Page images
[blocks in formation]

the condemnation of men, which the brethren might escape who sware falsely concerning their faith.

Ver. 13.-1. Let him sing psalms. In this, and what goes before, the apostle advises us to employ ourselves in such private religious exercises as are suitable to our present circumstances and frame of mind. When rendered cheerful, by contemplating the manifestations which God hath made of his perfections in the works of creation, providence, and redemption, or by any blessing bestowed on ourselves, we are to express our joy, not by drinking and singing profane lewd songs, but by hymns of praise, and by thanksgivings to God for all his mercies. See Ephes. v. 18, 19. On the other hand, when afflicted we are to pray; that being the best means of producing in ourselves patience and resignation. But as the precept concerning our singing psalms when cheerful, does not imply that we are not to pray then; so the precept concerning prayer in affliction, does not imply that we are not to express our joy in suffering according to the will of God, by singing psalms as Paul and Silas did in the jail at Philippi.

Ver. 14.-1. Send for the elders of the church; namely where the sick 51


15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye

may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.


15 Και ἡ ευχη της πισσωσει τον καμνοντα, και εγερει αυτον ὁ Κύριος. Καν ἁμάρτιας η πεποιηκως, αφελήσεται αυτῷ.

16 Εξομολογείσθε αλλη λοις τα παραπτώματα, και ευχεσθε ὑπερ αλληλων, όπως ιαθητε. Πολυ ισχύει δέησις δικαιου ενεργουμενη.

person lives. See 1 Tim. v. 17. note 1. for an account of the elders -In the first age, the spiritual gifts were dispensed in such plenty, that no church was without these gifts; and particularly, in every church there were some who possessed the gift of miraculously healing the sick.

2. Let them pray over him, that is, with their hands laid on him. This is what is called the prayer of faith, ver. 15. See note 1. there; also the notes on the parallel passage, 1 John v. 14. 16.

3. Having anointed him with oil. Although the rite here prescribed, is not mentioned in the account which the evangelists have given of Christ's commission to his disciples to heal the sick, Matt. x. 8. Luke ix. 2. it is probable he appointed it then. For in the account given of the execution of that commission, it is said, Mark vi. 13. They anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.—The anointing the sick with oil, was not prescribed, either by car Lord or by his apostle, as a natural remedy, but as a sensible token to the sick person himself and to those who were present, that a miracle of healing was going to be performed. Where no miracle is to be performed, to use anointing, as a religious rite, is a vain superstition. See 1 John v. 16. note 4.

Ver. 15.-1. And the prayer of faith. In scripture, faith sometimes signifies the spiritual gifts in general, Rom. xii. 3. sometimes the gift of working miracles, 1 Cor. xii. 9. xiii. 2. and sometimes the gift of healing diseases miraculously, Acts iii. 16. in which sense it is to be understood here. The gift of working miracles was called faith, because they were always performed in consequence of an impression made by the Spirit, on the mind of the person who was to perform them, moving him to undertake the miracle, and working in him a full persuasion that it would be performed. Wherefore, the prayer of faith, is a prayer which the elder, moved by the Spirit of God, was to make for the recovery of the sick in the full persuasion that the Lord would raise him up. See 1 John v. 16. note 1.

Ver. 16-1. Confess your faults one to another. In sickness we are to confess our faults one to another, not because we have power to grant pardon of sin to each other: But diseases being often inflicted as the punishment

15 And the prayer of faith will save (тov xaμYOVTa) the sick person, and so the Lord will raise him up. (Kev, etsi) And although he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

16 Confess YOUR faults 1 one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. (See I John v. 16. note 3.) The nwrought prayer (dinary, 69.) of the righteous man availeth much. 3

15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick person from his disease, and the Lord will raise him up from his sick-bed. See Mark i. 31. So that although he hath committed sins, for which that disease was sent on him they shall be forgiven him by the removal of the disease. (See 1 John v. 16. note 3.)

16 In your sickness, therefore, confess your faults to one another, If ye have done one another any injury. And the injured to whom the confession is made, ought to forgive the sick, and pray for him that he may be healed. The inspired prayer of the elder, (ver. 14.) accompanied with the prayer of the injured party, hath great influence with God.

of particular sins, (1 Cor. xi. 30.) when the sick are made sensible in the course of their disease, that they have injured their brethren, they ought to shew their repentance, by confessing these sins to them, and by asking their pardon. This passage of scripture, therefore, affords no foundation for the Popish practice of auricular confession to the priest,-Besides mutual confession being here enjoined, the priest is as much bound by this precept to confess to the people, as the people to the priest; not to mention that confession in general is not enjoined, here, but confession to the in ur ed party only, agreeably to our Lord's direction, Matt. v. 25. And, when acknowledgment is made to him, he ought to forgive, and pray for the party who injured him, that he may be healed. See the following note.

