James 1:2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds,
Sermons
A Joyful Salutation for a Time of AdversityC. Jerdan James 1:1-4
A Deep Spring of JoyS. Cox, D. D.James 1:2-4
Advantage of AdversityR. V. Lawrence.James 1:2-4
All Joy in All TrialsC. H. Spurgeon.James 1:2-4
Benefit of TemptationsE. B. Pusey, D. D.James 1:2-4
Christian PefectionF. Montague Miller.James 1:2-4
Christ's School of SufferingW. Hofacker.James 1:2-4
God's School of Trial for the GoodU. R. Thomas.James 1:2-4
Incentives to PatienceW. Jowett, M. A.James 1:2-4
Joy Amidst SorrowA. Maclaren, D. D.James 1:2-4
Joy Commendable in TroubleBp. Hall.James 1:2-4
Joy in Serious TrialA. Plummer, D. D.James 1:2-4
Joy in TemptationJ. Ayre, M. A.James 1:2-4
Joy in TrialJames 1:2-4
Joy in TribulationSunday at Home.James 1:2-4
Life a Perpetual DisciplineR. W. Dale, LL. D.James 1:2-4
Manifold Temptations NeededR. W. Dale, LL. D.James 1:2-4
Mercies Travel Along Dark WayJ. W. Dally.James 1:2-4
Patience and FortitudeJohn Ruskin.James 1:2-4
Patience GodlikeCanon Liddon.James 1:2-4
Patience Makes the Burden LighterJames 1:2-4
Patience Waiting Upon ProvidenceJeremy Taylor, D. D.James 1:2-4
Rules Whereby to Estimate TrialsT. Mounters.James 1:2-4
Shaped by SorrowR. V. Lawrence.James 1:2-4
Temptation a BenefactionProf. Hy. Drummond.James 1:2-4
Temptation May be a Sign of GraceJames 1:2-4
Temptations Need not DiscourageT. Wilcocks.James 1:2-4
The Advantage of TemptationR. W. Dale, LL. D.James 1:2-4
The Afflictions of the Saints DiverseR. Turnbull.James 1:2-4
The Benefit of TrialA. S. Patterson, D. D.James 1:2-4
The Christian's Duty in Times of TrialJ. A. Alexander, D. D.James 1:2-4
The Function of TrialS. Cox, D. D.James 1:2-4
The Joyous End of TrialW. G. Pascoe.James 1:2-4
The Power of TrialJoseph S. Exell, M. A.James 1:2-4
The Record of a Dark DayJames 1:2-4
The Sphere of PatienceE. Bersier, D. D.James 1:2-4
The Strange ParadoxT.F. Lockyer James 1:2-4
The Use of TrialT. Manton.James 1:2-4
Trial a BlessingJohn Adam.James 1:2-4
Trial a BoonA. R. Fausset, M. A.James 1:2-4
Trial and JoyPeter Rutherford.James 1:2-4
Trial of Faith Works PatienceT. Manton.James 1:2-4
TrialsW. Ormiston, D. D.James 1:2-4
Trials the Law of LifeC. F. Deems, D. D.James 1:2-4
He has given them "greeting" (ver. 1), or, literally, wished them "joy." Was this a bitter irony? For in what condition were they? Persecuted, as Jews and especially as Christian Jews; oppressed, the poorer by the richer; and all, in the common heritage of human woe, afflicted in a hundred ways. And does he wish "joy" to these? Yes, even so. And, as though surmising the question, he goes on to insist yet more emphatically on the "greeting" which he has given. Joy? Yes, "count it all joy, when ye fall into manifold temptations." Joy in spite of these things? Rather, joy by reason of these things. Nor was this teaching unique among the apostles of the new faith (comp. Romans 5:3-5; 1 Peter 1:6, 7). And confirmed by the common experience of Christendom: not merely joy in sorrow, but, by the blessed transmuting power of the gospel, joy wrought out through sorrow, strength out of weakness, life out of death. In the text we have these three truths presented - our religion is a faith, a faith tested, a faith perfected.

I. A FAITH. The fundamental condition of all life is faith. We must believe in ourselves, and in the instincts and promptings of our nature; in the world of nature, with its facts and forces and laws; in the world of men, with the relationships which it involves; and, largely, in the conduct and intents of our fellow-men respecting us; for daily we place practical trust in others in a thousand ways. Yes, faith, not knowledge, is the first condition of all life - faith as checked and regulated by knowledge, truly, and as leading to fuller knowledge; but, primarily and essentially, faith. So with the spiritual life, the life in God; we must, as a first condition, believe in him, in his relation to us, in his will concerning us. But why is faith in him called distinctively "faith," when it is but one application, however important, of a principle which runs through all our manifold life? Because, in this application, it is the new use of a disused faculty; it is faith in One who is saving us; who, in saving, is dealing with us in a way we know not. So our faith, religiously, is our practical realization of spiritual things, and an absolute trust in God as the God of our life and God of our salvation.

II. FAITH TESTED. "Divers testings." What are these? A world of sense, to which we have been enslaved; a world of sin, to which likewise we have been enslaved; and a world of suffering, besetting us on every side. The first testing our practical realization of unseen things; the second, our faith in the dictates of duty; the third, our trust in God, as dealing with us in love. Why is our faith thus tested? To prove it, whether true or false. No real holiness is possible, without the possibility of unholiness; hence what we call, specifically, "temptation." And no real trust is possible, without the possibility of untrust; hence what we call, specifically, "trial." Consider the infinite possible cost of holiness, in the constitution of a moral world. Sin; and, if sin, atonement. But God would allow that price to be paid, that holiness might be secured. Consider the terrible cost of a chastened trust, in the redemption of a moral world: suffering, alas, how bitter and prolonged! But God will allow that price to be paid, that trust may be secured. Yes, he will test. The allusion of δοκίμιον: testing of precious metals. So, "that the testing of your faith, being much more precious," etc. (1 Peter 1:7). But the figure fails, for a test applied to a dead thing is only a test; whereas a test applied to a living thing becomes more than a test - developing, strengthening that which is tested. So the tree rocked by the storm, the army on the long march. So here: "The proof of your faith worketh patience." Untried innocence develops into holiness, and holiness becomes an enduring holiness, by the testing of "temptation;" trust develops into enduring trust, and endurance becomes more enduring, by the testing of "trial." So, by these "diverse testings," does God work out our salvation. And in and through all there is the glorious power of the great redemption.

III. FAITH PERFECTED. God is working towards an end: "That ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing." "Entire." Hence the diverse testings, by which each part of our character is put to the proof. Importance of a many-sided education; so a many-sided Christian life. God tests us, therefore, in this way and in that way, that, not halt or maimed, but with a completed manhood, we may enter into life. "Perfect. Not only must each part be proved, but each part put to the hill proof; just as the artist will not only chisel the marble into a complete statue, but also chisel each part of the statue to a perfection of exquisite finish. The goal, then, perfect and entire;" tested sufficiently, in manifoldness and in continuance, till "lacking in nothing." Count it all joy. Yes, a joy sacred and awful, as of the martyr in the flames. But of great tribulation" (Revelation 7:14); and, "They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy" (Revelation 3:4). - T.F.L.







