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DATE OF THIS EPISTLE-CHAP. XIV.
Health and Prosperity-As the unbelieving Jews de- Jerusalem.
Vulgar Era, of that council, which was propounded by the younger James in favour of the Gentile converts, as their brethren."
On this controverted and uncertain point I have followed the majority of commentators, and have considered James, the Lord's brother, as the author of this Epistle. His history is fully and ably collected by Dr. Lardner, from the writings of the ancient fathers; and to his labours the reader is more particularly referred. He concludes this part of his labours with observing, that the time of the death of James may be determined without much difficulty: he was alive when St. Paul came to Jerusalem at the Pentecost, in the year of Christ 58; and it is likely that he was dead when St. Paul wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews, at the beginning of the year 63. Theodoret, upon Heb. xiii, 7. supposes the apostle there to refer to the martyrdoms of Stephen, James, the brother of John, and James the Just. According to Hegesippus, the death of James happened about the time of the passover, which might be that of the year 62; and if Festus was then dead, and Albinus not arrived, the province was without a governor. Such a season left the Jews at liberty to gratify their licentious and turbulent disposition, and they were likely to embrace it. The Epistle, therefore, as the work of James the Less, must have been written about this time, A.D. 62. As it concludes abruptly, it has been considered as a posthumous writing, left unfinished by the premature and violent death of the apostle (a).
Bishop Tomline, and others, are of opinion that this Epistle was addressed to the believing Jews who were dispersed all over the world: Grotius and Dr. Wall to all the people of Israel living out of Judea. Michaelis considers it certain that St. James wrote to persons already converted from Judaism to Christianity; but at the same time he believes, as the apostle was highly respected by the Jews in general, that he designed that it should also be read by the unbelieving Jews, and that by this intention he was influenced in the choice of his materials. Dr. Benson is of opinion that this Epistle was addressed to the converted Jews out of Palestine; but Whitby, Lardner (and after them Macknight), think it was written to the whole Jewish nation, both within and without Judea, whether believers or not. This opinion is grounded on some expressions in the first ten verses of the fourth chapter, and in the first five verses of the fifth chapter, which they suppose to be applicable to unbelievers only. It is true that in the fifth chapter the apostle alludes to the then impending destruction of Jerusalem, and the miseries which soon after befel the unbelieving Jews; but Bishop Tomline is of opinion, that the apostle alludes merely to the great corruptions into which the Hebrew Christians had fallen at that time.
It does not appear probable that James would write part of his Epistle to believers, and part to unbelievers, without any mention or notice of that distinction. It should also be remembered, that this Epistle contains no general arguments for the truth of Christianity, nor any reproof of those who refused to embrace the Gospel; and therefore, though his lordship admits that the inscription, "To the twelve tribes that are scattered abroad," might comprehend both unbelieving and believing Jews, yet he is of opinion that it was intended for the believing Jews only, and that St. James did not expressly make the discrimination, because neither he, nor any other apostle, ever thought of writing to any but Christian converts. The object of the apostolical Epistles," he further observes, "was to con
Julian Period, 4775. Vulgar Æra, 62.
sired to persuade their converted Brethren, by applying Jerusalem.
firm, and not to convert; to correct what was amiss in those
The Epistle itself is entirely different in its complexion from
(a) Benson's Preface to the Catholic Epistles.-Michaelis, vol. iv. p. 269-271.-Pritii Introd. ad Nov. Test. p. 62-65.-Lardner's Works, Svo. vol. vi. p. 465-468; 4to. vol. iii. p. 366, 367.-Rosenmüller, SchoJia, vol. v. p. 317, 318.-Horne's Critical Introduction, vol. iv. (b) Bishop Tomline's Elements of Christian Theology, p. 472. (c) See Horne, Macknight, Lardner, Benson, Dr. A. Clarke, and the Com
Julian Period, 4775. Vulgar Era, 62.
PRAY ERS TO BE OFFERED IN FAITH-CHAP. XIV.
Flower of the Field-and those whose Happiness con- Jerusalem.
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth, is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any
8 A double-minded " man is unstable in all his ways.
10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the
11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
25 The Greek word divxos signifies one who has two soulsone for heaven, the other for earth-the man who desires to secure both worlds, but will give up neither. Some suppose St. James alludes to those who were divided in their affections and minds, between the Levitical rites and the Gospel of Christ; equally unwilling to renounce the benefits of the latter, and to give up the long established institutions of the former. It was a usual term among the Jews, to express the man who attempted to worship God, and yet retained the love of the creature.-Rabbi Tanchum, fol. 84. on Deut. xxvi. 17. said, "Behold the Scripture exhorts the Israelites, and tells them,
that they should not have ;לבבות לא יהיה להם שתי,when they
two hearts, one for the holy blessed God, and one for some-
$2. JAMES i. 13-18.
