James 1:22
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Otherwise, you are deceiving yourselves.
Sermons
The Law of the New LifeT.F. Lockyer James 1:19-27
Before Sermon, At Sermon, and After SermonC. H. Spurgeon.James 1:21-22
How We May Hear the Word with ProfitThos. Senior, B. D.James 1:21-22
Moral Hindrance to the Reception of the TruthR. Wardlaw, D. D.James 1:21-22
Of Preaching, Hearing, and Practising the Word of GodJoseph Trapp, D. D.James 1:21-22
Preparation of HeartC. Deems, D. D.James 1:21-22
Receiving the WordT. Manton.James 1:21-22
Reception of the Gospel with MeeknessS. Estwick, B. D.James 1:21-22
The Bible and Human SoulsHomilistJames 1:21-22
The Engrafted WordCanon Liddon.James 1:21-22
The Engrafted WordHomilistJames 1:21-22
The Engrafted WordG. Everard, M. A.James 1:21-22
The Engrafted WordW. M. H. Aitken, M. A.James 1:21-22
The GospelHomilistJames 1:21-22
The Ingrafted WordC. Deems, D. D.James 1:21-22
The Reception of the Divine WordJohn Adam.James 1:21-22
Ways of Treating the WordW. Arnot, D. D.James 1:21-22
Doers and Non-DoersW. D. Horwood.James 1:22-25
Doers, not Hearers OnlyJohn Adam.James 1:22-25
Doing the WordR. Turnbull.James 1:22-25
Duty of HearersJoseph Marsh.James 1:22-25
Hearers and DoersC. Jerdan James 1:22-25
Hearing and DoingJ. T. Whitley.James 1:22-25
Hearing and DoingS. Cox, D. D.James 1:22-25
Hearing and DoingA. Plummer, D. D.James 1:22-25
Hearing and DoingJ. S. Macintosh, D. D.James 1:22-25
Hearing and DoingT. Manton.James 1:22-25
Hearing and DoingA. Raleigh, D. D.James 1:22-25
Hearing with the ConscienceIsaac Walton.James 1:22-25
Hearing Without DoingE. Blencowe, M. A.James 1:22-25
Hearing Without MendingJames 1:22-25
Knowledge and DutyCanon Duckworth.James 1:22-25
Living the PreachingJames 1:22-25
Man's GlassH. Melvill, B. D.James 1:22-25
Necessity of Adding Doing to HearingT. Hannam.James 1:22-25
Profitless HearingJ. T. Tucker.James 1:22-25
Self-Deceit of Those Who are Hearers But not Doers of the WordBp. Mant.James 1:22-25
Self-Deception of HearersM. F. Sadler, M. A.James 1:22-25
Self-RealizationProf. F. Paget.James 1:22-25
Standing Before the MirrorA. S. Patterson, D. D.James 1:22-25
The Danger of Mistaking Knowledge for ObedienceArchdeacon Manning.James 1:22-25
The Divine MirrorJas. Noble, M. A.James 1:22-25
The Due Receiving of God's WordBp. Brownrig.James 1:22-25
The Looking-GlassC. H. Spurgeon.James 1:22-25
The Word a Mirror and a LateW. Pulsford, D. D.James 1:22-25
The Word of WordsU. R. Thomas.James 1:22-25
Two Sorts of HearersC. H. Spurgeon.James 1:22-25
The writer has said in ver. 21 that the wise hearer is a "receiver of the Word, and he now proceeds to emphasize the fact that he is also a doer" of it. "Receiving represents the root of the Christian life, and doing" indicates its fruit.

I. THE INJUNCTION. (Ver. 22.) Very many hearers of the gospel are not sufficiently upon their guard against the dreadful danger of being "hearers only." Some, when the service is over, seldom think of anything but going home. Others will pass a remark about the sermon, and then dismiss the subject finally from their thoughts. A few will express more deliberately the pleasure with which they listened to the discourse; but perhaps even these are satisfied merely with having enjoyed it. The purpose of preaching, however, is not that the people may be "very much pleased," but that they may be profited, edified, and inspired to live an upright, generous, godly life. The highest praise that can be bestowed upon a Christian minister is not to tell him how much his preaching is enjoyed on sabbaths, but to let him see how well it is being translated into the life on the other days of the week. We live in a practical age; and the mission of the pulpit is as practical and definite as that of any other institution of our time. It is an agency for man-building. Its work is to promote the doing of the Word of God in the everyday lives of men. Those people, therefore, are the victims of a miserable self-deception who regard "hearing as the sum of Christian duty. Such persons have no idea of the nature of true piety. Their profession is nothing better than an empty form. They may be strictly orthodox in doctrine and evangelical in sentiment; but what does this profit, if their church-going carries with it no power to direct their daily life into the ways of holiness? A theologian is not necessarily a Christian. The hearer only" is on the road to final spiritual ruin.

II. A COMPARISON TO ENFORCE THE INJUNCTION. (Vers. 23-25.) Our Lord had illustrated the same thought by the figure of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27). The simile here is that of two men looking at their faces in a mirror. "The Word of truth" is the spiritual glass in which we may see the reflection of our own souls. The Bible not only reveals the holy God to man; it also discovers sinful man to himself. But the mere hearer, after he has momentarily recognized himself in it, goes on his way and forgets his moral uncomeliness. He finds it convenient not to remember that what he saw was the features of" the old man, which waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit." The wise hearer, on the other hand, looks into the mirror that he may learn the law of his renewed life. The gospel law brings no bondage or terror to him. It does not constrain him to an unwilling obedience. It is to him "the perfect law, the law of liberty" (ver. 25), which the Holy Spirit is writing within his heart. The apostle indicates three elements of contrast between the conduct of the two men in relation to the gospel mirror.

1. The one man "beholdeth;" the other "looketh." In the case of the mere hearer it is only a passing, cursory, careless glance of the eye - a look at the mirror, and at himself in it. But, in the case of the wise hearer, it is the serious, eager, anxious gaze of the soul: this man stoops down to take a close look "into" the law of liberty.

2. The one man "goeth away;" the other "continueth" to look. The mere hearer glances hastily and briefly, because uninterestedly, He thinks always of sermons as dull, and is glad to dismiss the subject of religion so soon as the church-service is over. But the wise hearer goes on looking. Ills gaze is persistent and unwearied. He looks so long that what he sees becomes indelibly impressed upon his heart.

3. The one man "straightway forgetteth; "the other is a doer that worketh. The mere hearer soon dismisses the thought of the spots and blemishes which he saw upon his spiritual features when he glanced at them in the gospel mirror. But the wise hearer looks carefully and continuously, because he wants to know himself, and because it is his purpose to be always a "doer." He has learned that it is the business of his life to obey the perfect law of liberty. By the doing of this work he will attain both self-knowledge and self-government. And in the doing of it he shall be "blessed."

CONCLUSION. We learn from this passage, what is insisted upon throughout the whole Bible, that the secret of true human happiness lies in holy obedience to the will of God. - C.J.







Doers of the Word, and not hearers only.
I. THE EXHORTATION. The doers of the Word are those who are ruled by it, who practically comply with its requirements, who not only read, understand, and believe it, but submit to its authority, regulate their tempers and lives by its precepts. The term, too, is expressive of continuance, permanence. We must live and move in this element, we must find our occupation here the chief delight of our existence. It is only such doing that constitutes a doer of the Word. "And not hearers only." This is what the apostle is anxious to guard against. Mark what it really is which he condemns. It is not being hearers — very far from that. It is the slopping short here, resting in it which he condemns. He finds no fault with those who are hearers, it is with those who are hearers simply and "not doers." He adds, "Deceiving your own selves." Whatever the foundation on which they build, whatever the process by which they reach the conclusion in their own favour — all who think well of themselves, who believe that they are God's people, and on the way to heaven, while they are hearers only and not doers — all such must, and do delude themselves. They are helped to this result. The father of lies tries to persuade them that they are all right as to their spiritual character. He labours to hide from us the truth, and to draw us into the meshes of soul-ruining error.

II. THE ILLUSTRATION.

1. A picture of the mere hearer. "He is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass" — literally, "the face of his birth," the countenance with which he was born — marking out the external, material sphere within which the figure lies, and suggesting all the more vividly the spiritual counterpart, the moral visage which belongs to us as the posterity of Adam, the sin-marred lineaments of the soul. He sees it with all its peculiarities, more or less pleasing, reflected in the glass before which he stands, there confronting him so that he cannot but note its features. The hearer of the gospel does something remarkably similar. In his case the glass, that into which he looks, is the Divine Word. It unfolds the corruption which has put its foul impress on every part of our being, the dark lusts and passions that hold sway within us, the features and workings of our carnal, enmity-possessed minds. It is the great business of the preacher to raise aloft the glass of Divine truth, to set forth faithfully alike the law and the gospel. The hearer does not thrust it away from him, and he turns not aside from it as do many. He does not withdraw to a distance, or push the mirror toward his neighbour. He looks into it more or less closely. The likeness varies greatly as to distinctness of outline and depth of impression. Self is in some measure presented to view and is recognised. The apostle proceeds with the comparison. The man having beheld himself, "goeth his way," is off to his business or his pleasure, to meet his friends, or pursue his journey. He is soon engaged with other matters. In a few moments the appearance he presented is forgotten. The beholding in this ease corresponds to the hearing and its effects in the other. As the looker turns away from the glass, so does the mere hearer from the Word. The latter leaves the sanctuary, and the bodily departure is connected with a mental one far greater. The attention is relaxed, or rather drawn off, and directed toward an entirely different class of subjects. The mind goes back to its pursuit of lying vanities; and thus comes the deep and sad forgetfulness. Convictions fade away, feelings cool down, and the old security returns.

2. A picture of the real doer (ver. 25). Here the comparison begins to be dropped. The figure and the thing represented, symbol and substance, blend together; no longer kept separate, they pass into each other. Observe what this man looks into. It is "the perfect law of liberty." He calls it "perfect." It is so in itself as the transcript of God's perfect character, and as leading all who apprehend and use it aright forward to man's perfect stature. It is this alike in its nature and its effect. And it is "the perfect law of liberty." It is a law of bondage to those who leek into it in its covenant form, and strive to earn heaven by their own merits. But in regeneration it is written on the heart, and the new creature is in harmony with it, delights in it, so that conformity to it is no longer a forced but a spontaneous thing. Thus he is free, not by being released from law, but by having it wrought into his being, made the moving, regulating power of his new existence. Notice, now, how this man deals with the mirror thus described. "Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty." We have here a different word from that which expresses the beholding in the former instance. It signifies to stoop down and come close to an object so as to see it clearly and fully. It points to a near, minute, searching inspection. And, in this ease, it is not a temporary exercise. The eyes are not soon averted and directed to other objects. For it is added, "and continueth therein" — continueth still looking into the perfect law, meditating on its requirements, seeking to understand their nature and feel their power. He is arrested, and cannot turn his steps or his eyes towards other objects. This is characteristic of every one truly subdued by the inspired Word. He continues and the effect appears. Such a man is "not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work." He remembers the truth apprehended, and strives to reduce it to practice. It sets all his powers of mind and body in motion. He is a "doer of the work," or literally of work, pointing not to this or that act of obedience, but to a constant, thorough, loving, free course of service. In all things he aims at doing the will of God, and he so far succeeds. "This man" — emphatically, not the other, not any other — this man, he, he alone — "shall be blessed in his deed" or his doing. He shall be blessed, not only after or through his doing, not merely on account of it or by means of it, but in his doing. Obedience is its own reward. It yields an exquisite satisfaction, and, while it leads on in a heavenward progress, draws down large foretastes of the fulness of joy, the rivers of pleasure, which are at God's right hand for evermore.

(John Adam.)

James has no speculations. He is not satisfied with the buds of hearing, he wants the fruits of obedience. We need more of his practical spirit in this age. Preachers must preach as for eternity, and look for fruit; and hearers must carry out what they hear, or otherwise the sacred ordinance of preaching will cease to be the channel of blessing.

