WRITTEN FROM JUDEA, A. D. 63.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers trials. Knowing that the proof of your faith worketh out patience. Let patience therefore have a perfect work, that ye may be perfect and complete, deficient in nothing. If any of you be deficient in wisdom, let him ask it of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given to him. But let him ask in faith, being not at all irresolute, for he who is irresolute is like a wave of the sea, driven of the wind, and tossed. Now let not that man think he shall receive any thing from the Lord.--A man unsteady in his opinions is in all his actions inconstant.*[App. No. XCVI.]
9. Moreover, let the brother who is low, glory in his exaltation; and the rich in his humiliation. For, as the flower of an herb, he shall pass away.--For the sun riseth with a burning heat, and withereth the herb, and the flower thereof falleth down, and the beauty of the appearance thereof perisheth: so also the rich man shall wither in his ways.
Blessed is the man who sustaineth trial; for, becoming an approved person, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them who love him. Let no one who is tempted say, Certainly I am tempted by God: for God is incapable of being tempted by evil things, and he tempteth no one. But every one is tempted of his own lust, being drawn away and enticed by it. Then lust, having conceived, bringeth forth sin; and sin, being perfected, bringeth forth death.
Be not deceived, my beloved brethren: every good gift, and every perfect free gift, is from above, descending from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning. Of his own will, he hath impregnated us by the word of truth, in order that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.--For the wrath of man doth not work out the righteousness of God.*[The righteousness which God requireth of us.--Dr. Campbell.] Wherefore, putting away all filthiness, and overflowing of maliciousness, embrace ye with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. And be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves by false reasoning. For if any one be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man who views his natural face in a looking-glass; for he looketh at himself, and goeth away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. But he who looketh narrowly into the perfect which is of liberty, and continueth: he not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of its work, the same shall be blessed in his acting. If any one among you thinketh to be religious who bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, of this person the religion is false. Pure religion, and undefiled with God, even the Father, is this; to take care of orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep one's self unspotted by the world.
II. My brethren, do ye not hold the faith of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ with partial regard for persons?--For if there enter into your synagogue a man having gold rings on his fingers, and with splendid clothing, and there enter likewise a poor man with sordid raiment; and ye look upon him who hath the clothing which is splendid, and say to him, Sit thou here honourably; and say to the poor man, Stand thou there, or sit here at my footstool: verily do ye not make a difference withint yourselves, and are become judges who reason ill? Hearken my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them who love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not the rich exceedingly oppress you? and themselves drag you to the judgment seats? Do not they defame that excellent name which is named upon you?--If now indeed ye fulfil a law, which according to scripture is a royal one, namely, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," ye do well. But if ye have respect of persons, ye work sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, but shall fial with respect to one precept, hath become guilty of all. For he who commanded, "Do not commit adultery," hath commanded also, "Do not kill." Now if thou commit not adultery, but killest, thou hast become a transgressor of the law. So speak, and so do, as those who shall be judged by a law of liberty: for judgment without mercy, will be to him who showed no mercy. But mercy will exult over judgment to him who showed mercy.
