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EXPOSITION--Chap. XIII. Continued. by the blood of the everlasting covenant; iii. 16-19); that worketh in them both to i. e. through the worth or merit of it. will and to do. (Phil. ü. 13.) The boly Christ's blood is termed “the blood of the tempers and spiritual affections of the soul everlasting covenant,” in distinction from are the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal. v. 22, 23.) the blood of slain beasts, which ratified But then, 2ndly, He works in us, as ra• and established the Old Covenant made at tional creatures, by means of the refeSinai. These sacrifices could not procure lation he hath given us, eplightening, our remission of sins and eternal life; but the judgments — strengthening our faith atonement of Christ bath obtained both; imoving our wills by its motives, and sa for God hath brought himn again from the influencing our obedience. The Spirit
, dead through that blood. The covenant therefore, does not work upon us abstract itself is called everlasting, because it shall from the word; but in and by it, making never wear old, like the Sinaic covenant. it to produce its effects. 3rdly, God's (Chap: viii. 13.). Having thus charac- working in us that wbicb is well pleasing terized God as “ the God of peace," our in his sight, does not supersede our actie apostle next proceeds to the subject mat- vity or make us passive : on the contrary, ter of his prayer, which was, that through it is an exciting of us both to will and to the divine grace they might be prepared, do. Athly. That as God works in his people assisted, and completed in every work, that which is well pleasing in his sight, sa good and well-pleasing in the sight of we should apply to him for bis Spirit, deGod.
pend upon his assistance in every thing the " It is plain, from this and other passages requires, and give him all the gloryof Scripture (says Mr. M'Lean), that God “ Not I, but the grace of God which was worketh in his people every good work with me.” Lastly, We should look for that is well pleasiug in his sight; and acceptance only through “the merits and that, not only in the conversion of a sinner, mediation of Christ, even in such things but in all the growth and improvement of as we do agreeable to his will; for they a Christian in the spiritual life. It is he are well.pleasing in his sight only through that enlightens the eyes of their under- Jesus Christ: to whom be glory for ever and standing (Ephes. i. 17, 18); that enlarges ever. Amen.". their views of the love of Christ (Ephes.
TO THE CATHOLIC EPISTLES,
THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JAMES.
The seven following Epistles are usually called Catholic, but for what reason is not agreed. Dr. Hammond's opinion, which is must generally followed, is, that the first Epistles of Peter and of John, being the first that were generally received in the Christian Church, they first obtained the name of Catholic; and as the five other Epistles came into the like general acceptance, they acquired the same name. The Epistles of Peter and John appear to have been thus distinguished, soon after the close of the second century, by Origen and Dionysius of Alexandria ; and the whole seven were so denominated by Athanasius, Eusebius, and others, in the fourth century: some farther particulars will be mentioned under the several distinct Epistles.
Whitby, Doddridge, and others, however, explain the term Catholic as implying that they were not addressed to either particular churches or individuals, but to Christians in general, and to this we feel inclined; but it will not apply to the second and third Epistles of John, which are addressed to an elect lady and the “ well-beloved Gaius." The question is, however, of small importance, since it does not materially affect their being canonical, or belonging to the sacred canon, as we shall see in the instance of the Epistle of JAMES now before us.
The first doubt respecting this Epistle seems to have originated in there being two Apostles of the name of James, and the writer not having distinguished himself either as the son of Zebedee, or the sou of Alpheus. The former was, however, slain by Herod, in A.D. 44 (See Acts xii. 2), about seventeen years before this is commonly supposed to have been written; but the date is by no means certain, aud from no allusion being made to the calling of the Gentiles, some critics have strongly urged that it must bave been written before that period ; and some references to the Synagogue worship seem to intimate that it was written before the converts to Christianity had separated therefrom. On the other hand, its later date has been argued from the apparent allusions it contains, in chap. iv, and V., to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in A.D. 70, and which bas induced the majority of critics and commentators to ascribe the Epistle to Jaines the less, who, as tradition reports, suffered martyrdom in A.D. 62: yet as these events had been long before predicted by our Lord, and there were certainly approaching signs of the event, particularly in the temper and spirit of the Jews themselves, it might weil be alluded to by the elder James, especially as our Lord had only stated the event to happen during that generation, and many probably expected it several years before it came. (See Matt. xxii. 33, 34.)
But whether this Epistle was written by James the greater or the less, hy the son of Zebedee or of Alpheus, is of little moment, as they were both Apostles of Jesus Christ. This doubt, however, probably occasioned its being received into the Church later than some other Epistles ; and a supposed contradiction between this and some of Paul's Epistles on the subject of Justification* (which, in our Exposition, we shall endeavour to reinove) much increased the difficulty of its general reception. It appears, however, by Eusebius, that from “the beginning of the fourth century, the seved Epistles called Catholic were well known and received by many, though some of them were not received by all”-as, for instance, this of James, the second of Peter, that of Jude, and the second and third of John. James, indeed, has the preference to the others here named, in being included in the first Syriac version of the New Testament, which was made in the beginning of the second century.