I. THE UNBLEST CLASS.

1. They are hearers, but they are described as hearers who are not doers. They have heard a sermon on repentance, but they have not repented. They have heard the gospel cry, "Believe!" but they have not believed. They know that he who believes purges himself from his old sins, yet they have had no purging, but abide as they were, Now, if I address such. let me say to them — it is clear that you are and must be unblest. Hearing of a feast will not fill you; hearing of a brook will not quench your thirst. The knowledge that there is a shelter from the storm will not save the ship from the tempest. The information that there is a cure for a disease will not make the sick man whole. No: boons must be grasped and made use of if they are to be of any value to us.

2. Next, these hearers are described as deceiving themselves. You would very soon quit my door, and call me inhospitable, if I gave you music instead of meat; and yet you deceive yourselves with the notion that merely hearing about Jesus and His great salvation has made you better men. Or, perhaps, the deceit runs in another line: you foster the idea that the stern truths which your hear do not apply to you.

3. And then, again, according to our text, these people are superficial hearers. They are said to be like to a man who sees his natural face in a glass. When a glass is first exhibited to some fresh discovered tribe, the chieftain as he sees himself is perfectly astonished. He looks, and looks again, and cannot make it out. So is it in the preaching of the Word; the man says, "Why, those are my words; that is my way of feeling." To see yourself as God would have you see yourself in the glass of Scripture is something, but you must afterwards go to Christ for washing or your looking is very superficial work.

4. The text accuses these persons of being hasty hearers — "he beholdeth himself and goeth his way." They never give the Word time to operate, they are back to business, back to idle chit-chat, the moment the service ends.

5. One other thing is said about them, namely, that they are very forgetful hearers — they forget what manner of men they are. They have heard the discourse, and there is an end of it. That travelling dealer did well who, while listening to Mr. William Dawson, when he was speaking about dishonesty, stood up in the midst of the congregation and broke a certain yard measure with which he had been in the habit of cheating his customers. That woman did well who said that she forgot what the preacher talked about, but she remembered to burn her bushel when she got home, for that too had been short in measure. You may forget the words in which the truth was couched, if you will, but let it purify your life. It reminds me of the gracious woman who used to earn her living by washing wool. When her minister called upon her and asked her about his sermon, and she confessed she had forgotten the text, he said, "What good could it have done you?" She took him into her back place where she was carrying on her trade. She put the wool into a sieve, and then pumped on it. "There, sir," she said, "your sermon is like that water. It runs through my mind, sir, just as the water runs through the sieve; but then the water washes the wool, sir, and so the good word washes my soul." Thus I have described certain hearers, and I fear we have many such in all congregations; admiring hearers, but all the while unblest hearers, because they are Hot doers of the work. One thing they lack — they have no faith in Christ. It does surprise me how some of you can be so favourable to everything that has to do with Divine things, and yet have no personal share in the good treasure. What would you say of a cook who prepared dinners for other people and yet died of starvation? Foolish cook, say you. Foolish hearer, say

I. Are you going to be like. Solomon's friends the Tyrians, who helped to build the temple and yet went on worshipping their idols?

II. BLESSED HEARERS — those who get the blessing.

1. Now, notice that this hearer who is blest is, first of all, an earnest, eager, humble hearer. He does not look upon the law of liberty and go his way, but he looketh into it. He hears of the gospel, and he says, "I will look into this. There is a something here worth attention." He stoops and becomes a little child that he may learn. He searches as men do who are looking after diamonds or gold. That is the right kind of hearer — an earnest listener whose senses are all aroused to receive all that can be learned.

2. It is implied, too, that he is a thoughtful, studious, searching hearer — he looks into the perfect law. He is sacredly curious. He inquires; he pries. He asks all those who should know. He likes to get with old Christians to hear their experience. He loves to compare spiritual things with spiritual, to dissect a text and see how it stands in relation to another, and to its own parts, for he is in earnest when he hears the Word.

3. Looking so steadily he discovers that the gospel is a law of liberty: and indeed it is so. There is no joy like the joy of pardon, there is no release like release from the slavery of sin, there is no freedom like the liberty of holiness, the liberty to draw near to God.

4. But it is added that he continues therein. If you hear the gospel and it does not bless you, hear it again. If you have read the Word of God and it has not saved you, read it again. It is able to save your soul.

5. Lastly, it is added that this man is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the Word, and he shall be blessed in his deed. Is he bidden to pray? He prays as best he can. Is he bidden to repent? He asks God to enable him to repent. He turns everything that he hears into practice. I remember reading of a certain person who heard of giving a tenth of our substance to God. "Well," said he, "that is right, and I will do it": and he kept his promise. He heard that Daniel drew near to God three times a day in prayer. He said, "That is right; I will do it"; and he practised a threefold approach to the throne of grace each day. He made it a rule every time he heard of something that was excellent to practise it at once. Thus he formed holy habits and a noble character, and became a blessed hearer of the Word.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. The Word As MERELY HEARD.

1. It is only superficially known.

2. It leaves men in self-ignorance.

II. THE WORD RIGHTLY PRACTISED.

1. It is thoroughly investigated.

2. It confers the highest blessing.

(1)Imparts complete liberty.

(2)Ensures constant happiness.

(U. R. Thomas.)

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF HEARING THE WORD.

1. The Word tells us whence we are.

2. The Word tells us what we are.

3. The Word tells us how to get rid of sin.

4. The Word helps us to form character for heaven.

II. THE GREATER IMPORTANCE OF DOING THE WORD.

1. Hearing is but the preliminary of doing.

2. Hearing can never shake off the load of sin; while doing lays the burden upon Christ.

3. In the all-important work of cultivating character, mere hearing hardens and distorts; while doing the will of God is the way to become like Him.

4. Doing the will of God is the only adequate test of love, which is the essence both of religion and salvation.

(J. T. Whitley.)

1. Knowledge without obedience ends in nothing. This is the folly which our Lord rebukes in the parable of the man that built his house upon the sand.

2. It inflicts a deep and lasting injury upon the powers of our spiritual nature. In childhood, boyhood, manhood, the same sounds of warning, and promise, and persuasion, the same hopes and fears, have fallen on a heedless ear, and a still more heedless heart: they have lost their power over the man; he has acquired a settled habit of hearing without doing. The whole force of habit — that strange mockery of nature — has reinforced his original reluctance to obey.

3. It is an arch-deceiver of mankind. It deceives the man into the belief that he really is what he so clearly knows he ought to be. Again, there are men who can never speak of religious truth without emotion; and yet, though their knowledge has so much of fervour as to make them weep, it has not power enough to make them deny a lust.

4. This knowing and disobeying, it is that makes so awful the responsibilities of Christians. Knowledge is a great and awful gift: it makes a man partaker of the mind of God; it communes with him of the eternal will, and reveals to him the royal law of God's kingdom. To hold this knowledge in unrighteousness, to imprison it in the stifling hold of an impure, a proud, or a rebellious heart, is a most appalling insult against the majesty of the God of truth.

(Archdeacon Manning.)

The necessity of good preaching is well understood among men. The importance of good hearing is not so well understood. To render the message effective, it is not enough that the former be furnished. Be it as faultless as was the preaching of the Son of God, a man may sit under it and go from it totally unbenefited. It leaves on his heart the impression, not of the seal upon the plastic wax, but such an impression as the face makes upon the mirror which for a moment reflects its features — transient as the glancing sunbeam. It therefore becomes an imperative duty to keep clearly before the minds of our hearers their liability to the danger of rendering the gospel ministry wholly ineffectual for good to themselves.

I. THE VACANT HEARER. God's Word is weighty truth. Its topics are God's nature, acts, the human soul, its condition, responsibilities, destiny. The subjects of its principal concern lie not on the surface of things, to be grasped without an effort. But whether simple or recondite, its teachings will teach him nothing who will not meet that demand of intellectual attention which instruction on any theme necessarily imposes on the learner. There are many such vacant listeners in God's house. With some it is a constitutional mental sluggishness, a mind untaught to reflect. But with many more it is an aversion of heart to religious thought, which arms the will against it. Add also the many who bring the world with them into Jehovah's temple, and there worship Mammon instead of God.

II. THE CURIOUS HEARER. This spirit brings the attention to bear upon a subject, but merely to dissect, to criticise. It is an active spirit far removed from the unconcernedness of the vacant hearer, and the sanctuary affords a favourite scene for its exercise. It may employ itself upon the subject of discourse, and enjoy the pleasure of remarking the beauties, the well-timed proprieties of its presentation; or, more commonly, it may busy itself with taking exceptions at the taste, or the judgment, which has guided the selection or treatment of the theme. Or the attention fastens itself upon the manner of the preacher, forgetful from whose court the speaker holds his commission, and what words of life and death hang on his lips.

III. THE CAPTIOUS HEARER. Here the attention is excited, only to be turned against the teachings of religion. There are those who occasionally attend upon God's worship, as they sometimes read His Word, for no other end but to cavil, to deny, to oppose. Their business is just what was that of some in former days, in whose hearts Satan reigned; who followed Christ's ministrations for the — shall I say, magnanimous or pitiful — purpose to catch Him in His words! But sometimes, where the mind likes not to confess itself sceptical upon the subject of Christian doctrine, it covers its hostility to this by a very ingenious, not ingenuous transfer of its dislikes to the announcer of this doctrine.

IV. THE FASHIONABLE HEARER. The Sabbath is welcomed, as it helps them to show off an equipage more elegant than some rival's; or to display to advantage their personal attractions. Their own proud selves are the centres round which every thought revolves.

V. THE SPECULATING HEARER. I use this phrase in its mercantile sense, to indicate those whose selfishness leads them to make a pecuniary gain of godliness. These visit the sanctuary to further their business facilities. It is respectable to attend Divine worship. The influential, the wealthy, the intelligent, are found there, at least once on the Sabbath. And he submits to the irksomeness of a weekly visit to this uncomgenial spot as a cheap price for the custom, the patronage of the community. On the whole, it is to him a fair business transaction. A similar conduct is theirs who sustain the gospel because of the pecuniary value of churches and ministers to any community. These have their secular advantages. Truth and piety should be prized for more spiritual reasons than these. They refuse their choicest blessings to such sordid calculators.

VI. THE SELF-FORGETFUL HEARER. Many never listen to a sermon which "reproves, rebukes, exhorts," for their own benefit. They may indeed listen; but it is with a keen sense of their neighbour's defects, not their own.

VII. THE PRAYERLESS HEARER. Without prayer, earnest, habitual, personal, God's Spirit will not visit your bosom with life-imparting grace. A prayerless hearer of truth must, therefore, be an unblessed hearer. He turns the ministry of mercy into a ministry of condemnation.

VIII. THE UNRESOLVED HEARER. The communications of God to man all relate to action. They direct to duty. They aim not to amuse, to surprise, or to instruct, but to produce a voluntary movement of man's moral powers in the path by them indicated. They bring their unseen influences to bear upon his rational faculties to secure compliance with their demands, and in effecting, by God's grace, this object they secure the salvation of his soul. But this they never do effect except through his deliberate purpose of willing obedience.

(J. T. Tucker.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF THOSE WHO MAY BE SAID TO BE HEARERS ONLY.

1. The inattentive hearer (Hebrews 2:1; Deuteronomy 32:46). He who never intends being a doer of what he hears will probably little regard what he hears.

2. The inconsiderate hearer, that never ponders what he hears, nor compares one thing with another.

3. The injudicious shearer, that never makes any judgment upon what he hears, whether it be true or false; all things come alike to him.

4. The unapprehensive hearer, who hears all his days, but is never the wiser (2 Timothy 3:7). No light comes into him.

5. The stupid, unaffected hearer that is as a rock and a stone under the Word. Nothing enters or gets within.

6. The prejudiced, disaffected hearers, who hear with dislike, especially those things which relate to practice; they cannot endure such things as relate to the heart.

7. The fantastical, voluptuous hearers, that hear only to please their fancy; flashes of wit are what they come to hear.

8. The notional hearers, who only aim merely to please their fancy; they come to learn some kind of novelty.

9. Those talkative persons, who only come to hear that they may furnish themselves with notions for the sake of discourse.

