James 1:9

The counsels contained in these verses spring out of the general exhortation of ver. 2. Riches and poverty are among the "manifold trials" which the subjects of them are to "count all joy." This passage has also a real connection with ver. 8, as the introductory conjunction in the original shows. The connection may be either in the thought that the love of money is a prevailing source of" double-mindedness;" or, that the comparison of one's own outward circumstances with those of one's neighbor may tend, apart from grace, towards spiritual unsteadiness rather than Christian simplicity.

I. TWO SPECIAL FORMS OF TRIAL. (Vers. 9, 10.) There are found together in the Church, as well as in the world outside," the rich brother" and "the brother of low degree." Everywhere inequalities obtain among men, which are of the Lord's appointing. He gives to one man larger intellectual possibilities than to another. In his providence he places one man in a more favorable position than another for the development of his energies. Fortunes vary according to abilities and opportunities, as well as in connection with causes which entail personal responsibility. Now, "the brother of low degree" finds his poverty a trial. It tries his body, by exhausting it with labor. It tries his mind, by placing obstacles in the way of his acquiring knowledge. It tries his heart, by limiting narrowly his enjoyment of the luxury of giving. It tries his temper, by wearing out his patience and inclining him to be fretful and satirical. But "the rich brother" has his trials also, arising out of his riches. The temptations of wealth are more serious, because more subtle, than those of poverty. The rich man's mind is often distracted with care; he finds that "a great fortune is a great slavery." Or, he may suffer the weariness and misery of ennui. Especially is he in danger of allowing his spiritual life to become corrupted by his abundance. A wealthy man is prone to grow high-minded and self-sufficient. He has to contend against the inveterate tendency of our fallen nature to abuse prosperity. When Jeshurun the upright "waxes fat," he is apt to "kick," i.e. to become self-willed, petulant, insolent, and neglectful of God. A rich man needs special grace to make and keep him a Christian.

II. How TO TRIUMPH OVER THE TRIAL OF POVERTY. (Ver. 9.) The apostle, in using here the term "brother," supplies a hint as to the secret of patience and joy under this form of trial. A Christian man may be "of low degree," but he is all the same a "brother." Straitened resources are no barrier, but the reverse, to the love and sympathy of the Lord Jesus; and they should be no barrier to that of his people. Well, the Christian who is in humble life is to "glory in his high estate." He is to accustom his mind to the thought of his exaltation as a believer. He has a real dignity: he is rich toward God. He belongs to the Divine family. "His elder Brother is a King, and hath a kingdom bought for him." He moves already in the best and blessedest society; and he is an heir of the heavenly inheritance. Angel-guardians minister to him, and use the very trial of poverty as a means of investing him with the true riches. What a blessed antidote is there in these things to the ills of penury!

III. How TO TRIUMPH OVER THE TRIAL OF RICHES. (Ver. 10.) The "rich" man here means a wealthy man who is a Christian "brother." There were a very few such persons in the membership of the early Church. Now, to the Christian who is wealthy, his very wealth is a God-sent trial. He is apt to make his material resources a ground of glorying or boasting. But James says here that the rich believer ought to boast "in that he is made low." Although a rich man, let him strive to be "poor in spirit." It is not necessary, at least in ordinary circumstances, that he divest himself of all his goods for Christ's sake. Rather is it desirable that the capital which drives the wheels of our commerce should be in the hands of Christian men, provided they use it aright. But the rich believer should give very liberally out of his profits. He should be a servant of servants to his brethren. He should constantly remember the Divine Giver of his prosperity; and, finding that it is hard to carry the full cup steadily, he should pour it out before the Lord. The greatest honor that can attach to the rich man is that he be a humble Christian. Humility is in his case particularly beautiful and becoming. In spiritual things he is a pensioner upon the charity of Heaven equally with other men. When he realizes his own guilt and sin, he ought to feel the more humbled that Providence is filling his lap out of the horn of plenty. Let him exult in the grace of Christ which has enabled him to pass through "the needle's eye." And let him realize how transient and perishable all earthly riches are. "As the flower of the grass he shall pass away." Some providence may suddenly strip him bare of all his wealth. And at least he will not be able to carry it with him into the next world. Therefore, let him not glory in his outward possessions. The rich Christian brother will triumph over the trial of material prosperity by glorying is his humiliation as sharing with the lowliest the true riches.

IV. THE DOOM OF THE UNGODLY RICH. (Vers. 10, 11.) Although these verses speak directly of the blight which may fall upon the wealth of a Christian man, yet this other thought is suggested none the less. A believer may so use his wealth as to help him towards heaven (Luke 16:9); but an evil rich man will do the very reverse. Material possessions are uncertain and perishable; and the man who joins on his life to them, and identifies his being with them, must inevitably perish, as they do. The sirocco-blast of the eternal storm shall wither up both the "grass" and the "flower." "The rich man shall fade away in his goings," i.e. when engrossed with his commercial journeys and purposes. The wealthy farmer shall be summoned from the world when he is drawing out the plans of his enlarged premises. He shall stumble out into eternity a fool (Luke 12:20). "He is like the beasts that perish" (Psalm 49.). Learn from this subject that neither poverty nor wealth is anything more than a circumstance in a man's life. Each of these conditions brings its blessings and its burdens. Each "doth place us proximate to sin, to suffer the contagion." But a man may through grace rise to equally great attainments in spiritual culture and in purity of life, whether he be very poor or very rich, or possessed of that moderate competency - less perilous than either extreme - for which Agur prayed (Proverbs 30:8). - C.J.

Let the brother of low degree rejoice.
I. "LET THE BROTHER OF LOW DEGREE REJOICE IN THAT HE IS EXALTED." When called to rejoice we expect a reason. Good cause may exist for joy; but unless we know it we cannot be affected by it. But in the injunction before us there is no want of true sympathy. A reason is assigned, "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted." The first thing here to be noticed is, that the humiliation and the exaltation cannot be of the same description. The one is temporal, the other spiritual — temporal depression, spiritual elevation. Their abasement as the children of earth and mortality is set in contrast with their exaltation as the children of God, and heaven, and eternity.

1. The poor of Christ's people are "exalted" as to birth. The poorest believer is a child of God, by the redeeming purchase of Christ's blood, and the regenerating power of His Spirit.

2. He is exalted as to character. This is inseparably associated with the former dignity. That birth itself is a change of character. It is a birth into a new life: a life of new principles, affections, desires, and a new course of conduct; and it is true "exaltation" — from the debasement of sin to the beauty of holiness — from the image of Satan to the image of God.

3. "The brother of low degree is exalted" in regard to his society. The poor Christian frequents no palaces; graces no parties of aristocratic fashion. But he has society which "the world knoweth not of"; society far higher than the highest to which this world, in its best estate, could introduce him. It is a society, indeed, which the world does not acknowledge, but it is honoured of God. They are "the excellent of the earth, in whom is all His delight"; and of whom He hath said, "I will dwell among them, and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

4. "The brother of low degree is exalted" in power; in dominion; in honour. It is a spiritual power; not a power of spiritual oppression, but of self-subjugation and self-control; and the power that proves victorious over the mightiest of the enemies of mankind — "the world, the flesh, and the devil."

5. "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted" in riches. The poorest believer is rich — rich in the present possession of "all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus"; rich in the future hope of the" inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away"; and, in one all-comprehensive word, rich in having "God Himself as the portion of his inheritance and cup."

6. "The brother of low degree may rejoice in being exalted," when he surveys his prospects. These are transcendently glorious. They surpass all our feeble conceptions.

