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It is with sin, as it is in our natural birth: in every one of us, there is originally a corrupt disposition, and proneness to sin: from hence are our evil lusts and desires ; those vicious lusts and desires bring forth sinful actions; and sin, when it is grown to a consummation and perfect course, bringeth forth eternal death.
1. 17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Every good gift proceeds from that God, who is the author and original of all light; whom we may not measure by these created lights of the moon or sun, in which there are interchanges of brightness and, obscurity, by night and day, by clouds and clearness, some while shining and some while shadowed; but must conceive of him, to be ever constant in his most just decrees, in his rich mercies to us, without all variableness, without all suspicion or possibility of changing.
I. 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.
And that infinite and unchangeable mercy of his hath approved itself to us in this, that, of his own free will, without any merit of ours, without any of our inclination towards him, he hath regenerated us to himself; not by the mortal and corrupt seed which we derived from Adam, but by the immortal and incorruptible seed of the word of truth; that we should be singled out as the noblest and happiest of his creatures.
I. 20. For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
For the mind of that man, who is taken up with wrath, cannot, for the time, be capable of doing the will of God, or bringing forth any good work.
1. 21. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engraffed word, which is able to save your souls.
Wherefore, that ye may be fit, as good ground, to receive this divine seed, do ye rid your hearts of all that natural uncleanness and those sinful dispositions and affections, which, as so many superfluous and hurtful weeds, take up the soil of your hearts, and make it unprofitable and noisome; and, with meekness and purity of heart, receive ye that holy word of God, which, by the hands of his Apostles, is cast into the furrows of your souls, or is engraffted in your hearts by their gracious plantation, as that which is only able to save your souls.
I. 25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, &c.
But whosoever looketh throughly into the perfect glass of Christian doctrine, and vieweth himself and his actions therein
well and fully; and continueth to fix his eyes and thoughts thereupon; he being, &c.
I. 27. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
That religion, which shall pass for pure and undefiled, in the account and censure of God our Heavenly Father, is not that, which consists in good words, and glorious shews and holy professions; but that, which approves itself in action ; in visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction, in relieving the distressed, and in keeping ourselves free from all the defilements of the world, from the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
II. 1. My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
My brethren, ye, that make profession of the faith and true religion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, know, that it is not for you to have respect of persons; as I perceive some of you are wont to have.
II. 4. Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
Are ye not then sensibly partial ? and are ye nat plainly selfconvicted in your own hearts, of the undue partiality of your thoughts?
II. 7. Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called ?
Yea, are not those rich men grown to that insolence and boldness, as that they dare blaspheme that Sacred Name of God, by which ye rejoice to be called, and which ye boast to profess?
II. 10. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
For, whosoever shall profess to endeavour the keeping of the whole Law of God, if he do willingly offend in any one point thereof, he is, in that one, a transgressor of the Law; and is guilty of the violation of the whole Law, as it is taken together for the absolute rule of our life and carriage, though not of every particular branch and parcel of that Law.
II. 11. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill.
For we are not to look so much at the several points contained in the Law, as to the authority and justice of him that made the Law; which is indeed violated and offended by any breach thereof; for the same God, who said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill.
II. 12. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
So do ye speak and so do, as those, that desire to be approved unto God, for their loving obedience to him; as those, that make account to be judged, not by the rigour of the Law, but by the gracious mitigation and mercy of God, calling us to a free and cheerful observation thereof.
II. 13. And mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
It is the great praise and glory of God's mercy, that it freeth us from the judgment deserved by our sin.
II. 14. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have no works ? can faith save him ?
What doth it profit a man, my brethren, to make a vain and empty profession and ostentation of faith; and to say, that he hath a true faith, when as he hath no good works, whereby to approve the truth of his faith? Can such a pretended and verbal faith save him?
II. 17. Eren so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
As that is a vain and idle charity, which bids a man be warm and be filled, yet gives him nothing to feed or warm him with; so is that a vain and dead faith, which, professing an adherence to God, yet is severed from all good works, and is void of charity.