10. The censorious and critical hearers; who come not as doers of the law, but as judges.

11. The malicious hearers that .come on purpose to seek an advantage against those they come to hear.

12. The raging, exasperated hearers; such were Stephen's at his last sermon.

II. WHAT IT IS TO BE A DOER OF THE WORD.

1. It doth suppose a fixed design that this shall be my course (Psalm 119:106, 112).

2. It carries with it a serious applying of our minds to understand what is the mind and will of God which is held forth to us in His Word.

3. It implies the use of our judgment in hearing the Word, in order to distinguish what is human and what is Divine.

4. It requires reverence to be used in hearing: so to hear as that we may be doers requires a revere, dial attendance upon it. Considering it as a revelation come from heaven.

5. To be a doer of the Word supposes that we believe it; or that our hearing of it is mingled with faith. The Word of God worketh effectually in thrum that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 4:2; Hebrews 11:1; Romans 1:16).

6. It requires love. It is said of some that they received not the love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10; Psalm 119:97, 105; Jeremiah 15:16).

7. It requires subjection: a compliance of the heart with it. "Receive with meekness" (verse. 21). The gracious soul is always ready to say, "Good is the Word .of the Lord."

8. It requires a previous transformation of the heart by it. The Word can never be done by the hearer, but from a vital principle.

9. It requires also a faithful remembrance of it (vers. 23, 24).

10. There must be an actual application of all such rules in the Word to present cases as they occur (Psalm 119:11).

III. THE SELF-DECEPTION OF THOSE WHO ARE HEARERS OF THE WORD, AND NOT DOERS OF IT.

1. Wherein they are deceived.(1) They are deceived in their work. They commonly think they have done well; find no fault with themselves that they have been hearers only.(2) As to their reward they are also deceived; their labour is lost.

2. The grossness of this deception.(1) They are deceived in a plain case. It is the plainest thing in the world that the gospel is sent for a practical end.(2) It is a self-deception. They are said to deceive themselves: they impose on themselves. It is soul-deception: "Deceiving your own souls."APPLICATION:

1. In the very hearing of the Word there is danger of self-deception.

2. The whole business of the gospel hath a reference to practice.

3. If ye would be doers of the Word, "Be swift to hear: faith cometh by hearing."

4. It is of the greatest consequence to add doing to hearing (Matthew 7:24-27).

(T. Hannam.)

You have heard, let me suppose, an eloquent sermon on alms-giving, or on loving one's neighbour as one's self. You have been so moved that you resolve to commence a new habit of life. Well, you begin to give to the poor, and you soon find that it is very hard so to give as not to encourage indolence, vice, dishonesty, very hard to do a little good without doing a great deal of harm. You are brought to a stand, and compelled to reflect. But if the word you heard really laid hold upon you, if you are persuaded that it is the will of God that you should give to the poor and needy, you do not straightway leave off giving to them. You consider how you may give without injuring them, without encouraging either them or their neighbours in habits of laziness and dependence. Again and again you make mistakes. Again and again you have to reconsider your course, and probably to the end of your days you discover no way of giving that is quite satisfactory to you. But while you are thus doing the word, is it possible for you to forget it? It is constantly in your thoughts. You are for ever studying how you may best act on it. So far from forgetting the word, you are always learning more clearly what it means, and how it may be applied beneficially and with discretion. Or suppose you have heard the other sermon on loving one's neighbour, and set yourself to do that word of God. In the home, we may hope, you have no great trouble in doing it, though even there it is not always easy. But when you go to business, and try, in that, to act on the Divine commandment, do you find no difficulty there? Now that is not easy. In many cases it is not easy even to see how the Christian law applies, much less to obey it. If, for instance, you are rich enough, or generous enough, to give your work-people higher wages than other masters give or can afford to give, you may at once show a great love for one class of your neighbours, and a great want of love for another class. Thus, in many different ways, the very moment you honestly try to love your neighbours all round as you love yourself, you find yourself involved in many perplexities, through which you have carefully to pick your way. You have to consider how the Christian law bears on the complex and manifold relations of social life, how you may do the word wisely and to good effect. But can you forget the commandment while you are thus assiduously seeking both to keep it and how to keep it? It is impossible. The more steadfastly you are the doer of it, the more constantly is it in your mind, the mine clearly do you know what it means and how it may be obeyed.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

Here we reach the main thought of the Epistle — the all-importance of Christian activity and service. The essential thing, without which other things, however good in themselves, become insignificant, or even mischievous, is conduct. Suffering injuries, poverty, and temptations, hearing the Word, teaching the Word, faith, wisdom (James 1:2, 9, 12, 19; James 2:14-26; James 3:18-17), are all of them excellent; but if they are not accompanied by a holy life, a life of prayer and gentle words and good deeds, they are valueless. "Be ye doers of the Word." Both verb and tense are remarkable (γίνεσθε): "Become doers of the Word." True Christian practice is a thing of growth; it is a process, and a process which has already begun, and is continually going on. We may compare, "Become ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16); "Therefore become ye also ready" (Matthew 24:44); and "Become not faithless, but believing (John 20:27). "Become doers of the Word" is more expressive than "Be doers of the Word," and a good deal more expressive than "Do the Word." A "doer of the Word" (ποιητὴς λόγου) is such by profession and practice; the phrase expresses a habit. But one who merely incidentally performs what is prescribed may be said to" do the Word." By the "Word" is meant what just before has been called the "implanted Word" and the "Word of truth" (vers. 18, 21), and what in this passage is also called "the perfect law, the law of liberty" (ver. 25), i.e., the gospel. The parable of the sower illustrates in detail the meaning of becoming an habitual doer of the implanted Word. "And not hearers only." St. James, in the address which he made to the Council of Jerusalem, says, "Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath" (chap. Acts 15:21). The Jews came with great punctiliousness to these weekly gatherings, and listened with much attention to the public reading and exposition of the law; and too many of them thought that with that the chief part of their duty was performed. This, St. James tells them, is miserably insufficient, whether what they hear be the law or the gospel, the law with or without the illumination of the life of Christ. "Being swift to hear" (ver. 19) and to understand is well, but "apart from works it is barren." It is the habitual practice in striving to do what is heard and understood that is of value. "Not a hearer that forgetteth, but a doer that worketh" is blessed, and "blessed in his doing." To suppose that mere hearing brings a blessing is "deluding your own selves." The word here used for deluding (παραλογιζόμενοι) does not necessarily imply that the fallacious reasoning is known to be fallacious by those who employ it. To express that we should rather have the word which is used in 2 Peter 1:16 to characterise "cunningly devise fables" (σεσοφισμένοι). Here we are to understand that the victims of the delusion do not, although they might, see the worthlessness of the reasons upon which their self-contentment is based. It is precisely in this that the danger of their position lies. Self-deceit is the most subtle and fatal deceit. The Jews have a saying that the man who hears without practising is like a husbandman who ploughs and sows, but never reaps. Such an illustration, being taken from natural phenomena, would be quite in harmony with the manner of St. James; but he enforces his meaning by employing a far more striking illustration. He who is a hearer and not a doer "is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror." The spoken or written Word of God is the mirror. When we hear it preached, or study it for ourselves, we can find the reflection of ourselves in it, our temptations and weaknesses, our failings and sins, the influences of God's Spirit upon us, and the impress of His grace. It is here that we notice one marked difference between the inspiration of the sacred writers and the inspiration of the poet and the dramatist. The latter show us other people to the life; Scripture shows us ourselves. Through hearing or reading God's Word our knowledge of our characters is quickened. But does this quickened knowledge last? does it lead to action, or influence our conduct? Too often we leave the church or our study, and the impression produced by the recognition of the features of our own case is obliterated. "We straightway forget what manner of men we are," and the insight which has been granted to us into our own true selves is just one more wasted experience. But this need not be so, and in some cases a very different result may be noticed. Instead of merely looking attentively for a short time, he may stoop down and pore over it. Instead of forthwith going away, he may continue in the study of it. And instead of straightway forgetting, he may prove a mindful doer that worketh. He who does this recognises God's Word as being "the perfect law, the law of liberty." The two "things are the same. It is when the law is seen to be perfect that it is found to be the law of liberty. So long as the law is not seen in the beauty of its perfection it is not loved, and men either disobey it or obey it by constraint and unwillingly. It is then a law of bondage. But when its perfection is recognised men long to conform to it; and they obey, not because they must, but because they choose. To be made to work for one whom one fears is slavery and misery; to choose to work for one whom one loves is freedom and happiness. The gospel has not abolished the moral law; it has supplied a new and adequate motive for fulfilling it. "Being not a hearer that forgetteth." Literally, "having become not a hearer of forgetfulness," i.e., having by practice come to be a hearer, who is characterised, not by forgetfulness of what he hears, but by attentive performance of it. "A hearer of forgetfulness "exactly balances, both in form and in thought, "a doer of work"; and this is well brought out by the Revisers, who turn both genitives by a relative clause: "a hearer that for-getteth," and "a doer that worketh." "This man shall be blessed in his doing." Mere knowledge without performance is of little worth: it is in the doing that a blessing can be found. The danger against which St. James warns the Jewish Christians of the Dispersion is as pressing now as it was when he wrote. Never was there a time when interest in the Scriptures was more keen or more widely spread, especially among the educated classes; and never was there a time when greater facilities for gratifying this interest abounded. But it is much to be feared that with many of us the interest in the sacred writings which is thus roused and fostered remains to a very large extent a literary interest. We are much more eager to know all about God's Word than from it to learn His will respecting ourselves, that we may do it; to prove that a book is genuine than to practise what it enjoins. We study lives of Christ, but we do not follow the life of Christ. We pay Him the empty homage of an intellectual interest in His words and works, but we do not the things which He says.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

It has been said of St. James that his mission was rather that of a Christian Baptist than a Christian apostle. A deep depravity had eaten into the heart of the national character, and this, far more than any outward cause, was hastening on their final doom. The task, therefore, which fell to the lot of that apostle, in whom the Jew and the Christian were inseparably blended, and who stands in the unique position midway between the old dispensation and the new, was above all things to prolong the echo of that Divine Voice which in the Sermon on the Mount had first asserted the depth and unity of the moral law. In St. James's view the besetting peril of the spiritual life was the divorce of knowledge and duty: "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not," he says, "it is sin." And you see how he enforces this lesson in the text by a fresh and striking illustration of his own. He is contemplating, perhaps experiencing some barbarian who, in days when a mirror was a rare and costly luxury among civilised nations, happened for the first time to see his face reflected in one. What would be the effect upon the mind of the man? First, no doubt amusement at a new discovery, and then recognition of identity in a way undreamed of before. And yet the impression, however sharp and startling, would be but temporary; unless renewed it would soon vanish away. Remove a savage into some centre of culture, and you may indeed quicken his intelligence by the sudden shock of contact with the efforts and appliances of civilised life; but let him return to his old surroundings, and presently no trace will be found in his habits, and little enough in his memory, of the spectacle set before him. Stimulated faculties subside again to the old level; full of amazement and admiration to-day, he sinks to-morrow into his wonted apathy and ignorance. Such, according to St. James, is the moral effect of hearing the Word without acting upon it. The clearest revelation of character photographed upon the soul by the Divine Sun of the spiritual world, and therefore intensely vivid and true at the time, will inevitably vanish unless it is fixed by obedience. The Bible, so rich in illustration of all moral strength and weakness, presents us with a striking example of insight into duty absolutely disconnected with performance of duty; it describes to us a man who had the very clearest intuition of God's will, and yet remained totally untouched by what he knew. Balaam had an open eye, but an itching palm; a taste for heavenly things, but a stronger love for earthly things; he could be rapped out of his lower self to behold the image of the Almighty, and listen to the announcement of His will; but that sublime revelation left not a trace upon his own soul. It is that which may be safely predicted not of rare geniuses alone, but of men of ordinary mould. It is the sure Nemesis wherever the light flashed in is not suffered to guide, wherever there is an eye clear enough to see the better with heart gross enough to choose the worse. But let us come back to the searching language of the apostle. Has there not been in the personal experience of many of us something very like what he here describes — I mean a time when God's Word suddenly became to us what it had never been before — a bright gospel mirror, imaging to us our own likeness with a startling distinctness — showed us to ourselves as God sees us, with every intent of our heart, every recess of our character laid bare? It seemed as if this new knowledge would be itself a safeguard against relapsing into the sins we saw so clearly and deplored so sincerely. Remembering the degraded features of "the old man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts," the lust of pride, of evil temper, of impurity, covetousness, of unbelief, we could not imagine ourselves capable of being lowered again into fellowship with things so hateful; and turning from this dark picture of self to that other mirrored in the Divine Word by its side in all the spotless beauty of holiness, it seemed as if this alone could satisfy the new-born aspiration of the soul. What has become of the impression of that memorable hour? To know and not to do, to have the heavenly vision without being obedient to it, this is enough to account for the loss of that knowledge which was once so clear and seemed likely to be so lasting. Ah! which of us does not know full well, when he is true to himself, that just in proportion as he has forgotten what God's Word once told him about himself, it is to this he must trace his forgetfulness? One act of carelessness, one act of disobedience after another, one weak compliance after another, has enfeebled discernment and confused memory, and to-day he knows not what he was, or what he is, or what God would have him to be. "Deceiving your own selves," says the apostle. Yes; there is no snare more perilous than that which we lay for ourselves when we stop short at the discovery of our own imperfections and sins. It is so easy to be a hearer, so easy to rest in a taste for religion, to take credit to ourselves for the interest we feel in expositions of truth, to have the notions, theories, doctrines, and ritual of religion, and yet to live on from day to day without prompt obedience, apart from which the closest familiarity with sacred things is worse than useless. "Deceiving your own selves." It is quite possible to have forfeited a power which we imagine to be still ours, and simply because we have failed to use it. Spiritual blindness is the penalty of wasted light; it is the penalty which ever waits upon ineffectual seeing. Such a revelation as God has given, when His Word mirrors our natural face to us, is no casual opportunity; it is the gift of His grace, and it involves the deepest responsibility on the part of each who receives it. As soon as we neglect it the disposal of it begins to pass out of our hands. God's law is that as soon as you let it be idle you forfeit your title to it, and before you know it, it shall be utterly and irrevocably gone.