Count it all Joy when ye fall Into divers temptations.
This positive injunction of the Christian ethics may seem too difficult, if not impossible to be obeyed. And even if the natural repugnance to suffering can be vanquished, the moral sense still shrinks from what is here commanded, to rejoice in temptation. The paradox is not to be removed by violently changing the established meaning of the word, which never means affliction simply, but in every case conveys the idea of a moral trial, or a test of character. A temptation, to which patience is the proper antidote, must be specifically a temptation to impatience, a rebellious temper, to which we are tempted by a state of suffering. We must, therefore, understand the words as having reference to those providential trials of men's faith and patience in which they are rather passive than active, and under which their appropriate duty is not so much resistance as submission. But even these trials and temptations are not to be sought for or solicited. It is not the mere name, or pretence, or some infinitesimal degree of joy, that believers under trial are to exercise, but "all joy" as opposed to none, and to too little, and to every kind of counterfeit. So far from repining when you fall into divers trials, "count it all joy." But as we know, both from Scripture and experience, that no "chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, and that afterward (ὕστερον) it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11). This is perfectly consistent with the form of expression (ὃταν περιπέσητε) which might even be translated to mean "when" or "after," "ye have fallen into divers trials." This precise determination of the time at which the joy is to be exercised, as not the time of actual endurance, much less that of previous expectation, but rather that of subsequent reflection — I mean subsequent, if not to the whole trial, yet at least to its inception — this may throw some light on two points. The first is the paradoxical aspect of the exhortation to rejoice in that which necessarily involves pain and suffering. The paradox, to say the least, may seem less startling if we understand the text as calling upon men to rejoice, not that they are suffering, or while they suffer, although even this does not transcend the limits of experience, as we know from the triumphant joy of martyrs at the stake, and of many a lowlier believer on his death-bed, but that they have suffered, that it has pleased God, without their own concurrence, to afford them the occasion of attesting their fidelity, and submission to His will. The other point on which the same consideration may throw some light, is the choice of an expression which, although it primarily signifies no more than moral trial or a test of character, in general usage does undoubtedly denote a positive solicitation to do wrong. For even in this worst sense of temptation, it may be a subject of rejoicing, not beforehand, no, nor in the very crisis of the spiritual conflict; but when that is past, looking back upon the fearful risk which has been escaped, not merely with gratitude for its deliverance, but with unaffected joy that there was such a risk to be delivered from, because it has now, served to magnify God's grace, and at the same time to attest its own fidelity. Just as the soldier, who would have been guilty of the grossest rashness, if he had deliberately thrown himself into the way of a superior enemy, may — when unexpectedly surrounded and attacked, he has heroically cut his way through — rejoice, not only in his safety, but in the very danger which compelled him to achieve it. But the joy experienced in the case before us is not merely retrospective, but prospective also. It is not an ignorant or blind joy, but is founded in knowledge, not only of the principles on which men ought to act, but of the consequences which may be expected from a certain course of action or of suffering. The trials or temptations of the Christian are the test of his faith, both in the strict and comprehensive sense. They put to the proof his trust in God, his belief of a hat God says, of what He promises. But in so doing, they afford the surest test of his whole religious character. Specific trust in God's veracity and faithfulness cannot be an insulated act, or habit. It must have its causes and effects homogeneous to itself in the man's creed, in his heart, in his life. But it does not merely furnish present evidence of faith. It produces a permanent effect upon the character. It generates a habit of patient endurance in the way of God's commandments, For of patience, as of faith, it may be said that it cannot stand alone, independently of other graces of Christian character. The principle of active and passive obedience is the same. He who will not do God's will cannot endure it in a Christian spirit. He can only endure it in the way of punishment. Evangelical patience carries with it evangelical obedience or activity. It therefore comprehends a very large part of practical religion, and to say that it is matured by trial is to say that trial or temptation, in the sense here put upon the term, is an important means of grace, of spiritual growth, and instead of being angrily complained of as a hardship, ought not indeed to be desired any more than medicines, especially when composed of poisons, should be used as ordinary food; but when administered, without our agency or even option, by the Great Physician, should be thankfully submitted to, and afterwards rejoiced in, as a potent agency of God's appointment which produces great effects, not by a sudden change, but, as the original expression seems to mean, by a gradual and long-continued process; for the trial of our faith "worketh out," elaborates, and as it were laboriously cultivates a habit of persistent obedience and submission to the will of God, both in the way of doing and suffering. That the patience thus commended is not a sluggish principle, much less a mere condition of repose, but something active in itself and tending to activity in others, is evident enough from the apostle's exhortation not to hinder it in its operation, but to let it have its perfect work or full effect. Could tills be said of mere inertia, or even patient nonresistance? All this affords abundant room for wise discrimination. It is evidently not a matter which can be conducted to a safe issue by mere audacity or force of will, by cutting knots which ought to be untied, which can neither solve themselves nor be solved by any intellectual force short of wisdom in the highest sense. This wisdom, the idea of which was familiar to the wisest of the heathen, has been realised only in the school of revelation. And woe to him who undertakes, without it, to solve the intricate and fearful problem of man's character and destiny!

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

Luther has somewhere made that fine confession, that there were chiefly three things which had introduced him into the depths of true divinity, and which he was, therefore, accustomed to recommend to every one as proved — viz., silent meditation on the Word of God; persevering and ardent prayer, together with the Word of God; and inward and outward attacks on account of the Word of God. It is trial which must arouse the spirit plunged into earthly concerns, and benumbed by the influence of the world out of the sleep of security, and point him to that Word which leads the foolish to wisdom, the sinner to righteousness, Besides, in many cases, especially in the days of carnal ease, the flame of prayer, even on the altar of the regenerated man's heart, would burn out, if trials, returning from time to time, did not carry fresh wood to stir anew the fire of devotion. It is only by struggling that the inward life can become strong: it is only in the storm that the stem of life and godliness can take deeper and firmer roots.

I. In Germany it is one of the requisites of civil law, that he who wants to become a citizen SHALL PASS THROUGH THE POPULAR SCHOOL. They, therefore, speak of a legal school-duty which no one is permitted to shun. There is, also, such a duty in the kingdom of God. He who wants to become a citizen of that kingdom must not refuse to enter the school of suffering which the Lord Himself has instituted on earth, and sanctified by His example. Already, as the natural descendant of Adam, the first sinner, every one has to carry his share of the common misery which weighs on humanity, and cannot avoid it. But what for the natural man is only a constraint laid upon him from without, is, in the case of the Christian, spiritualised and glorified into a deed of voluntary obedience. "The disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord. If any man will come after Me, let him deny him. self, and take up his cross and follow Me." "We must, through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of God." They declare the duty of suffering to be a general law of the Christian life. If, therefore, we look into the roll of the citizens of the heavenly kingdom, we do not find there a single one who had not, in the school of suffering, to resolve heavier or easier tasks, and been obliged to stop longer or shorter there. You have, therefore, no right to complain, if the Lord takes you into the school of suffering, and there assigns you your task. You thereby only fulfil an obligation incumbent upon you as a citizen of the kingdom of God. You will not wish to be exempt from what is the lot of every one. Yea, it is an honour for you to belong to a school through which have passed the prophets and the apostles themselves, and out of which are come the first-fruits of the creatures of God.

II. The peculiarity of each school arises out of THE FIXED AIM TRIED TO BE ATTAINED WITH THE PUPILS, AND FOR WHICH, THEREFORE, ALL SCHOOL ARRANGEMENTS ARE CALCULATED. Thus, the burgher-school wants to form able burghers; the practical school, clever tradesmen; the military school, gallant soldiers; the college, intelligent servants of the sate and of the Church. In a similar manner, Christ's school of suffering pursues a fixed aim. He wants to form His pupils into thoroughly-qualified men; in short, He wants to make nothing less of them than princes and priests in the kingdom of the immortal God. His patience and His obedience, His meekness and His humility, His firm faith and His persevering hope, His victorious fight and His glorious perfection, are to be reflected in the trial of their sufferings, so that He may be able to behold in them the true followers of His spirit, and sharers of His glorious life. From this point of view the apostles considered their sufferings, and by this the sharpest sting of them was broken, and the bitterest cup was wonderfully sweetened. "We always bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus." We are sorry to perceive that this apostolical apprehension of sufferings has become so rare among us. If faith can only lay hold on that thought, the burden of suffering is thereby diminished, and we are able to say, with St. Paul, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

III. But, besides the aim of the school, there must, in each well-regulated establishment, also exist A FIXED PLAN AFTER WHICH TO PROCEED. If there is to be progress in the studies of the pupils, a well-pondered plan must not be wanting, by which is determined in what gradation the various branches are to be imparted, and what method of teaching must be observed. For Christ's school of suffering, too, there is a fixed plan according to which the pupils are treated. It is in good hands, for it has been made by Him who gives term and measure to each thing, and always remembers that we are dust and ashes. As soon as the height fixed by Him is reached, the waters will fall again, the storm will abate, thou wilt again perceive the dry land, and thy soul will be permitted to thank the Lord on her harp, that He has been the help of thy countenance and thy God.

(W. Hofacker.)

I. TRIALS ARE A COMMON CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE.

1. Numerous. They come one after another in quick succession, attack us at every point, and, by reiterated importunity, wear out resistance. A continual dropping wears the stone, and blow after blow shatters the fortress.

2. Diversified. The trials are addressed to the different elements of our nature, and are brought to bear on the ever-varying conditions of our life.

3. Combined. They conspire to encompass and overthrow, with such close and serried ranks that there seems no way of escape, and the sorely beset sufferer says, "All these things are against me."

4. Intensified. Often, in the case of Christians of every age, the trials which befall them are more grievous from the time, place, and manner of their occurrence — sufferings inflicted through those that are dear, or when weakened by age or infirmity, and removed from the sympathy and succour of friends.

II. TRIALS ARE A NECESSARY CHRISTIAN DISCIPLINE. They are designed to reveal to us our own sinfulness and weakness, to discover the graces of the Spirit, to prove the strength of our faith, the ardour of our love, the constancy of our devotion. Like the tree which becomes the more firmly Tooted by the blasts which toss and twist its branches, the believer only clings more tenaciously to his Lord when his soul is tried by affliction.

III. TRIALS ARE A COMPLETION OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. What but lives thus perfected by the chastening hand of God can bow cheerfully beneath poverty, feeble health, and dark days of discouragement, or bear up under calumny and vexatious opposition, or wait and work even though the promise tarry and the blessing seems withheld? In proportion as we endure, we obtain grace in fullest measure, and adequate to every demand or emergency.

IV. TRIALS ARE A SOURCE OF CHRISTIAN GLADNESS. The conscious joy of trials springs from the results which follow them.

1. The honour conferred. Suffering for Christ is a gift of favour.

2. The comfort imparted. A stronger sense of assurance is wrought in the soul, and when trials are peculiarly severe, often a foretaste of future felicity is obtained, and martyrs are more than conquerors.

