GENERAL EPISTLE OF JAMES.
Completed by Dr. S. Wright.
THE writer of this espistle was not James the son of Zebedee : for he was put to death by Herod, (Acts 12.) before Christianity had gained so much ground among the Jews of the dispersion, as is here impHed. But it was the other James, the son of Alpheus ; who was cousin-german to Christ, and one of the twelve apostles. Matt. 10. 3. He is called a pillar ; (Gal. 2. 9.) and this epistle of his caimot be dis- puted, without loosening a foundation-stone. It is called a general epistle, because (as some think) not directed to any particular person or church ; but such a one as we call a circular letter. Others think it is called gerieral or catholic, to distinguish it from the epistles of Ignatius, Barnabas, Polycarp, and others who were noted in the primitive times, but not generallv received in the church, and on that account not canonical, as this is. Eusebius tells us that this epistle was generally read in the churches with the other catholic epistles. Hist. Eccles. na'ire 53 Ed Val. Anno I6r8. St. James, our author, was called the just, for his great piety. He was an eminent example of those graces which he presses upon others. He was so exceedingly revered for his justice temperance, and devotion, that Josephus the Jewish historian records it as one of the causes of the destruction of Jerusalem, "That St. James was martyred in it." This is mentioned in hopes of procuring the greater regard to what is penned by so holy and excellent a man. he time when this epistle was written is uncertain. The design of it is, to reprove Cln The listians for their ereat degeneracy both in faith and manners ; and to prevent the spreading of those libertine doctrines which threatened the destruction of all practical godliness. (Particulars shall be laid down in the con- tents at the beginning of each chapter.) It was also a special intention of the author of this epistle, to awaken the Jewish nation to a sense of the greatness and nearness of those judgments which were coming uDon them ; and to support all true Christians in the way of their duty, under the calamities and per- secutions they might meet with. The truths laid down are very momentous, and necessary to be maintained ; and the rules for practice, as here stated, are such as ought to be observed m our times as well as in preceding ages.
AAcr t.ie inscription and salutation, (v. 1.) Christians are taught how to conduct themselves when under the cross. Several graces and duties are recommended ; and those who endure their trials and afflictions as the apostle here direcU, are pronounced blessed, and are assured of a glo- rious reward, v. 2 . . 12. But those sins which bring suf- ferings, or the weaknesses and faults men are chargeable with under them, are by no means to be imputed to God ; who cannot be the author of sin, but is the Author of all good, V. 13. . 18. All passion and rash anger, and vile affections, ought to be suppressed. The word of God should be made our chief study : and what we hear and know of it, we must take care to practise ; otherwise our religion will prove but a vain thin^. To this is added an account wherein pure religion consists, v. 19 . . 27.
1.JAMES, a servant of God and of the J Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. . My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3. Knowing t/iis, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4. But let patience have her per- fect work, that ye may be perfect and en- tire, wauling nothing. 5. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, ihat giveth to all meti 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 thing of the Lord. 8. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. 9. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10. But the rich, in that he is made low : because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 1 1 . For the sun