(Canon Duckworth.)

I. THE FATHER SPEAKS (vers. 18, 21, 24, and 25). We have a clearly-spoken Word, the Word of truth, an implanted Word, a law perfect and liberating. My Father's Word I and it is like Him! A life-giving Word: in it, God, who raiseth the dead, works by His renewing Spirit to summon out of their spiritual graves His innumerable children; "of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth." My Father's Word I and it is like Him! Who by searching can exhaust it? It will stand looking into (ver. 25). Let us be found bending over it, searching into it, meditating on it day and night: delight thyself in the law of the Lord. My Father's Word t and it is like Him! It is the kingly Word of the King of kings — the royal law — the perfect law. Obeyed, this law is perfection, for the law lived out is the life of Christ. And the world under its sway would be a perfect world. My Father's Word! and it is like Him! The law that makes free, the law that is for free souls, the law of love that casts out fear, that binds me to my Father's heart and shows that man is my brother; the law of life and love that lifts me above the slave's cowering service; the full, sweet, comforting Word, freeing me when in Christ from all condemnation, from all fear of men, of death and the future.

II. THE CHILD HEARS. Obedience is the proof of the new birth. As the prerogative of the Father is to speak out His will, which is law, so the privilege of the child is to hear His Father's good pleasure. "I will hear what God the Lord will speak." In this filial hearkening are found three marked and distinguishing features.

1. There is, first, the attentive silence of warmest affection (ver. 20). The thoughtful and loving child will be swift to hear, slow to speak.

2. The child will hear with the filial submissiveness of true humility.

3. The child will hear with eager desire and honest efforts to fulfil the Father's law. Sonship and service are proportionate — as the son, so is the service. The perfect Son yielded the perfect service. The truer and higher our childhood, the truer and higher will be our obedience. We are not to hear merely to learn, but learn that we may live. Christianity is both a science and an art: it is exact hearing of exact truth, and the appropriate embodiment of that sublime truth in worthy forms.

III. THE OBEDIENT CHILD GROWS GODLIKE. The true hearer becomes a joy to the brokenhearted and strength to the weak (ver. 27). Can it be otherwise when we sit at His feet who is a husband to the widow and a Father to the fatherless?

(J. S. Macintosh, D. D.)

1. Hearing is good, but should not be rested in. They that stay in the means are like a foolish workman, that contents himself with the having of tools.

2. The doers of the Word are the best hearers. The heater's life is the preacher's best commendation. They that praise the man but do not practise the matter are like those that taste wines that they may commend them, not buy them. Others come that they may better their parts and increase their knowledge. Seneca observed of the philosophers, that when they grew more learned they were less moral. And generally we find now a great decay of zeal, with the growth of notion and knowledge, as if the waters of the sanctuary had put out the fire of the sanctuary, and men could not be at the same time learned and holy. Others hear that they may say they have heard; conscience would not be pacified without some worship: "They come as My people use to do" (Ezekiel 33:31); that is, according to the fashion of the age. Duties by many are used as a sleepy sop to allay the rage of conscience. The true use of ordinances is to come that we may profit. Usually men speed according to their aim and expectation (1 Peter 2:2; Psalm 119:11). The mind, like the ark, should be the chest of the law, that we may know what to do in every case, and that truths may be always present with us, as Christians find it a great advantage to have truths ready and present, to talk with them upon all occasions (Proverbs 6:21, 22).

3. From that παραλογιζομένοι. DO not cheat yourselves with a fallacy or false argument. Observe that self-deceit is founded in some false argumentation or reasoning. Conscience supplieth three offices — of a rule, a witness, and a judge; and so accordingly the act of conscience is threefold. There is συντήρησις or a right apprehension of the principles of religion; so conscience is a rule: there is συνείδησις, a sense of our actions compared with the rule or known will of God, or a testimony concerning the proportion or disproportion that our actions bear with the Word: then, lastly, there is κρίσις, or judgment, by which a man applieth to himself those rules of Christianity which concern his fact or state.

4. That men are easily deceived into a good opinion of themselves by their bare hearing. We are apt to pitch upon the good that is in any action, and not to consider the evil of it: I am a hearer of the Word, and therefore I am in good ease.(1) Consider the danger of such a self-deceit: hearing without practice draweth the greater judgment upon you.(2) Consider how far hypocrites may go in this matter. Well, therefore, outward duties with partial reformation will not serve the turn.(3) Consider the easiness of deceit (Jeremiah 17:9). Who can trace the mystery of iniquity that is in the soul? Since we lost our uprightness we have many inventions (Ecclesiastes 7:29).

(T. Manton.)

I. THE DOER.

1. Like every other practical man, he acts with a view to the attainment of some object. He acts intelligently, as a moral and responsible agent. Admitting the veracity and authority of the Word, he sets about thoroughly understanding it for one tiling, and then, guided by reason and conscience, he obeys its injunctions for another.

2. He pays strict obedience to the essential elements of active and daily engagements — earnestness, honesty, correctness, steady obedience, and watchfulness with respect to favourable opportunities.

3. There is another thing involved in the character we speak of, namely, the following of the guidance of infinite wisdom, and the being sustained by infinite power.

4. The deer of the Word fulfils his part, too, in the world of which he is an inhabitant. He is no clog on the wheel of Providence — no dead weight on the machinery of energetic and industrious employment. He does not become a fruitless and rotten branch upon the human tree; but his example is like the fresh and balmy air of the mountains, or like the blossom passing into a fuller and riper fruitfulness. But setting aside all figure, the life of such a person is a Divine purpose accomplished.

II. THE NON-DOER.

1. One of the chief features of this character is indifference to the great and solemn truths of the Christian religion.

2. Another feature of this character is forgetfulness.

3. Self-deception.

(W. D. Horwood.)

I. The apostle speaks in the text of "HEARERS ONLY." When are we so? It is when all the good we get ends with the hearing, and goes no further. This is easy work. It requires no self-denial, no dying to the world, no newness of heart and life. Are we hearers only?

1. We are surely so, if the Word of God which we hear does not separate us from our sin.

2. We are "hearers only" when the Word of God makes no more than a passing impression.

3. Another reason why so few of us who are hearers of the Word are doers of it also, is because faith is wanting — faith to receive it as the Word of God.

4. To faith must be added self-application. Place yourselves honestly in the light of Scripture. Let it bring to your own view the very secrets of your heart. Let your most besetting sin be judged by it. Let us be only brought to feel that we are labouring under a sickness which none but God can heal. Let us be fully persuaded of this, and then the Scriptures will be no longer a source of pain, but a comfort to us. For if they wound, they also have power to cure.

II. WHEN THE WORD OF GOD IS THUS APPLIED TO US IN SPIRIT AND IN POWER, THEN WE BECOME DOERS OF IT, AND NOT HEARERS ONLY.

III. BE YE THUS "DOERS OF THE WORD, AND NOT HEARERS ONLY, DECEIVING YOUR OWN SELVES." What has our "hearing," what has our religion done for us? Has it convinced us of our sin? humbled us before God?

(E. Blencowe, M. A.)

The admonition, Be ye doers of the Word, not hearers only. St. James having not in vain learned in the parable of Christ that the seed being cast into the four several grounds, yet fructifieth but in one only, and seeing by daily experience that many men make show of religion, but yet live careless in their conversation, showeth most notably what manner of hearers the gospel requireth, even such as hear not only, but do also. To do the Word is double.

1. To do it absolutely and perfectly, so that both the heart consent and the outward life answer fully to the law of God in perfect measure. To which doing God in the law did promise life (Leviticus 18:5). This no man can possibly perform; for what man ever could love God with a perfect heart, with all his soul, with his whole affection, strength, and power? What man ever loved his neighbour as himself? Where is he, and who is he, that continueth in all things that are written in the law to do them? The holy men of God, therefore, seeing themselves to come short of the doing of the Word and law in this matter and manner of doing, have, in the humility of their minds, accounted themselves as sinners, and therefore have confessed their transgressions before the Lord.

2. Seeing that no man is able thus to do the Word, there must some other kind of doing the Word be by St. James here required; therefore there is a doing of the Word and law under the gospel, when Christ, for us and our salvation, fulfilled the law in perfect measure, and therefore is called the fulfilling of the law to all that believe the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of sanctification, that thereby they, after some measure, may truly do His will, earnestly cleave unto His Word, faithfully believe His promises, unfeignedly love Him for His goodness, and fear Him with reverence for His mighty power. This performance of obedience offered to God must shine in the saints, which, as necessary in all professors of God's Word, is joined with the hearing thereof (Matthew 7:24; Matthew 12:30; Luke 8:20; Luke 11:28). To hear or know, then, the Word of God, and not to do His will, prevaileth nothing. This knew the holy prophets, who therefore joined practice of the will and the hearing of the Word and law of God. This the holy angel in the Revelation, weighing and pronouncing them blessed only which join practice with hearing of the Word, breaketh out and crieth (Revelation 1:3). "Be ye doers of the Word, not hearers only." Of which admonition there are two reasons. The first is from detriment and hurt. They that hear only, and do not the Word also, are hurtful to themselves; for they deceive themselves in a vain persuasion, and thereby hurt themselves to their own juster condemnation. The second reason why we must be doers of the Word, not hearers only, is drawn from the use of the Word, which is to reform in us those things that are amiss; this profit and use we lose when we hear the Word only, and do not thereafter. This use of' God's law and Word Moses commendeth unto princes and people (Deuteronomy 17:18). This use was respected when he willed the Levites to teach the law unto the people (Deuteronomy 31:12). David, disputing the use and end of the law, maketh it the former of our manners, the director of our paths, the line and level of our life, and the guide of our ways to godliness (Psalm 119:9). St. Paul affirmeth that all Scripture is inspired from above, and is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16) to teach such as are ignorant, to convince such as are repugnant, to correct such as err and wander in conversation, to instruct in righteousness — wherefore? to what end? to what use? to what purpose? Even that thereby the man of God may be absolute and perfect to every good work.

(R. Turnbull.)

The text is a severe caveat for the due receiving the Word of God. And it is framed in that manner as is like to be most effectual; and that is, by forewarning us of a great mischief that will befall us if we fail in the duty.

I. First, come we to THE DUTY PRESCRIBED. The duty presupposed. That we must be hearers. And because there are many things that wilt crave our audience, and the ear lies open to every voice (Ecclesiastes 1:8), therefore, in point of faith and religion, the apostle limits our hearing to the only and proper object, and that is the Word of God.