2. And pray for one another, that ye may be healed. Here four things are observable. 1. That this confession was to be made, not by a person in health that he might obtain eternal salvation, but by a sick person that he might be healed.-2. That this direction being addressed to women as well as to men, they are required to pray for one another, and even for the men, whether laity or clergy, who have injured them.-3. That there is no mention here of absolution either by the priest, or by any other person.-4. Absolution, in the sound sense of the word, being nothing but a declaration of the promises of pardon which are made in the gospel to penitent sinners, every one who understands the gospel-doctrine may, as Benson observes, declare these promises to penitent sinners, as well as any bishop or priest whatever, and the one hath no more authority to do it than the other; nay, every sincere penitent may expect salvation without the absolution of any

17 Elias was a than sub

ject to like passions as we

are, and he prayed earnest

ly that it might not


and it rained not on the

earth by the space of three

years and six months.


17 Ηλιας ανθρωπος ην μοιοπαθης ἡμῖν· και προσευξαι και ουκ εβρεξεν επι της χῃ προσηύξατο του μη βρεγης ενιαυτους τρεις και μηνας ἑξ.

18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain,

and the earth brought forth her fruit.

18 Και παλιν προσηυξατο, και ὁ ουρανος ὑετον εδωκαι ἡ γη εβλαςησε τον καρπον αυτης.


19 Brethren, if any of

19 Αδελφοι εαν τις εν ύyou do err from the truth, μιν πλανηθη απο της αληθειας, και επιτρεψῃ τις του,

and one convert him;

τις αυ

person whatever. Whereas the impenitent have no reason to expect that blessing, although absolved by all the priests in the world.

3. The inwrought prayer of the righteous man availeth much, namely, to obtain health for the sick.-Because this is called δευσις ενεργεμένη, the inwrought prayer, I think it must be understood of the prayer of the elder for the miraculous recovery of the sick, to which he was moved by the Spirit, and not of the prayer of any righteous man whatever. For we do not find in scripture that the prayers of such were followed with miraculous cures, unless they possessed the gift of healing, and were moved by an impulse of the Spirit to pray for the cure. In this verse it is intimated, that if the disease was inflicted on the sick person for some injury which he had committed, he was to shew his repentance by confessing his fault to him whom he had injured, before the elder prayed for his recovery : And, that to render the elders prayer the more effectual, the injured party was to join the elder in praying that the sick person might be healed.

Ver. 17.-1. Elias was a man of like infirmity with us. In this sense the word όμοιοπαθής is used, Acts xiv. 15. Literally it signifies suffering like things with another. Elijah through natural infirmity suffered as we do, from disease, from temptation, from persecution, &c.

2. And he prayed ferrently. In the history it is not said directly, either that the drought was brought on, or the rain sent, in consequence of Elijah's praving. But it is insinuated, that both happened through his prayer. For, 1 Kings xvii. 1. we are told that Elijah sware there should not be dew, nor rain these years, but according to his word; that is, as James hath explained it, according to his inspired prayer for drought or for rain.

3. And it did not rain upon the land for three years and six months. This is the period which our Lord likewise says the drought continued, Luke iv.

17 Elias was a man of like infirmity 1 with us. And he prayed fervently 2 (60.) that it might not rain, and it did not rain upon the land for three years and six months. 3

18 And again he prayed, and the heaven gave rain, and the land brought forth its fruit.

19 Brethren, if any one among you is seduced from the truth, and any one turn him back,1

17 The infirmities to which the elders are subject, will not hinder the efficacy of their prayers. Elijah was a man of like infirmity with us. And he, to shew Ahab, that the God whom he worshipped was the true God, prayed fervently that it might not rain. And it did not rain on the land of Israel, for three years and six


18 And the famine occasioned by the drought having humbled Ahab, Again Elijah prayed for rain, and the heaven gave rain, and the land brought forth its fruit plentifully.

19 Ye ought to be solicitous for each others eternal welfare, as well as for their temporal happiness. I therefore tell you, Brethren, if any one among you is seduced from the doctrine and practice of the gospel, and any person turn him back to the right path,

25. It is said indeed, 1 Kings xviii. 1. That in the third year the word of the Lord came to Elijah, namely, concerning the rain. But this third year was co nputed, from the time of his going to live at Zarephath, which happened many days after the drought began; as is plain from this, that he remained at the brook Cherith till it was dried up, and then went to Zarephath in the country of Sidon, 1 Kings xvii. 7. 9. Wherefore, the three years and six months must be computed from his denouncing the drought, at which time that judgment commenced.

Ver. 18.-1. And again he prayed, and the heaven gave rain. Of this second prayer there is an insinuation in the history: 1 Kings xviii. 42. where we are told, that he cast himself down on the earth, and put his face between bis knees for that was the posture of an humble and earnest supplicant. Besides, Moses's praying, is expressed by his falling on his face, Numb. xvi. 4.

Ver. 19.-1. And any one turn him back. This teaches us, that it is the duty of those who persevere in the path of truth, to endeavour, by friendly admonition and by good example, to turn back those who have wandered into error through the viciousness of their own disposition. See 2 Thess, xi. 12.

« PreviousContinue »