James 3:17
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere.
Sermons
Wisdom, True and FalseT.F. Lockyer James 3:13-18
Characteristics of Heavenly WisdomC. F. Deems, D. D.James 3:17-18
Christianity -- The Wisdom that is .From AboveWm. Craig.James 3:17-18
Divine WisdomBp. Boyd Carpenter.James 3:17-18
Divine WisdomH. Stowell, M. A.James 3:17-18
Divine Wisdom, as Seen in the Effects of the GospelW. Arnot.James 3:17-18
Divine Wisdom, as Seen in the Nature of the GospelW. Arnot.James 3:17-18
Fruit of Righteousness Sown in PeaceF. Carmichael.James 3:17-18
Full of Mercy and of Good FruitsF. Carmichael.James 3:17-18
GentlenessJames 3:17-18
PeaceableWin. Thorold, M. A.James 3:17-18
Power of GentlenessA. Maclaren, D. D.James 3:17-18
Sowing Seeds of .PeaceJames Vaughan, M. A.James 3:17-18
Superior to a Narrow SpiritWm. Thorold, M. A. .James 3:17-18
The Heavenly Origin of WisdomF. Carmichael.James 3:17-18
The Heavenly WisdomA. S. Patterson, D. D.James 3:17-18
The Heavenly WisdomZ. Mather.James 3:17-18
The SequenceDean Plumptre.James 3:17-18
The Seven Qualities of WisdomLange's CommentaryJames 3:17-18
The Wisdom that is from AboveW. Lupton.James 3:17-18
The Wisdom that is from AboveWm. Beet.James 3:17-18
The Wisdom that is from AboveA. Plummer, D. D.James 3:17-18
The Wisdom Which is from AboveJohn Adam.James 3:17-18
True WisdomC. Jerdan James 3:17, 18
Wisdom Front AboveJ. Burns, D. D.James 3:17-18
Wisdom or PrudenceT. Hannam.James 3:17-18


These two verses exhibit, with much terseness and beauty, the features of the true or heavenly wisdom, i.e. the characteristic qualities of the state of mind, which is produced by a sincere reception of saving truth. The picture here presented forms a direct contrast to the description of false or earthly wisdom given in vers. 14-16.

I. THE NATURE OF TRUE WISDOM. (Ver. 17.) In origin it is "from above." It is not the product of self-culture, but altogether supernatural and gracious. And, being a gift of God, it is "good" and "perfect" in all its characteristics (James 1:5, 17). James here represents the heavenly wisdom as possessed of seven great excellences. Seven was the perfect number among the Jews; and there are, so to speak, seven notes in the harmony of Christian character; or seven colors in the rainbow of the Christian life, which, when blended, form its pure white sunlight. Of these seven, the first is marked off from the others, because it refers to what a man is within his own heart; while the other six deal with the qualities shown by true wisdom in connection with one's deportment towards his fellow-men.

1. In respect of a man himself. Here true wisdom is "pure. This word means chaste, unsullied, holy. Purity is the fundamental characteristic of everything that is from above." Righteousness lies at the foundation of all that is beautiful in character. Christian wisdom leads a man "to keep himself unspotted from the world," and to "cleanse himself from all defilement of flesh and spirit." Every person, therefore, who lives a sensual, selfish, or openly sinful life, shows himself to be destitute of the heavenly wisdom. For its chief element is holiness - that purity which is obtained through the blood of Christ and by the indwelling of his Spirit.

2. In respect of his demeanor towards his fellow-men. The expressions, "first," and "then," do not imply that the wise man must be perfectly "pure" before he begins to be "peaceable." They indicate the logical order, and not merely the order of time. The phrase, "first pure, then peaceable," has often been sadly abused in the interests of the "bitter jealousy and faction" which belong to false wisdom. But surely, even in doctrinal matters, we are to be peaceable with a view to purity, as well as pure for the sake of peace. "Peaceable;" indisposed to conflict or dissension. "Jealousy and faction" are characteristics of earthly wisdom. The heavenly wisdom deprecates disputatious debate, and labors to quench animosities. "Gentle;" forbearing, courteous, considerate. Gentleness is just the outward aspect of the grace of peaceableness, the vesture in which the peaceable spirit should be clothed. "Easy to be entreated;" accessible, compliant, open to conviction, and willing to listen to remonstrance. The wise man thinks more about his duties than his rights. "Full of mercy and good fruits;" overflowing with feelings of kindness and compassion, and finding a healthy outlet for these in acts of practical beneficence. "Without variance;" steady, persistent, unmistakable, never "divided in its own mind" (James 2:4; James 1:6), and therefore never halting in the fulfillment of its mission. "Without hypocrisy;" perfectly sincere always really being what it seems and professes. Wisdom's ways are not tortuous. It knows that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points.

II. THE RESULTS OF TRUE WISDOM. (Ver. 18.) The fruit of the earthly wisdom is "confusion and every vile deed" (ver. 16), but the fruit of the heavenly wisdom consists in "righteousness." "Peace" is the congenial soil in which this wisdom takes root and grows; the seed "sown" is the precious Word of God; they "that make peace" are the spiritual farmers who scatter it in hope; and "righteousness" is the blessed harvest which shall reward their toil. The eternal recompense of the righteous shall be their righteousness itself. The heavenly wisdom shall be its own reward in heaven.

LESSONS.

1. The harmony between this doctrine and the teaching of our Lord in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), as well as that of Paul in his portraiture of love (1 Corinthians 13.).

2. The excellency and attractiveness of the true wisdom.

3. The rarity of its acquisition, especially as regards its choicest features, even on the part of professing Christians.

4. The necessity of asking this wisdom from God himself.

5. The character of Jesus Christ our Model in our endeavors after it. - C.J.









The wisdom that is from above is first pure.
I. IT IS HALLOWED. On the spirit of the man who has it there has fallen a sacred hush, as on a temple which a god inhabits. Its precincts are consecrated to worship. All desecrating principles, maxims, thoughts, purposes are excluded. It has no doubtful expedients and utters no words of double meaning. It is clear, because it has been clarified. It is open to heaven and earth without concealments. It is chaste, seeking no unholy pleasures.

II. IT IS PEACEABLE. It is peaceable, because it is pure. Men that have no false and wicked purposes cannot break the peace. There never was dissension between two friends, never a rupture in any Church, never a rebellion in any State, never a war between two countries, never a wicked controversy of any kind which did not have its origin in some impurity of soul.

III. IT IS REASONABLE. It is not violent in its maintenance of its own convictions; it is not stubborn, unwilling to hear what may be said on the other side. There are men who deem themselves wise, who storm out what they believe to be the truth. Real wisdom does not so. Where there is a sober conviction of the right, and a firm faith in the final triumph of the right, all that a man has to do is to speak the truth in love. If any man holds an error, the wise man regards him as most unfortunate, and pities him, as a man in good health pities his neighbour whose eruptions show that he is diseased. Gentleness is not weak, and is not the product of weakness. It comes from being reasonable. None but the strong can be gentle; others may be soft and apathetic, but gentleness as much requires strength for its basis as the beautiful flowers and verdure require the strong ground of the geological formations. A gentle man gains by giving. He is not punctilious of his rights. He will maintain them, but always on grounds of reason, not of passion. He holds to his property, not because it is his, but for the reason that he is responsible for it. Just so a man who has this wisdom from above will not be violent in argument. He maintains his opinions, not because they are his opinions, but because he has formed them reasonably, and must maintain them reasonably and not passionately. So he will hear what others have to say.

IV. IT IS PERSUADABLE. AS the word which we have translated "reasonable" indicates the condition of the wise man's soul when he is striving to convince others, so this "persuadable" seems to indicate the posture of his soul when others are striving to convince him. It means that if he has made an error he will not keep wandering on because he is unwilling to retrace his steps. It means that he will not waste energy in endeavouring to hold an untenable position under the control of intellectual pride. It means that he can be won over by fair means and sound argument. He yields to no force that is not reasonable, as he employs no agency that is not reasonable.

