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by receiving His testimony in spite of everything within and without. This, God sees and knows. But when our fellow.creatures are in question, when it must be said "show me," then faith, life, shows itself in works.

In chap. iii. the apostle recurs to the tongue, the most ready index to the heart, the proof whether the new man is in action, whether nature and self-will are under restraint. But there is hardly anything here which needs remark, although much that demands the hearing ear. Where there is the divine life, knowledge does not display itself in mere words, but in the walk and by works in which the meekness of true wisdom will be seen. Bitterness and contention are not the fruits of a wisdom that comes from above, but are earthly, of the nature of man, and of the enemy,

The wisdom that comes from above, having its place in the life, in the heart, has first of all the character of purity, for the heart is in communion with God, has intercourse with Him, therefore there must needs be this purity. Next

, it is peaceable, gentle, ready to yield to the will of another; then, full of good works, acting by a principle

, which, as its origin and motives are from above, does good without partiality, that is to say, its action is not guided by the circumstances which influence the flesh and the passions of men.

For the same reason, it is sincere and unfeigned.

These directions to bridle the tongue as the first move. ment and expression of the will of the natural man, extend to believers.

There are not to be (as to the inward disposition of the man) many teachers. We all failand to teach others and fail oneself, only increases our condemnation. For vanity can easily be fed in teaching others—and that is a very different thing from having the life quickened by the power of truth. The Holy Ghost bestows His gifts as He pleases: the apostle speaks ere of the propensity in one who teaches, not of the gift he may have received for teaching.

In all that follows (chap. iv.) we have still the judg. ment of unbridled nature, of will in its different forms: contentions that arise from the lusts of the natural heart; VOL.XII. PT.V.


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requests made to God proceeding from the same source; the desires of the flesh and of the mind, developing themselves and finding their sphere in the friendship of the world which is thus enmity against God. The nature of man covets enviously, is full of envy gard to others. But God gives more grace: there is counteracting power, if one is content to be little and humble, to be as nothing, in the world. The grace and favour of God are with such a one; for He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Upon this, the apostle unfolds the action of a soul directed by the Spirit of God in the midst of the unbelieving and selfish multitude with whom it was associated (7-10). For he still supposes the believers whom he addressed to be in connection with the law. If they spoke evil of their brother, to whom the law gave a place before God, they spoke evil of the law, according to which his value was so great. Judgment belonged to God who had given the law, and who would vindicate His own authority as well as grant deliverance and salvation

Vers. 13—16. The same self-will and forgetfulness of God are blamed; the false confidence that flows from reckoning upon being able to do as one pleased, the absence of dependence on God. Ver. 17 is a general conclusion, founded on the principle already suggested (iii. 1), and on that which is said with regard to faith. The knowledge of good, without its practice, causes even the absence of the work which one could have performed to be a positive sin. The action of the new man is absent, that of the old man is present; for the good is before our eyes, we know what we ought to do, and do not choose to do it: there is no inclination to do it we will not do it.

Chap. v. The two classes in Israel are distinctly marked here, in contrast with one another; with the addition of the walk which the Christian ought to pursue when chastised by the Lord.

The apostle gives the coming of the Lord as the term

• Compare Thess. iv. 3, where the Spirit takes the place of the Law here.

of their condition, both to the unbelieving rich oppressors in Israel, and to the poor believing remnant. The rich have heaped up treasures for the last days The oppressed poor are to be patient until the Lord Himself shall come to deliver them. Moreover, he says, deliverance would not be delayed. The husbandman waits for the rain and the time of harvest; the Christian for his Master's coming. This patience characterises, as we have seen, the walk of faith. It had been witnessed in the prophets; and in the case of others we count them happy which endure afflictions for the Lord's sake. Job shows us the ways of the Lord: he needed to have patience, but the end of the Lord was blessing and tender mercy towards him.

This expectation of the coming of the Lord was a solemn warning, and at the same time the strongest encouragement, but one which maintained the true character of the Christian's practical life. It showed also what the selfishness of man's will would end in, and it restrained all action of that will in believers. The feelings of brethren towards each other were placed under the safeguard of this same truth. They were not to have a spirit of discontent, or to murmur against others who were perhaps more favoured in their outward circumstances; “ The Judge stood before the door."

