Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
I. To come to THE EXCELLENCY OF THE WORD, WHICH IS THE MEANS OF OUR REGENERATION, the apostle setteth down the other causes thereof also, so that in ver. 18 there are three causes of our regeneration the most apparent testimony of the goodness of God towards man.
1. The efficient.
2. The instrument.
3. The final cause.
1. The good will of God, the gracious favour and free purpose of God, is the first and efficient cause of salvation and regeneration in men.
2. The instrumental cause and means whereby we are regenerate is the Word of God, which St. James expresseth in this place.
(1) In respect of God, the Word and gospel is the Word of truth, because it is God's Word and gospel, who cannot lie, therefore His Word is, then, the Word of truth.
(2) As in respect of God, the Author thereof, the gospel may rightly be called the Word of truth, so in respect of Christ, who is the Matter, the very Subject whereof the gospel entreateth, it is the Word of truth, for it entreateth of Christ, and Christ is Truth itself, therefore is the gospel the Word of truth.
(3) Moreover, this Word is inspired from the Spirit.
(4) In respect that every particular thing in the gospel contained is true, therefore it is also the Word of truth. Whatsoever is there mentioned is most true. This is the seed of the new birth, from hence our new birth and regeneration ariseth. Whereof St. Paul speaking, testifieth to the Corinthians that he had begotten them through the gospel. If the gospel of Christ be the Word of truth, why do we not believe it? If it be the instrument of our regeneration, why do we not honourably embrace it? If thereby God hath begotten us again, why are we in any wise so careless of it; we come not to the hearing of this Word of truth? But either we talk out at table, or walk out abroad, or sleep out at home, or play out with company, or spend out in vain exercise, or contrive out with dalliance, or pass out by evil means, that time which is appointed for the preaching and hearing of the Word.
3. The final cause of our regeneration is that we should be the first-fruits of His creatures; that is, that out of the whole mass of mankind and kindreds of the earth, we might be select, culled and chosen out, to be a peculiar people unto Him, whose portion and lot, whose inheritance and peculiar people the saints are.
II. The Word of God being then so excellent, THE APOSTLE REMOVETH SUCH THINGS AS HINDER THE ATTENDING THEREUNTO; and the things which greatly hinder the Word are two:
1. Babbling and talking when we should hear with attentive and deep silence
2. Anger, when we are taught and reformed by the Word. Thus by the affections and perturbations of our minds, we oftentimes make the Word of God fruitless in us, and so to lose, not only the blessed effect it would work in us, but also, in a manner, the credit which it should have among men whereunto (were we the servants and true disciples of Christ) we would yield all attentive audience.
Parallel VersesKJV: Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.