no harm for people to unfit themselves

for minding the concerns of their souls, by indulging bodily

appetites? The just may be condemned and killed; but when such

suffer by oppressors, this is marked by God. Above all their

other crimes, the Jews had condemned and crucified that Just One

who had come among them, even Jesus Christ the righteous.
7-11 Consider him that waits for a crop of corn; and will not

you wait for a crown of glory? If you should be called to wait

longer than the husbandman, is not there something more worth

waiting for? In every sense the coming of the Lord drew nigh,

and all his people's losses, hardships, and sufferings, would be

repaid. Men count time long, because they measure it by their

own 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 thousands

of years but so many days. God brought about things in Job's

case, so as plainly to prove that he is very pitiful and of

tender mercy. This did not appear during his troubles, but was

seen in the event, and believers now will find a happy end to

their trials. Let us serve our God, and bear our trials, as

those who believe that the end will crown all. Our eternal

happiness 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 light

of common profane swearing! Such swearing expressly throws

contempt upon God's name and authority. This sin brings neither

gain, nor pleasure, nor reputation, but is showing enmity to God

without occasion and without advantage It shows a man to be an

enemy to God, however he pretends to call himself by his name,

or sometimes joins in acts of worship. But the Lord will not

hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. In a day of

affliction nothing is more seasonable than prayer. The spirit is

then most humble, and the heart is broken and tender. It is

necessary to exercise faith and hope under afflictions; and

prayer is the appointed means for obtaining and increasing these

graces. Observe, that the saving of the sick is not ascribed to

the anointing with oil, but to prayer. In a time of sickness it

is not cold and formal prayer that is effectual, but the prayer

of faith. The great thing we should beg of God for ourselves and

others in the time of sickness is, the pardon of sin. Let

nothing be done to encourage any to delay, under the mistaken

fancy that a confession, a prayer, a minister's absolution and

exhortation, or the sacrament, will set all right at last, where

the duties of a godly life have been disregarded. To acknowledge

our faults to each other, will tend greatly to peace and

brotherly love. And when a righteous person, a true believer,

justified in Christ, and by his grace walking before God in holy

obedience, presents an effectual fervent prayer, wrought in his

heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, raising holy affections

and believing expectations and so leading earnestly to plead the

promises of God at his mercy-seat, it avails much. The power of

prayer is proved from the history of Elijah. In prayer we must

not look to the merit of man, but to the grace of God. It is not

enough to say a prayer, but we must pray in prayer. Thoughts

must be fixed, desires must be firm and ardent, and graces

exercised. This instance of the power of prayer, encourages

every Christian to be earnest in prayer. God never says to any

of the seed of Jacob, Seek my face in vain. Where there may not

be so much of miracle in God's answering our prayers, yet there

may be as much of grace.
19,20 It is no mark of a wise or holy man, to boast of being

free from error, or to refuse to acknowledge an error. And there

is some doctrinal mistake at the bottom of every practical

mistake. There is no one habitually bad, but upon some bad

principle. This is conversion; to turn a sinner from the error

of his ways, not merely from one party to another, or from one

notion and way of thinking to another. There is no way

effectually and finally to hide sin, but forsaking it. Many sins

are hindered in the party converted; many also may be so in

others whom he may influence. The salvation of one soul is of

infinitely greater importance than preserving the lives of

multitudes, or promoting the welfare of a whole people. Let us

in our several stations keep these things in mind, sparing no

pains in God's service, and the event will prove that our labour

is not in vain in the Lord. For six thousand years He has been

multiplying pardons, and yet his free grace is not tired nor

grown weary. Certainly Divine mercy is an ocean that is ever

full and ever flowing. May the Lord give us a part in this

abundant mercy, through the blood of Christ, and the

sanctification of the Spirit.

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