V. IT IS COMPASSIONATE. In a man of true celestial wisdom there is so much sympathy and compassion that it is perpetually bursting out into fruits of goodness, which are so profitable that all men acknowledge them. You cannot know so well the condition of the tree, but fruits are visible and palpable. Men know the tree by the fruit, as God knows the fruit by the tree.

VI. IT IS NOT PARTISAN. It will not adhere to a party it loves, "right or wrong." It will not condemn the other party, "wrong or right." It will not oppress the poor when it happens to be rich, nor wrong the rich when it happens to be poor. Appeals on ground of caste, or class, or previous condition, will have no effect upon its judgment. It regards a man for what he is, not for what he has or has not been.

VII. IT IS FREE FROM ALL HYPOCRISY. Against nothing did Jesus lift up His voice in more clear and terrible notes than against hypocrisy, which was a crying sin among the Jews.

(C. F. Deems, D. D.)

I. WHAT IS WISDOM?

1. It is prudence, discretion, knowledge reduced to practice, and employed in the use of such means as are most suitable to accomplish the desired end (Proverbs 3:19, 20; Proverbs 8:12).

2. "The wisdom that is from above" is an inspired definition of the true religion; it is an attractive exhibition of that infallible knowledge which, having descended from heaven, discovers to us the most direct way to God; the means best calculated to make us lovingly acquainted with His holy law; the manner in which those means may be most easily and effectually used; and the happy results which flow from them.

II. ITS DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS.

1. Pure. While religion regulates and transforms all the powers of the mind, its first and immediate effect is not on the understanding to make it more enlightened; or on the judgment to make it more correct; or on the imagination to make it more discursive and brilliant; or on the memory to make it stronger and more retentive; but on the heart, to purify it from all moral defilement, and to make it the more upright, inoffensive, and holy.

2. Peaceable. The design of His government is to induce men to lay aside all causes of strife and alienation, and to promote unity and love.

3. Gentle and easy to be entreated. It is not rash, or authoritative, or fond of display; not rude or overbearing; not harsh or cruel; does not seek to fix upon others that which they disclaim, even though their words or conduct seemed to bear such an interpretation; and is willing to give preference to the sentiments or plans of others when they furnish evidence of superiority. It is not impatient when contradicted; or, if any misunderstanding arises, it is pacific rather than rigorous, complacent rather than censorious.

4. Full of mercy and good fruits. When it is said that "the wisdom from above is full of mercy," we learn that it is not implacable and parsimonious, but clement and liberal; not resentful and grudging, but forgiving and bountiful. "Full of good fruits," the fruits of good living; sympathising with those who are in trouble, showing kindness to such as are in distress, or by aiding those whose object it is to mitigate human woe in any of its multifarious forms, and to convert sinners from the error of their way.

5. Without partiality. Men of little minds or contracted views are easily dazzled with outward splendour, and, like children, count nothing good but what is gay and adorned with pomp. I-fence they readily give a preference to that which is most attractive in form, and, in the spirit of conscious partiality, undervalue or look coldly on those of greatest worth, because they make the least pretensions. But "the wisdom that is from above" looks not on men "after the outward appearance"; it renders to every one his due, without being swayed by self-interest or worldly honour, and determined to do equal justice to all, according to their moral worth.

6. Without hypocrisy. "An Israel indeed" is a man "in whom is no guile," no fraud, no trick, no deceit; all he pretends is genuine; all he says is sincere.Lessons:

1. That there is a wide difference between the religion here described and that of many who bear the Christian name.

2. That it is both the duty and the privilege of all who bear the Christian name to live in possession of this heavenly wisdom.

(W. Lupton.)

I. THE ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTIC OF GENUINE RELIGION. NOW true religion may be denominated wisdom —

1. As it directs the mind to the most glorious pursuits.

2. As it employs the most efficient means for the attainment of these objects.

II. ITS HEAVENLY ORIGIN.

1. The contrivance of salvation was from above.

2. The Author of our salvation came from above.

3. The revelation of true religion is from above.

4. All the blessings of our religion are from above.

III. ITS DISTINGUISHED ATTRIBUTES.

1. It is pure. Not absolute or angelic purity, but spiritual purity. The opposite of depravity and corruption. This purity is supernatural, real, and progressive.

2. It is peaceable. Not contentious. Not boisterous. It commences with the pacification of the conscience towards God. It produces a peaceful state of mind.

3. It is gentle. Hence the Christian resembles the dove, and not the vulture; the lamb, and not the lion.

4. Is easy to be entreated. Not stubborn or self-willed.

5. It is full of mercy.

6. Full of good fruits.

7. Without partiality.

8. Without hypocrisy.Application:

1. How important that we ascertain if our religion possess these essential attributes!

2. How happy those who experience in their hearts these heavenly fruits!

3. What a blessing is genuine religion to the world at large!

(J. Burns, D. D.)

"I, wisdom," says Solomon, "dwell with prudence": hence wisdom and prudence, and the characters of wise and prudent, are often mentioned together. Prudence lies in wisely fixing upon a right end of all actions, and in wisely choosing the best means conducive to that end, and in using them at the best time and in the fittest manner.

I. WHAT SPIRITUAL WISDOM IS, as it is an internal grace, or inward disposition of the mind, respecting Divine things; a man's duty, the salvation of his soul, and the glory of God.

1. It is, in general, grace in the heart: "wisdom in the hidden part" (Psalm 51:6; Proverbs 16:21). This wisdom cometh from God, who gives it entrance, and puts it there (Proverbs 2:6).

2. Spiritual wisdom, in particular, is a right knowledge of a man's self; no man that is wise in his own eyes, and prudent in his own sight, knows himself; "there is more hope of a fool than of such."

3. True spiritual wisdom is no other than the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, which God commands to shine in the hearts of men.

4. True spiritual wisdom is no other than the fear of the Lord (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10; Job 28:28). This includes the whole worship of God, internal and external, flowing from a principle of grace; it takes in the whole duty of man, which it is his wisdom to practice, internally and externally.

5. It is being wise unto salvation, or in things respecting that.

II. WHEREIN THIS WISDOM PRACTICALLY SHOWS ITSELF.

1. In doing good things in general. Such who are wickedly wise are wise to do evil; but such who are spiritually wise are "wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil" (Romans 16:19); and these are capable of doing things both for their own good and for the good of others.

2. This spiritual wisdom shows itself in particular in a profession of religion.

3. This spiritual wisdom shows itself in a becoming walk and conversation.

4. This wisdom shows itself in observing the providence of God in the world and the dispensations of it: in making useful remarks upon it, and in learning useful lessons from it.

5. This spiritual wisdom shows itself in a man's concern about his last end and future state; how it will be with him at last, and how it will go with him in another world (Deuteronomy 32:29)..

III. FROM WHENCE THIS SPIRITUAL WISDOM COMES. "God understandeth the way thereof, and He knoweth the place thereof (Job 28:20-23), for it is with Him originally, and in full perfection, yea, it is in Him infinite, unsearchable: it is in His gift to bestow, and is to be asked of Him (James 1:5).

IV. THE NATURE AND PROPERTIES OF THIS WISDOM

1. It is from above — from God, Father, Son, and Spirit; it is conversant about heavenly things; it is celestial wisdom, and stands opposed to earthly wisdom in a preceding verse.

2. It is pure in itself and in its effects; productive of purity of heart, life, and conversation.

3. It is peaceable: it influences the professors of it to be at peace among themselves and one another, to cultivate peace in families, among neighbours, and even with enemies.

4. It is gentle: it makes those who have it to be gentle towards all men, moderate and humane, to bear the infirmities of the weak, to forbear and forgive one another injuries done.

5. It is easy to be entreated or persuaded to put up with affronts, to condescend to men of low estate, and not mind high things.

6. It is full of mercy and good fruits: it fills men with compassion to those in distress, and puts them upon acts of beneficence to the poor, according to their ability.

7. It is without partiality; without partiality to themselves, esteeming others better than themselves; and to others, showing no respect of persons.

8. It is without hypocrisy to God and man, not making a show of what they have not, and intend not to do: as it is a grace, it has a close connection with faith unfeigned, with a hope that is without hypocrisy, and with love which is without dissimulation.

(T. Hannam.)

What a change passes on the scene! A bright, celestial form appliers. A fair and fragrant landscape bursts upon the view.