Vulgar Era, The Apostle, fearing his Expression relating to Temptations or Afflictions, sent by God as a Trial of the Virtue and Faith of Christians, should be misinterpreted, condemns, in its other sense, that impious Notion, which some of the unbelieving Jews and their Judaizing Teachers held, as a Vindication of their grossest Actions; that God tempts Men to sin-He forbids any Man to say, he is tempted or solicited to sin by God; for God, who is all Holiness, is incapable of being seduced by Evil, neither can he thus tempt any Man-But every Man is tempted to sin when he is allured by his own Lusts, and enticed by his own impure Desires; then Lust having tempted the Sinner to its Embraces, bringeth forth actual Sin; committing the evil Purposes-and Sin, when habitually confirmed, bringeth forth eternal Death-They must not suppose therefore that God is the Author of Sin, or impels Man to it-For God, instead of being the Author of Sin, is the Author of every good and perfect Gift-God of his own Will had created those who were Jews anew, in the Gospel of Truth and Holiness, that they might become the first Fruits of all his Creatures who should be converted.
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man :
14 But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of
15 Then when lust 26 hath conceived, it bringeth forth
17 Every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from
18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.
$ 3. JAMES i. 19, to the end.
reprove the converted Jews, who were emulous of becoming Teachers, and who were intemperate in their religious Zeal, the Apostle exhorts those who are thus begotten of God in the Gospel of his Son, to be anxious and diligent to hear its Doctrines, as laid down by the Apostles, and slow to speak concerning the Truth, waiting till they understand it; and slow to Wrath, not easily incensed-for the Wrath, or the fierce Contentions
26 Among the Rabbins there is this saying, "Evil concupiscence is at the beginning like the thread of a spider's web; afterwards is like a cart-rope."-Sanbedrim, fol. 99.
Julian Period, 4775. Vulgar Era, 62.
RELIGIOUS DISPUTES DESTROY USEFULNESS.
of Man, on religious Differences, do not promote the Jerusalem. Interests of the Kingdom of Heaven, do not work out in others the Faith which God counts for RighteousnessHe calls upon them to put away all the filthiness of fleshly Lusts and vicious superfluity of Words, and of Anger, and receive with all Meekness and Gentleness the Gospel, which is engrafted on their own Law, and which is the means of saving their Souls to eternal Life-In opposition to the prevailing Opinion of the Jews, who placed so much Dependence on their Knowledge of the Law; and in their regular Attendance on the Synagogue to hear the Law read, he exhorts them to be Doers of the Precepts of the Gospel, and not hearers of its Word only-He who restraineth not his Tongue, deceiving himself with the notion that his Freedom from deeper Vices will excuse him before God, and that railing against those who differ from him in religious Opinions, is acceptable to God, this Man's Religion is false-Pure Religion consists in good Works, and spiritual Principle.
19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls 27.
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
27 This expression is supposed by commentators to signify the doctrine which has been implanted-the light within-the natural innate, or eternal word; comparing the Gospel to a seed, or to a plant, which is here said to be engrafted in their minds. But I cannot but believe that the apostle refers rather to the Mosaic law, the Gospel of Christ being engrafted on the law; for Christ came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them. (see James ii. 23.) The ritual law he fulfilled by his sacrifice and death, and the effects resulting from them-his blood cleansing us from all sin. The great High-Priest offering up his intercession and prayers for us in the Holy of Holies-and the moral law he fulfilled in his pure and holy life-for in him there was no sin. He was the true paschal lamb, without blemish, and without spot-he realised every tittle of the law, and was the great end and object of it. Its types, ceremonies, and festivals, were only the figure and representation of him that was to come-they were now finished, completed, and blotted out for ever, dying with him on the cross. In ver. 25. of this chapter, the word "perfect," which is used in opposition to the Mosaic law, which was imperfect, seems to be applied to the Gospel, in a sense which corroborates the opinion bere advanced. It intimates that the Gospel, or the law of liberty, was made perfect by bringing to perfection the whole system of the Jewish law; engrafting on it the fulness of salvation, and giving us liberty from its burtbensome rites, and abi. lity to overcome the power and dominion of sin.