II. Pass we now to the CONTRAST. It is contrast only as to this world and to time; for the spiritual blessings and hopes of poor and rich in the Church of God are the same: "But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away" (ver. 10). Now, according to the testimony of the Bible — confirmed by a sad amount of experience — riches, operating upon the corruption of the human heart, are ever apt to produce in their possessor the spirit of pride and vanity; of self-confidence and self-elation. Even when the tendency does not, in any remarkable degree, manifest itself in the behaviour and bearing of the rich toward their fellow-men, it appears in a spirit of independence — of "trust in their wealth, and boasting themselves of the multitude of their riches," and of a forgetfulness of God. Instead of being led by the gifts to the Giver, they forget the Giver in the gifts; and, in the use of them, place self before God. If such be the strength of this tendency, has not the Christian whom God, in His providence, has blessed with a large amount of this world's good cause to be thankful when in spite of it he has, by the influence of the Divine Spirit, been "made low"? when, by that Divine influence, he has been made an exception to the atheistical tendencies of his riches, and kept in the spirit of humility and in the spiritual-mindedness of devotion to God? The "lowliness" here made the ground of grateful joy consists essentially in two things, which ever accompany each other, and in their elementary nature may be regarded as one — namely, a sense of entire dependence on the God of providence for every temporal good, and a sense of equal dependence on the God of grace for all spiritual and eternal blessings.

III. Notice now the GROUNDS on which "the rich" brother is called to rejoice in his being "made low." They are such as these —

1. The transitory nature of all the riches and honours of this world. Had the rich man not been "made low," he might have drawn upon himself the temporary admiration of his fellow-men; and that would have been all: he should have "passed away, and been no more seen"; all his honours dying with him. He would thus, like other rich men, have "had his portion in this life" — a pitiful portion for an immortal creature! — and then have gone destitute into another world. Well for him, then, that he has been "made low," for —

2. By this he has been brought into possession even here of better blessings than the world can furnish. His very humility is, as a creature and a sinner, his true honour; as it is the honour of the first archangel before the throne. In that humility, too, Jehovah has complacency. He obtains the smile and the blessing of Jehovah, and all the present joy, and all the soul-satisfying hope which that smile and that blessing impart. Which leads me to notice —

3. That the rich man who is thus "made low," besides true honour and blessing from God in this world, becomes an heir of a richer heritage than any which he could ever attain to here, where all is corruptible and fading. It is by his having been "made low" that he has been ', made meet to be a partaker of that inheritance." But for this he might have continued to enjoy his earthly riches and honours — "clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day "-but he must have forfeited the inheritance above — "the better country, even the heavenly."

(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)


1. Poor Christians. He calls the party addressed a "brother," that is obviously a brother in the faith of the gospel, a member of the same spiritual family. It was thus Christians then spoke of, and to each other. They realised the endearing relationship which subsisted between them — a bond not of a merely figurative or formal nature, but most intimate. He is not simply a brother, but one "of low degree" — that is, in humble circumstances. James had called on them generally, irrespective of any distinctions among them, to count it joy when they fell into divers temptations, and now he specially presses this on the class here addressed. The brother of low degree, without wealth, without rank, without influence, without any of the coveted possessions or advantages of earth, is exhorted to exult.

2. Rich believers. Here he says simply, "the rich," and as the other party was the man poor temporally, so this doubtless, and still more evidently, is the man rich temporally. And the person thus singled out represents not this class of people generally, but those of them who belong to the household of faith. It is still a "brother" whom he addresses. Both had reason to rejoice, notwithstanding the wide separation between them in all outward respects. The lowest and the, highest alike had matter of exultation. The gospel placed them on the same platform of spiritual privilege. In Jesus all classes meet add have a common heritage of blessing.


1. In the case of the poor brother, it is his exaltation. He is to rise above his outward poverty and the depression connected with it, and to glory in the elevation to which he has been raised, the treasures of which he has become possessed, as one of God's people. Taken from the dunghill, he sits among the princes; and, high as he is already, he is advancing towards a height of glory, transcending not only his attainments, but even his conceptions. He is the heir of a portion, in comparison with which all the estates and dignities of earth are not worthy to be named. Well may the poor man lose sight of his low degree, rise far above all its privations, and exult in his being thus spiritually exalted. So far we have viewed the exhortation generally; but doubtless it carries a special reference to the temptations treated of both in the preceding and succeeding verses. The exaltation was closely connected with them; it resulted in no small degree from the suffering they involved. Such dispensations seem fitted only to reduce to a low degree. But they do the very reverse. They cast down, but they also raise up; they empty, but only in order to fill us with something far better. If they abase with one hand, they elevate with the other. For consider how they link us with, and assimilate us to the Lord Jesus. These trials purify and ennoble the character. Even Jesus was thus perfected.

2. In the case of the rich brother, it is his humiliation. "But the rich, in that he is made low." The Christian is net to glory in his worldly elevation. That had been forbidden long before (Jeremiah 9:23). It is not his being lifted high, but his being brought down, which is to constitute his ground of boasting. As the poor believer was to rejoice in his exaltation, the wealthy one is to rejoice in his humiliation. As the former of these terms must be understood spiritually, so must the latter; for it is only thus there can be a proper contrast, as is evidently intended. The natural tendency of wealth is to fill Inert with pride, self-confidence, vainglory. There is no more formidable barrier in the way of that poverty of spirit which is a fundamental characteristic of all Christ's disciples. When, then, the affluent are delivered from this snare; when they are enabled to see the emptiness of all their treasures, and the danger which the possession of them involves; when they are made willing to take their places in the dust as sinners — to abase themselves before God, and walk without high looks and haughty bearing among men — they have good reason to rejoice, exult, glory. In this humiliation lies their defence against evils of terrible power and endless duration. This being made low is, not less than the other, the fruit of temptations and trials. These are often the means of bringing down those whose looks are high, and laying them in the dust of selfabasement. It is thus that many enter the kingdom. God employs painful dispensations of providence to awaken them out of their security, and to prepare them for submission to the doctrines of the gospel. James enforces the exhortation by the consideration that earthly riches are perishable, transitory in their nature, and that all who trust in them, identify themselves with them, are doomed to speedy destruction.

(John Adam.)


1. Circumstances are no test of character.

2. Christians should be contented with their lot.

3. There are opportunities for the exercise of brotherly benevolence.


1. Not in external circumstances.

2. In spiritual triumph over circumstances.

(U. R. Thomas.)

I. CHANGE IS NEEDFUL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NOBLER FACULTIES OF MAN'S NATURE. It keeps alive those faculties of mind and heart that are already active; rouses into activity those that are lying dormant; and hinders us from falling into mere routine and mental and moral barrenness.

II. CHANCE IS NEEDFUL TO KEEP US FROM FORGETTING GOD AND RELAPSING INTO CALLOUS SELF-CONFIDENCE. There is a painful truth in what David says — in our prosperity we think we shall never be moved. And we become self-indulgent, self-sufficient, and forgetful of God, and are only reminded of our duty to Him, and our dependence upon Him, when He hides His face, and breaks in upon our prosperity; when storm waves threaten to engulf us, we cry, "Lord, save, or I perish."

III. CHANGES ARE NEEDFUL FOR THE FOSTERING OF SPIRITUAL LIFE AND GROWTH. If there are no changes in our religious life, or in the discharge of our religious duties, religion not infrequently relapses into mere formalism, machine work. To prevent this, and to rouse the soul to greater activity, God sends us changes. He stops the orderly machine — throws it out of gear, compels us to pause awhile and examine the various parts, and adjust them and start afresh.

IV. CHANGES ARE NEEDFUL TO SLACKEN OUR HOLD ON EARTH, AND STRENGTHEN OUR HOLD ON HEAVEN. By a thousand alternating lights and shades the mind has forced upon it the fact of the instability of terrestrial things, and the folly of setting our affections too firmly upon them; while at the same time, it is made to feel the need of some centre of stability where change is not, some rock of strength on which it may build without fear of coming storms.

(W. Fox.)