II. 18. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I hare works : shew me thy faith without thy works, und I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Yea, a man may, in a just scorn of the separation of these men's faith and works, say to them, Thou hast faith and I works: shew me that strange faith of thine, which thou talkest of, and pretendest to have without works, and I will shew thee my faith, which I shall approve to thee by my works.
II. 20. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
But wilt thou know, O thou vain man, that that faith, which thou pretendest to have, without works, is a mere counterfeit and dead faith, and nothing else but an idle pretence.
II. 21. Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
No otherwise are we justified than our Father Abraham, the Father of the Faithful; and was he any other way justified than by a working faith? was it not upon his actual offering of his son Isaac upon the altar?
II. 22. Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
Seest thou, therefore, how Abraham's faith was joined with works, and brought them forth as a necessary fruit thereof? so as by the works which he did, he plainly shewed the truth, and liveliness, and efficacy of his faith.
II. 23. Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. See Romans iv. 3.
II. 24. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Ye see then that a man is justified, not by that empty and titular faith which ye vainly boast of, devoid of works; but by that faith, which worketh by love.
II. 25. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
Likewise also, if ye will cast your eyes upon a meaner example, look to Rahab the harlot: was it not thus with her? was she justified by such a dead and lazy faith, as ye speak of; and not rather by a lively and working faith ; which caused her to hazard her life for the preservation of the Israelitish messengers, and to send them out another way?
II. 26. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
I do therefore conclude, that this faith of yours, which ye vainly pretend, separated from good works, is but a mere carcase of faith ; having no truth, no life in it: no more than this body of ours, is a true human body, when it is destitute of the spirit wherewith it is animated.
III. 1. My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
My brethren, do not ambitiously affect the title of the authors and leaders of factions; drawing disciples after you : neither be ye rigid and uncharitable censurers of others; knowing that this pride and rigour of yours, shall bring upon you the greater condemnation.
III. 2. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, &c.
For as we are all apt to offend in our whole carriage, so especially in our tongue: if any man have so much government of himself, therefore, as to rule his tongue, and not to lash out in offensive speeches; it is an argument that that man is every way well ordered, and able to command himself in all his other behaviour.
III. 5. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
Even so the tongue is a little member, but may justly boast that it is able to do great matters: behold, how great a pile of wood a little fire is able to set in a flame, and to consume unto ashes!
III. 6. And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body.
Such a fire is the tongue; yea it is, though small, a whole world of iniquity and mischief; neither is there any kind of wickedness, which doth not proceed from thence.
III. 10. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Men are wont to make use of the same tongue, both for the blessing of God in their devotions, and for the cursing of their brethren in their uncharitable speeches and censures: but, my brethren, this ought not to be; neither can these two things stand well together.
III. 13. Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
Let him, in his conversation, give clear proof of his good works; not in a rough and sullen austerity and frowardness, but in a wise and discreet meekness.
III. 14. Glory not, and lie not against the truth.
Never brag vainly that ye are Christians; and do not shame and contradict that truth which ye profess, by a real denial of the profession thereof.
III. 15. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
Ye may make a kind of ostentation of wisdom; but I must tell you, this wisdom is not heavenly, but earthly; not spiritual, but sensual; not holy and divine, but devilish.
III. 18. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
There is a great and near relation, betwixt righteousness and peace; so as they, that are truly desirous to advance peace, are careful of setting forward good works and maintenance of justice; and again, those shall be sure to reap the fruits of righteousness and glory, which have sown the seeds of peace and concord.
IV. 1. From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members ?
But, while I speak of righteousness and peace, I perceive there is just cause to complain of unquiet broils and injustice: for, from whence are those wars and brawlings and unchristian quarrels amongst you, but from your own unruly and inordinate lusts and desires ? if they did not fight against grace in your bosoms, ye would not be so apt to fight with each other.
IV. 2. Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to hare, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye hare not, because ye ask not.
Ye long after others' commodities, and go without them: ve are rancorously and murderously affected to each other, in an envious desire of what is theirs, and cannot obtain it: ye quarrel and strive one with another, and carry not away that which ye sue for: and, whereas ye should crave of God what ye want, ye have it not, because ye ask it not.