Dr. Mill lays much stress on some parallel passages in the writings of St. Peter and Paul, as indicating their acquaintance with this Epistle ; and others have referred to passages in Clement of Rome, and in Hermas, in the first century; but most of these, consisting in a mere coincidence of phrase, form, in our opinion, but doubtful arguments in proof of its canonical authority. Origen. bowever, decidedly quotes "the Epistle ascribed to James," and some passages of the Apostolical Fathers should probably be considered in the same light. But the chief external argument in favour of the Epistle seems to be its admission into the first Syriac Testament. This was translated for the use of the converted Jews, who were certainly better judges of its authenticity than the Gentiles. To which it may be added, that this Epistle is inserted in all the catalogues of the canonical books of Scripture, which were published by the general and provincial Councils."
Though the critics are divided both as to the author and date of this Epistle, all seem to agree that it was written from Jerusalem or its neighbourhood.
List of the seven Catholic Epistles, their authors and dates ; from the Rev. T. H. Horne's
Analysis of the New Testament. The Epistle of James Written from Judea
About A.D. 61 1 Peter
Rome 2 Peter Rome
65 1 John · perhaps from Ephesus
68 or 69 2 & 3 John Ephesus
68 ar 69 Jude. - Unknown
64 or 65
See Horne's Introduction, vol. iv. ch. iv. $ 2, Macknight's Preface to this Epistle,
and Preb. Townsend's N. Test, Arranged, vol. ii. Nole p. 511-517.
* It was on this ground that bold Reformer, Luther, who it is well known rejected it from his cam, called it (Epistola straminea) a strawy or chaffy Epistle. He is said, however, latterly to have altered bis opinion. Macknight.
Address to the twelve] CHAP. I. (tribes in their dispersion. CHAP. 1.
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let
him ask of God, that giveth to all JAMES, a servant of God and of men liberally, and upbraideth not ; and
the Lord Jesus Christ, to the it shall be given bim. twelve tribes which are scattered 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing abroad, greeting.
wavering. For he that wavereth is 2 My brethren, count it all joy like a wave of the sea driven with the when ye fall into divers temptations; wind and tossed,
3 Knowing this, that the trying of 7 For let not that man think that your faith worketh patience.
he shall receive any thing of the 4 But let patience have her perfect Lord. work, that ye may be perfect and 8 A double minded man is unstable entire, wanting nothing.
in all his
peculiar ebarge, and to whom some things (A) Ver, 1-8. We must rejoice in tri- in the Epistle more especially belong. bulation-seek wisdom of God-regard at- The salutation here following is not tentively his word-and pray for divine grace and peace," as in most of Paul's direction. - James, in the address of Epistles, but health. It is remarkable, this Epistle, simply describes himself as however, that the same term is used in the
a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus original, in the apostolical decree. (Acts Christ," which he seems to consider as the xv. 23.)' “ The apostles, &c. send greethighest of all honours. This term is in ing"- '-or health, “to the brethren which itself nearly synonymous with apostle, which are of the Gentiles." simply means a messenger ; but in its New The great object of the inspired author Testavient use, a special messenger from of this Epistle appears to be, to encourage the Lord Jesus Christ to sinners of man- and support the believing Hebrews under kind, and one of his own immediate at- the various trials to which their Christian tendants when on earth. The omission of profession was likely to expose them; the the latter term (apostle) was, however, in word temptations must, therefore, be bere the early ages, made an objection to its taken in its most extensive sense, as indivine authority.
cluding every kind of trials. Philosophy This Epistle is then addressed to the may attempt to reconcile is to these, under "twelve tribes (of Israel] scattered abroad," the idea of their being the universal and which is (as alınost every thing may be) unavoidable lot of man : but Christianity differently interpreted. Some including alone can teach us to rejoice in them, as the whole Jewish nation, wherever found; “working together for our good.” “Faith while others confine the expression to Jews can derive the honey-eyed sweetness of scattered in all the surrounding countries, present profit, and the valuable prospects of which there were certainly great num- of future benefit, out of sickness and bers, as we fiud by the history of the day poverty, pains and woes, disappointments of Pentecost. (Acts ii. 5, 9-11.) of the and bereavements. It can sanctify sorformer opinion are Beza, Lardner, Mac- rows, and cause us to rejoice in tribuknight, Doddridge, &c.; and we should lation ;' yea, to count it all joy, full, unsay, with Macknight, that if "the apostle's abated, overflowing advantage to our best letter was chiefly intended for the Jews in and higher interests, when we fall into foreign countries," yet does it not exclude many and diversified temptations." the Jews in Judea, who were the writer's In contemplating these afflictions, we
NOTES, CHAP. 1. Ver. 1. Twelve tribes. It is evident Hail! and is used by our Lord himself in the plu. that Josephas believed all the tribes to be yet in ral, Matt. xxviii. 9, “ All hail!". The same word being, when he relates, that six persons of each is also used 2 John, ver. 10 and 11, which see. tribe were selected to form the Septuagint transla. Ver. 2 Divers temptations. The word templa.