1. The apostle commences his description of "the wisdom that is from above" with the statement, "It is first pure." It avoids and excludes what is false in doctrine, and what is vile in character and action; and this process leads the way and regulates the rest.

2. It is "then peaceable." It leads him who possesses it to "follow peace," to maintain peace, and to promote peace. The voices of the world are constantly exclaiming, "We are for war."

3. It is "gentle." It leads him to deal mildly with the broken heart, and even to use meekness towards "such as oppose themselves."

4. It is "easy to be entreated."

5. It is "full of mercy and good fruits." It awakens and sustains a practical kindness in the heart.

6. It is "without partiality" — a representation, probably, referring to the case of "respect of persons," as animadverted on in the second chapter.

7. It is "without hypocrisy." Itself genuine and true, it prompts and inclines to strict and consistent honesty in speech, and conduct, and profession.

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

I. ITS PURITY. "First pure" — not in the order of time, but in importance, in the sense that it is the basal attribute of true wisdom.

1. Christ could not be the wisdom of God if He had not been the holiness of God, and we can never be wise if we are not pure.

2. But there is more implied than sinlessness: it means Divine and spiritual energy. Think of the purity of nature, how beautiful it appears when it is renewing its youth in spring. When the grass grows, the trees bud, and the leaves and flowers open, we see the working of the Divine energy bringing fresh forms of life before us, robed in the purity and beauty of the sanctuary of the Divine life. So in moral and spiritual beings their purity is a sign of the Divine energy which is working in and through them, keeping their thoughts holy and their lives sinless.

II. ITS PEACEABLENESS. This means that inward peaceable temper which is the fruit of purity of heart, and is never to be found apart from purity. That Divine energy expels from man's nature all the elements of disorder, discord, and restlessness, and fills the soul with order, harmony, and heavenly peace.

III. ITS GENTLENESS. This was a new spirit brought into the world by Jesus, and which should distinguish His followers from all other men. According to the text, no one is a gentleman in the highest sense of the word if he has not received and is not practising the wisdom that is from above. To the Christian gentleman humanity is sacred, and he can never intentionally hurt the feelings and injure the reputation of others, and will burn in indignation against all that are guilty of such vile and unmanly conduct.

IV. ITS PERSUASIVENESS. True wisdom shows itself, St. James seems to say, in that subtle yet gentle power to persuade and win, which we all feel when we come in contact with one who is clearly not fighting for his own rights, but for the cause of truth. The followers of Jesus speak not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but in the words of the wisdom that is from above, which fell from the mouth of the Incarnate Word. But there is more in this persuasiveness than the power of eloquent and earnest words of entreaty, for its mightiest influence will be felt through the holy lives and deeds of love and kindness of those who are possessors of this heavenly wisdom.

V. ITS MERCIFULNESS AND FRUITFULNESS. The train of thought is carried on. Wisdom is suasive because she is compassionate. In dealing with the froward she is stirred, not by anger, but by pity, and she overflows, not with every vile deed, but with the good fruits of kindly acts. Her purity makes her hate sin with perfect hatred, but she loves the sinner with intensity, and yearns for his return from his sinful ways to walk in her ways of pleasantness and paths of peace. She returns a blessing for a curse, a smile for an insult, good for evil, and with a heart overflowing with benevolence she gives water and bread to her enemies.

VI. ITS IMPARTIALITY. TO suffer wrong to pass uncondemned is impossible to her, for she is first pure. She shows that there is an everlasting distinction between right and wrong, and that according to the necessity of her pure nature she is for the right and against the wrong in whatever form it may show itself. Her eyes that look with compassion upon the oppressed, flash lightnings of holy indignation against the oppressor, and from her mouth that speaks words of heavenly tenderness to the weak, the sorrowful, and the lowly, come thunderbolts against all selfishness, cruelty, sinful ambition, arrogancy of spirit, and pride of heart. And even in the objects of her greatest love and highest delight she detects the least sin and condemns it unreservedly.

VII. ITS GUILELESSNESS. This wisdom is free from all dissimulation, deceit, and trickery, and is as pure as the light, as transparent as the crystal. Let Divine light in the soul illuminates man's whole nature, so that he is perfectly what he appears.

(Z. Mather.)