14. What is the advantage my brethren, if any one say he hath faith, but hath not works? can this faith save him? For if a brother or a sister be naked, or destitute of daily food, and any one of you say to them, 'Depart in peace: be ye warmed, and be ye filled,' yet give them none of the things needful for the body, what is the advantage? So also faith if it hath not works, is dead, being by itself. Also one may say, 'Thou hast faith, and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works, and I willshow thee my faith, by my works.' Thou believest that there is one God; thou dost well: even the demons believe this and tremble.*[App. No. LXXI.] Besides, wouldest thou know, O false man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had liftedup Isaac his son upon the altar? Thou seest that his faith co-operated with his works, and by works his faith was perfected. And so that scripture was confirmed which saith, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God." Ye see therefore that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. And in like manner also, was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, having secretly received the messengers, and having sent them away by another road? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
III. Do not become many teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive a severer sentence. For in many things we all offend. If any one offend not in word, he is a perfect man, able to rule even the whole body. Behold, into the mouths of horses we put bits to make them obedient to us, and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven by hard winds, are turned about by a very small helm, whithersoever the force of the pilot willeth. So also the tongue is a little member, yet it worketh mightily. Behold how much wood a little fire kindleth. Now the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; the tongue is so placed among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and setteth the wheel of nature in a blaze, and is set on blaze from hell. Now every species of wild beasts, and of birds, and of serpetns, and of sea monsters, is subdued, and hath been subdued by man. But the tongue of men no one can subdue; it is an unruly evil thingk, full of deadly posion. With it we bless God, even the Father, and with it we curse men, who were made after the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth goeth forth a blessing and a curse. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth from the same opening, sweet water and bitter? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives? or a vine, figs? so no fountain can yield salt and sweet water. Is any one wise and intelligent among you? let him show, by good behaviour, his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter anger and strife in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth. This is not the wisdom which cometh from above, but is earthly, animal, and demoniacal. For where anger and strife, there tumult and every evil work. But the wisdom from above, is first indeed pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be persuaded, full of compassion and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. Besides, the fruit of righteousness with peace, is sown by them who practise peace.
IV. Whence wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even from your lusts which war in your members? Ye strongly desire, and have not; ye kill, and are zealous, and cannot obtain. Ye fight and war, but have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and do not receive, because ye ask wickedly, that ye may spend upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendshi0p of the world is enmity against God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture speaketh falsely? and doth the Spirit who dwelleth in us strongly incline to rage?--No. But he giveth greater favour. For he saith, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth favour to the humble." Therefore be ye subject to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners, and purify your hearts ye men of two souls. Be exceedingly afflicted, and mourn, and weep; and let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into sadness. Be humbled in the presence of the Lord, and he will lift you up. Speak not against one another, brethren. He who speaketh against his brother, and condemneth his brother, speaketh against the law, and condemneth the law. But if thou condemnest the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one law-giver, who is able to save and to destroy. Thou, who art thou, that condemnest another? Come now yue who say, To-day, or to-morrow, we will go to such a city, and will abide there one year, and make merchandize, and get gain; who do not know what shall be to-morrow. For what is your life? a smoke verily it is, which appeareth for a little while, and then disappeareth. Instead of which ye ought to say, If the Lord will, and we shall live, certainly we will do this or that. But now ye boast of your proud speeches; all boasting of this sort is bad. Wherefore to him who knoweth to do good, and doth it not, it is to him sin.
V. Come now ye rich men, weep, howl, on account of your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches are putrified, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver are eaten with rust, and the rust of them will be a witness against you, and will eat your bodies as fire. Ye have treasured up miery in the last days. Hark! the hire of the labourers who have reaped your fields, which is fraudulently kept back by you, crieth, and the cries of the reapers have entered into the ears of the Lord of hosts. Ye have lived luxuriously on the earth, and have been wanton; ye have fatted your hearts, as for a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned, ye have killed the Just One, who did not resist you. Wherefore be patient, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman, who expecteth the valuable fruit of the earth, is patient concerning it, till it receive the early and the latter rain. Be ye also patient: strengthen your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Be not inwardly incensed against one another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold the Judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering evil, and of patience. Behold we call them blessed who are patient. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and ye have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath. But let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, that ye may not fall under condemnation. Does any one among you suffer evil? let him pray. Is any one cheeful? let him sing psalms. Is any one sick among you? let him send for the elders of the congregation, and let them pray over him, having anointed him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and so the Lord will raise him up. And although he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The inwrought prayer of the righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man frail and mortal like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and it did not rain upon the land for three years and six months. And again he prayed, and the heaven gave rain, and the land brought forth its fruit. Brethren, if any one among you is seduced from the truth, and any one turn him back, let him know that he who turneth a sinner back from the error of his way, will save a soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.