1. All our religious hearing must be conversant about this one thing, the Word of God. The text places us, like Mary, at Christ's feet, commends unto us that one thing necessary.(1) It is proper to the blessed Word to enlighten us and to acquaint us with the mind of God. This Word made David wiser than than his elders, for all their experience; it made him wiser than his teachers, for all their craft (Psalm 119:98-100).(2) It is proper to this good Word of God to regenerate, to sanctify, and reform us (ver. 18).(3) Salvation — it is proper to this Word of God (John 5:39). Some sober truths may be in other words; but saving truth is only to be found in the Word of God.

2. Our attention and hearing of this blessed Word — it is enjoined us. It is no indifferent, arbitrary thing left to our own liking — come to it at your leisure, or stay at home at your pleasure — but imposed upon us by a strong obligation.(1) It is enjoined us as a duty. It is the preface which God premises to His law, "Hear, O Israel." Necessity is laid upon us, and woe be to us if we do not. So St. James (ver. 19): "Let every man be swift to hear." Swift, ready, quick, diligent, suffer not a word to fall to the ground.(2) It is a weighty duty, not slightly to be esteemed. It is a great part of our religion. In it we make a real protestation of our allegiance and humble subjection, Which we owe to our God.(3) It is a fundamental duty, the prime, original duty of our religion, the mother and nurse of all other duties which we owe to God. Hearing and receiving the Word, it is the inlet and entrance of all piety.(4) It is a duty exceeding beneficial to us. Many rich and precious pro-raises are made to the due receiving of the Word of God. See two main ones in the context: It is an engrafted Word, able to alter and change our nature; of a wild crab-stock, it will make it a kindly plant. It sanctifies our nature, and makes it fructify. It is able to save our soul. "Hear, and your soul shall live" (Isaiah 4). There is in it a Divine power to free us from perdition, to give us entrance and admission into heaven.(5) It is not only a duty and means to beget grace at first, but of perpetual use to increase and continue it. It is not only incorruptible seed to beget us (1 Peter 1:23), but milk to nourish us (1 Peter 2:2), not only milk, but strong meat to strengthen us (Hebrews 5.).

II. THE MISTAKE WE MUST BEWARE OF IN PERFORMING THIS DUTY. Hear we must, but we must not only hear. There are more duties than only hearing which we owe to this Word of God. Take it in these particulars:

1. Hearing is not the whole sum and body of religion; it is but a part only. The body of religion is like the natural body of a man; it consists of many members and parts. So religion consists of several services — hearing, praying, practising, doing holily, suffering patiently — it puts all graces to their due exercise. He cannot be accounted a man who is destitute of any vital or substantial part; nor can he go for a good Christian who wilfully fails in any of those holy duties that are required of him.

2. Hearing, as it is but one part of piety, so it is but the first part and step of piety, Now as he who only tastes meat and goes no further is far off from nourishment, because he stays at the beginning: or as he who travels must not only set out, but hold on, or he will not finish his journey, so in piety hearing is but the first step — a progress must be made in all other duties.

3. Hearing is a religious duty; but not prescribed for itself, but in reference and subordination to other duties. Like those arts that are called instrumental arts, and are only to fit us for other and higher performances, their use is only for preparation.

4. In comparison with the substantial parts of piety, bare hearing is but an easy duty. Indeed, to hear as we should do, attentively, reverently, devoutly, is a task of some pains, but yet of a great deal easier discharge than other duties are. Thus we see that only hearing of God's Word falls short of our main duty, makes us no good Christians. It may be, we will grant, that the bare, outward bodily hearing of the Word may be justly reprovable; but yet we think if our hearing be attended with some commendable conditions, which we hope will be accepted and stand us in some stead. As —(1) If it be a diligent hearing, constant, and assiduous upon all occasions. St. Paul tells of some that are always learning, and so would be taken for devout Christians, and yet he passeth an hard censure upon them.(2) What if it be hearing with some proficiency, when we so hear as that we understand and grow in knowledge, and our mind is edified, such as do as Christ bids them do (Matthew 15:10; Mark 13:14); such an hearing, we trust, will serve the turn. Even this great progress in knowledge, if thou stoppest there, will stand thee in no stead. Hell is full of such auditors; beware of it. Even this hearing, with proficiency in knowledge, if thou go no further, will fail thee at last.(3) But what if our hearing go another step further, and so it be an affectionate hearing, that we hear the Word with great warmth of affection, sure then we are past danger. But a reverend hearing will not suffice if it stops there and comes short of practising. What if we bring with us another commendable affection in our hearing — the affection of joy, and gladness, and delight in hearing? As for those who are listless in this duty, who find no sweetness in the Word of God, we condemn them for unworthy auditors. Nay, not only such, but thou mayest hear the Word of God with joy, and yet if thou failest in point and obedience, thy religion is vain. But what if this hearing of the Word of God doth so much affect us that it begets many good motions in us, and we find ourselves inwardly wrought upon; then we conclude that we are right good auditors, and have heard to purpose. Ye may have sudden flashes, good moods, passionate wishes, nay, purposes and good intendments, at the hearing of God's Word, and yet ye may miscarry. It is not purposes, but performances, that will bring us to heaven.

III. BE DOERS OF, THE WORD. And here comes in the conjunction of both duties — hearing and doing. These put together make up a good Christian. And great reason there is for this conjunction, to know and to perform. Not to hear nor know breeds a blind religion; we would be doing, but we know not what. To know and not to do breeds a lame religion; we see our way, but we walk not in it. Both are requisite to true religion (Proverbs 19:2). And if it hath knowledge without practice, it is never a whit the better. For as the bare knowledge of evil, if we do not practise it, makes us never the worse, so the knowing of good, if we do not practise it, makes us not the better.

1. The nature of religion requires it. What is religion? It is not a matter of contemplation, but of action. It is an operative, practical virtue. It is an art of holy living. It begets not a speculative knowledge swimming in the brain, but works devotion and obedience in the heart and life.

2. The Author of religion is represented in Scripture not as a Teacher or Doctor only, but as a Commander and Law-giver.

3. The subject of religion, wherein it is placed, is not so much the knowing part of our soul as the active part, the will and affections, which are the spring of practice. Religion is never rightly seated till it be settled in the heart, and from that flow the issues of life.

4. That religion is an holy art of life and practice, the summary description of religion in Scripture shows us (1 Timothy 6:3; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:13; Acts 24:16). Now, practical truths are best learned by practice; their goodness is best known by use and performance. As a rich and costly garment appears, then, most comely and beautiful, not when the workman hath made it, but when it is worn and put upon our body, so, saith , the Scripture appears glorious when it is by the preacher expounded; but far more glorious when by the people it is obeyed and performed. Without this doing what we hear, all our hearing is but in vain. As eating of meat, except by the heat of the stomach it be digested and conveyed into all the parts of the body, will never support life, so it is not receiving the Word into our ears, but the transmitting of it into our lives that makes it profitable. Nay, hearing and knowing makes us much the worse if it ends not in doing, as meat taken into the stomach, if not well digested, will breed diseases.

IV. THE DANGER IF WE FAIL IN THIS DUTY, We deceive our own selves; that's the mischief.

1. They are deceived who place all their religion in bare hearing, let go all practice. They suffer a deceit in their opinion, run into a gross error. And that is a misery, were there no more but that in it. Man, naturally, is a knowing creature, abhors to be mistaken. As St. saith, he hath known many that love to deceive others; but to be deceived themselves, he never knew any. Now, they who think hearing of the Word is sufficient, without doing and practising, they show they utterly mistake the very nature and purpose of God's Word, the use and benefit whereof is all in practice. The Word of God is called a Law. "Give ear, O Israel, to My law." When the king proclaims a law to be observed, shall we think him a good subject who listens to it, or reads it over, or copies it out, or talks of it, but never thinks or cares to observe and obey it? The Word of God is called Seed. Were it not a gross error for an husbandman to buy seed-corn and store it up, and then let it lie, and never go about to sow his land with it? The Word is called Meat and Nourishment. Is not he foully deceived who, when he comes to a feast, will look upon what is set before him, commend it, or taste it only, and then spit it out, and never feed of it? Is this to feast it, only to look upon it, and never feed on it? St. James calls the Word a Looking-glass. A looking-glass is to show our spots, and what is amiss in us. Is not he deceived who thinketh it is only to gaze into, and never takes notice of any uncomeliness to amend and rectify it? The Word is the Physic of the Soul, the Balm of Gilead. Is not he deceived that shall take the prescript of a physician, and think all is well if he reads it and lays it up by him, or puts it in his pocket, and makes no other use of it? The Word is called the Counsel of God. What a vanity is it to listen to good counsel, and never to follow it? And this miscarriage, that they run into error and are foully mistaken, is a just punishment, pertinent unto them who will be only hearers and knowers of religion only. They are punished. They aim only at knowledge and rest in that, it is just they should be punished in that which they so much affected; that they should fail in that which they only aimed at. Instead of knowledge, they are fallen into error. These hearers pride themselves in knowledge; they boast of their skill in the law; they are the only knowing Christians, none but they. As their forefathers the Pharisees spake (John 9:40). They are justly gulled and mistaken. These hypocritical hearers aim at deceiving of others. It is just that deceivers should be deceived. Impostors in religion should themselves be mistakers.

2. As they are deceived in their opinion, so they are deceived in their expectation. These Christians that are all ears and no hands, they promise great matters to themselves — God's favour, and heaven itself — and hope to do as well as the most laborious practisers. Vain men! how will they be deceived and disappointed of their hopes? That is the first evil consequence — they are deceived. They are self-deceived; that is a second mischief, and that is worse. It is ill to be deceived; but to be authors of our own errors and disappointments, to deceive ourselves, that's a double misery.(1) They think to deceive God, to beguile Him with their empty shows of devotion. Thou wouldst hear Him, but not obey Him; He will hear thee too, but He will not answer thee.(2) They think to deceive the minister, put him off with a bare hearing. As Gehazi thought to carry it cunningly, and to delude Elisha; but it will be found that they will cozen themselves.(3) They think to deceive their neighbours, and by their seeming forwardness to delude them. Well, that imposture holds not always. There is never a counterfeit cripple but is sometimes seen walking without his crutches. The hypocrite's vizor will sometime or other fall from his face. and then he will appear in his true colours. There is some excuse to be over-reached by others; it makes the sin or error more pardonable. But who will pity him that cozens himself? Nay, such self-deceivers, they act a double part in sinning, and so shall undergo a double portion in punishment. The misleaders and misled shall both fall into the ditch.

3. They deceive themselves in a matter of the greatest moment and consequence; and that is worst of all. And such a deceit as this hath these three aggravations: — It is a most shameful cozenage. Slight oversights are more excusable; but to miss in the greatest business, that is most ridiculous. This is the man who is cunning in trifles, but grossly deceiving himself in soul business. How shameful is that! The greatest loss — the loss of salvation — that is an estimable loss. It is an irrecoverable deceit. Other mistakes may be rectified; but he who cheats himself of his own soul and his heavenly inheritance is undone for ever. To have all our thoughts to perish, all our imaginations and hopes of going to heaven to be a mere delusion; not to be mistaken in some particulars, but in the end to be a fool!

(Bp. Brownrig.)

I. By "the Word" we are to understand that which was delivered to mankind by the inspired messengers of God, and is transmitted to us in the books of the Old and New Testaments. In this it hath pleased the Most High God to declare His mind, and to reveal to us both Himself and His will. How men deceive themselves by being not doers of the Word, but hearers only.

1. They deceive themselves in supposing that what they do is acceptable to God, and conducive to the honour of His name. Wherefore do you hear the Word of God but that you may become acquainted with His will? And what is His will, but that you may become "doers of His Word, and not hearers only"? And if you neglect to do it, are you not acting in direct opposition to His will? and is not this directly contradictory to the very purpose for which you hear? And if you can persuade yourselves to think otherwise, are you not "deceiving yourselves," and mocking and affronting, instead of serving and honouring, God?

2. If you do no good, be assured that you can receive no good from such hearing as this. Is a man at all the better for hearing of an advantageous bargain unless he makes it? Is a man at all nearer his journey's end for knowing the way thither unless he proceeds in it?