Our first thought in reading the description which the apostle gives of the Divine wisdom is this, that it is totally different from the notion of wisdom which we usually adopt. If you were to ask men to define wisdom, they would begin to recapitulate what we may call the intellectual powers of man. If we asked them to define wisdom as she applied herself to the different walks of life, they would tell us that in the statesman it was foresight; in the merchant it was the power of sagacity or shrewdness; in the barrister keenness; in the teacher insight; in the judge comprehensiveness. When we turn to the apostle he sets aside all these; he gives us no picture of logical powers, of clear discrimination, of power of judgment, or power of imagination, but he gives us a catalogue of moral qualities: it is pure, it is gentle, it is full of mercy, it is full of good fruits, it is easy to be intreated. And as he speaks of it our thought is, it is outside the ordinary conduct and the ordinary definitions of man. But I would ask you to see these two things. That in the first place it is the noblest and truest definition of wisdom, because it recognises the true greatness of man; and also that it is the noblest and truest wisdom because it is capable of universal application. It is, in the first instance, the noblest and truest because it, and it alone, recognises the true greatness of man. If you will but search the annals of the past, you will see it is far, far more in the character of man that greatness is to be round than in the skill and intellectual powers which that character possesses. A man may be brilliant in all these capacities, he may have a power to anticipate events just as the foremost in the land, but it seems to me he may be entirely wanting in the very one thing which — as the history of the past can show — alone can gain the confidence of peoples. How was it that in old Athens the Greeks preferred the slower genius of Nicias to the quicker and more brilliant capacities of Alcibiades? Because with the first the moral character was a guarantee that he would live to use his intellectual powers aright. Wherever you scan the story of the past you will find that the true influence of man is the solid power which is built up primarily and first of all of the character which lies in the background. The ability, this is but the colour of the robe; the character is its very texture, and men ask not what the colour is, but what is the durable character of the fabric; they ask not what are the brilliancy of his parts, not the loftiness of his imagination, not the depth of his insight, but rather the solidity and dependableness of his character. And so he wrote rightly, did the apostle, to say that when you are tempted to win your ascendancy over your fellow-men by the biting jest, by the ready sarcasm, by the quick wit of the tongue, take heed lest in the temporary ascendancy you sacrifice the true greatness of your manhood. It is easy to wound by the sharp word, it is easy to make the spirit quail before the rough tongue, but it is a far nobler thing that the mouth should be filled with gentleness, that the heart shall be levelled with love and the character built up in purity. It is, then, the noblest and the truest definition, because it sets aside the mere accidents of intellectual power, and it sets before us a far nobler ideal of wisdom, that which is nearest to the wisdom of God, pure as our Master is pare, gentle as our Redeemer was gentle, and in the hours of His sorrow and His sympathy full of mercy and good fruits, and abundant as the Divine munificence. But if it is thus the noblest definition, our thoughts are struck by another question, and we ask ourselves, Is it possible to work it in the world? Whence do we seek our evidence? My brethren, there are three great spheres which appeal to and touch the life of man. One is the great sphere of the outer world. We look into the heavens above us, into the air around us, and to the earth beneath us. and follow the traces of God's influence — it is the great sphere of nature. We ask from the sphere of nature, and the answer will be given that the wisdom which is from above is indeed full of mercy, for behold the races of men how anxiously they have inquired concerning the God who made all these things. The orbs of the planets and the growth of the flowers tell us of that token of God the Father, tell us that there is a voice from nature that informs us we are not left orphans in His universe, and this is the answer. And men tell us to behold the evidences of design from the hand of God, but what do they draw from its tokens? They do not ask you to behold the designs of the universe, they do not ask you to look upon its beauty, but they ask you to behold the tokens of mercy. It is not that they can tell us of stupendousness of distances which take away the breath as they are contemplated, it is not that they tell of mixed design, or when they take the fragile flower, of its exquisite form and accuracy, but they say behold how, by a marvellous adaptation, the needs of man, and the needs of the feeblest of God's creatures, are anticipated. There is another sphere which touches us. I ask you not to look now upon the outer world of the material universe, but turn for a moment and see the world of history, It is that great world which exhibits the lessons of the past, it is that which men will call history, but which wiser men will call the pictures of God's providence. What is the answer upon this? I answer, it is again that the truest wisdom is found in the moral qualities of purity, gentleness, meekness, and mercy. For our first reading of history is itself a story of man, it is a story of dynasties, it is a story of change, that strange drama which has been going on through all ages. But when we look more closely we begin to read history from another light; it is to mark the deeds of men, it is the development of principles, it is bringing to the test of time what are the enduring powers of the world in which we find ourselves, and as I look back I find once more the powers that endure are the moral qualities which St. James has spoken of. Do you want a clear illustration? Go back nineteen centuries and watch the struggle that is going on. On the one side there is the vast consolidated power of Rome grinding down with its iron heel the nations of the world, heedless of the cries of man and the necessity of reform and purity. On the other side there is the little kingdom which is cradled first in the manger of Bethlehem, which expands in the upper chamber at Jerusalem, which carries its way and plants itself in various parts of the earth, and face to face it has struggled against the imperial power which seeks to crush, and the weapons of the Church are but gentleness, purity, meekness. Do I ask the apostle with what weapons he seeks to combat the world and overcome it, he says by pureness, by knowledge, by love unfeigned, by the Holy Ghost, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. There shall be the design of the statesman, there shall be the power of the legislature, all combined to crush it; and on the other side the meek spirit of silence, of patience, and of love. There are the two in conflict, and I ask you now what is the result? The empire has ceased to be which has been founded upon force, but the empire which has been founded upon purity, upon mercy, and upon love, has spread itself everywhere. History has given back the triumph into the hand of moral wisdom, of purity and love. There is another voice which we can summon to our aid. It is not the voice which comes from the contemplation of the world without, or of the history of the past, but it is listening to the voice which speaks to the inner heart of man. It is the sphere of religion. And, again, I say that the answer will be that the flue wisdom is that which is built up of pureness, of love, and of mercy. Behold how many have gathered together the superstitions and the "religions of the past, and they have trembled before the God of power, they have been ravished by the face of the god of beauty, but they have not been raised in the social scale, they have not found their hearts touched, for they have failed to cast off the cloak of their sin, and tread their own unworthy self beneath their feet till He came who moved through the world and whose life was one of purity — "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" They bear witness to His guilelessness, "He did no sin, neither did guile proceed out of His mouth." They bear witness to His gentleness, for they were emboldened to creep to His feet to receive blessings at His hands, as well as His loving-kindness and His mercy. Or I go deeper. I take His religion, and I ask, What is its source and force? You have seen how it seems to spread itself everywhere, that it touches every condition of man, that when it stands face to face with various nationalities it seems to find no difficulty in pouring its beneficent stream into the vessels of whatever shape they may be. The answer is, it is a religion of purity, it is a religion of mercy, it is a religion of gentleness, it comes to man, and it says that purity is the description of the Church, it is the description of dignity, it is the description of humanity, it is the description of God. Here, then, from every voice, of the heart of man, of the history of man, and of the world of man, we get back the same truth that it is indeed the highest wisdom which has as its features gentleness, purity, and love. What, then, shall we say? I say there is the last appeal to our own hearts. My brethren, the glory of it lies in one thing more, and that is that it is a greatness and a wisdom that is open to all. The very power which makes men often so despondent is this, that they say the very walk of life they fain would tread is closed to them because of some weakness of which they are conscious. All men desire greatness; they desire, that is to say, to climb above themselves. Here, then, is the door open to the highest greatness. There is not a greater thing on earth than man; there is not a greater man than the man that has learnt purity, gentleness, and love. And so far more high and noble ambition infinitely than to climb into the high places of the earth, a nobler ambition than all that glittering rank can bestow is the ambition to be a perfect man in Christ Jesus, nearer Him in resemblance of character, in tenderness of heart, in gentleness of speech, nearer to Him in sanctity and purity of life — and this greatness is open to all.

(Bp. Boyd Carpenter.)

I. VERY LOVELY, THOUGH VERY BRIEF, IS THIS DELINEATION OF TRUE GODLINESS. It is "wisdom from above." Wherein lies wisdom? and what is her true character? Wisdom is the choice of the best end, and the pursuit of it by the best means. It is more than knowledge; for we may know the best end, and we may know the best means, and yet we may neither pursue the one, nor employ the other. But wisdom differs from knowledge in this — that it is knowledge carried into practice; it is knowledge, not in the abstract, but in the concrete — knowledge, not in the head alone, but in the heart and in the life, wrought out, and carried into effect. Can there be any doubt, then, as to what is the noblest end of mortal man? When man fell from his Maker, he fell from his being's end. Now, the wisdom that comes from above has for its end and object to restore man to the pursuit of that high favour, and to put into his soul means for the attainment of that end. Every one that believes in Jesus is restored to God's love; every one that is led and renewed by His Spirit is "transformed" again "into His image." He, therefore, who is taught this wisdom, chooses God for his Father, Christ for his way, the Spirit for his life. This wisdom is "from above," not from beneath. The wisdom that is from beneath is "earthly, sensual, devilish," full of pride, and full of dark rebellion against God. Nor is the wisdom which "maketh wise unto salvation" taught of man, nor discovered by man. Mighty intellect avails not here; profound learning avails not here; acute understanding is baffled here. Wisdom that maketh wise is from above in the revelation; it is from above in the impartation to the soul. We have not to rest our faith on the decisions of men, or on the vain conjectures of would-be philosophers, who would be "wise above that which is written," or wise without what is written; but we have God's own blessed immutable truth, as the rock of our rest. It has stood, and it shall stand when all things else disappear. The, e can be no doubt, for God hath spoken: there can be no incertitude, for God hath sworn, "that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might bare a strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." Never lose sight of this in studying Scripture: it is "wisdom from above." We too little study the Bible in this spirit; we too little remember that it is entirely God's, that it is in no sort of man or from man, and that therefore we are not to treat it as if it were man's. But it is "wisdom from above" in a still more intimate, and a still more solemn, even in a personal sense. It is "wisdom from above" in the record, and it is so in the revelation to the soul. "God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Then there is light within; then there is salvation to the soul; then there is "wisdom from above": the Spirit teacheth, and the Spirit giveth life.

II. SHOW THE IMMEDIATE PRACTICAL POWER AND INFLUENCE OF THIS DIVINE WISDOM WHEN THUS RECEIVED BY ANY MAN IN HIS SOUL. It is "first pure, then peaceable." Here is its beautiful order: here is the process that works in the soul.

1. It is pure; pure as contrasted with error in principle; pure as contrasted with impurity and uncleanness in moral affection. It is pure in both senses —(1) Pure in principle: the darkness gives way to the light: we are "brought out of darkness into marvellous light"; we are "translated from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God's dear Son." What a wonderful revolution takes place in a man's intellect when the light of Heaven shines into it! He had notions before, but he had no convictions: but now notions become convictions, if they were right; and if they were wrong, however cherished, they are swept away as the mountain's mists in the morning, when the sun arises in his strength, and "the day-spring from on high" visits the world.(2) "The wisdom from above is first pure": pure in doctrine. It makes no compromise with error, either in the man's soul at first, or afterwards in his lips or his labours among others.(3) And then, as it is pure in doctrine, it is pure also in its power and transforming efficacy on the affections, and on all the moral properties of the soul. Yes, when God gives light to the understanding, He implants love in the heart. He gives "a clean heart" when He reveals "a right spirit." He purifies the heart by faith; and faith, working by love, conforms to Christ; and Christ loved makes all to follow in beautiful obedience; for when "we love Him, we keep His commandments": and when we keep His commandments, we walk in purity and peace. This is the purifying effect of "the wisdom which cometh from above." And if it be pure in the man's heart, it will be pure in the man's intercourse. He will dislike whatever defiles; he will "have no fellowship with the workers of darkness, but rather reprove them." Mark the emphatic word here. "The wisdom which is from above is first pure, then peaceable." To sacrifice truth to peace is perfidy to God and treachery to Christ. To sacrifice truth to conciliation is to sacrifice the substance to the shadow; I might say, to sacrifice the victim that can be offered to God on the altar of Satan. False peace, and false charity, and false liberalism are an abomination to God. "First pure": keep that ever as your order. But "then peaceable." Yes, never forget that the direct tendency of the gospel of Christ is as much to produce peaceableness of spirit, of conversation, and of disposition, as it is to produce purity in heart and in affection.