Read fairly the words of St. James cannot fail to carry this plain sense to our minds: that the Christian brother who is poor in this world's goods is to be glad when he gets rich in this world's goods; and that the Christian brother who is rich in these goods is to be glad when God takes them away from him, since God will only take them away when it is for his good. And if we sincerely believe, as we profess to believe, spiritual good to be better than temporal good, and spiritual wealth to be far more precious than temporal wealth, I am persuaded that we should never think of taking these words in any other sense. For St. James is the most prosaic, the least mystical, of the New Testament writers. It is almost impossible to misunderstand him except by thrusting meanings into his words which never entered into his mind. But the verses do not stand alone. They are intimately connected both with the verses which go before and the verses which follow them. Directly he has uttered his opening salutation, the apostle strikes his key-note. In the salutation he had wished the Christians of the Hebrew dispersion joy — "Joy to you." But what a wish was that for men whom their heathen neighbours hated because they were Jews, and their Jewish neighbour hated because they were Christians! How could men so miserable hope for joy? St. James teaches them: "Count it all joy," &c. But what was this strange art of extracting joy from sorrow, honour from shame, gain from loss? St. James teaches them this also. Trials beget that patient and constant temper which makes a man mature, complete in character, so that he lacks nothing. If, then, they made perfection of Christian character their first aim, preferring it before all happy outward conditions, they would rejoice in any change of condition which put their character to the test and helped to make it perfect. So that these verses, taken quite literally, fall in with the whole scope of the apostle's argument. With that argument in view it becomes impossible to take them in any other than this plain sense. The poor man is to be glad when he is tried by riches, remembering, however, that for him they are a trial; and the rich man is to be glad when he is tried by poverty, and to take comfort in the conviction that it is a trial by which God is seeking to make a man of him, rounded and complete in character, lacking nothing that he ought to have. The ruling thought of these verses is, then, that great reverses of fortune are a test of Christian character, and a means of Christian perfection; and that we ought not simply to bear them patiently, but to rejoice in them because they so test our character as to mature and perfect it. Yet no one will deny that the reverses by which such a character is formed are very searching trials, very hard to meet in a manly, still harder to meet in a Christian, spirit. When you see a poor good man suddenly made rich, are you not a little afraid for him, though, perhaps, in the same circumstances, you would have no fear for yourself? Do you not fear that he may lose in humility, in sobriety, in spirituality; that he will pamper his senses with unaccustomed luxuries; that his devotion to Christ and the Church may grow weaker? On the other hand, when you see a "rich brother," who has been successful in business, and for many years has lived in luxury and ease, suddenly reduced to comparative penury: if he has to "begin life again" when the strength and sanguine hopefulness of youth are past, do you not fear for him? Do you not fear that his piety may prove to have been a mere adjunct of his prosperity; that his patience may fail him; that he may grow sour. irritable, suspicious; that he may fail to get any good from the evil which has befallen him; that he may confound misfortune with disgrace, lose his self-respect, and conclude that he has forfeited the respect of men because it has pleased God to bring him low? The shoe does not always pinch where our neighbours think it does. The most searching test in these great reverses is often, not in their direct, but in their indirect, consequences. A man, without being a hero, may have so much of goodness and of good sense as that a sudden access of fortune would make little difference to him, none in him, if he stood alone in the world: and yet it may pierce him and try him to the heart because others share it with him. He may have a vulgar wife, fond of show, or children who will give themselves airs, or friends who flatter him, or servants whose solemn, formal deference gives him a sense of importance; and by all these indirect influences his own standard of thought and duty may be insensibly changed and lowered. And the other man, the rich man who has been smitten with poverty, may be affected in a similar manner. To a sensible good man outward changes are of little moment save as they affect character and usefulness. How many a good fellow have we all known to whom the hard work and comparative penury of a reduced income has been a positive relief, and who would have snapped his fingers at "Fortune and her wheel" had he had no one to care for but himself, or had those for whom he was bound to care been likeminded with himself! But if he has a wife who frets or storms, or children who sulk or wrangle; if those immediately dependent upon him are too "stuck up" to work for their bread, and yet cannot eat their bread without a good deal of the best butter — then his trial may become very penetrating and severe. Are we to rejoice in such trials as these? Yes, even in these; for these, too, test our character and may help to make us perfect. St. James, indeed, speaks only of poverty and riches; but of course he includes under these terms whatever other changes or reverses they involve. And if a man finds his kind, pleasant wife changed into a "fine lady" by prosperity, or into a shrew by adversity; if a woman finds her once kind and manly husband turned into a fretful poltroon by misfortune, or into a lazy sensualist by wealth, these sorrowful changes are part of the reverses which have come upon them; they are among the consequences of having been "lifted up" or "brought low"; and in these also the apostle bids us rejoice. Before we can honestly give, or take, the apostle's comfort, we must occupy his position, we must hold his convictions, we must rise to the full stature of men in Christ Jesus. St. James held that this world would soon pass away, and that we should still sooner pass out of it; but that there is another world in which we shall live for ever, and in which our conditions will be shaped by our character. In his view, therefore, the chief aim of every man was, or should be, to form in himself a character which would best fit him both for the life that now is, and for that which is to come. It mattered very little whether he was rich or poor in things which he must soon leave behind him: what did matter was that by the enjoyment or by the loss of these things he should be qualifying himself for, should be laying hold of, the life which is eternal. Whatever changes, whatever reverses, contributed to elevate, purify, complete the power and quality of his life, and stamp on it the characters of immortality, should therefore be welcome to him.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

I. CHRISTIANITY TEACHES THAT MAN, HOWEVER LOW IN DEGREE, IS MAN STILL. The millions are not aware of the greatness of their nature. Spite of the fall, man still possesses intelligence, conscience, moral sensibility, and power to will. Redemption comes to him as an angel of light, and proposes to take the wanderer by the hand, and conduct him to the great Father — to glory and perfection.

II. CHRISTIANITY TEACHES THAT MAN, HOWEVER EXALTED IN POSITION, IS BUT MAN. It is as great an error in the rich to think too highly of themselves as it is for the poor to think too meanly of themselves. The spirit of many is, that pence make shillings, shillings make pounds, and pounds make men. How common, but how erroneous this! Christianity gives us the true idea of humanity. Only let its light enter the mind — then the poor, the degraded, the rude barbarian, the privileged Jew, the philosophic Greek, and the cultivated European, will feel that they are men, and but men. The one is exalted, the Other is made low.

III. CHRISTIANITY TEACHES THAT ALL MEN, INDEPENDENT OF CIRCUMSTANCES, ARE EQUAL. The brother of low degree and the rich are one in everything which constitutes man.

1. Physically (Genesis 3:20; Genesis 10:32; Acts 17:26).

2. Morally. Our common depravity proves the oneness of the race.


1. Riches are not of human, but of Divine disposal.

2. Riches and poverty are no proof of Divine pleasure and displeasure.

3. The only test of Divine approval or disapproval is moral character.

V. CHRISTIANITY TEACHES THAT THE EXALTATION OF THE POOR AND THE HUMILIATION OF THE RICH ARE SOURCES OF REJOICING. They now see their nature in the light of Christianity. Their errors are corrected; they now think of themselves as they ought to think; they now behold their equality with each other. Between them there is no feeling of superiority and inferiority. They rejoice in their common brotherhood and oneness.

(J. Briggs.)

1. The people of God are brethren. They are begotten by the same Spirit, by the same immortal seed of the Word. They have many engagements upon them to all social and brotherly affection. Ah! then live and love as brethren. Averseness of heart and carriage will not stand with this sweet relation.

2. He saith "of low degree," and yet "brother." Meanness doth not take away Church relations. Christian respects are not to be measured by these outward things; a man is not to be measured by them, therefore certainly not a Christian. We choose a horse by his strength and swiftness, not the gaudiness of his trappings; that which Christians should look at is not these outward additaments, but the eminency of grace (James 2:1).

3. Not a" man" of low degree, but a "brother." It is not poverty, but poor Christianity that occasioneth joy and comfort.

4. From the word τάπεινος — it signifieth both humble, and of low degree — observe, that the meanest have the greatest reason to be humble; their condition always maketh the grace in season — poverty and pride are most unsuitable. It was one of Solomon's odd sights, to see "servants on horseback, and princes going on foot" (Ecclesiastes 10:7). A poor proud man is a prodigy of pride; he hath less temptation to be proud, he hath more reason to be humble.