3. But the evil rests not here. For they, who are "hearers only, and not doers of the Word," are so far from being placed by their knowledge in a better condition, that they are indeed placed in a worse. To have heard the will of God is a high aggravation of their crime in not doing it. It is to rebel against the light.

(Bp. Mant.)

No self-deception is so universal as that which arises from hearing for the mere sake of hearing, without ever thinking of acting out in the life what is heard with the ear. On the lowest calculation of the number of places of worship in this country, there must be at least one hundred thousand sermons preached every Sunday. All these sermons are preached from texts taken from the Word of God, any one of which, if followed up with any care or faithfulness, would lead the person so following it up abreast of all the truths of the Christian religion, and yet how extremely small is the practical impression.

(M. F. Sadler, M. A.)

An expressive eulogy was pronounced by Martin Luther upon a pastor at Zwickau, in 1522, named Nicholas Haussmann. "What we preach," said the great reformer, "he lives."

At one time, when I was preaching for Father Taylor, he rose at the conclusion of the sermon, and said, "If some things have been said that you do not understand, much has been said that you do understand: follow that."

(Joseph Marsh.)

When the emperor himself (Constantine) was announced to preach, thousands flocked to the palace. He stood erect, with his head tossed back, and poured forth a torrent of facile eloquence, and the people applauded all his points. Now he denounced the follies of paganism, now it was the unity of Providence or the scheme of redemption that formed his theme; and often he would denounce the avarice and rapacity of his own courtiers. It was then observed that they all cheered lustily, but it was also noticed that they did not mend their ways.

Charles the First used to say of the preaching of one of his chaplains, afterwards Bishop Sanderson, ,'I carry my ears to hear other peachers, but I carry my conscience to hear Mr. Sanderson and to act accordingly."

(Isaac Walton.)

A man beholding his natural face in a glass.
There is a very strange and suggestive contrast between the two senses in which it may be said that a man "forgets himself." On the one hand the phrase is sometimes used to mark that high grace of sympathy or love whereby the desire and energy of the heart is transferred from the gratification of a man's own tastes to the pure service of his fellow-men: that true conversion, whereby the will is rescued from its original sin of selfishness and wholly set upon the glory of God and the good of those for whom His Son was crucified. But it is, surely, an inaccurate use of words to say of such an one that he forgets himself. For he only forgets his own wishes and pleasures and comfort, he forgets those things which other men gather round them and delight in until they seem essential to their very life; but all the while his true self is vividly and actively present in the labour which proceedeth of love; it goes freely out in unreserved devotion, only to come again with joy, enriched and strengthened both by the exercise of its affection and the answering love which it has won. So it has been well said that in the life of love we die to self; but the death is one not of annihilation but of transmigration. It is in the other sense of the common phrase that men do more truly forget themselves: when they so surrender their will to some blind impulse, some irrational custom, some animal craving, that for a while they seem driven as autumn leaves before the changing gusts, they know not how or whither. A man can live for days, and months, and years, without ever giving any reality or force to the knowledge that he is himself an immortal soul; without ever really feeling his essential separation from things visible, his independence of them, his distinct existence in himself, his power of acting for himself in this way or in that, his personal responsibility for his every choice end action. As he wakes in the morning, as he is regaining from the blind life of sleep the wonder of self-consciousness, at once the countless interests which await him in the coming day rush in upon him, there, in his own room, during the one half-hour, perhaps, when he can be alone in all his waking time, the distractions of the outer world are already around him. And so he goes forth to his work and to his labour until the evening; and all day long he is looking only at the things about him, he is committing the guidance and control of his ways to that blind and alien life which wavers and struggle around him, and of which he should rather be himself the critic and guide. We can never cancel the act whereby man became a living soul; we can never cease to be ourselves. But we can so turn away from self-knowledge, we can so forget ourselves and our responsibility, that this first and deepest truth of our being will no longer have its proper power in our lives. Such blurring of our own self-consciousness will always obscure and. invalidate for us the evidences of Christianity, always hinder and imperil our progress in the life of faith. Let me try briefly to show the certainty and manner of this result by speaking of three chief points in the Christian revelation which essentially presume, and require for the very understanding of their terms, that we should know ourselves as personal and spiritual beings.

I. First, then, in the very front of Christianity, in the very name of Him whom the Church preaches and adores, is set the thought of our salvation from our sins. The fact of sin is to Christianity what crime is to law, what sickness is to medicine; if sin, it has been truly said, were not an integral feature of human life, Christianity would long ago have perished. Hence the consciousness, the appreciation of sin, is essential to any sufficient estimate of the claim which Christ's message has upon our attention and obedience; even as it is necessary for the interpretation of almost every page throughout the Bible, and presupposed in psalms, and histories, and prophecies, and types. In the recognition of the enfeebled and perverted will, of the early promise unfulfilled, of early hopes obscured or cast away; in the presence of hateful memories; in the sense of conflict with desires which we can neither satisfy nor crush, and pleasures which at once detain and disappoint us; above all, in a certain fearful looking for of judgment, we begin to enter into that great longing, which, through all the centuries of history, has gone before the face of the Lord to prepare His way; and we learn to rise and welcome the witness of Him who cries that our warfare is accomplished end our iniquity is pardoned,

II. And secondly, in proportion as the consciousness of our personal and separate being grows clear and strong within us, we shall be able to enter more readily and more deeply into the Christian doctrine of our immortality; we shall be better judges of the evidence for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come: for it is as personal spirits that we shall rise again with our bodies and give account for our own works. It must be hard for us to give reality to this stupendous and all-transforming truth, so long as our thoughts and faculties are dissipated among things which know no resurrection, and interests which really shall for ever die. The message and the evidences of Christianity presuppose in us the clear sense of our own personality when they speak to us of- sin, and when they point us to a life beyond the grave; and we are fit critics of their claim in proportion as we can realise this, our deep and separate existence. It is when we recall ourselves from the scattered activity of our daily life; it is either when we have courage to go apart and stand alone and hear what the Lord God will say concerning us, or else when sickness or age has forced us into the solitude which we have always shunned: it is then that we know ourselves, and our need of a sufficient object in which the life of the soul may find its rest for ever.

(Prof. F. Paget.)

I. First, here is LOOKING INTO A GLASS. Looking into a glass is a trivial business. Is not this a hint at the light in which many regard the hearing of the gospel? Truly the burden of our lives is a pastime to some of you. Sirs, this reminds me of the fable of the frogs. When the boys stoned them, the poor creatures said, "It may be sport to you, but it is death to us." You may hear me this day with the idlest curiosity, and judge my message with the coldest criticism; but if you do not receive the blessings of the gospel, it strikes a chill at my heart.

1. Upon my first head of looking into a glass let me say, that to every hearer the true Word of God is as a mirror. The thoughts of God, and not our own thoughts, are to be set before our hearers' minds; and these discover a man to himself. The Word of the Lord is a revealer of secrets: it shows a man his life, his thoughts, his heart, his inmost self. A large proportion of hearers only look upon the surface of the gospel, and upon their minds the surface alone is operative. Yet even that surface is sufficiently effectual to reflect the natural face which looks upon it, and this may be of lasting service if rightly followed up. The reflection of self in the Word is very like life. You have, perhaps, seen a dog so astonished at his image in the glass that he has barked fiercely at himself. A parrot will mistake its reflection for a rival. Well may the creature wonder, since every one of its movements is so accurately copied; it thinks itself to be mocked. Under a true preacher men are often so thoroughly unearthed and laid bare that even the details of their lives are reported. Not only is the portrait drawn to the life, but it is an actually living portrait which is given in the mirror of the Word. There is little need to point with the finger, and say, "Thou art the man," for the hearer perceives of his own accord that he is spoken of. As the image in the glass moves, and alters its countenance, and changes its appearance, so doth the Word of the Lord set forth man in his many phases, and moods and conditions. The Scripture of truth knows all about him, and it tells him what it knows. The glass of the Word is not like our ordinary looking-glass, which merely shows us our external features; but, according to the Greek of our text, the man sees in it "the face of his birth"; that is, the face of his nature. He that reads and hears the Word may see not only his actions there, but his motives, his desires, his inward condition.

2. Many a hearer does see himself in the mirror of the Word. He is thoughtful dining the discourse, he spies out the application of the truth to himself, and marks his own spots and blemishes. Oftentimes he sees himself so plainly that he grows astonished at what he sees. You have seen yourselves so unmistakably that you have been unable to escape from the truth, but have been filled with wonder at it. But what is the use of this, if it goes no further? Why should I show you your blots if you do not seek to the Lord Jesus to have them removed? Many of our hearers go somewhat further, for they are driven to make solemn resolves after looking at themselves. Yes, they will break off their sins by righteousness; they will repent; they will believe on the Lord Jesus; and yet their fine resolves are blown away like smoke, and come to nothing. Let us not resolve and re-resolve, and yet die in our sins! But what follows? Observe, "He beholdeth himself, and goeth his way."

3. Many hearers go away from what they have seen in the Word. To-morrow morning he will be over head and ears in business; the shutters will be down from his shop-windows, but they will be put up to the windows of his soul. His office needs him, and therefore his prayer-closet cannot have him; his ledger falls like an avalanche over his Bible. The man has no time to seek the true riches; passing trifles monopolise his mind. Others have no particular business to engross them, but having seen themselves in the glass of the Word with some degree of interest, they go their way to their amusements. Alas! there are some who go their way to sin. I do not wonder that no good comes of such hearing as this. When a man seeth his face in the glass, and then goeth his way to defile that face more and more, of what use is the glass to him?

4. This going away is followed by forgetting all they have seen. The truth passes by them unappropriated, unpractised, and all because they take no earnest heed to make it their own by personal obedience to it. They are mere players with the Lord's message, and never come to honest dealing with it. Forgetfulness of the Word leads to self-satisfaction. Looking in the glass the man felt a little startled that he was such an ugly fellow, but he went his way and mingled with the crowd, and forgot what manner of man he was, and therefore he felt quite easy again. What can be more fatal than this? One may as well not know, as only learn and straightway forget. This forgetfulness leads to a growing carelessness. A man who has once looked in the glass, and afterwards has not washed, is very apt to go and look in the glass again, and continue in his filthiness. He who thinks his conscience has cried "wolf" in mere sport, will think the same till he takes no heed when it cries in earnest. When men get to play with the Word of God they are near to destruction,

II. May I have your further attention while I speak upon the true and blessed hearer? He does not look into the glass, but he is represented as LOOKING INTO THE LAW. The picture I have in my mind's eye at this moment is that of the cherubim upon the mercy-seat; these are models for us. Their standing is upon the golden mercy-seat, and our standing-place is the propitiation of our Lord; there is the resting-place of our feet, and, like the cherubs, we are joined thereto, and therefore continue therein. They stand with their eyes looking downward upon the mercy-seat, as if they desired to look into the perfect law of God which was treasured within the ark; even so do we look through the atonement of our Lord Jesus, which is to us as pure gold like unto transparent glass, and we behold the law, as a perfect law of liberty, in the person of our Mediator. Like the cherubim, we are in happy company; and like them, we look towards each other, by mutual love. Our common standing is the atonement; our common study is the law in the person of Christ; and our common posture is that of angels with outstretched wings prepared to fly at the Master's bidding.

1. Note well that the law of God is worth looking into. I understand by the "law" here not merely the law of ten commandments, but the law as it is condensed, fulfilled, and exhibited in Jesus Christ. A law is always worth considering, for we may break the law unwittingly, and involve ourselves in penalties which we might have avoided. An unknown law is a pit-fall, into which a man may fall without knowing it. It is the duty of all loyal subjects to learn the law, that they may obey it. Better still, it is a perfect law. It is a law which touches our whole nature, and works it unto perfect beauty. Who would not wish to look into a law which, like its Author, is love and purity itself? It is called the "perfect law of liberty." He that wears the yoke of Christ is the Lord's free man. Oh, brothers, I do trust our eyes will be turned to the "perfect law of liberty"; for freedom is a jewel, and none have it but those who are conformed to the mind and will of our God!