(H. Stowell, M. A.)

I. Revealed truth — the wisdom that is from above — is "FIRST PURE, THEN PEACEABLE." It shows how God may dwell with man, and yet not sacrifice His purity; how man may dwell with God, and yet not lose his peace. It neither tarnishes Divine holiness, nor crushes human hope. It guards first the righteousness of the Judge; thereafter and therewith it obtains the pardon of the criminal. It is in Christ crucified that the two apparent contradictions meet. The substitution of Christ for His people is the fulcrum which sustains alike the honour of God and the safety of believing men. God preserves His own purity, and yet lifts the lost into His bosom: the guilty get a free pardon, and yet the motives which bind them to obedience, instead of being relaxed, are indefinitely strengthened.

II. Revealed truth — the wisdom that is from above — is "GENTLE AND EASY TO BE ENTREATED." This is not the view which springs in nature, and prevails in the world. Fear in the conscience of the guilty, after passing through various degrees of intensity and forms of manifestation, ever tends to culminate in the question, "Shall I give the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" See the result as it is exhibited in India. The chief gratification of a chief idol is the self-murder of his worshippers under the wheel of the truck that bears his weight. The wisdom that is from above is gentle; "a bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench." The wisdom that is from above is easy to be entreated; nay, more, He tenderly entreats you — "Come unto Me, all ye That labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

III. Revealed truth — the wisdom that is from above — is "FULL OF MERCY AND GOOD FRUITS." So far from being in all cases united, these two, in their full dimensions, meet only in the gospel. The administration of a government might be full of mercy, and yet destitute of good fruits: nay, more, the want of good fruit might be directly due to the fulness of mercy. Mercy to the full — an absolutely unconditional pardon to the guilty is in human governments inconsistent with the public good. In the gospel of the grace of God, absolute fulness of mercy to the guilty binds the forgiven more firmly to obedience. The wisdom which is exhibited in the covenant is full of mercy. God could not put more mercy in His covenant, for all His mercy is in it already. Woe to us if that which it contains comes short of our need. It is not a wider door of mercy that we want, but a larger liberty to sin. This Divine wisdom is also full of good fruits. The tree is good, its fruits are good, and it bears them abundantly. Either attribute is in itself precious; and there is an additional interest in the union of the two. If there had not been Divine wisdom in the plan, the profusion of mercy would have blasted in the germ all the promises of fruit. The mercy that is free to us was dearly bought by our Divine substitute. Justice was satisfied while the guilty were set free. There lies the peculiar feature of the mercy which God gives and sinners get through Christ. It does not encourage the forgiven to continue in sin. It makes the forgiven love the forgiver much; and love is the greatest, the only fulfiller of the law.

IV. Revealed truth — the wisdom that is from above — is "WITHOUT PARTIALITY, AND WITHOUT HYPOCRISY." We are so much accustomed to partiality and hypocrisy in human affairs, that it becomes difficult to lodge in our minds the conception of an off, r entirely equal, and an announcement absolutely true. Accustomed in the moral department of human things to a continual state of siege, we have contracted a corresponding habit of suspicion. We lack the tendency, and perhaps the power, to exercise a pure implicit trust. How shall we be brought, in very deed and in simplicity, to trust that God is true, although every man should be a liar?" Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Take away this suspicious heart, and give a tender, trustful one. The Mediator's proposal for peace with God is —

1. Without partiality offered alike to all. All the fallen are in need, and all alike. His own goodness will not admit the best into favour; his own badness will not keep out the worst. Grace, absolutely sovereign and free, is the main principle of the gospel.

2. Without hypocrisy: — truly offered to each. What have we here? Can the Supreme, consistently with His own honour, plead before His creatures, that He is not a hypocrite, making His offer appear more generous than it really is? Yes; such is His longsuffering condescension. All the repetitions of His offer are of this kind — the overflowings of a compassion that is more than full He stands at the door and knocks; He pleads with sinners, Why will ye die? Strange measure of forbearance this! But is it needed? Do men deny or doubt the sincerity of the offer which the Messenger of the covenant has brought to the world? They do. Nor is it here and there a rare example of peculiar wickedness; it is the commonest sin I know. We do not speak this distrust; but we live it. I have seen a dog tried in this fashion: his owner took a full dish of finest human food from the table, as it had been prepared for the family, and set it before him, encouraging him by word and gesture to eat. The sagacious brute shrank back, lay down, refused, and gave many unmistakable indications that he would be too glad to eat, but he saw clearly it was all a pretence it was too good for him, and never intended for him — and if he should attempt to taste it, the dish could be snatched away, while he would perhaps receive a blow for daring to take the offer in earnest. The picture, although its associations are less grave, possesses, in relation to our subject, the one essential quality of trueness. It represents, more exactly than anything I know in nature, the treatment which God's offer gets from men. We treat the offer as if the offerer were not sincere. Alas for the pitiful condition of sinful men! — refusing the great salvation, because it is so great that they cannot believe it is really intended to be given free to the unworthy.

(W. Arnot.)

I. THE NEW CREATURE — the work of the Sprit in believers — is "FIRST PURE, THEN PEACEABLE."

1. In relation to God. In His approach to you there was first purity and then peace; therefore, as an echo answers to the sound that waked it, the same two in the same order will characterise your approach to Him. As God would not come in peace to the sinful, except on the foundations of holiness, honoured first, true Christians, much as they desire peace, do not expect — will not ask it on other terms. lie who is at peace in impurity has not received upon his heart the imperial seal of the King Eternal, but the counterfeit of some false pretender.

2. In relation to ourselves. Peace of conscience is sweet, whether it be false or true, The desire to avoid or escape remorse is an instinct of humanity, acting as strongly and steadily as the desire to avoid or escape bodily pain. When I accept mercy through the blood of Christ, my desire for peace of conscience, one of the strongest forces in my being, becomes a weight hung over a pulley exerting a constant pressure to lift me up into actual righteousness.

3. In relation to the world around. Those who have, through faith, gone down with Christ in His baptism of blood to wash their sins away, acquire a depth and solidity of character which enables them to bear unmoved the tossings of a troubled time. Their life, "hid with Christ in God," bears, without breaking, all the strain of the storm. "He that believeth shall not make haste." In times of trial the deepest is steadiest.

II. THE NEW CREATURE — the work of the Spirit in believers — IS "GENTLE, AND EASY TO BE ENTREATED." Although the lot of men is, on the whole, much more equal than it seems, yet at certain particular points some have more to bear and do than others. Hard knots occur in some persons as in some trees, while others are constitutionally smoother in the grain. But while I willingly confess that more gnarled natures must endure more pain in the process of being made meek and gentle, I hesitate to own that, in the end, these Christians remain ordinarily more harsh and ungainly than others. I think, although it is not a uniform law, it is, notwithstanding, a common experience, to find in the new man a very low place where in the old man there was a mountain-height. Where the old was harsh and overbearing, the new may be gentle and easy to be entreated; where the old was timidly yielding, the new may bee faithful and bold.

III. THE NEW CREATURE — the work of the Spirit in believers — Is "FULL OF MERCY AND GOOD FRUITS." It is a principle of the gospel that he who gets mercy shows mercy. The little cistern is brought into connection with the living spring, and the grace which is infinite in the Master, is transferred to the disciple in the measure of his powers. When a man is full of mercy in this sinning, suffering world, a stream of benevolence will be found flowing in his track, all through the wilderness. If the reservoir within his heart be kept constantly charged by union with the upper spring, there need be neither ebbing nor intermission of the current all his days, for opening opportunities everywhere abound. Let no disciple of Christ either think himself excused, or permit himself to be discouraged from doing good, because his talents and opportunities are few. Your capacity is small, it is true; but if you are in Christ, it is the capacity of a well. Although it does not contain much at any moment, so as to attract attention to you for your gifts, it will give forth a good deal in a lifetime, and many will be refreshed.