5. God may set His people in the lowest rank of men. A brother may be τάπεινος, base and abject, in regard of his outward condition. "The Captain of salvation," the Son of God Himself, was "despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3); in the original, "the leaving-off of men"; implying that He appeared in such a form and rank that He could scarce be said to be man, but as if He were to be reckoned among some baser kind of creatures; as Psalm 22:6.

6. From that "let the brother of low degree glory." That the most abject condition will not excuse us from murmuring: "though you be base, yet you may rejoice and glory in the Lord. A man cannot sink so low as to be past the help of spiritual comforts. Though the worst thing were happened to you, poverty, loss of goods, exile, yet in all this there is no ground of impatience: the brother of low degree may pitch upon something in which he may glory. Well, then, do not excuse passion by misery, and blame your condition when you should blame yourselves: it is not your misery, but your passions, that occasion sin; wormwood is not poison.

7. From that rejoice, or glory, or boast. There is a concession of some kind of boasting to a Christian: he may glory in his privileges. To state this matter, I shall show you —(1) How he may not boast.

(a)Not to set off self, self-worth, self-merits; so the apostle's reproof is just (1 Corinthians 4:7).

(b)Not to vaunt it over others (Isaiah 65:5).(2) How he may boast.

(a)If it he for the glory of God, to exalt God, not ourselves (Psalm 34:2).

(b)To set out the worth of your privileges (Romans 5:3).

8. From that "he is exalted." That grace is a preferment and exaltation; even those of low degree may be thus exalted. All the comforts of Christianity are such as are riddles and contradictions to the flesh: poverty is preferment; servants are freemen, the Lord's freemen (1 Corinthians 7:22). The privileges of Christianity take off all the ignominy of the world.

9. The greatest abasures and sufferings for Christ are an honour to us (Acts 5:41).

(T. Manrope.)

If any object here that St. James willeth the brother of low degree to rejoice when he is exalted, and the rich man when he is made low, which seemeth contrary to other Scriptures, where we are exhorted to rejoice only in God, as Jeremiah 9:23, 24; Philippians 4:4, hereunto the answer is easy. First, if we acknowledge whatsoever happeneth unto us to be from God, who both casteth down and lifteth up, then either in our low degree being exalted, or in our riches being humbled, to rejoice is to rejoice in that God sendeth, and so to rejoice in the Lord. Secondly, if again we look into our own wretched condition, who of ourselves have nothing, but whatsoever we have we have received it, then in the things which we have received moderately to rejoice is also to rejoice in the Lord, who is the Fountain of all graces and blessings. Finally, if we hold this as a ground and foundation that all good gifts flowing unto man grow of His mere favour and mercy, and not from any merit or desert of ours, then in the good blessings of God, of exaltation, advancement, glory, or other whatsoever, to rejoice is godly, Christian, and dutiful; and thus men rejoicing rejoice in the Lord. The Apostle James, then, in exhorting the brother of low degree to rejoice when he is exalted, and the rich in like manner when he is made low, is in all points answerable unto other Scriptures, wherein we are required to rejoice in the Lord, for thus for God's sake, and in obedience of His commandments to rejoice, is to rejoice in the Lord also.

(R. Turnbull.)

The Christian World Pulpit.
In the Old Testament worldly wealth is set forth as the reward of righteousness; in the New Testament poverty is commended and riches contemned. When mankind were in their infancy God rewarded them as infants; but on their attaining to years of discretion He sets before them worthier treasures than those things that perish in the using. When, therefore, Christians look on wealth as the reward of righteousness, they are as grown-up sons mistaking nursery toys for their inheritance. God has, as it were, opened our nursery door, and shown to us the splendid domain to which we are heirs, and bus bid us go forth and fit ourselves for the larger life. When, then, He puts away our toys, and sends us to school to learn the duties of the life before us, shall we, as silly children, sit down and cry over our banished plaything rather than submit to the discipline wherein we may learn how to acquit ourselves as men? Do we wish to go into the next stage of being mere milksops, having all to learn which we ought to have learned here? Earthly wealth is a thing of sight, and just in so far as it is loved and leaned on is it a hindrance to the development of faith. If we have grown accustomed to measure life's enjoyment and life's success by the money we possess, shall we notbe at a great disadvantage when we enter a sphere where money is unknown? Christians have been so swept along by the rush of the world after pleasures that wealth procures, that they are little aware of their unfitness for higher joys.

(The Christian World Pulpit.)

What is the meaning of the "high estate" (ὕψος) in which the brother of low degree is to glory, and of the "being made low" (ταπείυωσις), in which the rich man is to do the same? At first sight one is disposed to say that the one is the heavenly birthright, and the other the Divine humiliation, in which every one shares who becomes a member of Christ; in fact, that they are the same thing looked at from different points of view; for what to the Christian is promotion, to the world seems degradation. If this were correct, then we should have an antithesis analogous to that in 1 Corinthians 7:22. But on further consideration this attractive explanation is found not to suit the context. What analogy is there between the humiliation in which every Christian glories in Christ and the withering of herbage under a scorching wind? Even if we could allow that this metaphor refers to the fugitive character of earthly possessions, what has that to do with Christian humiliation, which does not depend upon either the presence or the absence of wealth? Moreover, St. James says nothing about the fugitiveness of riches: it is the rich man himself, and not his wealth, that is said to "pass away," and to "fade away in his goings." It is a baseless assumption to suppose that the rich man here spoken of is a Christian at all. "The brother of low degree" is contrasted, not with the brother who is rich, but with the rich man, whose miserable destiny shows that he is not "a brother," i.e., not a believer. The latter is the wealthy Jew who rejects Christ. Throughout this Epistle (James 2:6, 7; James 5:1-6) "rich" is a term of reproach. This is what is meant by the Ebionite tone of the Epistle; for poverty is the condition which Ebionism delights to honour. In this St. James seems to be reproducing the thoughts both of Jesus Christ and of Jesus the son of Sirach (Luke 6:25, 26; cf. Matthew 19:23-25; Ecclus 13:3, 20). But when we have arrived at the conclusion that the "being made low" does not refer to the humiliation of the Christian, and that the rich man here threatened with a miserable end is not a believer, a new difficulty arises. What is the meaning of the wealthy unbeliever being told to glory in the degradation which is to prove so calamitous to him? In the exhortation to the rich man St. James speaks in severe irony: "Let the brother of low degree glory in his high estate; and the rich man — what is he to glory in? — let him glory in the only thing upon which he can count with certainty, viz., his being brought low; because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away." Whether or no this interpretation be accepted it must be clearly borne in mind that no explanation can be correct which does not preserve the connection between the humiliation of the rich man and his passing away as the flower of the grass. This fading away is his humiliation, is the thing in which he is to glory, if he glories in anything at all. The inexorable "because "must not be ignored or explained away by making the wealth of the rich man shrivel up, when St. James twice over says that it is the rich man himself who fades away.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)


1. The poor Christian is here called a "brother": and this title at once marks his real dignity. He has been adopted into the family of Heaven. He is a child of God, a brother of Christ, an heir of glory.

2. It is not only by the nobleness of their future and eternal prospects that the gospel "exalts" the poor: it equally exalts them as to their present condition and enjoyments. See how it raises them above all those little envyings and grudgings which are too often found in their station of life. It sets before them "the true riches," and thus makes them indifferent about the things of this present evil world.

3. It exalts them above many of the cares of life. While others are "running here and there for meat," etc. — incessantly crying, "Who will show us any good?" and suffering from continual fears of not being provided for — the Christian looks up to that bountiful Hand which has never failed him yet, and which, he knows, never will.

4. The gospel exalts "the brother of low degree," even in his mind and ideas. Worldly learning has indeed its use; and it is a gift of God, for which those who possess it should be thankful; yet is it good for nothing to the owner, if he be at the same time destitute of that "wisdom which cometh from above." It is recorded of a certain great scholar that he exclaimed on his deathbed, "Alas! I have wasted my life in laborious trifling."