2. The true hearer looks into this perfect law of liberty with all his soul, heart, and understanding, till he knows it, and feels the force of it in his own character. He is the prince of hearers, who delights to know what God's will is, and finds his joy in acting out the same. He sees the law in its height of purity, breadth of comprehensiveness, and depth of spirituality, and the more he sees the more he admires. A man looks into the law of liberty, and he sees all perfection in Christ; he looks and looks till, by a strange miracle of grace, his own image dissolves into the image of Jesus. Surely this is a thing worth looking into, and infinitely superior to any looking into a glass merely to see yourselves. He that looks into the perfect law of liberty will not only see Christ, but he will begin to see the Eternal Spirit of God bearing witness with that law of liberty, and operating by that witness upon his own soul. Ay, and he that looks into that perfect law will, by and by, see God the Father; for the pure in heart shall see God. Those who love and live the law of God become like unto God, they are "imitators of God as dear children." They that are familiar with God's will, and love it, and study it, gradually receive the likeness of God their Father till they are called the children of God. Thus the sacred Trinity are seen and known by those who do the will of the Father in heaven. "And continueth"; that is, he continues to meditate in the law, and he continues to own his allegiance to it. He also continues to practise it; he does not begin and then turn aside, but he continues to make advances in holy living, and he continues by a final perseverance to follow on. The man who obtains the blessing of the Lord is by God's grace made to continue in it. I have heard of a famous King of Poland, who did brave deeds in his day, and confessed that he owed his excellent character to a secret habit which he had formed. He was the son of a noble father, and he carried with him a miniature portrait of this father, and often looked upon it. Whenever he went to battle he would look upon the picture of his father, and nerve himself to valour. When he sat in the council-chamber he would secretly look upon the image of his father, and behave himself right royally; for he said, "I will do nothing that can dishonour my father's name." Now, this is the grand thing for a Christian to do: to carry about with him the will of God in his heart, and then in every action to consult that will.

3. To conclude: you notice how it says, "this man shall be blessed in his deed." Mark: "this man," "this man." These demonstrative pronouns act like fingers. In my text there is a person who has seen himself in the glass, and he has gone his way; but we need not mind about him, he is of no account. But here is a man who has been looking into the law, and has continued to look into it, and the Holy Spirit has selected him from all others, and marked him as "this man." This man is blessed. Where IS this man? Where is this woman? Judge whether you are the persons thus called and chosen; whether you are abiding in love to that law, which has won your heart. "This man shall be blessed in his deed." "Oil," saith one, "I do not see the blessedness of true religion!" No, you are not likely to see it, because you do not do it. This man is blessed "in his deed." "In keeping His commandments there is great reward." Much of the blessedness of godliness lies in the practice of godliness. Not in consideration of doctrine, but in obedience to precept the blessing lies. "This man shall be blessed in his deed." In the very act of serving his Lord and Master he shall be blessed; not for it but in it.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A capacity for self-knowledge is one of our distinctive endowments. We have no reason to suppose that other creatures are capable of knowing themselves. This distinctive capacity implies a duty. "Know thyself," we are told, is a precept that descended from Heaven. But, whatever its origin, it speaks with the highest authority. It is self-commended. And this duty is a great privilege. "The study of mankind is man." Oar own nature is necessarily central to all our studies. For this self-knowledge we are furnished with abundant means. The universe, as a revelation of God, is a mirror for man. Nature, as in a book, presents us with a picture of ourselves. But how strange it is that, possessing such a mirror, we make so little use of it! With all our self-love, how is it that we are not only indifferent to, but even shrink from a genuine self-knowledge? We seek to know how we appear; we turn away from the knowledge of what we are. Against the consequences of this ignorance of ourselves, God warns us and urges upon us the duty of a genuine self-knowledge. In the text we are cautioned against the fatal temptation of paying a merely outward homage to the "Word of God without any practical intent, as though hearing it were a lawful pastime, or could be pleasing to God, or of any avail to us apart from its embodiment in our will, our words, and our works. In a spirit becoming those who have received such an exhortation, let us hear and look into this "living Word," that "with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we may be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as of the Lord, the Spirit," that it may become to us "the perfect law of liberty," "the law of the spirit of life in Jesus Christ." For "the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty."

I. FIRST OF ALL WE DIRECT OUR ATTENTION TO THE WORD WE ARE EXHORTED TO HEAR AND DO. It is emphatically called "the Word," "the Word of God," or, as in the connection of the text, "the Word of the Truth," or, in another scripture, "the Word of the Truth of the Gospel," as "Truth is in Jesus." Words are wonderful — as expressions of thought and feeling, reason and will. The Word of God brings God to us. In His Word we have the mind of His Spirit clothed in forms apprehensible by our senses. It is the record of His Mind and Will concerning us. The Word of God is the outward form of an abiding spiritual force; once uttered, it remains a spiritual power always, and everywhere working according to tits will. "The Word of God," is the name of His only-begotten Son, who, at "the fulness of time," came out from God, and came into the world." to reveal to us the Father, and make known to us in words of "spirit and life," His will. This final revelation of the Will of God bus its verbal embodiment in the words of the gospel, its incarnation in Jesus, its abiding spiritual power in the Holy Spirit. As heard it addresses the ear, as seen it appeals to the eye, as felt it moves in the heart.

II. THIS WORD OF GOD IS SPOKEN OF IN OUR TEXT AS A MIRROR, OR GLASS, IN WHICH WE MAY SEE WHAT MANNER OF MEN WE ARE. All words should mirror the mind of the speaker. God is revealed in His Word. He makes Himself known in all His words, and ways, and works. In the Son of Man we "behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord." In Him, the Incarnate Word, man's nature is complete, its idea satisfactorily embodied, the Divine image fully expressed, and God glorified in the world. God is "well-pleased" to see again His own image and likeness in the face of man; and men are called to behold in Jesus, the Word made flesh, "the glory of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." The revelations of God are means of self-knowledge for man. The Word presents a mirrored face of what man ought to be, and not only the ideal of what he ought to be, but also the image of what he really is. It discerns and reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart. The shadow of the beholder, as he is, is thrown upon the bright image of what he ought to be. The true form in the Word, as a glass, reflects the false form of the beholder, which it judges and condemns. The mirror of the Word judges the shadow of what we are by receiving it upon the fair image of what we ought to be.

III. THE WORD OF GOD IS NOT ONLY A MIRROR, BUT ALSO A LAW. The law commands, presents obligation, awakens conviction, points to its sanction, but does not enforce compliance. Force belongs not to the moral sphere. The capacity to obey is a capacity to suffer for disobedience, but one which is intolerant of force. Obedience is of the heart which is the very seat and soul of liberty. The discovery of our defects by the law which judges them, awakens a feeling of culpability, self-condemnation and exposure to punishment. We feel that defect and disobedience with respect to this law are not misfortunes but sins, hence a sense of blameworthiness. Now, of all laws, "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus," as law, is the most burdensome and oppressive, and for this reason, that it is perfect and pertains to the whole life — allowing no thought, no desire, for a single moment, to be withdrawn from its universal empire.

IV. LET US NOW INQUIRE WHAT IS MEANT BY THIS EXPRESSION, "THE PERFECT LAW," AS APPLIED TO THE GOSPEL. Are not all laws perfect? There are many forms of law, all of which have their pre-supposition in goodness, and have also this in common, that their action is uniform under the same circumstances. Law is the regulative controlling power of that to which it belongs. As an idea, it is necessary to the conception of anything; and, as such, it is the same for the same creature under the same conditions.

1. Natural law is this governing idea in the form of necessity, and operative as force. Such are all the laws of inorganic matter; such, too, are the laws of vegetable and animal life, at least, for the most part.

2. But the law of intelligent creatures is presented for reception, not imposed; is a law which coin-man(is, but does not necessitate obedience. It pre-supposes freedom and the possibility of obedience being refused.

3. Then there is what Paul terms "the law of the spirit of life," which is a free, spontaneous, eager, intense spirit of obedience, not acting within a sphere it is required to fill by the imperative of an outward law, but from a central fire of love which anticipates all commands and outstrips all requirements. This was the service Christ rendered and required. "If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." There is yet another form of law, which is determined, as to its form, by the circumstances, state, and condition of its subjects, in view of the end proposed. You may call it the law of the end. Let me illustrate. A gardener wishes to train a tree in a certain direction, and sees that it will require a certain number of stakes and a given strength of cordage to fold its branches in the required position; in other words, to be a law to it. These requirement,, imposed by the purpose, are the law of the end. Their wisdom and value can only be judged of when looked at in relation to the end which they are intended to serve. In like manner, certain forms of ritual and ceremonial, among the Jews, owe their existence, form, and place in their history to the circumstances and condition of the nation, in view of the purposes of God concerning mankind. But, in addition to these, the text speaks of "the perfect law" in a sense somewhat different from any of them. By the perfect law is meant the Old Testament in its final, completed development — in its purposed, perfect outcome — in "the law of the spirit of life." What is meant is "the word of the truth of the gospel," as the norm of Christian life. It is "perfect" because it attains the end of the law — liberty. For "the word of the truth," as "is truth in Jesus," carries "the law of the spirit of His life," which makes free from "the law of sin and death." And further, the law of the spirit of His life is "the perfect law" as being final, complete, and possessed of the power and the purpose of all law at the height of its excellency — the power of the obedience of life. It pre-supposes other laws, and is spoken of as perfect in the sense of its being final. There is no other Jaw to come after it. It is also perfect in this sense — that all the requirements of God are reduced to simplicity and unity of principle. "Love God," says this perfect law, "and you will not fail to do His will," for "love is the fulfilling of the law." This is the new and final commandment, the perfect law in a single word" Love." And this one principle is, in "the perfect law of liberty," embodied in life. The Jaw is fulfilled in Christ, lives in Him, is the spirit of His life, and capable of being given to us. In His Spirit the law of life is lost in liberty, and its freedom is the blessedness of a chosen necessity.

V. WE NEED SCARCELY ADD THAT THIS "PERFECT LAW," HIDDEN IN THE HEART AS THE VERY SPIRIT OF THE AFFECTIONS, GIVES LIBERTY TO THE LIFE. Law and liberty do but express opposite relations to the same ideal of our nature. When we are dead we are under it as law, but when we live our life is free in the restful, self-satisfied experience of its true and just-proportioned powers. The ideal has become real and enjoys its living fulfilment. And the life which fulfils it loves the measurements and limits of its sphere and is free. And when we are free we are so disposed to the governing law of our nature that we are sweetly drawn to all its requirements and instinctively observe all its limitations. The law of liberty is a power of love in the heart, the love of the creature to the Creator, of the child to the Father, of the saved to the Saviour. This is the freedom enjoyed under "the perfect law of liberty," or, as it is termed in another place, "the royal law." The law is perfect because it is embodied in its own life; it is a law of liberty, because the life in which it is presented is a spirit of love to the Law-giver; and it is a "royal law," because it proceeds from the royalty of the Father's heart, and lives in the loyalty of the child's affections, as a power of "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." It thus liberates from every bondage by a Divine captivation, in which the liberty is a necessity hidden in the heart.

(W. Pulsford, D. D.)

I. THE APOSTLE SPECIFIES A CERTAIN KIND OF MAN. "If any man be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer."

1. A man may be prompted to hear the word by motives in which true religion is not at all involved. A habit formed in early life — a regard to what is considered respectable — or a wish to have his intellect gratified, may be the true explanation of the frequency with which he enters church.

2. A person, hearing the Word, may, notwithstanding, be so listless and unconcerned, as scarcely to receive any impression, whether intellectual or moral, from what he hears.

3. On the part of men who do, to a great extent, understand the meaning of what they hear, and who even receive mental excitement and enjoyment, there may be ingenuity enough to shut out from their consciences the moral impression which the heavenly message is intended to produce.

II. The apostle proceeds, by a figurative illustration, to DESCRIBE THE HEARER WHOM HE SPECIFIES. "He is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass," &c.