3. The usefulness achieved. The silent heroism and calm endurance of the sufferer are often more effective in maintaining and spreading the truth than the logical reasoning and persuasive eloquence of the preacher.

(W. Ormiston, D. D.)

I. THE DISCIPLINE OF THIS SCHOOL SHOULD BE CHEERFULLY MET.

1. Because trials test our faith.

2. The working of faith develops patience.

3. Patience tends to completeness of character.

II. THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS SCHOOL ARE OBTAINED BY PRAYER.

1. Spiritual excellence is the chief subject of prayer.

2. The great God is the only object of prayer.

3. Unwavering confidence is the power of prayer.

(U. R. Thomas.)

"Count it all joy" means, "Count it nothing but joy," "Count it pure joy," "Count it the highest joy," when trials of many different kinds surround you. They had trouble enough, and therefore they might have joy enough, if they could but learn the secret of extracting joy from trouble. And why should they not learn it? It is simple enough. A paradox to the thoughtless, it is an axiom with the wise. For "trial" means "test." And it is as we are tested that we learn our own weakness, learn what and where it is, and are set on correcting it. The gospel affirms that we are infected with a moral weakness, or disease, of which our sorrows are the natural result, and of which they may become a sovereign remedy. For the sorrows bred by sin dispose us to hate and renounce the sin which produces them. The sorrows that disclose unsuspected weakness set us on seeking a strength that shall be made perfect in weakness. Nay, even the sorrows which involve shame and remorse have a cleansing virtue, if only our sorrow be of a godly sort. "But the Jews of the Dispersion," it may be said, "were not suffering for their sins, but for their virtues, for their faith in Christ and their obedience to His law!" True; but in suffering for our faith, may we not also be suffering for our faults — for the weakness of our faith, for instance? The faith of these Jews must have been weak and immature. It may be that, but for the "many trials" which the hostility of the world and the synagogue brought upon them, they would have remained very imperfectly Christian to the end of their lives, even if they had remained Christian at all. Their trials put them on their mettle. When nothing was open to them but publicly renouncing Christ, or cleaving to Him, their choice was clear, their duty plain. They must cleave to Him; and, cleaving to Him, they would be driven closer and closer to Him by the very opposition designed to detach them from Him. On one point, happily for us, St. James is quite clear: viz., that tribulation is discipline; that by the divers trials which befall us God is making, or seeking to make, us perfect and complete. And where can we find a more inspiriting view of tribulation than this? It is God, our reconciled God and Father, who appoints these tests, God who applies them. And therefore we may be sure that they come for good ends. "The proving of your faith worketh patience, i.e., it results in a firm and steadfast constancy, in a fidelity which can face all allurements and fears. "Tried" and "faithful" are all but synonyms in our common speech, so close is the connection between trials and fidelity, But if our trials are to produce this constant and faithful temper in us, we must "let patience have a perfect work." Since chastening is grievous to us, the danger is that we should seek to escape it as soon as we can, forgetting that only "he that endureth to the end will be saved." The acid that tries the gold bites the gold, or rather, it bites the alloy in the gold. Tests are painful; and they make unwelcome calls on our fortitude. We must therefore let patience have her perfect work, we must suffer our constancy, our fidelity to God, to be exposed to many and searching trials, if we would reap the full benefit of our trials. And what is this full benefit? "That ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing," or lacking in nothing. The fall benefit of trial is, that, if we endure it with a patient fidelity, we become mature men in Christ Jesus, nay, complete men, lacking nothing that a Christian man should have and enjoy. And what higher reward could possibly be set before a reasonable and religious being? What we want, what we know we want, most of all, is to have our character fully and happily developed, its various and often hostile affections and aims absorbed and harmonized, by having them all brought under law to Christ. To become such men as He was, and to walk even as also He walked, is not this the supreme end of all who call and profess themselves Christians? is it not our chief good, our highest blessedness?

(S. Cox, D. D.)

In "Count it all joy," i.e., "Consider it as nothing but matter for rejoicing," we miss a linguistic touch which is evident in the Greek, but cannot well be preserved in English. In saying "joy" (χάραν) St. James is apparently carrying on the idea just started in the address, "greeting" (χαίρειν), i.e., "wishing joy." "I wish you joy; and you must account as pure joy all the troubles into which you may fall." It is just possible that "all joy" (πᾶσαν χάραν) is meant exactly to balance "manifold temptations" (πειρασμοῖς ποικίλοις). Great diversity of troubles is to be considered as in reality every kind of joy. Nevertheless, the troubles are not to be of our own making or seeking. It is not when we inflict suffering on ourselves, but when we "fall into" it, and therefore may regard it as placed in our way by God, that we are to look upon it as a source of joy rather than of sorrow. The word for "fall into" (περιπίπτειν) implies not only that what one falls into is unwelcome, but also that it is unsought and unexpected. Moreover, it implies that this unforeseen misfortune is large enough to encircle or overwhelm one. It indicates a serious calamity. What St. James has principally in his mind are external trials, such as poverty of intellect (ver. 5), or of substance (ver. 9), or persecution (James 2:6, 7), and the like; those worldly troubles which test our faith, loyalty, and obedience, and tempt us to abandon our trust in God, and to cease to strive to please Him. The trials by which Satan was allowed to tempt Job are the kind of temptations to be understood here. They are material for spiritual joy, because —

1. They are opportunities for practising virtue, which cannot be learned without practice, nor practised without opportunities.

2. They teach us that we have here no abiding city, for a world in which such things are possible cannot be a lasting home,

3. They make us more Christlike.

4. We have the assurance of Divine support, and that no more will ever be laid upon us than we, relying upon that support, can bear.

5. We have the assurance of abundant compensation here and hereafter. St. James here is only echoing the teaching of his Brother (Matthew 5:11, 12). In the first days after Pentecost he had seen the apostles acting in the very spirit which he here enjoins, and he had himself very probably taken part in doing so (Acts 5:41, cf. 4:23-30). St. Peter (1 Peter 1:6) and St. Paul (Romans 5:3) teach the same doctrine of rejoicing in tribulation. There is no inconsistency in teaching such doctrine, and yet praying, "Lead us not into temptation." Not only is there no sin in shrinking from both external trials and internal temptations; but such is the weakness of the human will, that it is only reasonable humility to pray to God not to allow us to be subjected to severe trials. Nevertheless, when God in His wisdom has permitted such things to come upon us, the right course is, not to be sorrowful, as though something quite intolerable had overtaken us, but to rejoice that God has thought us capable of enduring something for His sake, and has given us the opportunity of strengthening our patience and our trust in Him. This doctrine of joy in suffering, which at first sight seems to be almost superhuman, is shown by experience to be less hard than the apparently more human doctrine of resignation and fortitude. And here it may be noticed that St. James is no cynic or stoic. He does not tell us that we are to anticipate misfortune, and cut ourselves off from all those things the loss of which might involve suffering; or that we are to trample on" our feelings, and act as if we had none, treating sufferings as if they were non-existent, or as if they in no way affected us. He points out to us that temptations, and especially external trials, are really blessings, if we use them aright; and he teaches us to meet them in that conviction. And it is manifest that the spirit in which to welcome a blessing is the spirit of joy and thankfulness. St. James does not bid us accept this doctrine of joy in tribulation upon his personal authority. It is no philosopher's ipse dixit. He appeals to his readers' own experience: "Knowing that the proof of your faith worketh patience." "Knowing" (), i.e., "in that ye are continually finding out and getting to know." The verb and the tense indicate progressive and continuous knowledge, as by the experience of daily life; and this teaches us that proving and testing not only brings to light, but brings into existence, patience. This patience (ὑπομονή), this abiding firm under attack or pressure, must be allowed full scope to regulate all our conduct; and then we shall see why trials are a matter for joy rather than sorrow, when we find ourselves moving onwards towards, not the barrenness of stoical "self-sufficiency" (αὐτάρκεια), but the fulness of Divine perfection. "That ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing," is perhaps one of the many reminiscences of Christ's words which we shall find in this letter of the Lord's brother (Matthew 5:48).

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

It is absolutely essential that a teacher of moral ethics should be —

(1)Of joyful disposition;

(2)Competent to lead men into the depths of Christian character.

I. THE POWER OF TRIAL TO OCCASION CHRISTIAN JOY.

1. The trials to which these Jewish Christians were exposed. Though Christian people are not; now called to endure persecution, yet they are not without their individual trials; though they hear not the shouts and clamour of an invading foe, they are subject to the ravages of death; though they are not exposed to the intrigue of the political marauder, yet they are liable to the crash of commercial panic; though they are not exposed to the invective of aa enraged countryman, yet they are liable to the calumny of the idle gossip.

2. There was in the trials of these Jewish Christians an element of temptation.(1) These temptations were numerous — "divers." They were persecuted; their homes were plundered; their property was pillaged; they were exposed to poverty; they were liable to assassination.(2) Variegated — "divers." There was a blending in them of hope and promise; there was the fortune of war, and the promise of their countrymen to lure them.(3) Precipitous and all-surrounding — "when ye fall into." Grief comes unexpectedly.

3. These trials were to be made the occasion of joy. The Christian life is a grand paradox. In temptation it is in hope; in pain it is in gladness; in sorrow it is in joy; in old age it verges on immortal youth.