IV. THE NEW CREATURE — the work of the Spirit in believers — Is "WITHOUT PARTIALITY, AND WITHOUT HYPOCRISY." These plants, though not now indigenous in human nature, may, when transplanted, and watched, and watered, grow there, and bear substantial fruit.

1. Without partiality. It is not the impartiality of indifference, but the impartiality of love.(1) No partiality for persons. Love the poor as well as the rich; the rude as well as the polished; the ungainly as well as the winsome. The redemption of the soul is precious, and the opportunity of applying it in any given case will soon cease for ever.(2) No partiality for peoples. Care equally for drunken Sabbath-breakers on the Clyde, and ignorant idol-worshippers on the Ganges. A certain proverb is much used, and much abused in our day, by persons who discourage Christian missions to the heathen: Charity begins at home. Expressing only half a truth, it is so employed as to be equivalent to a whole falsehood. It would be more true and more salutary if it were written in full: Charity begins at home, but does not end there.(3) No partiality for sins. A young man who had used for his own purposes a hundred pounds of his employers' money, as it was passing through his hands, fold me in the narrow prison-cell where he was dreeing his punishment, that at the same time in the same city men were going at large and living in splendour, who had notoriously committed the same crime, but prudently committed it on a larger scale than he. I was compelled to own the fact, although, of course, I refused to accept it as an apology. Of the parties to the vices that grow in pairs, why is one accepted in the drawing-room, and the other banished to the darksome wynd? The wisdom which plans and practically sanctions this distinction has not descended from above. The Church, too, must learn to copy more closely the impartiality of her Head. She must not throw a mantle over one sin, while she brandishes the rod of discipline over another. The sin that excludes from the kingdom of heaven should exclude from the communion of saints.

2. Without hypocrisy. When a sinner, softened in repentance, lays himself for pardon along a crucified Christ, he takes on from the Lord a transparent trueness which tells distinctly whose he is, to every passenger he meets on the highway of life.

(W. Arnot.)

I. THE JUST MOTION OF WISDOM IN GENERAL.

1. True wisdom distinguishes the particular seasons and circumstances of action. All times and all circumstances will not bear all things. It is very possible to destroy the best-laid scheme by an ill-seasoned execution. Every duty to God claims a proper time, and so likewise every duty to our neighbours and ourselves. To gain upon men for their good, there are soft times of address, which a mere accident may present, when a word spoken fitly will have greater weight than the most powerful arguments on other occasions. These a wise man will carefully observe, and strike the iron while it is hot and capable of yielding.

II. THE EXCELLENCY OF THIS WISDOM.

1. The origination of wisdom is from above.

2. It heightens the excellency of wisdom, that the objects about which it is employed are suitable to its sublime original.

3. The great end it advances shows its excellency. It not only sets us on the way, but puts us in the possession of true happiness at last.

III. MARK THE DIVINE LINEAMENTS OF IT here touched by the pen of the apostle, and so form a judgment of its beauty and excellence.

1. It is pure. It is like the blessed Author of it. It is the image of God in the soul; resembles Him in that which is the beauty and glory of His nature, His holiness.

2. It is peaceable. Peace is the fruit of holiness, and, therefore, properly placed after it. A pure conscience keeps a calm breast, and disposes the soul to seek and keep peace with others.

3. It is gentle, that is, equal and moderate.

4. It is easy to be intreated, ready to oblige, pliable and condescending to anything for the good of others, that is consistent with a good conscience.

5. It is full of mercy and good fruits; compassionate and liberal; not resting in good words and fair speeches, but doing good works.

6. That we may not be blinded or biassed by prejudice, that we may not confine our good opinions or good deeds to any one party of men, the apostle adds, Wisdom is without partiality, will not suffer us to judge men's characters by their circumstances, to think well or ill of them by external appearances, and treat them accordingly.

7. Without hypocrisy. True wisdom can never be divided from integrity. No man can be wise without being honest. He that walketh uprightly walketh surely.IN CONCLUSION it follows:

1. That prayer is an indispensable duty on every soul of man. True wisdom is the gift of God; and no man can have the least room or reason to expect it without asking.

2. How foolish, sinful, and contrary to our holy religion are all uncharitable principles and practices!

(Wm. Beet.)

1. With propriety it is designated wisdom; for a God of wisdom is its author and its end, and it reveals a scheme of mercy in the device of which omniscience itself was exerted. Yes, with propriety is it called wisdom; for it teaches man to know the character of God, and the riches of God's love, the natural debasement of humanity, and the means that have been put in operation for securing his eternal weal. With propriety is it called wisdom; for it enlightens the mind, informs the judgment, and regulates the life. With propriety is it called wisdom; for it makes him who lives under its influence wise in the estimation of God Himself. Once more, with propriety is it entitled wisdom; for the end of it is to make men wise unto salvation.

2. Not less appropriately is it designated a wisdom that cometh from above. Its. origin is indeed celestial; for it is a beam that issues from God the fountain of light. Its origin is celestial; for the angel of the covenant Himself came down from heaven to reveal its first promise, and make known to Adam the great truth on which it all depends. Yes, its origin is celestial; for without the teaching of the Holy Spirit its high lessons cannot be learned.

(Wm. Craig.)

The ancients, when speaking of any valuable art or discovery highly beneficial to mankind, commonly deduce its origin from heaven, and acknowledge that they owed it to the teaching of the gods. Thus fire is said to have been stolen from heaven; the useful arts of agriculture, and such like, are ascribed to the direction of such and such particular deities; and philosophy itself is said to have come down from heaven.

(F. Carmichael.)

I. THE NATURE OF THIS WISDOM (ver. 17). Now what are its properties, what its distinctive features?

1. The most internal and fundamental of these is purity. It is so, both in its nature and in the influence which it exerts. It is holy and makes holy.

2. "Peaceable." This is the opposite of that characteristic of the false wisdom which the apostle had been speaking of, namely, "envying and strife." The true, the heavenly, is disposed to peace, it follows after, it delights in peace. It animates its possessor with such a spirit, so that he desires, though he cannot always secure, this blessing.

3. "Gentle" — mild, forbearing. It corresponds to the "meekness of wisdom" spoken of in a preceding verse. It is ranked by Paul among the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). A really peaceable disposition may be connected with not a little roughness and harshness of manlier. There may be a sternness, a severity which repels others, and does injustice to the genuine principles and affections of the bosom. This wisdom should subdue and soften the spirit, should infuse into it a real tenderness and sweetness, and it must so far as it is imparted and has free course. Yes; for it embraces a sense of our own obligations to infinite mercy, matchless long-suffering, — it assimilates us to Him from whom it all proceeds, for Christ is made unto His people, wisdom; and how conspicuous was this feature in His character! And it teaches us that such is the disposition which not only becomes us as Christians, but is the most effectual in winning over others to the faith of the gospel.

4. "Easy to be entreated" — readily persuaded, compliant. It is not obstinate, unbending, implacable. It is willing to learn, whoever may be the teacher, and however disagreeable may be the lesson. It is ready to listen to reason and remonstrance. It does not require much persuasion to induce it to forgive injuries and be reconciled to adversaries. It insists not on studious etiquette, nor on carefully adjusted and elaborately expressed acknowledgments. In this respect its possessors have the mind of Him whose ear is open to the cry of sinners, rebels, and who is always standing waiting to be gracious — ready to pardon.

5. "Full of mercy and good fruits." These two are closely connected in the mode of expression, and this accords with their real relation. Mercy is compassion, pity, and has respect to the offending and the miserable. It manifests itself with respect to temporal distress, and still more with reference to spiritual destitution. Tats wisdom has not merely a little of it, but is full of it, according to the text. The mercy which has its spring here, not only flows but overflows. It is cherished, not toward a narrow circle of objects, but one large and stretching far beyond those barriers which limit the sympathies of many. It is shown, not on rare occasions, but frequently, habitually, well-nigh as often as the appeal is made or the need discovered. And it is not a half-hearted thing, not a shallow, superficial feeling, soon exhausted and gone — for it is not only real but deep and enduring.