See Acts xxvi. 6. -Scaitered abroad. tions is here used in the most extensive sense for all Doddr. “ in dispersion,” Dr. Whitby quotes pas. kinds of trials. So Deut. iv. 33; Luke xxii. 28; sages from Josephus, Philo, and even Cicero, stating Acts xx. 19. that Jews were to be found in great multitudes, in Ver. 4. But (Gr. de), And lel, &c.—So Doddr. almost all parts of the world. Greeting-(Gr, Ver. 8. A double-minded man,-Mack." Aman of chairein.) Luke i. 28, the same word is rendered wo mipds."
Advantages of ]
[enduring temptation. 9 T Let the brother of low degree the Lord hath promised to them that rejoice in that he is exalted :
love him. 10 But the rich, in that he is made 13 Let no man say when he is low : because as the flower of the grass tempted, I am tempted of God: fir he shall pass away.
God cannot be tempted with evil, 11 For the sun is no sooner risen neither tempteth he any man : with a burning heat, but it withereth 14 But every man is tempted, when the grass, and the flower thereof fall- he is drawn away of his own lust, and eth, and the grace of the fashion of enticed. it perisheth : 50 also shall the rich man 15 Then when lust hath conceived, fade away in his ways.
it bringeth forth sin : and sin, when it 12 Blessed is the man that endureth is finished, bringeth forth death. temptation : for when he is tried, he 16 Do not err, my beloved breshall receive the crown of life, which thren,
EXPOSITION-Chap. I. Continued. should particularly consider their tendency The following anecdote well illustrates to produce patience, a grace of the highest the propriety of applying to God for wise importance to the Christian life, and which, dom, as here enjoined, and we would par. if not impeded, will have the happiest ticularly recommend it to the sceptic al effect in raising and perfectigg the Christ- the present day : ian character. So St. Paul teaches us A gentleman once called on Dr. Jass (Rom. v. 3—5), that“ tribulation worketh Foster, a popular preacher of the last patience, patience experience, and expe- century, to request the solution of some rience hope"-even “ hope that maketh sceptical objections, with which his mind not ashamed.”
was much barassed. The Doctor stopped The next subject for our consideration is him short with this question—" Have you the importance of true wisdom, and the asked a solution of your difficulties from source from which it can be alone obtained. God this morning? Have you prayed to “If any of you lack (or need) wisdom, let the fountain of all light for information." him ask it of God, who giveth to all men Upon receiving an answer in the negative, liberally, and upbraideth not.” Hence we he rejoined, "Sir, you must excuse my may learn that God is the only source of gratifying your curiosity on the subject of true wisdom-that he bestows this, as he Revelation, while you neglect one of the does all his favours, unmerited and uncon- first duties of natural religion."-(Buck's strained; and, when we penitently return Pract. Expos. Sept. 16.) to him, reproaches us not for former in- But to return to our apostle.-" The gratitude or misimprovement. He is the double-minded man (or man of two miods) source of wisdom, 'as the sun is of light; is unstable in all his ways." He is conand commuuicates spiritual and intellectual pared, therefore, to the waves of the sea, blessings, as the sun does his rays to men of incessantly rising and falling, and driven every clime and country. But ihen we are by every breath of wind that blows : commanded to “ ask in faith, nothing coutinually changing his mind, and not wavering." One presenting a petition to knowing his owu wants or wishes, bor Augustus in a timorous and trembling can be expect to receive a grant of them from manper, the Emperor expressed himself the Lord'? To feel our wants is the first displeased, as it implied a doubt of his thing necessary in prayer; and he who generosity. Let not that may who doubts knows not liis deficiency in grace or ma: the benevolence of God, expect to prove it dom, can have little reason to expect in his own experience.
NOTES-Chap. I. Cou. Ver. 9. Rejoice.-Marg. “ glory." er. 11. T'he grace of the fashion of it.-Doddr.
tempt Abraham." See Expos, of Gen. xxii, 1–19
%. To seduce to evil : in this sense he tempts no man " The beauty of its form."
Ver. 14. Drawn away, &c.- Doddr. * alloral Red Ver. 13. God cannot be tempted with evil -- Marg. "evils." Doddr. and Macki.“ God is incapable of
ensnared," Mackn. The allusion here is to the being tempted by evils," or evil things. -Neither
drawing of fish out of a river with a baited hook. tempteth he any inan. --The terra tempt has evidently
Ver. 15. Bringeth forth death.-Compare Res.
vii, 8-11. two meanings; 1. To try, prope ; so " God did