5. We might proceed to show, in several other instances, how the gospel, when received into the heart, improves and exalts the poor of this world — how it creates in them habits of industry, cleanliness, regularity, temperance, domestic affection, liberality, brotherly kindness, and every social virtue.


1. Riches themselves are a dreadful clog upon the soul.

2. It is not riches alone that are hurtful to the soul; it is what accompanies wealth, or the higher stations of life, that is so dangerous.

3. Look, again, at the mode of life which prevails among the better classes of society, and there see what dangers surround them on every side. The leisure which the better classes enjoy gives the tempter many a fatal opportunity against them. This leisure must be filled up: for the human mind has an insatiable appetite; and while Satan does everything in his power to keep it from its proper nourishment, "the bread of life," he always takes care, in the meanwhile, to supply it abundantly with the poisonous husks of worldly pleasure-in the shape of trifling and seductive books, fashionable parties, public amusements, &c.If, therefore, at any time the grace of God touches the heart of one who is surrounded by these temptations — humbling him in true repentance, and bringing him to a genuine and active faith in Christ — how clearly do we then perceive the motive for the apostle's exhortation.

1. Let him "rejoice that he is made low" in the spirit of his mind, and in his estimate of his own state and character.

2. In his estimate of the world, and his expectations from James 2:3. Should God lay His chastening hand heavily upon the rich brother — to reduce him from affluence to poverty — to bereave him of the dear objects of his affection — to visit him with bodily pain and sickness — or even to bring upon him all these calamities together; yet, even then, he would have cause to rejoice — yes, "to rejoice in that he is" thus "made low"; for affliction is the peculiar mark of the Lord's children; and sanctified affliction is one of the best and most profitable gifts His fatherly wisdom ever bestows on them.

(W. Hancock, B. D.)

The rich in that he is made low.
I. WEALTH IS COMPATIBLE WITH PERSONAL RELIGION. Some, in successive ages of the world, have been arrested by Divine grace amidst the splendour of high estate, and, feeling that these are but a paltry portion for a spirit fallen by sin and doomed to immortality, have sought a richer boon — a nobler birthright. Many, too, who were brought to Christ when moving in a humble sphere have, by diligence, honesty, and temperance, become the possessors of a considerable amount of worldly riches. And fearful though it be for a man to be rich before he is converted, and necessary as vigilance ever is, as to others, so not least to the rich believer, piety may flourish as truly in the sumptuous hall as at the cottage-hearth.

II. THE RICH BROTHER IS LOWLY. He knows the grandeur and purity of God, and he knows the weakness and corruption of his own soul. He feels how unsatisfactory earthly possessions are. He realises that decisive event which is sure to scatter man's accumulated treasures to the winds, and to lay all earthly honours in the dust. And as for the faith which brought peace and safety to his soul, and the piety that holds its dwelling in his heart, he is ready to exclaim (1 Corinthians 15:10).

III. THE RICH BROTHER IS HERE CALLED TO TRIUMPH IN HIS LOWLINESS. Christian humility, on the part of the wealthy believer, is a favourable symptom of his state. It is, according to an oft-repeated principle of Scripture, a prelude of future advancement in the scale of dignity and blessedness. It is an important qualification for a considerate distribution of wealth among the destitute. And finally, it is what the unsatisfactoriness, and transitoriness of earthly riches, and the weakness, as well as sinfulness, of their possessor, may well inspire.

(A. S. Patterson, D. D.)

1. Riches are not altogether inconsistent with Christianity. Usually they are a great snare. The moon never suffers eclipse but when it is at the full; and usually in our fulness we miscarry (Matthew 19:24). Plato, a heathen, saith the same almost with Christ, that it is impossible for a man to be eminently rich and eminently good. But you will say, "What will you have Christians to do then — in a lavish luxury to throw away their estates? or in an excess of charity to make others full, when themselves are empty?" No (see Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:23, 24). Riches in the having, in the bare possession, are not a hindrance to Christianity, but in our abuse of them. Your possessions will not be your ruin till your corruptions mingle with them. Under the law the poor and rich were to pay the same ransom (Exodus 30:15), intimating they may have interest in the same Christ. Riches in themselves are God's blessings that come within a promise. Yea, riches with a blessing are so far from being a hindrance to grace, that they are an ornament to it (Proverbs 14:24).

2. A. rich man's humility is his glory. Your excellency cloth not lie in the splendour of your condition, but in the meekness of your hearts. Humility is not only a clothing — "Put on humbleness of mind" (Colossians 3:12) — but an ornament. "Be decked with humility" (1 Peter 5:5). A high mind and a low condition are all one to the Lord, only poverty hath the advantage, because it is usually gracious. If any may glory, they may glory that have most arguments of God's love. Now a lowly mind is a far better testimony of it than a high estate. And so before men, as said, he is a great man that is not lifted up because of his greatness. You are not better than others by your estate, but your meekness. The apostles possessed all things though they had nothing. They have more than you if they have a humble heart.

3. The way to be humble is to count the world's advantages our abasement. The poor man must glory in that he is exalted, but the rich in that he is made low. Honours and riches do but set us beneath other men, rather than above them, and do rather abate from than add anything to you; and it may be you have less of the Spirit because you have more of the world.

4. If we would be made low in the midst of worldly enjoyments, we should consider the uncertainty of them. Outward riches are so far from being the best things, that they rather are not anything at all. Solomon calleth them "that which is not"; and who ever loved nothing, and would be proud of that which is not?

5. The uncertainty of worldly enjoyments may be well resembled by a flower — beautiful, but fading.(1) Though the things of the world are specious, yet they should not allure us, because they are fading. Flowers are sweet, and affect the eye, but their beauty is soon scorched; the soul is for an eternal good, that it may have a happiness suitable to its own duration. An immortal soul cannot have full contentment in that which is fading. When the creatures tempt you, be not enticed by the beauty of them, so as to forget their vanity. Say, Here is a flower, glorious, but fading; glass that is bright, but brittle.(2) The fairest things are most fading. Creatures, when they come to their excellency, then they decay, as herbs, when they come to flower, they begin to wither; or, as the sun when it cometh to the zenith, then it declineth. "Man at his best estate is altogether vanity" (Psalm 39:5); not at his worst only, when the feebleness and inconveniences of old age have surprised him. So the prophet speaketh of "a grasshopper in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth" (Amos 7:1). As soon as the ground recovered any verdure and greenness, presently there came a grasshopper to devour the herbage: the meaning is, a new affliction as soon as they began to flourish. Well, then, suspect these outward things when you most abound in them.

(T. Manton.)

Many Christian people are like some evening primroses, for whose opening we watched with some friends the other evening. It was a common-looking plant, and the buds were tightly wrapped up so long as the sun shone, and gave but faint promise of the coming beauty. But the moment the sun disappeared, and the gloom of the coming night was threatened in the darkening twilight, they suddenly burst their bonds, displaying sweet blossoms that crowned the homely stock with golden glory. So there are many men and women whose lives are homely and hard and selfish, until their sun of prosperity sets, and the gloom of coming sorrow overshadows them, when, unexpectedly, under that touch of trouble, a hidden bud blossoms in beauty and a sweetness of spirit and character that crowns the whole stock of their lives with goodness and glory.

As the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
St. James plays the fabulist, or historian here, and narrates the sad end of a certain blade of grass. In whose field, then, did this grass grow? All the commentators reply, "In that of the prophet Isaiah." St. James is here falling back on Old Testament words which would be familiar to the Jews for whom he wrote — words which his story would be sure to recall to their minds.