4. These Jewish Christians were addressed in the language of deep sympathy. St. James knew that they were in trial, and felt it his duty to write to console and guide them. Some men object to letter-writing; they cannot write even to sorrowing friends. Where are their brotherly instincts? We are near to Christ when trying to aid the sorrowful.

II. THE POWER OF TRAIL TO TEST CHRISTIAN FAITH.

1. Trial tests the reality of Christian faith. If under it we manifest the nobler moral qualities of the Christian character; if we are calm in thought, resigned in temper, prayerful in spirit, and patient in disposition, our faith must be genuine, as such graces are only the outcome of a veritable heart-trust in the Saviour.

2. A tried faith is a potential influence within the soul. No one can estimate the power of a faith that has survived the ordeal of temptation to give energy to a soul, beauty to a character, charm to a life, and influence with the world at large.

III. THE POWER OF TRIAL TO DEVELOP CHRISTIAN PATIENCE.

1. Patience consists in a calm waiting for the unfolding of the Divine will and providence.

2. Patience should be constant and progressive in its exercise — co-ordinate with every trial, superior to every distress, gathering new energy from its continued exercise.

IV. THE POWER OF TRIAL TO ENHANCE THE PERFECTION OF MORAL CHARACTER. St. James is not writing of the perfection of unrenewed human nature, but of the sublime possibility of Christian manhood. He is writing of a life that is animated by faith, that is cultured by deep sorrow, and that is capable of holy patience.

(Joseph S. Exell, M. A.)

James calls the converted among the twelve tribes his brethren. Christianity has a great uniting power: it both discovers and creates relationships among the sons of men. It reminds us of the ties of nature, and binds us with the bonds of grace. Whatever brotherhood may be a sham, let the brotherhood of believers be the most real thing beneath the stars. Beginning with this word "brethren," James shows a true brotherly sympathy with believers in their trials, and this is a main part of Christian fellowship. If we are not tempted ourselves at this moment, others are: let us remember them in our prayers; for in due time our turn will come, and we shall be put trite the crucible, Remembering the trials of his brethren, James tries to cheer them, and therefore he says, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers trials." It is a part of our high calling to rise ourselves into confidence; and it is also our duty to see that none of our brethren despond, much less despair. The whole tendency of our holy faith is to elevate and to encourage. The message of the gospel is one of gladness, and were it universally received this world would be no longer a wilderness, but would rejoice and blossom as the rose.

I. THE ESSENTIAL POINT WHICH IS ASSAILED by temptation or trial.

1. It is your faith which is tried. It is supposed that you have that faith. You are not the people of God, you are not truly brethren unless you are believers. It is this faith of yours which is peculiarly obnoxious to Satan and to the world which lieth in the wicked one. The hand of faith is against all evil, and all evil is against faith. Faith is that blessed grace which is most pleasing to God, and hence it is most displeasing to the devil. He rages at faith because he sees therein his own defeat and the victory of grace. Because the trial of your faith brings honour to the Lord, therefore the Lord Himself is sure to try it that out of its trial praise may come to His grace by which faith is sustained. It is by our faith that we are saved, justified, and brought near to God, and therefore it is no marvel that it is attacked. Faith is the standard bearer, and the object of the enemy is to strike him down that the battle may be gained. It is by our faith that we live; we began to live by it, and we continue to live by it, for "the just shall live by faith." Hold fast, therefore, this your choice treasure. It is by faith, too, that Christians perform exploits. Faith is the conquering principle: therefore it is Satan's policy to slay it even as Pharaoh sought to kill the male children when Israel dwelt in Egypt.

2. Now, think of how faith is tried. According to the text we are said to fail into "manifold temptations "or into "divers temptations" — that is to say, we may expect very many and very different troubles. In any case these trials will be most real. Our temptations are no inventions of nervousness nor hobgoblins of dreamy fear. Ay, and note too, that the trials of Christians are such as would in themselves lead us into sin. A man is very apt to become unbelieving under affliction: that is a sin. He is apt to murmur against God under it. He is apt to put forth his hand to some ill way of escaping from his difficulty: and that would be a sin. Hence we are taught to pray, "Lead us not into temptation"; because trial has in itself a measure of temptation, and if it were not neutralised by abundant grace it would bear us towards sin. I suppose that every test must have in it a measure of temptation. Did ever a flower of grace blossom in this wretched clime without being tried with frost or blight? Our way is up the river; we have to stem the current, and struggle against a flood which would readily bear us to destruction. Thus, not only trials, but black temptations assail the Christian's faith. As to what shape they take, we may say this much: the trial or temptation of each man is distinct from that of every other, That which would most severely test me would perhaps be no trial to you; and that which tries you might be no temptation to me. This is one reason why we often judge one another so severely, because feeling ourselves to be strong in that particular point we argue that the fallen one must have been strong in that point too, and therefore must have wilfully determined to do wrong. This may be a cruel supposition. "Divers trials," says the apostle, and he knew what he said. And sometimes these divers trials derive great force from their seemingly surrounding us, and cutting off escape. James says, "Ye fall into divers temptations": like men who fall into a pit, and do not know how to get out; or like soldiers who fall into an ambuscade.

II. THE INVALUABLE BLESSING WHICH IS GAINED BY THE TRIAL OF OUR FAITH. The blessing gained is this, that our faith is tried and proved. The effectual proof is by trials of God's sending. The way of trying whether you are a good soldier is to go down to the battle: the way to try whether a ship is well built is not merely to order the surveyor to examine her, but to send her to sea: a storm will be the best test of her staunchness. They have built a new lighthouse upon the Eddystone: how do we know that it will stand? We judge by certain laws and principles, and feel tolerably safe about the structure; but, after all, we shall know best in after-years when a thousand tempests have beaten upon the lighthouse in vain. We need trials as a test as much as we need Divine truth as our food. Admire the ancient types placed in the ark of the covenant of old: two things were laid close together — the pot of manna and the rod. See how heavenly food and heavenly rule go together: how our sustenance and our chastening are equally provided for! A Christian cannot live without the manna nor without the rod. The two must go together. Sanctified tribulations work the proof of our faith, and this is more precious than that of gold which perisheth, though it be tried by fire.

1. Now, when we are able to bear it without starting aside, the trial proves our sincerity.

2. Next, it proves the truthfulness of our doctrinal belief.

3. Next, your own faith in God is proved when you can cling to Him under temptation. Not only your sincerity, but the divinity of your faith is proved; for a faith that is never tried, how can you depend upon it?

4. I find it specially sweet to learn the great strength of the Lord in my own weakness. The Lord suits the help to the hindrance, and puts the plaster on the wound. In the very hour when it is needed the needed grace is given. Does not this tend to breed assurance of faith?

5. It is a splendid thing to be able to prove even to Satan the purity of your motives. That was the great gain of Job. I reckon that the endurance of every imaginable suffering would be a small price to pay for a settled assurance, which would for ever prevent the possibility of doubt. Therefore, when you are tempted, "Count it all joy" that you are tried, because you will thus receive a proof of your love, a proof of your faith, a proof of your being the true-born children of God. James says, "Count it." A man requires to be trained to be a good accountant; it is an art which needs to be learned.

III. THE PRICELESS VIRTUE WHICH IS PRODUCED BY TRIAL, namely, patience; for the proof of your "faith worketh patience." The man who truly possesses patience is the man that has been tried. What kind of patience does he get by the grace of God?

1. First, he obtains a patience that accepts the trial as from God without a murmur.

2. The next kind of patience is when experience enables a man to bear ill-treatment, slander, and injury without resentment. He feels it keenly, but he bears it meekly.

3. The patience which God works in us by tribulation also takes another form, namely, that of acting without undue haste. In proportion as we grow like the Lord Jesus we shall cast aside disturbance of mind and fury of spirit.

4. That is a grand kind of patience, too, when we can wait without unbelief. Two little words are good for every Christian to learn and to practise — pray and stay. Waiting on the Lord implies both praying and staying.

5. This patience also takes the shape of believing without wavering, in the very teeth of strange providences and singular statements, and perhaps inward misgivings. If, in a word, we learn endurance we have taken a high degree. You look at the weather-beaten sailor, the man who is at home on the sea: he has a bronzed face and mahogany-coloured flesh, he looks as tough as heart of oak, and as hardy as if he were made of iron. How different from us poor landsmen. How did the man become so inured to hardships, so able to breast the storm, so that he does not care whether the wind blows south-west or north-west? He can go out to sea in any kind of weather; he has his sea legs on. How did he come to this strength? By doing business in great waters. He could not have become a hardy seaman by tarrying on shore. Now, trial works in the saints that spiritual hardihood which cannot be learned in ease.