6. "Without partiality and without hypocrisy." The heavenly wisdom is impartial. It does not respect persons. Neither is it one-sided in its attachment to truth and duty. It does not choose this and reject that; but embraces the whole will of God in its regards. And it is equally unprejudiced with reference to the modes of usefulness, means and ways of doing good, being largely free from that narrow-mindedness which is so common in these respects, and which forces itself on our view in so many quarters. It is also "without hypocrisy." There is about it no feigning, no pretence, no insincerity. It is open, transparent, consistent. With it the reality and the semblance, the substance and the form, correspond.

II. THE RESULT OF TINS WISDOM (ver. 18). It yields precious fruit — the fruit of righteousness. The expression may mean, either that the fruit springs from, or consists in, righteousness. We understand it in the latter sense. This is its substance, its nature. And so we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews of chastisement yielding "the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Righteousness is conformity to the will of God, and largely taken, as it is here, embraces the discharge of all the duties we owe directly to Him, as well as those we are bound to perform toward our fellow-creatures. It is equivalent to holiness of heart and life in all its parts; indeed, to true religion in the whole compass of its personal influence and effects.

(John Adam.)

The "first" and the "then" may be seriously misunderstood. St. James does not mean that the heavenly wisdom cannot be peaceable and gentle until all its surroundings have been made pure from everything that would oppose or contradict it; in other words, that the wise and understanding Christian will first free himself from the society of all whom he believes to be in error, and then, but not till then, will he be peaceable and gentle. This interpretation contradicts the context, and makes St. James teach the opposite of what he says very plainly in the sentences which precede, and in those which follow. He is stating a logical, and not a chronological order, when he declares that true wisdom is "first pure, then peaceable." In its inmost being it is pure; among its very various external manifestations are the six or seven beneficent qualities which follow the "then." If there were no one to be gentle to, no one coming to entreat, no one needing mercy, the wisdom from above would still be pure; therefore this quality comes first. Here "pure" must certainly not be limited to mean simply "chaste." The word "sensual," applied to the wisdom from below, does not mean unchaste, but living wholly in the world of sense; and the purity of the heavenly wisdom does not consist merely in victory over temptations of the flesh, but in freedom from worldly and low motives. Its aim is that truth should become known and prevail, and it condescends to no ignoble arts in prosecuting this aim. Contradiction does not ruffle it, and hostility does not provoke it to retaliate, because its motives are thoroughly disinterested and pure. Thus, its peaceable and placable qualities flow out of its purity. It is "first pure, then peaceable." It is because the man who is inspired with it has no ulterior selfish ends to serve that he is gentle, sympathetic, and considerate towards those who oppose him. He strives, not for victory over his opponents, but for truth both for himself and for them; and he knows what it costs to arrive at truth. A critical writer of our own day has remarked that "by an intellect which is habitually filled with the wisdom which is from heaven, in all its length and breadth, ' objections' against religion are perceived at once to proceed from imperfect apprehension. Such an intellect cannot rage against those who give words to such objections. It seems that the objectors do but intimate the partial character of their own knowledge." It will be observed that while the writer just quoted speaks about the intellect, St. James speaks about the heart. The difference is not accidental, and it is significant of a difference in the point of view. The modern view of wisdom is that it is a matter which mainly consists in the strengthening and enrichment of the intellectual powers, Increase of capacity for acquiring and retaining knowledge; increase in the possession of knowledge: this is what is meant by growth in wisdom. And by knowledge is meant acquaintance with the nature and history of man, and with the nature and history of the universe. All this is the sphere of the intellect rather than of the heart. The purification and development of the moral powers, if not absolutely excluded from the scope of wisdom, is commonly left in the background and almost out of sight. What St. James says here is fully admitted: the highest wisdom keeps a man from the bitterness of party spirit. But why? Because his superior intelligence and information tell him that the opposition of those who dissent from him is the result of ignorance, which requires, not insult and abuse, but instruction. St. James does not dissent from this view, but he adds to it. There are further and higher reasons why the truly wise man does not rail at others or try to browbeat and silence them. Because, while he abhors folly, he loves the fool, and would win him over from his foolish ways; because he desires not only to impart knowledge, but to increase virtue; and because he knows that strife means confusion, and that gentleness is the parent of peace. Christians are charged to be "wise as serpents, but harmless as doves." "Full of mercy and good fruits." The wisdom from above is not only peaceable, reasonable, and conciliatory, when under provocation or criticism, it is also eager to take the initiative in doing all the good in its power to those whom it can reach or influence. The intellectual miser, who gloats over the treasures of his own accumulated knowledge, and smiles with lofty indifference upon the criticisms and squabbles of the imperfectly instructed, has no share in the wisdom that is from above. He is peaceful and moderate, not out of love and sympathy, but because his time is too precious to be wasted in barren controversy, and because he is too proud to place himself on a level with those who would dispute with him. No selfish arrogance of this kind has any place in the character of the truly wise. His wisdom not only enlightens his intellect, but warms his heart and strengthens his will. "Without variance, without hypocrisy." These are the last two of the goodly qualities which St. James gives as marks of the heavenly wisdom. Similarity in sound, which cannot well be preserved in English, has evidently had something to do with their selection (ἀδιάκριτος ἀνυπόκριτος). The first of the two has perplexed translators. Of the various possible meanings of the word before us we may prefer "without doubtfulness." The wisdom from above is unwavering, steadfast, single-minded. Thus Ignatius charges the Magnesians (xv.) to "possess an unwavering spirit" (ἀδιάκριτον πνεῦμα), and tells the Trallians (i.) that he has "learned that they have a-mind unblamable and unwavering in patience" (ἀδιάκριτον ἐν ὑπομονῇ). And (Paed. II. 3., p. 190) speaks of "unwavering faith" (ἀδιακρίτῳ πίστει), and a few lines farther on he reminds his readers, in words that suit our present subject, that "wisdom is net bought with earthly coin, nor is sold in the market, but in heaven." If he had said that wisdom is not sold in the market, but given from heaven, he would have made the contrast both more pointed and more true. "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace." The Greek may mean either "for them that make peace," or "by them that make peace"; and we need not attempt to decide. In either case it is the peacemakers who sow the seed whose fruit is righteousness, and the peacemakers who reap this fruit. The whole process begins, progresses, and ends in peace.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

Lange's Commentary.
The seven qualities which James attributes to the wisdom from above are nothing but the seven colours of the one ray of light of heavenly truth, which has been revealed and has appeared in Christ Himself. He is therefore supremely entitled to the name "the Wisdom of God."

(Lange's Commentary.)

is that of thought, not of time. It is not meant, e.g., that purity is an earlier stage of moral growth in wisdom than peace, but that it is its foremost attribute.

(Dean Plumptre.)

The person endowed with this will not indeed give up the fundamentals of religion, the articles of faith, under the notion of being peaceable. He will not sit by an unconcerned spectator, void of all concern and zeal, while others are doing this. He will not sacrifice good order and government in the Church of God to the caprice or clamours of enthusiasm or faction. No; this is not being peaceable, but a criminal lukewarmness and indifference unworthy of a Christian. In such cases, however peaceable he is otherwise, he will within his proper sphere contend most earnestly for the faith.

(Win. Thorold, M. A.)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking after Earl Granville had unveiled the memorial to his predecessor, adorned the occasion by a reference to the secret of the beautiful life of Dr. Taft. "I have heard," said he, "and I believe it is true, that on the first day of his wedded life he and his bride pledged themselves to each other that they would never quarrel with any one, and I believe that pledge was kept to the end." This memory is better than any memorial in marble.