I. THE STORY OF THE BLADE OF GRASS (Isaiah 40:6-8). As we listen to the prophet, imagination stirs and works; we see the broad, pleasant field bathed in sunlight, fanned with sweet airs, thick with verdant grass, gay with the purely tinted, fragrant wild flowers which clothe the grass as with the robes of a king; and then we feel the fierce, hot blast sweep across the field, under whose breath the grass withers, the bright flowers fade, and all that teeming life, all that exquisite and varied beauty, is swallowed up of death. Who does not feel at times that that is a true picture of human life? And remembering how, in this field, every separate blade of grass and every fragile flower has its own little world of hopes and fears, joys and pains, who can fail to be saddened as he beholds them withered by a breath, their early promise unfulfilled, their goodliness not ripening to its maturity? "All flesh is grass" — all the great heathen races; but also "this people is grass" — a grass which withers like the rest. Like their neighbours, the Jews were in a constant flux, vexed by constant change. One generation came, and another went. The life, vexed with perpetual changes while it lasted, never continuing in one stay, was soon over and gone. Their only hope lay in obedience to the Divine Word, in appropriating that Word, in steeping their life in it till it became enduring as the Word itself.

II. THE MORAL OF THIS STORY. St. James is not content with a lesson so large and general as had contented Isaiah. He has a special purpose in view in telling the story which called up memories, prophetic and historic, from the past. As he had taken a single blade of grass out of Isaiah's broad field, so he selects one man, or one class of men, for special warning. The blade of grass reminds us that human life soon withers, that human fortune often withers even before the man dies. Yes; but it also reminds us that some men wither even while they retain the full vigour of their life, and their good fortune abides. The rich man "withers in his ways," in his goings to and fro along the lines of his traffic, before his health is touched, before his wealth is touched. And therefore, argues St. James, the rich man should rejoice when his riches use their wings and fly away. The alternative the apostle places before him is this: Let the wealth wither that the man may live, or let the man wither amid the abundance of his wealth. It is a hard saying I but, before we reject it as too hard for practical use, let us clearly understand what it means. James had just said, "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is lifted up, but the rich in that he is brought low." Now, however much we may dislike the injunction, or part of it, can we deny that it is based on a true, on a Christian, view of human life? Are not sudden and large reverses of condition severe and searching tests of character? Does it not take a very good poor man to ride straight to God when he is set on horseback, and a very good rich man not to "break down" when he is "brought low"? Great reverses of fortune are very searching and conclusive tests of character. And can we expect a Christian teacher to bid us grieve over any reverse by which our character is tested, matured, perfected? The wealth and the poverty will soon pass, but the character will remain, and will determine our destiny. Does any one object, "It may be easy enough for a poor man to be glad when he gets rich; but how is a rich man to rejoice when he becomes poor? You ask too much of us, more than it is in man to give." I reply: "You are not speaking, and you know that you are not speaking, from the Christian point of view, in the spirit of Him who, when He was rich, for our sakes became poor. You are putting circumstances before character, transitory gains and pleasures before abiding and eternal realities. St. James himself felt that the latter half of his injunction was hard to flesh and blood; in demanding that the rich man should rejoice whenever he is brought low, he felt that he was imposing a very severe test on character, a very heavy strain on virtue. And that, I suppose, is why he told his story of the blade of grass, to which at last we come back. What he meant was, I think, to this effect: "You remember the prophet Isaiah's field of grass, and how it withered beneath the scorching heat, so that the flower thereof fell off, and the grace of its form perished. The rich man is often like a blade of that grass. The sun of prosperity shines on him more hotly than he can bear; all the promise and beauty of his nature fade beneath the scorching heat; he withers in his ways, in the multitude and perplexity of his schemes and pursuits: his fortune grows, but the man decays, dies before his time, dies even long before he ceases to breathe and traffic." Douglas Jerrold, one of our keenest wits and satirists, has depicted "a man made of money." He had only to put his hand into his breast to find it full of banknotes; but as he draws away note after note, he drains away his vitality; he dwindles and pines amid his vast schemes and luxuries month by month, till he wastes into a mere shadow, till the very shadow disappears. The picture is hardly a satire, it is so mere a comonplace. Every day we live we may see men dying of wealth, all that is manly, all that is fine and pure and noble in character, perishing as their fortunes grow. The warning comes home to us in this age as in few previous eras of the world; for our whole life is so rapid and intense, our business is such a strenuous and exhausting competition, we are solicited by so many schemes for our own advancement, or for the good of the town in which we dwell, or for the benefit of the commonwealth of which we form part, that it is almost impossible to make leisure for thought, for a quiet enjoyment of what we have gained, or for those religious meditations and exercises on which our spiritual health in large measure depends. We are literally withering away in our ways, so many are the paths we have to tread, so rapid the pace we have to maintain, so scorching and tainted the atmosphere we breathe. And hence, whether we are rich, or seeking riches, or are labouring with anxious and fretting care for a bare competence, we all need to take heed to the warning which speaks to us as to men; i.e., as to spiritual and immortal creatures, children of God and heirs of eternity. If we would not Suffer this world, which holds us by ties so many, so strong, and so exacting, to crush all high spiritual manhood out of us, we must set ourselves to be in this world as Christ was in the world. Let the mind that was in Christ be in us also; let us cultivate His preference of duty to pleasure, of service to gain, of doing good to getting good; and instead of withering away in our ways, we shall find every path in which we walk a path of life, a path that leads us home.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

The metaphor here used of the rich man is common enough in the Old Testament. Man "cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down," says Job, in his complaint (Job 14:2); and, "As for man, his days are as grass," etc., says the Psalmist (Psalm 103:15, 16). But elsewhere, with a closer similarity to the present passage, we have this transitory character specially attributed to the ungodly (Psalm 37:2). None of these passages, however, are so clearly in St. James's mind as the words of Isaiah (Isaiah 40:6, 7). Here the words of St. James are almost identical with those of the Septuagint. "Grass" throughout is a comprehensive term for herbage, and the "flower of grass" does not mean the bloom or blossom of grass in the narrower sense, but the wild flowers, specially abundant and brilliant in the Holy Land, which grow among the grass. "The scorching wind" (ὁ καύσων) is one of the features of the Epistle which harmonise well with the fact that the writer was an inhabitant of Palestine. It is the furnacelike blast from the arid wilderness to the east of the Jordan. The fig-tree, olives, and vine (James 3:12) are the chief fruit-trees of Palestine; and "the early and latter rain" (James 5:7) points still more clearly to the same district. It has been remarked with justice that whereas St. Paul for the most part draws his metaphors from the scenes of human activity — building, husbandry, athletic contests, and warfare — St. James prefers to take his metaphors from the scenes of nature. In this chapter we have "the surge of the sea" (ver. 6) and "the flower of the grass" (ver. 10). In the third chapter we have the "rough winds" driving the ships, the "wood kindled by a small fire," "the wheel of nature," "every kind of beasts and birds, of creeping things, and things in the sea," "the fountain sending forth sweet water," "the fig-tree and vine" (vers. 4-7, 11, 12). In the fourth chapter human life is "a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (ver. 14). And in the last chapter, besides the moth and the rust, we have "the fruit of the earth," and "the early and latter rain" (vers. 2, 3, 7, 18). These instances are certainly very numerous, when the brevity of the Epistle is considered. The love of nature which breathes through them was no doubt learned and cherished in the village home at Nazareth, and it forms another link between St. James and his Divine Brother. Nearly every one of the natural phenomena to which St. James directs attention in this letter are used by Christ also in His teaching. In some cases the use made by St. James of these natural objects is very similar to that made by our Lord, and it may well be that what he writes is a reminiscence of what he had heard years before from Christ's lips; but in other cases the use is quite different, and must be assigned to the love of nature, and the recognition of its fitness for teaching spiritual truths, which is common to the Lord and His brother. But there is this great difference between Christ's teaching from nature and that of St. James: St. James recognises in the order and beauty of the universe a revelation of Divine truth, and makes use of the facts of the external world to teach spiritual lessons; the incarnate Word, in drawing spiritual lessons from the external world, could expound the meaning of a universe which He Himself had made. In the one case it is a disciple of nature who imparts to us the lore which he himself has learned; in the other it is the Master of nature, who points out to us the meaning of His own world, and interprets to us the voices of the winds and the waves, which obey him.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

So also shall the rich man fade away.
I. We delight in pictures and emblems, for then the soul, by the help of fancy, hath a double view of the object in the similitude, which is, as it were, a picture of it, and then the thing itself. This was God's ancient way to teach His people by types; still He teacheth us by similitudes taken from common objects, that when we are cast upon them, spiritual thoughts may be awakened; and so every ordinary object is, as it were, consecrated to a heavenly purpose. Well, then, let this be your field meditation; when you see them decked with a great deal of bravery, remember all this is gone in an instant when the burning heat ariseth.