IV. THE SPIRITUAL COMPLETENESS PROMOTED. "That ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Afflictions by God's grace make us all-round men, developing every spiritual faculty, and therefore they are our friends, our helpers, and should be welcomed with "all joy." Afflictions find out our weak points, and this makes us attend to them. Being tried, we discover our failures, and then going to God about those failures we are helped to be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Moreover, our trials, when blessed of God to make us patient, ripen us. A certain measure of sunlight is wanted to bring out the real flavour of fruits, and when a fruit has felt its measure of burning sun it developes a lusciousness which we all delight in. So it is in men and women: a certain amount of trouble appears to be needful to create a certain sugar of graciousness in them, so that they may contain the rich, ripe juice of a gracious character. Sanctified trials produce a chastened spirit. Some of us by nature are untender; but after awhile friends notice that the roughness is depart-ins, and they are quite glad to be more gently handled. Ah, that sick chamber did the polishing; under God's grace, that depression of spirit, that loss, that cross, that bereavement — these softened the natural ruggedness, and made the man meek and lowly, like his Lord. Sanctified trouble has a great tendency to breed sympathy, and sympathy is to the Church as oil to machinery. A man that has never suffered feels very awkward when he tries to sympathise with a tried child of God. He kindly does his best, but he does not know how to go to work at it; but those repeated blows from the rod make us feel for others who are smarting, and by degrees we are recognised as being the Lord's anointed comforters, made meet by temptation to succour those who are tempted.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. How THEY WERE TO REGARD THEIR TRIALS (ver. 2). "My brethren," he says — my brethren both by nature and grace, alike as Jews and Christians, as children of Abraham and children of a better father, the God of Abraham — "count it" — that is, reckon, think it — "all joy" — joy of the highest kind, and, indeed, of every kind — joy not in some small measure, but in the very largest, not in certain but the whole of its elements and aspects. "When ye fall into divers temptations." The language points to our being unexpectedly surrounded by temptations. It does not apply to the case of those who recklessly rush into them, who by their own presumption or folly bring them upon themselves. No happy effects can be looked for then, and the feelings suited to such circumstances are the reverse of joyful. He speaks not simply of temptations, but of "divers," that is, manifold, various temptations. He exhorts us to be affected in this way, not merely under one or two of them, but under any number, succession, combination of them — under them not only when they are of this or that kind, but whatever kind they happen to be of — under them not only when they come singly and go speedily, but even when they rush upon us from every side, and seem as if they would never take their departure. James here but reiterates the teaching of the Great Master (Matthew 5:12). Many in early times found it possible to obey the injunction (Acts 5:41; 2 Corinthians 7:4; Romans 5:3; Hebrews 10:34). Trials of any kind, such as earthly losses, bodily afflictions, domestic sorrows, spiritual assaults, are painful in their nature. Not only so, there is an element of danger in every one of them, there is the risk of failure, of dishonouring God in the fires, and losing the benefit of the visitation. But when we are providentially brought into such circumstances, then we should feel not only calmly submissive, but even gratefully glad. We are in a Father's hand, His purposes are all wise and gracious, and, in the very midst of our heaviness, we should greatly rejoice.

II. WHY THEY WERE THUS TO REGARD THEIR TRIALS (ver. 3). If we remember how apt we are to deceive ourselves — how ready to rest in mere appearances, when all is prosperous and pleasant — how we need to be shaken and sifted to know what in reality and at bottom we are — we shall hail whatever searches us through and through, even though it may pierce like a sword, or scorch like a furnace. But how is the result brought about? "Knowing this," he says, knowing it as you do, both by the testimony of God's Word and the experience of God's people — knowing it as a thing often evidenced and indubitably certain — "that the trying of your faith worketh patience." Faith is the primary, radical grace of the Christian character. From it, as a root, all the others spring; on it, as a foundation, all the others are built. It is the grand principle of the new life, which grows as it grows, and declines as it declines. "It worketh patience" — endurance, perseverance, which is more than calm submission to the Divine will, even resolute, energetic constancy in the doing of that will, a standing out, a holding on, and pressing forward in spite of the sufferings undergone. Hence it is said elsewhere, "Knowing that tribulation" — which corresponds to the trying or proving in the present case, for it is effected by means of tribulation — "worketh patience, and patience experience" (Romans 5:3, 4). This is the result brought about, the effect produced. Such dealings not only evince the reality of faith, but promote its growth, for they stir it into more conscious and vigorous exercise. The most tried Christians are the strongest. The proving of faith issues in endurance, and at every step this endurance grows less difficult and less precarious. Past evidences of the Divine love, wisdom, and faithfulness in the time of need, stablish the heart and banish fears in prospect of impending and under the pressure of present trials. Thus there is a going from strength to strength in the path of suffering. But here the apostle pauses, as it were, and turns aside for a moment to exhort those whom he addresses regarding this patience (ver. 4). Let this endurance not stop short in its course; let it produce its full effect, work out its complete result. How needful the counsel! We grow weary, grasp at premature deliverances, have recourse to questionable expedients. *We are net willing to wait God's time and way of extrication. In order to have its perfect work it must act, not partially, but fully; and, I add, it must act not temporarily, but permanently. The purpose of the whole, and the effect, when realised, is, "that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Let it be perfect, and we are perfect; so wide is the influence, so precious are the fruits of the grace of patience. The language here may be expressive of Christian completeness or maturity — of the new life in its full development, its well-balanced, vigorous exercise. He who is not only sound but strong, no longer a babe but now a man, is so far perfect. "Entire" — that is, having every requisite element and feature, and each in its proper place, all that enters into stability and consistency of character, to the exclusion of whatever is of an opposite tendency, and might have the effect of marring or weakening. As if that were not enough, he adds, "wanting nothing" — nothing essential to spiritual manhood, to the thoroughness of our personal Christianity. In proportion as we have this endurance at work, we possess grace in all its varied forms and ripest fruits — grace adequate to every duty and emergency.

1. See here the mark to which we should ever be pressing forward. Christians, you are not to be satisfied with holiness that is partial either in its extent, its compass, or in its degree. You are to seek that it may fully pervade every power and relation of your being.

2. See the discipline by which alone this mark can be reached. There must be endurance to the end; and that comes only in the way, and as the fruit of trial. The gold cannot be tested and refined without the furnace. It is the lashing-waves, the roaring breakers, which round and polish the smooth pebbles of the beach. It is only by being burned or bruised that certain spices reveal their fragrance.

(John Adam.)

Of what temptations, think you, was the apostle speaking? Did he mean, think you, that we were to "count it all joy," when we were tempted to the things which are pleasurable to our fleshly appetites, our senses, our pride, but which displease God? Even these temptations may be turned to good by the overpowering grace of God, because every trial in which, by His grace, we stand does bring us larger grace and greater favour of God. But out of such temptations it is a joy to have passed. But there is no joy to fall into them; because even apart from the issue, whether we conquer or are conquered, there is the separate peril whether, by a momentary consent, we displease God. What were, then, the temptations into which the early Christians were chiefly exposed to fall, into which the apostle bids them "count it all joy" to fall? St. Paul recounts them where he speaks of these things which, by the grace of Christ, shall not separate from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-37; Romans 5:3). But why, then, are we to count such temptations as these joy? Why is it to be a joy to have to forego what flesh and blood desire, to do what flesh and blood shrink from?

1. First (which contains all), it is a token of the love of God. It is a badge of our sonship, an earnest of our future inheritance. To be without trial would be to be neglected by God. To have trial is a proof that God is thinking of us, caring .for us, giving us something which may approve us to Him. It is not the happy lot to have few troubles. The greatest friends of God had most and the heaviest. The happiest lot is to receive in peace, whether more or fewer, what God permits, and by His grace to endure, and to be more than conquerors through Christ that loved us; strengthened by our very conflicts, proofs against temptations through temptations; abounding in grace through the victories of grace, cleaving close to God by overcoming that which would separate us from Him.

2. Then, suffering likens us to Christ; it is a portion of the Cross of Christ.

3. Then, trouble bursts the bonds of this life and shows us the nothingness of all created things. Trouble drives the soul into itself, teaches it to know itself and its own weakness, rouses it when torpid, humbles it when it lifts itself up, strengthens the inner man, softens the heart, cuts off offences, guards virtues. Yet not only are those severer troubles channels of God's grace to the soul, but even temptation itself, when the soul hates it, purifies it. Then only is temptation dangerous when it is pleasant. Then flee it, as worse than a serpent, for it threatens thy soul's life. The apostle speaks not of temptations which we run into, temptations which we seek out for ourselves or make for ourselves, temptations which we tamper with; but temptations into which, by God's providence, we fall. The least, if thou court it, may destroy thy life; out of the greatest, God, if thou seek Him, will make a way of escape; not a mere escape, but out of it, aloft from it, over it. For this the very faith and truth of God are pledged to us that, if we will, we shall prevail. In this way, too, David's words come true, "It is better to fail into the hands of the Lord than into the hands of man" (2 Samuel 24:14). The trials which God sends, as sorrow, losses, bereavement, sickness, are always directly to our profit if we do not waste them. In strife with temptation only canst thou know thyself. "The unrest of temptation sifts whether a man, when in rest, truly loves God." Temptation shows us how weak we are to resist the very slightest assaults. We see in our weakness how any good in us (if there be good) is not of us but of God. And so temptation, if we are wise, makes us more watchful. Slighter temptation is either the way into or the way out of greater. Slighter temptations, if yielded to, prove a broad and high way which leads to greater, and, but for God's mercy, to destruction and death: slighter temptations, if resisted, open the eyes to the peril of greater. Or, again, a great sudden temptation has revealed to the soul the danger of tampering with less. And so temptation drives us to Him who hath said, "Call upon Me in the time of trouble, so will I deliver thee, and thou shalt praise Me." "I will be with him in trouble," saith God. "I will be unto him a wall of fire round about." "My strength is made perfect in weakness." The depth of trouble calls deeply. The deep earnest cry is answered. The longing of the soul is the presence of Christ. He who gives the grace to cry to Him wills to hear. And with the nearer presence of God to the soul come larger gifts of grace and more joyous hope of pleasing God. Experience has made it a Christian proverb, "God gives no grace to man except upon trouble." In victory over temptation God gives a holy fervour. He makes the soul to taste and see that it is far sweeter for His sake to forego what the soul desireth than against His will to have it. Then, after or in temptation, God will give thee consolation. As when on earth our Lord called His disciples to rest awhile, He will, after a while, if thou hold out, give thee rest, or else by the very trial He shields thee from some greater trial. And what will the end be? "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life." Every temptation resisted by the grace of God is a jewel in the heavenly crown.