Morning by morning God's great mercy of sunshine steals upon a darkened world in still, slow, self-impartation; and the light which has a force that has carried it across gulfs of space that the imagination staggers in trying to conceive, yet falls so gently that it does not move the petals of the sleeping flowers, nor hurt the lids of an infant's eyes, nor displace a grain of dust. So should we live and work, clothing all our power in tenderness, doing our work in quietness, disturbing nothing but the darkness, and with silent increase of beneficent power filling and flooding the dark earth with healing beams.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Full of mercy and good fruits.
Far from being savage, unrelenting, or cruel, it feels the Godlike impressions of pity and compassion towards every proper object, the unfortunate and the miserable; it is touched with a strong sense of the miseries of human nature; it cannot but weep with those that weep, and commiserate and assist the indigent and the distressed; it is not content to afford them the cheap offer of mere verbal pity only, of the eye or of the tongue, but will add the real and substantial one of actual aid in proportion to their wants and its own ability; it will not only be full of mercy but full of good fruits likewise. By which last expression we may observe how valuable these works of mercy are in the sight of God, when He who is the blessed author and adorable fountain of all good calls them good; good by way of eminence, not indeed the only way of doing good, yet a principal one, a way most acceptable to Him, most beneficial to man, good in its nature, in its principle, in its fruits and consequences, good to those who receive, and superlatively good to those who truly and religiously practice it.

(Wm. Thorold, M. A.)

Without partiality.
The person who is endowed, with this heavenly wisdom is above that narrow and selfish spirit which men who act upon worldly motives are always of, who are inclined to think well of, and to wish and do well to such only as are of the same opinion or party, sect, or persuasion with themselves. No, the truly wise and the good man is a man of more enlarged, a more generous, a more Christian spirit and disposition. He is not unmindful indeed of those particular obligations he lies under towards those who are endeared to him by blood, by friendship, by religion. These, all other circumstances equal, will be sure to have the preference, but still they will not so wholly engross his good opinion, his favour, his charity, as to exclude all others from them. No, he will to his power, after the example of his Heavenly Father, be peaceable, he will be gentle, he will be equitable, he will be merciful and charitable to all; and this not out of a motive of vainglory or ostentation, or self-interest, but out of a sincere principle of love to God and to man, without partiality, without hypocrisy, appearing to all what he really is, without disguise, without dissimulation.

(Wm. Thorold, M. A. .)

The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace.
Whatever difficulty there may be in this verse in its detail, its broad intention is quite clear — that "peace" is the seedtime of "righteousness," and not "righteousness" of "peace": that we rather become good because we are at "peace," than that we have "peace" because we are good. "Peace" is the seed. Every truth has in it its higher and its lower range: its higher, which is spiritual; and its lower, which is natural. There is a higher "righteousness," which is between God and the sinner; and there is a lower "righteousness," which is between man and man. There is a higher "peace," which lies in reconciliation with God; and there is a lower "peace," which is the man being in harmony with his fellow-creatures, and at rest with his own conscience. Only in both cases the higher carries the lower. To be "righteous," in God's righteousness, is the surest way to be upright in common life. "Peace" with heaven makes "peace" on earth. The two are wrapped together when we say, "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." Let me trace the history or pedigree of "righteousness." God is the One only "Righteous"; and "there is no unrighteousness with God." The "righteous" God made an upright creature in His own image: but He made him free to stand or fall; and, in his freedom, he fell from his uprightness. The "righteous" God willed to restore him. And here is the problem: to restore the rebel and maintain the "righteousness." And He solved it. He, who was Himself "the Just One," His own beloved Son, more than consented to His Father's counsel. And He did it. He went Himself through the whole punishment that was due to all the world. So the law was satisfied; the equivalent was complete and abundant; and it was just with God to forgive the sinner. But here lay another mystery. Christ was not a Man only; He was a Representative Man. He was a Head, and all we His body. What a head does, it is the same as if the body did it. We suffered and died in our Head. "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." And man's pardon has become "the righteousness of God." By God's grace a man sees this, feels this, believes this. Then he is in the body. Then that man is for-given — because that man's sins have been already punished. And much more than this. That man being in Christ, the "righteousness" of Christ — which is "the righteousness of God" — passes on to him. He is covered with it. God sees him in it. He is a justified man. So that, even in the sight of a pure and holy God, that man is "righteous." But what as respects his relative duty to his fellow-men? How does he go down to the lower range? He must be an upright man. Else he is no Christian at all! But let us take the other away; let us see the genealogy of "peace." "Peace" was in heaven, and God placed "peace" in paradise. But sin came, and "peace" flew away. Then God willed to restore "peace." "And the counsel of peace was between them both." He who is "our peace" said, "Lo, I come." And He came. And "made peace by the blood of His Cross." And man became "reconciled to God." Immediately that he was reconciled the Holy Ghost came. And now, man knowing and feeling that he is forgiven, is at "peace" in his own mind. The sacred Dove comes back again, and nestles sweetly in his bosom. Now, see the moral consequence. Man, being at "peace" with man, is gentle, peace-loving, peace-making. For love is the child of "peace." The Church knits herself into unity; and Christians go forth in forgiveness to enemies — in charity to every man — in mission to the world. And thus — according to the pedigree of "righteousness," and according to the genealogy of "peace" — in both ways, "the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." And who are they that "make peace"? The Holy Trinity — embodied to us in the Person of the blessed Jesus. It is He who "makes peace." He "sowed" it in those tears, and those drops of blood, which fell so thick in the garden and on Calvary. Seeds, often long dawning, never dead; seeds which, when the Spirit waters them in a man's soul, draw up, and make sweet spring-time, till, in due time, they cluster in the harvest of righteousness: "and the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." It may be strange, but all experience establishes the fact, that the ministry which speaks most of "peace," that is, of Christ, which imparts "peace," is always the ministry which most checks sin, and raises the moral tone, and promotes, in any people, "righteousness" in all the common relationships of life. I feel that I have very little else to do but to sow "peace." And if you were all at "peace" with God, in your consciences, and with men, my work would be well-nigh done! But not ministers only. You also, by virtue of your common Christianity — you are all to be making "peace." First, you must be yourself at "peace"; at "peace" with God, at "peace" in your own heart, at "peace" with everybody. You must go about with that "peaceful" feeling, that gentle quietness, that subdued tone, which only an interest in Christ can give, and which it never fails to give. Speak to every one about the happy parts of religion. Tell of its "peace." Be everywhere a comforter. Show Jesus in His attractiveness, especially to the world, and to the bad. Deal tenderly. Aim at a holy, loving influence with those that you have to do with. Be always dropping a seed of heaven. And if thereby you be not a reformer of your age (though you may be); or, if you do not die as one who has done great things for God in your day and generation (yet you may have done) — at least you will have been a faithful follower of your meek and blessed Master, and you will have shown His Spirit, and you will have recognised and acted out His fundamental law, that "the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."

(James Vaughan, M. A.)

These words admit of two different interpretations. As the great design which the apostle has in view is to correct the pride, wrath, and malice which prevail among those he wrote to, which he does by laying before them its bad consequences, strife and confusion, and representing how inconsistent it was with that true and heavenly/ wisdom which inspires men with gentleness, peace, and mercy: in this verse he may be understood as showing the advantages of following this true wisdom rather than indulging such noxious passions. The fruit, the reward of righteousness is sown in peace; is kept and reserved in a happier, a more peaceful and glorious state hereafter, of them that make peace, that is, for them that are endued with this wisdom, which delights in peace. The fruits are the reward of the toil of the husbandman; these fruits may be said to be sown when that seed is sown which, by the blessing of God, will produce them. The apostle therefore tells us that peace is a seed, which whoever sows, it will by the goodness of God yield to him the fruits of righteousness. Others conceive the apostle here to be answering an objection against what he had said. Shall we by our gentleness and meekness indulge and cherish the wickedness of others? Ought we not rather to use all our zeal to punish and root it out? The truly wise man, says the apostle, by his compassion and meekness, neither favours nor connives at vice and wickedness, but will correct it with such moderation as is consistent with good order and peace, and shall thereby always have most success on the minds of men. Like a wise physician, he will treat his patients softly and tenderly, will not immediately apply the last and most dreadful remedies, but reserve them till he has tried those of a milder nature without success. Thus, in peace, that is, by the most endearing means of persuasion and kindness, in the spirit of meekness, will the wise man who follows peace sow the fruits of righteousness; correct the vices and reform the lives of those who have gone astray, and bring them to the practice of righteousness with infinitely greater success than those whose harshness and severity may frighten men, or raise their hatred and detestation, but will never succeed so as to persuade or gain them.

(F. Carmichael.)88

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