2. Our comforts are perishing in themselves, but especially when the hand of Providence is stretched out against them. The flower fadeth of itself, but chiefly when it is scorched by the glowing, burning east wind. Our hearts should be loose at all times from outward things, but especially in times of public desolation; it is a sin against Providence to effect great things; when God is overturning all, then there is a burning heat upon the flowers, and God is gone forth to blast worldly glory (Jeremiah 45:4, 5).There are three sins especially by which you make Providence your enemy, and so the creatures more vain.

1. When you abuse them to serve your lusts. Where there is pride and wantonness, you may look for a burning; certainly your flowers will be scorched and dried up.

2. When you make them objects of trust. God can brook no rivals; trust being the fairest and best respect of the creatures, it must not be intercepted, but ascend to God.

3. Worldly men pursue wealth with great care and industry. The rich turneth hither and thither, he hath several ways whereby to accomplish his ends. What pains do men take for things that perish! Do but observe their incessant care and unwearied industry, and say, how well would this suit with the heavenly treasure! It is a pity a plant that would thrive so well in Canaan should still grow in the soil of Egypt; that the zealous earnestness of the soul should be misplaced, and we should take more pains to be rich unto the world than to be rich towards God (Luke 12:21). Shall a lust have more power upon them than the love of God upon me? And when we see men "cumber themselves with much serving," and bustling up and down in the world, and all for riches that "take themselves wings and fly away," we may be ashamed that we do so little for Christ, and they do so much for wealth.

4. Lastly, again, from that ἐν ταῖς πορείαις "in his ways," or journeys. All our endeavours will be fruitless if God's hand be against us. As the flower to the burning heat, so is the rich man in his ways; that is, notwithstanding all his industry and care, God may soon blast him: they "earned wages, but put it in a bag with holes" (Haggai 1:6), that is, their gains did not thrive with them. Peter "toiled all night but caught nothing," till he took Christ into the boat (Luke 5:5). So you will catch nothing, nothing with comfort and profit, till you take God along with you (Psalm 127:2).

(T. Manton.)

There is a fable of a covetous man who chanced to find his way, one moonlight night, into a fairy's palace. There he saw bars, apparently of solid gold, strewn on every side; and he was permitted to take away as many as he could carry. In the morning, when the sun rose on his imaginary treasure, borne home with so much toil, behold I there was only a bundle of sticks; and invisible beings filled the air around him with scornful laughter. Such shall be the confusion of many a man that died in this world worth his thousands, and woke up in the next world not only "miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17), but in presence of a heap of fuel stored up against the great day of burning (Romans 2:5).

Do all rich men know how to be rich? He does not know how to do anything who does that thing so that he brings it to its worst and not its best results. Is that not true? A man does not know how to sail a ship who steers it so that when it ought to go to Liverpool he brings it into Madagascar. Where is the ship of wealth then meant to sail? Her port is clear and certain — to generosity and sympathy, and fineness of nature, and healthy use of powers. What shall we say, then, of the man whose money makes him selfish and cruel, and coarse and idle, or any one of these bad things? There are many hard names which we may call him by, but the real philosophy of the whole matter, the comprehensive definition of it all, is this — he does not know how to be rich! He is a blunderer in a great art. Look at his opposite. Look at the man who takes money into the easy mastery of his character, appropriates it. He makes it part of him. The richer that he grows the more generous and sympathetic and fine and active he becomes. What can you say of him but that he does know how to be rich. I say of a man that he knows how to travel when he makes each new country, as be enters it, open its secrets and render up to him new interest and knowledge. I say of a man that he does not know how to swim when the water takes possession of him and drowns him in itself. So I say that a man does not know how to be rich when his money makes him its slave, and turns him into a coarseness like itself instead of being elevated and refined by the commanding spirituality of his human soul.

(Bp. Phillips Brooks.)

What an awful thing it is to die rich! Imagine the Master auditing the account of a servant who has left behind a million! If that poor wretch who had but one talent was cast into outer darkness because he laid it up instead of using it in his Master's service, what will be the doom of those who, with their half millions and millions (while giving, it may be, a few thousands for decency's sake), have, year after year, hoarded up countless treasures which they could never use? Think of the poor saints pinched with cold and hunger! Think of the Redeemer's cause languishing for the want of that filthy lucre which they hold with close-fisted selfishness! Yet listen to their talk! "I am but a steward." "I am not my own." "Every believer in Jesus is my brother or sister." What a mockery! Will not this be the Master's language to many a professor: "Out of thine own mouth will I condemn thee"?

Boast, Brother, Circumstances, Degree, Elevation, Estate, Exaltation, Exalted, Glad, Glory, Higher, Humble, Lifted, Low, Lowly, Ought, Position, Pride, Raised, Rejoice
1. James greets the twelve tribes among the nations;
2. exhorts to rejoice in trials and temptations;
5. to ask patience of God;
13. and in our trials not to impute our weakness, or sins, to him,
19. but rather to hearken to the word, to meditate on it, and to do thereafter.
26. Otherwise men may seem, but never be, truly religious.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
James 1:9

     5450   poverty, spiritual

James 1:9-10

     5554   status
     8276   humility
     8340   self-respect

James 1:9-11

     4446   flowers
     8780   materialism, and sin

February 28. "Count it all Joy" (James i. 2).
"Count it all joy" (James i. 2). We do not always feel joyful, but we are to count it all joy. The word "reckon" is one of the key-words of Scripture. It is the same word used about our being dead. We do not feel dead. We are painfully conscious of something that would gladly return to life. But we are to treat ourselves as dead, and neither fear nor obey the old nature. So we are to reckon the thing that comes as a blessing. We are determined to rejoice, to say, "My heart is fixed, O God, I will
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Fourth Sunday after Easter Second Sermon.
Text: James 1, 16-21. 16 Be not deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 19 Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II

George Buchanan, Scholar
The scholar, in the sixteenth century, was a far more important personage than now. The supply of learned men was very small, the demand for them very great. During the whole of the fifteenth, and a great part of the sixteenth century, the human mind turned more and more from the scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages to that of the Romans and the Greeks; and found more and more in old Pagan Art an element which Monastic Art had not, and which was yet necessary for the full satisfaction of their
Charles Kingsley—Historical Lectures and Essays

October the Eighteenth Unanimity in the Soul
"A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." --JAMES i. 1-8. If two men are at the wheel with opposing notions of direction and destiny, how will it fare with the boat? If an orchestra have two conductors both wielding their batons at the same time and with conflicting conceptions of the score, what will become of the band? And a man whose mind is like that of two men flirting with contrary ideals at the same time will live a life "all sixes and sevens," and nothing will move to purposeful
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

May the Fifth Healthy Listening
"Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only." --JAMES i. 21-27. When we hear the word, but do not do it, there has been a defect in our hearing. We may listen to the word for mere entertainment. Or we may attach a virtue to the mere act of listening to the word. We may assume that some magical efficacy belongs to the mere reading of the word. And all this is perverse and delusive. No listening is healthy which is not mentally referred to obedience. We are to listen with a view to obedience,
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

An Address to the Regenerate, Founded on the Preceding Discourses.
James I. 18. James 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. I INTEND the words which I have now been reading, only as an introduction to that address to the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, with which I am now to conclude these lectures; and therefore shall not enter into any critical discussion, either of them, or of the context. I hope God has made the series of these discourses, in some measure, useful to those
Philip Doddridge—Practical Discourses on Regeneration