Oaths displayed still more the forgetfulness of God, and the acting consequently of the self-will of nature. "Yea” ought to be yea, and “ Nay,” nay. The actings of the divine nature-in the consciousness of the presence of God; and the repression of all human will and of sinful nature, is what the writer of this epistle desires.

Now, there were resources in Christianity both for joy and sorrow. If any were afflicted, let them pray: God was ready to hear. If happy, let them sing. If sick, send for the elders of the assembly, who would pray for the sufferer and anoint him, and the chastisement will be removed and the sins for which, according to God's government, he was thus chastised, will be forgiven as regards that government; for it is that only which is here spoken of. The imputation of sin for condemnation has

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no place here. The efficacy of the prayer of faith is set before us; but it is in connection with the maintenance of sincerity of heart. The government of God is exercised with regard to His people. He chastises them by sickness; and it is important that truth in the inner man should be maintained. Men hide their faults—they desire to walk as if all were going on well—but God judges His people. He tries the heart and the reins. They are held in the bonds of affliction. God shows them their faults, or their unbroken self-will. “ The multitude of their bones is chastised with strong pain.” And now the Church of God intervenes in charity, and according to its own order, by means of the elders: the sick man commits himself to God confessing his state of need, the charity of the Church acts and brings him who is chastised, according to this relationship, before God—for that is where the Church is. Faith pleads this relationship of grace; the sick man is healed. If sins—and not merely the need of discipline-were the cause of his chastisement, those sins will not hinder his being healed, they shall be forgiven him.

The Apostle then presents the principle in general, as the course for all, namely, to open their hearts to each other, in order to maintain truth in the inner man as to oneself, and to pray for each other, in order that charity should be in full exercise with regard to the faults of others, grace and truth being thus spiritually formed in the Church, and a perfect union of heart among Christians, so that even their faults are an occasion for the exercise of charity (as in God towards us), and entire confidence in each other, according to that charity, such as is felt towards a restoring and pardoning God. What a beautiful picture is presented of Divine principles animating men and causing them to act according to the nature of God Himself, and the influence of His love upon the heart.

We may remark, that it is not confession to the elders that is spoken of. That would have been confidence in men-official confidence. God desires the operation of Divine charity in all. Confession to one another shows the condition of the Church, and God would have the

Church to be in such a state, that love should so reign in it, that they should be so near to God as to be able to treat the transgressor according to the grace they know in Him; and that this love should be so realized, that perfect inward sincerity should be produced by the confidence and operation of grace. Official confession destroys all this—is contrary to it. How Divine the wisdom which omitted confession when speaking of the elders, but which commands it as the living and voluntary expression of the heart,

This leads us also to the value of the energetic prayers of the righteous man. It is his nearness to God, the sense that he, consequently, has of that which God is, which (through grace and the operation of the Spirit) gives him this power. God takes account of men, and that, according to the infinitude of His love. He takes account of the trust in Himself, the faith in His Word, shown by one who thinks and acts according to a just appreciation of what He is. That is always faith, which makes sensible to us that which we do not see— God Himself - who acts in accordance with the revelation that He has given of Himself. Now, the man who in the practical sense is righteous through grace, is near to God; as being righteous, he has not to do with God for himself with regard to sin, which would keep his heart a: a distance; his heart is thus free to draw nigh to God, according to His holy nature, on the behalf of others; and, moved by the Divine nature that animates him, and which enables him to appreciate God, he seeks, according to the activity of that nature, that his prayers may prevail with God, whether for the good of others or for the glory of God Himself in His service. And God answers, according to that saine nature, by blessing this trust and responding to it, in order to manifest what He is for faith, to encourage it by sanctioning its activity, putting His seal on the man who walks by faith.

The Spirit of God acts, we know, in all this; but the Apostle does not here speak of Him, being occupied with the practical effect, and presenting the man as he is sten, acting under the influence of this nature in its positive energy with regard to God, and near to Him,

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