(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)

The use and ordination of persecution to the people of God is trial. God maketh use of the worst instruments, as fine gold is cast into the fire, the most devouring element. Innocency is best tried by iniquity. But why doth God try us? Not for His own sake, for He is omniscient; but either —

1. For our sakes, that we may know ourselves. In trials we discern the sincerity of grace, and the weakness and liveliness of it; and so are less strangers to our own hearts. Sincerity is discovered. A gilded potsherd may shine till it cometh to scouring. In trying times God heateth the furnace so hot that dross is quite wasted; every interest is crossed, and then hirelings become changelings. Sometimes we discover our own weakness (Matthew 13.); we find that faith weak in danger which we thought to be strong out of danger. In pinching weather weak persons feels the aches and bruises of their joints. Sometimes we discern the liveliness of grace. Stars shine in the night that he hid in the day. Spices are most fragrant when burnt and bruised, so have saving graces their chiefest flagrancy in hard times.

2. Or for the world's sake. And so —(1) For the present to convince them by our constancy, that they may be confirmed in the faith if weak, or converted if altogether un-called. It was a notable saying of Luther, The Church converted the whole world by blood and prayer. We are proved, and religion is proved, when we are called to sufferings. Paul's bonds made for the furtherance of the gospel (Philippians 1:12, 13). was converted by the constancy of the Christians. When he saw the Christians so willingly choose death, he reasoned thus within himself: Surely these men must be honest, and there is somewhat eminent in their principles. So I remember the author of the Council of Trent said concerning Anne de Burg, a senator of Paris, who was burnt for Protestantism, that the death and constancy of a man so conspicuous did make many curious to know what religion that was for which he bad courageously endured punishment, and so the number was much increased.(2) We are tried with respect to the day of judgment (1 Peter 1:7). Use: It teaches us to bear afflictions with constancy and patience.

1. God's aim in your affliction is not destruction, but trial (Daniel 11:35).

2. The time of trial is appointed (Daniel 11:35).

3. God sits by the furnace looking after His metal (Malachi 3:3).

4. This trial is not only to approve, but to improve (1 Peter 1:7; Job 23:10).

(T. Manton.)

There are two general grounds on which believers may well do what is here required of them.

1. In spite of their trials they have precious privileges and exalted prospects — such privileges as peace with God and hearts renewed to righteousness. (Psalm 73:24).

2. Their trials themselves are fraught with good. They are part of God's paternal discipline. They are fitted to give them many salutary lessons respecting the evil of sin and the value of salvation.

3. And, finally, the "trial of their faith," as the apostle goes on to say, "worketh patience."

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

The first thing he taken notice of is their sufferings — the troubles to which they are exposed on account of their faith in Christ. By and by he will have plenty to say of their sins, of conduct unbecoming Christian believers, conduct he will be sure to rebuke. If you see it to be your duty to point out a man's sins to him, do not do it till you are quite sure you have let him see that you feel for him with all your heart, and that you have no other wish than to do him good.

1. It verified the faith. Without the trial there might have been suspicion about the reality or the strength of it. The trial came and the faith endured. If you suffer because you are a Christian, this tries you whether you are a Christian. If you suffer in what we call the course of Providence, this tries you whether you have faith in Him who guides and governs all things. And so in every event of life that seems antagonistic to your welfare, it is a test of the reality of your faith, and, therefore, a ground of joy.

2. Trial not only verifies faith, it strengthens it as well, strengthens it so that it is stronger through the trial than it was before. The reason is plain. Whatever exercises faith strengthens faith; whatever compels it to come forth from disuse, whatever rouses it to assert its existence, increases its strength. "Our antagonist is our friend." Trials provoke faith, and the best thing that can happen to it is just to be provoked. You wrap up a child's limbs, you give them no free play, you compress the very channels in which the life-blood flows, and you wonder there is no increase of strength.(1) The purpose of all trial is the trying of faith. Life is the very sphere of trial, and everything that crosses us is a cross in the way we travel to a purer and a stronger faith.(2) Every kind of a trial which the Christian experiences has its special joy. There is a drop of pleasure in every bitter cup which is peculiar to that cup.(3) The beneficence of the trial-character of life; of the demand for verification of faith. Would you go to sea in a ship whose engines had not been tested? What about the journey to the eternal would?(4) How does a man come out from his trials? On a higher plane of spiritual life or on a lower one? He may see here the test.(5) There are trials before us that may be too strong for us. Let us see to it that our faith now be so confirmed that it will be more than conqueror over whatever the future may contain.

(Peter Rutherford.)

That your judgments may be rectified in point of afflictions, take these rules.

1. Do not judge by sense (Hebrews 12:11).

2. Judge by a supernatural light. Christ's eye-salve must clear your sight, or else you cannot make a right judgment: there is no fit apprehension of things till you get within the veil, and see by the light of a sanctuary lamp (1 Corinthians 2:11). So David, "In Thy light we shall see light" (Psalm 36:9); that is, by His Spirit we come to discern the brightness of glory or grace, and the nothingness of the world.

3. Judge by supernatural grounds. Many times common grounds may help us to discern the lightness of our grief, yea, carnal grounds; your counting must be an holy counting. God's corrections are sharp, but we have strong corruptions to be mortified; we are called to great trials, but we may reckon upon great hopes, &c. From that "all joy"; afflictions to God's people do not only minister occasion of patience, but great joy. The world hath no reason to think religion a black and gloomy way. A Christian is a bird that can sing in winter as well as in spring; he can live in the fire like Moses's bush; burn and not be consumed; nay, leap in the fire. But you will say, Doth not the Scripture allow us a sense of our condition? How can we rejoice in that which is evil?(1) Not barely in the evil of them; that is so far from being a fruit of grace that it is against nature; there is a natural abhorrency of that which is painful, as we see in Christ Himself (John 12:27).(2) Their joy is from the happy effects, or consequences, or comforts, occasioned by their sufferings. I will name some.(a) The honour done to us; that we are singled out to bear witness to the truths of Christ: "To you it is given to suffer" (Philippians 1:29).(b) The benefit the Church receiveth. Resolute defences gain upon the world. The Church is like an oak, which liveth by its own wounds, and the more limbs are cut off the more new sprouts.(c) Their own private and particular comforts. God hath consolations proper for martyrs and His children under trials.The sun shineth many times when it raineth; and they have sweet glimpses of God's favour when their outward condition is most gloomy and sad. There is a holy greatness of mind, and a joy that becometh the saddest providences. Faith should be above all that befalleth us; it is its proper work to make a believer triumph over every temporary accident. Again, another ground of joy in ordinary crosses is, because in them we may have much experience of grace, of the love of God, and our own sincerity and patience; and that is ground of rejoicing (Romans 5:3). Lastly, all evils are alike to faith; and it would as much misbecome a Christian hope to be dejected with losses as with violence or persecution. You should walk so that the world may know you can live above every condition, and that all the evils are much beneath your hopes.

4. From that "when ye fall," observe that evils are the better borne when they are undeserved and involuntary; that is, when we fall into them rather than draw them upon ourselves.

5. From that "divers," God hath several ways wherewith to exercise His people. Crosses seldom come single. When God beginneth once to try He useth divers ways of trial; and, indeed, there is great reason. Divers diseases must have divers remedies. Pride, envy, covetousness, worldliness, wantonness, ambition, are not all cured by the same physic. And learn, too, from hence, that God hath several methods of trial — confiscation, banishment, poverty, infamy, reproach; some trials search us more than others. We must leave it to His wisdom to make choice. Will-suffering is as bad as will-worship.

6. From that word "temptations," observe, the afflictions of God's people are but trials. Well, then, behave thyself as one under trial. Let nothing be discovered in thee but what is good and gracious. Men will do their best at their trial; oh, watch over yourselves with the more care that no impatience, vanity, murmuring, or worldliness of spirit may appear in you.

(T. Mounters.)