On Patience
"Let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:4. 1. "My brethren," says the Apostle in the preceding verse, "count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." At first view, this may appear a strange direction; seeing most temptations are, "for the present, not joyous, but grievous." Nevertheless ye know by your own experience, that "the trial of your faith worketh patience:" And if "patience have its perfect work, ye shall be perfect and
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

On Charity
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." 1 Cor. 13:1-3. We know, "All Scripture is given by inspiration
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

Loving Advice for Anxious Seekers
However, the promise is not to be limited to any one particular application, for the word, "If any of you," is so wide, so extensive, that whatever may be our necessity, whatever the dilemma which perplexes us, this text consoles us with the counsel, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God." This text might be peculiarly comforting to some of you who are working for God. You cannot work long for your heavenly Lord without perceiving that you need a greater wisdom than you own. Why, even in directing
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 13: 1867

All Joy in all Trials
Beginning with this word "brethren," James shows a true brotherly sympathy with believers in their trials, and this is a main part of Christian fellowship. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." If we are not tempted ourselves at this moment, others are: let us remember them in our prayers; for in due time our turn will come, and we shall be put into the crucible. As we would desire to receive sympathy and help in our hour of need, let us render it freely to those who are
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 29: 1883

The Days of the Week
JAMES i. 17. Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is neither variableness, nor shadow of turning. It seems an easy thing for us here to say, 'I believe in God.' We have learnt from our childhood that there is but one God. It seems to us strange and ridiculous that people anywhere should believe in more gods than one. We never heard of any other doctrine, except in books about the heathen; and there are perhaps not three people
Charles Kingsley—The Good News of God

Sermon on a Martyr's Day
Of three sorts of spiritual temptation by which holy men are secretly assailed; to wit: spiritual unchastity, covetousness, and pride. James i. 12.--"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him. ALL our life (says Job), so long as we are upon earth, is full of struggle and temptation, insomuch that this life is not called a life by the Saints, but a temptation. When one temptation is over,
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler

The Sixth Petition Corresponds as we have Observed to the Promise of Writing the Law...
The sixth petition corresponds (as we have observed) to the promise [26] of writing the law upon our hearts; but because we do not obey God without a continual warfare, without sharp and arduous contests, we here pray that he would furnish us with armour, and defend us by his protection, that we may be able to obtain the victory. By this we are reminded that we not only have need of the gift of the Spirit inwardly to soften our hearts, and turn and direct them to the obedience of God, but also of
John Calvin—Of Prayer--A Perpetual Exercise of Faith

The Deepest Need of the Church Today is not for any Material or External Thing...
The deepest need of the Church today is not for any material or external thing, but the deepest need is spiritual. Prayerless work will never bring in the kingdom. We neglect to pray in the prescribed way. We seldom enter the closet and shut the door for a season of prayer. Kingdom interests are pressing on us thick and fast and we must pray. Prayerless giving will never evangelise the world.--Dr. A. J. Gordon The great subject of prayer, that comprehensive need of the Christian's life, is intimately
E.M. Bounds—Purpose in Prayer

Biographical Preface.
"The Church! Am I asked again, What is the Church? The ploughman at his daily toil--the workman who plies the shuttle--the merchant in his counting-house--the scholar in his study--the lawyer in the courts of justice--the senator in the hall of legislature--the monarch on his throne--these, as well as the clergymen in the works of the material building which is consecrated to the honour of God--these constitute the Church. The Church is the whole congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Antecedents of Permanent Christian Colonization --The Disintegration of Christendom --Controversies --Persecutions.
WE have briefly reviewed the history of two magnificent schemes of secular and spiritual empire, which, conceived in the minds of great statesmen and churchmen, sustained by the resources of the mightiest kingdoms of that age, inaugurated by soldiers of admirable prowess, explorers of unsurpassed boldness and persistence, and missionaries whose heroic faith has canonized them in the veneration of Christendom, have nevertheless come to naught. We turn now to observe the beginnings, coinciding in time
Leonard Woolsey Bacon—A History of American Christianity

The Puritan Beginnings of the Church in virginia ---Its Decline Almost to Extinction.
THERE is sufficient evidence that the three little vessels which on the 13th of May, 1607, were moored to the trees on the bank of the James River brought to the soil of America the germ of a Christian church. We may feel constrained to accept only at a large discount the pious official professions of King James I., and critically to scrutinize many of the statements of that brilliant and fascinating adventurer, Captain John Smith, whether concerning his friends or concerning his enemies or concerning
Leonard Woolsey Bacon—A History of American Christianity

The Neighbor Colonies to virginia-Maryland and the Carolinas.
THE chronological order would require us at this point to turn to the Dutch settlements on the Hudson River; but the close relations of Virginia with its neighbor colonies of Maryland and the Carolinas are a reason for taking up the brief history of these settlements in advance of their turn. The occupation of Maryland dates from the year 1634. The period of bold and half-desperate adventure in making plantations along the coast was past. To men of sanguine temper and sufficient fortune and influence
Leonard Woolsey Bacon—A History of American Christianity

Directions to Church-Wardens, &C.
CHURCH-WARDENS are officers of the parish in ecclesiastical affairs, as the constables are in civil, and the main branches of their duty are to present what is presentable by the ecclesiastical Jaws of this realm, and repair the Church [1] . For the better information of Church-wardens as to those particulars, which they are to present, [2] articles are to be given them extracted out of the laws of the Church, according to which they are to make their presentments, Can. 119. They are obliged twice
Humphrey Prideaux—Directions to Church-Wardens

Theological Controversies and Studies
(a) Baianism. Schwane, /Dogmengeschichte der neuren zeit/, 1890. Turmel, /Histoire de la theologie positive du concile de Trente au concile du Vatican/, 1906. Denzinger-Bannwart, /Enchiridion Symbolorum/, 11th edition, 1911. Duchesne, /Histoire du Baianisme/, 1731. Linsenmann, /Michael Baius/, 1863. The Catholic doctrine on Grace, round which such fierce controversies had been waged in the fifth and sixth centuries, loomed again into special prominence during the days of the Reformation. The views
Rev. James MacCaffrey—History of the Catholic Church, Renaissance to French Revolution

The Downfall, 1616-1621.
The dream of bliss became a nightmare. As the tide of Protestantism ebbed and flowed in various parts of the Holy Roman Empire, so the fortunes of the Brethren ebbed and flowed in the old home of their fathers. We have seen how the Brethren rose to prosperity and power. We have now to see what brought about their ruin. It was nothing in the moral character of the Brethren themselves. It was purely and simply their geographical position. If Bohemia had only been an island, as Shakespeare seems
J. E. Hutton—History of the Moravian Church

Knox and the Book of Discipline
This Book of Discipline, containing the model of the Kirk, had been seen by Randolph in August 1560, and he observed that its framers would not come into ecclesiastical conformity with England. They were "severe in that they profess, and loth to remit anything of that they have received." As the difference between the Genevan and Anglican models contributed so greatly to the Civil War under Charles I., the results may be regretted; Anglicans, by 1643, were looked on as "Baal worshippers" by the
Andrew Lang—John Knox and the Reformation

Whether Sacred Doctrine is a Practical Science
Whether Sacred Doctrine is a Practical Science We proceed to the fourth article thus: 1. It seems that sacred doctrine is a practical science. For "the end of practical knowledge is action," according to the philosopher (2 Metaph., Text 3), and sacred doctrine is concerned with action, according to James 1:22: "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." Sacred doctrine is therefore a practical science. 2. Again, sacred doctrine is divided into the Old and the New Law, and the Law has to do with
Aquinas—Nature and Grace

Wherefore Let this be the First Thought for the Putting on of Humility...
42. Wherefore let this be the first thought for the putting on of humility, that God's virgin think not that it is of herself that she is such, and not rather that this best "gift cometh down from above from the Father of Lights, with Whom is no change nor shadow of motion." [2172] For thus she will not think that little hath been forgiven her, so as for her to love little, and, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and wishing to establish her own, not to be made subject to the righteousness
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.

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