The Conversion of Sinners
James 5:19-20
Brothers, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;…

I. THE PROPENSITY OF MANKIND TO ERR FROM THE TRUTH SO obviously assumed in the text.

1. Some do err from the truth after being taught it by their parents and ministers; after knowing something of its beauty and excellence; after enrolling their names among its friends, and giving some hopeful proofs of its vital and transforming power. Gradually seduced by temptations, evil companions, &c., they become at first indifferent, then reject one point after another, and at last abandon all its claims, and join the ranks of its enemies.

2. Others do err from the truth through habitual inattention to its claims, or a secret aversion to its spirit and authority, felt in youth and confirmed afterwards by indulgence in sin, and the corrupting associations of the world.

3. More still err from the truth, through a total destitution of the means of knowledge, and the influence of some system of error and delusion, instilled into the mind in youth, and identified with all their interests and associations.

II. THE IMPORTANT CHANGE NECESSARY TO SALVATION; the conversion of a sinner from the error of his way. It is a change from ignorance of Divine things to spiritual discernment; from serious errors to the reception of saving truth; from unbelief to a cordial faith in the Son of God; from feelings and habits of impiety to the love and adoration of his Maker; from a course of vanity and sin to a life of integrity and virtue; from the mere morality of worldly prudence to all the graces of Christian piety; and from the inordinate cares and pursuits of time to a sincere and immediate preparation for eternity.

III. THE MEANS AND AGENCY BY WHICH THIS CHANGE MAY BE EFFECTED: "If one convert him." God might doubtless produce this change in a sinner by an immediate operation on the soul, without any sensible agency, or visible means whatever. But the apostle supposes, in the text, that one is converted by the instrumentality of another, and that the use of fit means for that purpose was the common concern of all who constituted the first Christian Churches. For, as in nature God effects all His purposes by second causes, and makes the elements of the physical system the means of all its changes and productions; so it has pleased Him, in the moral and spiritual world, to effect His purposes of grace by the instrumentality of His servants. The Spirit of God enlightens and improves the human spirit by reasonable means; by intelligent and self-conscious means; by means suited to its powers and responsibilities; by means which do not suspend its freedom, but lead the mind, of its own choice, to a new and efficient use of its faculties.


1. The magnitude of its immediate results.

2. The accordance of these means with the spirit and commands of the gospel, and the express purpose of God in the economy of redemption.

3. The promise of Divine influence in connection with human instrumentality, and the good already accomplished as a pledge of future success.

4. The subservience of the conversion of sinners to the glory of God, promoting as it does, in every instance, the manifestation of His perfections, and the triumphs of His grace, in restoring fallen man to His image and favour for ever.

5. The holy satisfaction to be found in this good work, and the gracious reward which awaits the faithful, in the blessed results of their exertions, and the grateful recollections of eternity.

(T. Finch.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

WEB: Brothers, if any among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,

The Conversion of Sinners
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