1. Of the nature of temptation.

2. Of the joyful result to the true Christian.

3. Of his duty under it.

I. THE NATURE OF TEMPTATION.

II. THE JOYFUL RESULT TO THE TRUE CHRISTIAN.

1. We must here remember, first, the account which St. Paul has given us of God's dealings: "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." So that, in the suffering of trial, the believer has one especial mark of God's favour.

2. But though all God's people are partakers of chastisement, yet, as mere suffering is not a sufficient test of grace, there is another particular to be noticed, namely, the awakening tendency of trials. I have alluded to the extreme danger of the state of quiet and prosperity when the world smiles upon men; when Satan seems to have departed from them; and when their natural propensities to ease are furthered by all surrounding circumstances (Jeremiah 48:11).

3. This is another useful tendency of trial — it humbles men. Who is so likely to boast as he who has just put on his armour, and has never yet seen the battle?

4. I think we may now easily see that the results of trial to the believer are joyful. Every branch in the living vine that beareth fruit the heavenly Husbandman "purgeth, that it may bring forth more fruit."

III. But it is time, in the third place, to speak more particularly of THE CHRISTIAN'S DUTY UNDER TEMPTATION.

1. And here, I would say, first, he must meet it in faith. And surely there are enough of precious promises whereon we may stay ourselves.

2. I would make another observation; and that is, you must under trial show submission to the Lord's hand. Persons are very often ready, like Cain, to cry out, "My punishment is greater than I can bear."

3. The next point that I would press on you is the exercise of patience. This is especially dwelt on by the apostle in my text, when he says, "Let patience have her perfect work; that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Abraham, for instance, was long, very long, kept childless, till he was forced to hope even "against hope." It is by slow degrees that the proud heart is humbled, and the self-sufficient spirit moulded into childlike submission to the will of God. If the gold be taken from the furnace before it be thoroughly purified and refined, why surely it had better never have been cast into the fire.

4. I make but one more closing observation. How anxious ought we to be to reap the benefit God intends from trial! When we contend with the enemies of our salvation, there can be no such thing as a drawn battle; if victory be not for us, we shall be worsted. And there is no state of more fearful augury than that of the man whom trial, chastisement, temptation, hardens. It is only sanctified trial that is profitable; and in order that trial may be so sanctified, we must earnestly implore the blessing of the Divine Spirit.

(J. Ayre, M. A.)

Life is not always easy to any, of whatever condition or fortune. And men increase the painfulness of living by undertaking life on a wrong theory, viz., the conception of the possibility of making life free from trouble. They dream of this; they toil for this; they are all disappointed. It is impracticable, man might just as well seek to live without eating or without breathing. All human beings are born to trouble as the birds fly upward. Why, then, should we increase the difficulties of human life by adding to its natural limitations the attempt to reach the unattainable? They live the less difficult lives who early adjust themselves to the natural fact that trouble is to be the normal condition of life. They prepare themselves for it. They fortify themselves by philosophy and religion to endure the inevitable. Then every hour free from trouble is so much cleat" gain. But to him who adopts the other theory — and who does not? — every trouble is so much clear loss. The man in trouble, the fish in water, the bird in air: that is the law; why not accept it? That fact need not discourage us. It does not take from our dignity, nor from our growth, nor from our final happiness. The painter cannot have his picture glowing on the canvas by merely designing it, nor the sculptor transmute his ideal into marble by a wish. The one must take all the trouble of drawing and colouring, and the other that of chiselling and polishing. It is no necessary discouragement to a boy that he must be under tutors, and must go through the trouble and discipline of school-day, even if he be a prince. It is the law. That answers all. It need scarcely be added, that for any success we must conform to the law.

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

1. These afflictions are manifold in respect of the diversity of instruments which God useth in afflicting them upon the saints. For sometimes He useth the devil, sometimes men, sometimes His other creatures as instruments.

2. As in respect of the divers instruments thereunto by God used, "the temptations of men are manifold; so if we look into the nature of temptations they are no less diverse. Some are afflicted by exile and banishment, some by captivity and imprisonment, some by famine and nakedness, some by peril and persecution, some by slander and reproachful contumely, some by rackings and tearings in pieces, some by fire and faggot, some by sores of body and sundry diseases, some suffer in themselves, some are afflicted in their friends, in their wives, in their children, some in their goods, some in their bodies, some in their credits, some by sea, some by land, some at home, some abroad, some by open enemies, some by counterfeit friends, some by cruel oppression, some by manifest injuries, some by force, some by fraud.

3. Finally, the ends wherefore they are afflicted are diverse; therefore in flint respect also they may not amiss be counted diverse. Sometimes we are afflicted to the end we should be humbled, tried, sometimes that in the nature of God's blessings we may better be instructed; sometimes we are afflicted that God may be glorified, sometimes that our sins may be remitted, sometimes that the pride of our hearts may be repressed and sinful desires mortified; sometimes we are afflicted that God's love towards us may the more lively be expressed, sometimes that thereby the world may be hated of us, sometimes that we may be more zealous in prayer for deliverance, sometimes that we may be made conformable and like the image of the Son of God, together with Him may be partakers of His glory. Finally, to make us forsake all trust in other, and to bring us home to God. As Isaiah teacheth us, at that day shall the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, stay no more upon him that smote him, but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.

(R. Turnbull.)

Their spring of joy did not flow from the mere surface of life. It bubbled up from the deep underlying strata, and still ran on whatever changes vexed the surface.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

Mr. John Philpot was shut up with some Protestant companions in the Bishop of London's coal-cellar, but they were so merry that they were fetched out to be reprimanded for their unseasonable mirth. "The world wonders," wrote the good man to a friend, "we can be merry under such extreme miseries, but our God is omnipotent, who turns our misery into joy. I have so much joy that, though I be in a place of darkness and mourning, yet I cannot lament, but both day and night am full of joy. I never was so merry before; the Lord's name be praised for ever. Oh, pray instantly that this joy may never be taken from us, for it passeth all the delights in this world."

(Sunday at Home.)

Every bird can sing in a clear heaven in temperate spring; that one is most commended that sings many notes in the midst of a shower or in the dead of winter.

(Bp. Hall.)

In all temptations be not discouraged. These surges may be, not to break thee, but to heave thee off thyself on the Rock Christ.

(T. Wilcocks.)

Temptation is a necessity, and not only a necessity, but a benefaction. If you were to construct a man, you would have to put into him a certain percentage of temptation that he might become fully developed.

(Prof. Hy. Drummond.)

The quartz gold might bitterly complain when the hammer comes down on it — "Ah! I shall never be good for anything again. I am crushed to atoms." And when the rushing water came along it might cry out, "Here I am drowned. I am lost. I shall never come to the light any more." And when put into the furnace it might say, "Now I am for ever undone." But by and by, see that ring that clases the brow of the king. It is that same gold that understood not, through much tribulation it must enter upon honour. It is even thus with us. We need not complain if the terrible temptation comes along. It will give us an opportunity of using the grace which God has bestowed; it will show what metal we are of; it will bring out our character if we have any; and we may thus "count it all joy."

(W. G. Pascoe.)

Every possible trial to the child of God is a masterpiece of strategy of the Captain of his salvation for his good.

(A. R. Fausset, M. A.)

Tough trees grow in exposed situations, where the mightiest winds of heaven sweep and whirl from year to year. An experienced shipbuilder would not think of using for the mainmast of a ship a tree that had grown in a hot-house, where the whirlwind had never come.

(R. V. Lawrence.)

The best steel is subjected to the alternatives of extreme heat and extreme cold. Were you ever in a cutlery? If you were, you noticed that the knife-blades were heated, and beaten, and then heated again, and plunged into the coldest water, in order to give them the right shape and temper. And perhaps you also noticed that there was a large heap of rejected blades — rejected because they would not bear the tempering process. They cracked and warped; when put upon the grindstone, little flaws appeared in some that, up to that point, had seemed fair and perfect. Hence they were thrown aside as unfit for market. So souls, in order to ensure the right temper, are heated in the furnace of affliction, plunged into the cold waters of tribulation, and ground between the upper and nether stones of adversity and disaster. Some come out of the trial pure, elastic, and bright, ready for the highest service; others come out brittle, with ill-temper, full of flaws and spots of rust, and are thrown into the rubbish-room of the Church as unfit for any but the lowest uses. Now if you would be of any account among the forces that are working out the salvation of this world, be still in the hands of God until He tempers you. Listen to that knife-blade in the hands of the cutler. "Stop, now! I have been in the fire often enough. Would you burn the life out of me?" But in it goes again into the glowing furnace, and is heated to a white heat. "Stop hammering me! I have been pounded enough now." But down comes the sledge. "Keep me out of this cold water. One moment in the fiery furnace and the next in ice-cold water. It is enough to kill one! "But in it goes. "Keep me off the grindstone. You'll chafe the life out of me." But it is made to kiss the stone until the cutler is satisfied. But now see! When all the heating and cooling and pounding and grinding is done you may bend it double, and yet it springs back straight as an arrow; it is as bright as polished silver, hard as a diamond, and will cut like a Damascus blade. It has been shaped, tempered, and polished, and is worth something.

(R. V. Lawrence.)

Right back of Hackensack is a long railroad cut. In the dim twilight, when evening is far advanced, the cut is dark and gloomy. I was thinking of that one evening and I stopped to look into the entrance. I said to myself, "No one would ever imagine, just to glance in there without knowledge, that anything good could come by a way so forbidding." While I was still talking thus to myself, I felt the ground tremble, I saw the darkness light up with a sudden crimson ray, I heard a roar of ever-increasing loudness, and the black entrance of the cut was filled with a shower of sparks and a mixed plume of black and white; a ball of round fire blinded my eyes, a sound of thunder startled my ears, the earth shook up and down as though set upon springs, and then it was gone — the train had rushed by — nothing to be seen in the gloom but the little red lamp on the rear of the cars that rapidly diminished its lustre, blinked once or twice, and went out. Long after it was out of sight I heard the sound of the distant gong; and I realised that this unsightly cut had let some human happiness safely through. Some of our choicest mercies come in by way of some frowning trouble. The station where we receive them is a little further on, to be sure; but it is well to remember that if the dark way had not been traversed nothing so rich and good would have arrived.

(J. W. Dally.)

The more varied are the moral difficulties of life, the more complete is the discipline. The strain must come upon one muscle after another, if there is to be a perfect development of moral vigour — if, as James puts it, we are to be "lacking in nothing." The strength of every separate element of Christian righteousness must be tried, and tried by various tests. The courage which is unmoved by one form of danger maybe daunted by another. The patience which submits without a murmur to familiar suffering may be changed by a new sorrow into angry resentment. The Christian charity which has kept its sweetness through many cruel persecutions may at last be suddenly embittered by some fresh outrage.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

Life, from first to last, is a perpetual "trial," and the "trial" is perpetually varied. In the school of God there are no vacations.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

We go to rest sometimes with an impression of guilt on our minds, because all day long we have been under trial, so that we feel as if evil had been with us continually. At other times night finds us calm and serene. All has gone smoothly, and we are pleased with ourselves and our neighbours. And yet there may be a better record for the dark day than for the bright one, in God's book of remembrance. For temptation is not sin, nor its absence goodness.

A brother in a religious meeting was suffering from severe temptation, and after a full account of his experience was advised to take courage, "For," said Father Taylor, "the devil was never known to chase a bag of chaff! You may be sure that there is the pure wheat in your heart, or he would not be after you so hard."

Joy lives in the midst of the sorrow; the sorrow springs from the same root as the gladness. The two do not clash against each other, or reduce the emotion to a neutral indifference, but they blend into one another; just as, in the Arctic regions, deep down beneath the cold snow, with its white desolation and its barren death, you shall find the budding of the early spring flowers and the fresh green grass; just as some kinds of fire burn below the water; just as, in the midst of the barren and undrinkable sea, there may be welling up some little fountain of fresh water that comes from a deeper depth than the great ocean around it, and pours its sweet streams along the surface of the salt waste.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

When Richard Williams, of the Patagonian Mission, with his few companions, was stranded on the beach by a high tide, and at the beginning of the terrible privations which terminated his life, he wrote in his diary: "I bless and praise God that this day has been, I think, the happiest of my life. The fire of Divine love has been burning on the mean altar of my breast, and the torch light of faith has been in full trim, so that I have only had to wave it to the right hand or left, in order to discern spiritual things in heavenly places." Later, when severe illness was added to circumstantial distress, he could say, "Not a moment sits wearily upon me. Sweet is the presence of Jesus; and oh, I am happy in His love." Again, though held fast by fatal disease, he wrote: "Ah, I am happy day and night, hour by hour. Asleep or awake, I am happy beyond the poor compass of language to tell. My joys are with Him whose delights have always been with the sons of men; and my heart and spirit are in heaven with the blessed."

The trying of your faith worketh patience
1. The chief grace which is tried in persecution is faith. Partly because it is the radical grace in the life of a Christian (Hebrews 2:4); we work by love, but live by faith; partly because this is the grace most exercised, sometimes in keeping the soul from using ill means and unlawful courses (Isaiah 28:16); sometimes in bringing the soul to live under gospel-comforts in the absence or want of worldly, and to make a Christian fetch water out of the rock when there is none in the fountain.

Use 1. You that have faith, or pretend to have it, must look for trials. Graces are not crowned till they are exercised; never any yet went to heaven without conflicts.

Use 2. You that are under trials, look to your faith (Luke 22:32).

(1)Hold fast your assurance in the midst of the saddest trials.

(2)Keep your hopes fresh and lively.

2. Many trials cause patience, that is, by the blessing of God upon them. Habits are strengthened by frequent acts; the more you act grace, the stronger; and often trial puts us upon frequent exercise (Hebrews 12:11).(1) It showeth how careful you should be to exercise yourselves under every cross; by that means you come to get habits of grace and patience: neglect causeth decay, and God withdraweth His hand from such as are idle: in spirituals, as well as temporals, "diligence maketh rich" (Proverbs 10:4).(2) It showeth that if we murmur or miscarry in any providence, the fault is in our own hearts, not in our condition.

3. It is an excellent exchange to part with outward comforts for inward graces. Fiery trials are nothing, if yon gain patience; sickness, with patience, is better than health; loss, with patience, is better than gain.

4. Patience is a grace of excellent use and value. We cannot be Christians without it; we cannot be men without it: not Christians, for it is not only the ornament, but the conservatory of other graces. How else should we persist in well-doing when we meet with grievous crosses? You see we cannot be Christians without it; so, also, not men. Christ saith, "In patience possess your souls" (Luke 21:19). A man is a man, and doth enjoy himself and his life by patience: otherwise we shall but create needless troubles and disquiets to ourselves, and so be, as it were, dispessessed of our own lives and souls — that is, lose the comfort and the quiet of them.

(T. Manton.)

I. The sufferer should look at THE HAND which sends the affliction. Patience springs out of faith.

II. The sufferer should look at THE PRESENT BENEFIT of affliction, which to a believer is unspeakably great.

III. The sufferer should look to THE END of his afflictions. God may perhaps see good not to bless us in this life, as He did His servant Job; but, oh, what glory will it be to hear it said of us at the last day, "These are they which came out of great tribulation," &c.

(W. Jowett, M. A.)

An iron railway-bridge is no stronger after its strength has been tried by running a dozen heavy trains over it than it was before. A gunbarrel is no stronger when it comes from the proof-house, and has had its strength tried by being fired with four or five times its proper charge, than it was before. But according to James, the "trials" which test our faith strengthen it; the "temptations" which assault our integrity confirm it.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

People are always talking of perseverance and courage and fortitude, but patience is the finest and worthiest part of fortitude and the rarest too.

(John Ruskin.)

A perfect machine fulfils the object for which it is made, and a perfect Christian is one of such a character that he fulfils the object for which he has been made a Christian. "Entire, lacking in nothing," conveys the idea of being properly adjusted and arranged so that our avenues of temptation are properly guarded. A builder never thinks of putting a window in the floor or a door in the ceiling, and God would have our moral nature so adjusted that we may have everything in its place, and consequently "Entire, lacking in nothing."

(F. Montague Miller.)

It would be far easier, I apprehend, for nine men out of ten to join a storming party than to lie on a rack or to hang on a cross without repining. Yes, patience is a strength; and patience is not merely a strength, it is wisdom in exercising it. We, the creatures of a day, make one of the nearest approaches that is posssible for us to the life of God. Of God, St. has finely said, "Patiens quia aeternus Because He lives for ever, He can afford to wait."

(Canon Liddon.)

Let your hope be patient, without tediousness of spirit, or hastiness of prefixing time. Make no limits or prescriptions to God, but let your prayers and endeavours go on still with a constant attendance on the periods of God's providence. The men of Bethulia resolved to wait upon God but five days longer; but deliverance stayed seven days, and yet came at last.

(Jeremy Taylor, D. D.)

It is said that the immortal astronomer, whose genius discovered the laws which govern the movement of the planets, saw his great labours despised by his contemporaries. Reduced to extreme misery, he was on his death-bed, when a friend asked him if he did not suffer intensely in dying thus without seeing his discoveries appreciated. "My friend," replied Kepler, "God waited five thousand years for one of His creatures to discover the admirable laws which He has given to the stars, and cannot I wait, also, until justice is done me?" Take heed to these words you who are doing God's work. Labour, if necessary, without result; speak, although not listened to; love, without being understood; cast your bread upon the waters; and to subdue the world to the truth, walk by faith and not by sight.

(E. Bersier, D. D.)

Two little German girls, Brigitte and Wallburg, were on their way to the town, and each carried a heavy basket of fruit on her head. Brigitte murmured and sighed constantly; Wallbarg only laughed and joked. Brigitte said, "What makes you laugh so? Your basket is quite as heavy as mine, and you are no stronger than I am." Wallburg said, "I have a precious little herb on my load, which makes me hardly feel it at all. Put some of it on your load as well." "Oh," cried Brigitte, "it must indeed be a precious little herb! I should like to lighten my load with it; so tell me at once what it is called." Wallburg replied, "The precious little herb that makes all burdens.light is called patience."

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