1. The Word of God is represented as a mirror. And why? Because it makes objects manifest.

2. The man who hears the Word, but does it not, is compared to "a man beholding his natural face in a glass." True, of those who stand before the mirror of the Word there are some of whom it might be almost said, that they shut their eyes, and thus receive no impression from that Word at all. But certainly the hearer of Divine truth does, in general, receive some impression on his mind from hearing it. It seems morally impossible for any sane man to hear, for many successive times, a message so plain and so peculiar as that of the Word of God, without having his understanding, at least, whatever may be the case with his conscience and his heart, in a greater or less degree affected. But —

3. The man to whom he that heareth the Word, and doeth it not, is here compared, is represented as "going his way," when he has "beheld his natural face in a glass," and "forthwith forgetting what manner of man he was." As from the one, so also from the other, the impression of what he has seen speedily departs. The hopeful impression dies — the man who so lately stood before the mirror "forgetteth what manner of man he was."

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

Now the whole passage exhibits a striking difference, amounting to a complete contrast in the results which are accomplished in different persons who came into contact, more or less close, with this great "law," "word," or "gospel" of God.

I. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN THE ACT MANNER OF LOOSING. The natural man looks into the gospel superficially, the spiritual man more deeply. A man looking well into the perfect law of liberty is as it were drawn into it, and draws it into himself. A man of appreciative taste looking at a famous painting, will feel drawn into it as it were. He will become in a degree unconscious of the things and the persons around. He will be standing in that highland glen! or resting in that sylvan glade I or dashing in triumph through that foaming sea! So a man, looking aright at the gospel, will feel as though he was drawn into it, and it into him! He will be received into the kingdom, and the kingdom into him.

II. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN THE TIME OCCUPIED IN THE LOOKING. If a man were to sit down and make out a time-table of his own life, classifying his waking hours according to the several occupations in which he is generally engaged, and allotting to each the time that is spent in it, how much would be for religious contemplation for "beholdings" of the gospel of God? In the case of some, the time would be found to be exceedingly brief. So that, when the looking is not only superficial but extremely transient, it is not at all surprising that the practical results should be scanty and poor. Here let it be understood that we ask for nothing high-strained of impossible. Religion is a reasonable service, Now I will put a case which has often been in your experience. You are very busy. And yet it has sometimes happened in your busiest time that a matter has arisen suddenly, one claiming instant attention. And you did it; and nothing else was neglected; a day that seemed full of duty, has room in it for a supreme duty; and that duty well done, imparted a higher character to everything else that was in the day, and the calm and rest of the evening were the sweeter for that happy retrospect in which nothing lay undone. It is just so that religion, having due time at signed to it, will come in not to enfeeble but to strengthen the toiling men — not to excite and waste, but to calm and purify, these fretful days.

III. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN THE PRACTICAL ACTION TAKEN AS THE RESULT OF THE LOOKING, The careless looker — he who looks superficially and transiently — "goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth" — takes no action at all. Even with his looking, he saw that some, action ought to be taken, and without delay. He looks in the glass, and sees spots on his countenance, and feels that these ought to be removed. He has sights, but no corresponding deeds. He has convictions, but no corresponding performances. He has feelings without decisions, longings without realisations, constant hearing of the Word but no doing of the work. On the other hand, he who looketh into the law of liberty with profit, looks that he may do; and does that he may look again with clearer eye. Suppose such a man, not yet an assured Christian, only becoming one. He looks and sees himself, covered as we all are by nature with the defilements of sin. And what does he do? Does he go away in forgetfulness, or does he lie down in despair? He does neither. He goes to the open fountain, and washes and is clean. Or he sees God revealed in Christ. Christ as "God manifest in the flesh," radiant in His own perfections and yet overflowing with love to us, reconciling the world unto God and not imputing unto men their trespasses. But is he satisfied with the sigh? No. He comes to Christ. He trusts Him that he may be justified. And so of everything else, a required sacrifice is made — an recumbent duty is done — an opened path in providence is followed. And so strength comes, and purity returns, and the lost image of heaven. All who behold thus, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are "changed into the same image."

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

The Word, in reference to him who bears but forgets it, is represented under the figure of a glass or mirror, the general use of which, you are aware, is to exhibit by its reflective power, or by the formation of a correct image, what we cannot otherwise perceive by the eye, and thus a person is enabled to discover whatever is disordered or unsuitable in his outward appearance. What a mirror is for the discovery of deficiencies or stains upon the countenance, the "Word of truth" is for the discovery of deficiencies and stains in the heart and conduct, and he who carefully listens to the statements of that "Word," can no more fail to have a correct image of his spiritual condition brought before him, than he who looks into a mirror can fail to behold the similitude of his outward mum tie must see himself as a moral being, represented in all the reality of truth. We may take the case of a licentious profligate, a man within whose bosom there is nothing to be found bearing any resemblance to moral far less to religious principle. He is the slave of his passions, and following no dictate but that of corrupt inclination, he lives as far from God and from the recognition of His authority as it is possible for a human being to do. Now, although it may not be a common thing that such victims to debased feeling and profligate habits should place themselves within the hearing of the "Word of truth," yet we know that sometimes they do hear the gospel proclaimed; and when this is the case how can they escape from seeing the picture of their own character which it unfolds? If they listen with any degree of attention while it describes the features and traces the descending footsteps of those who have thrown off all regard for Divine authority, and all deference to human opinion; if they hear it testifying of them that the "imaginations of the thoughts of their heart are only evil, and that continually"; that "they drink up iniquity like water"; that "being past feeling, they have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness; — that they sport themselves with their own deceivings, having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin, beguiling unstable souls, being cursed children, which have forsaken the right way, and gone astray"; — and that "though they know the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them," — if, I say, they hear "the Word of truth" thus testifying of the conduct and progress of those that have abandoned themselves to the ways of vice, can they fail to perceive that it is just describing themselves? But, again, in illustration of the power of the gospel to discover their true character to those who listen with any attention to its declarations, we may contemplate another and a very different class of persons, when brought under its reflective influence; I mean those who may be characterised as men of virtue without godliness-men who are distinguished by a strict regard to the morality of the world, and are ready to exult in the self-righteous thought that, as they stand well with their fellow-men, they cannot have much to dread from God. They are, doubtless, endowed with many amiable and attractive qualities. They can compare themselves, without suffering from the comparison, with many around them. And, in the pride of their spirit, they are often ready to declare that, no stain has darkened their reputation; they may be found, after a self-complacent view of their fancied attainment, virtually exclaiming, "What lack we yet?" With all these lofty claims, however, to moral excellence, they may yet be chargeable by the God that made and that sustains them, with an alienation of heart from Him and His authority, no less guilty than that of the licentious profligate; and when the question comes to be put to each of them, "What hast thou done unto Me?" they may every one be as little able to give a satisfactory reply as the most ungodly of our rebellious species; and thus there may be, in the sight of a holy and heart-searching Judge, chargeable against them, deficiencies of as fatal a nature as those with which the characters of the most abandoned are degraded and deformed. Now, when the gospel is proclaimed to such persons, if they duly consider what it says, it will not fail to reveal to them a faithful picture of their condition before God, and to summon up before them a lively representation of blemishes from which they perhaps imagined themselves to be free. When it brings within their hearing those distinctions which it constantly recognises between the decencies and observances of mere outward morality, or the offspring of natural disposition, and the fruits of that "pure and undefiled religion" which has had its vital principle imparted in a renewed and sanctified heart — when, for instance, it lays before them the history of the young man whose amiable deportment and external conduct were such as to call forth an expression of the Saviour's kindness towards him, but whose love to the world and its possessions was such as to exhibit the weakness and imperfection of his character, they must see a very obvious likeness of themselves; and when the Divine law, in all its extent and spirituality, is brought to their notice, must they not feel that their best and most beauteous moralities are sadly defective — that the pride with which they had often contemplated themselves on account of their fancied virtues, though it might find food for itself in their superiority to many around them, should be converted into the deepest humility when they compare themselves with the standard of God's holy law, and that, though from the mere dictates of their own nature they have been prompted to benevolence, and high-minded honesty, and upright dealing, they never knew the love of God to operate as a principle of action upon their minds? Let us advert to another illustration of the detecting power of the Word of truth, which is to be seen in its bearing upon the hypocritical formalist. He makes a fair, sometimes a bold, sometimes a most flaming profession. Whatever homage he can pay with the lip, none more ready to give it than he; whatever sacrifices he can offer with the outward man, none more forward" to present them than he. But all the feelings of his heart contradict and belie the intended meaning of such offerings. Now, when the "Word of truth "falls upon the ears of such persons, like the licentious profligate and the man of mere worldly virtue, they will be made to feel that it exhibits a faithful image of their moral condition, detects the lurking hypocrisy of their hearts, and holds them up to their own contemplation, under the ignominious aspect of worthless pretenders and paltry formalists. When they hear its reiterated references to those who offer God the service of the body while "their hearts are far from Him"; who present "vails oblations, but delight not in obeying the voice of the Lord; "who have a "form of godliness, but deny the power thereof"; who are, to all human appearance, "fair and honest," while their inward man is defiled with wickedness and inhabited by "vain thoughts"; can they fail to see that it truly represents their own likeness, and displays before their mind's eye, in vivid but faithful delineation, those secret imaginations and hidden artifices which they thought were confined to their own knowledge? When they are directed in their thoughts to our Lord's description of the Pharisees, who "for a pretence made long prayers," who "made clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but were within full of extortion and excess"; and who, while "they appeared outwardly righteous unto men, were within full of iniquity and hypocrisy," is it possible for them to escape from the impression that they are themselves virtually described? I might adduce other and not less striking illustrations of the description which, in our text, is figuratively afforded of the "Word of truth." It would be no difficult matter, indeed, to show that it is a mirror in which every variety and class of character are exhibited in their moral features; or, in a word, that no man can attentively look into it without feeling that its reflective power is such as to present him to himself, in the actual reality of his spiritual condition, without the least exaggeration in the blemishes or in the virtues that may attach to him. In conclusion, I would put the question to each of you, — To what purpose have you heard the gospel? If you have any wish to be freed from those defects which you may see in your character; if you have any wish to be prepared for appearing in the presence of unspotted holiness, without those stains which must render you subject to its consuming indignation, it behoves you to take a steady and impartial view of yourselves in the mirror of the gospel, and to resolve, in the faithful application of the means which are therein prescribed, that you may be thoroughly purified, and furnished with every ornament of the Christian character.

(Jas. Noble, M. A.)

There is a leading idea in each of the verses thus read to you; and because these ideas are perhaps more striking when taken together, than when detached the one from the other, we may solicit your attention to the whole of this passage of Scripture, rather than to either of its separate parts. The ideas are the following: the first, that the Word of revelation generally serves as a mirror or a glass, in which the natural man may see himself imaged; the second, that he will be nothing advantaged by this reflexion of his features if it do not make him active in the correcting and amending; the third, that to him who is not only a hearer, but a doer, revelation becomes a "perfect law of liberty."

I. Now there are, as you will remember, expressions in Scripture which set before us THE WHOLE WORK, WHETHER OF CREATION OR REDEMPTION, AS ONE VAST MIRROR, upon which we must gaze if we would learn the great truths which have to do with the nature of our God. Thus St. Paul, wishing to contrast our present with our future condition, says to the Corinthians, "Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face." He means, as it would seem, that here we have no direct vision; we see only as in a mirror — that is, by reflected rays — creation and redemption both imaging Deity, but neither our faculties nor our opportunities permitting us to look upon God face to face. And there is no doubt that in this sense the Word of God also is a mirror. God may be said to glass Himself in its pages; and when we look on those pages, they give back to us with greater clearness than any other reflector the attributes and perfections of our invisible Maker. But it cannot be in this sense that St. James represents the Word as a mirror; it is as showing man himself, and not as showing him God, that revelation is here likened to a glass. The supposition is that a man may place himself morally before the Bible, even as he may naturally before some polished surface, and learn with as much accuracy what are his lineaments or his features. And we may suppose that St. James refers to the same power in the Bible, as is referred to by St. Paul, when he describes himself and his fellow-workers in the ministry as "not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." And this is what, probably, you must have often heard of as the self-evidencing power of Scripture — the power which there is in the contents of the Bible to act as the credentials of the Bible; so that if all external witness were swept away, revelation might yet so vindicate its pretensions as to place beyond doubt its being a message from God. And this self-evidencing power of Scripture goes mainly on this fact — that there is such a correspondence between what we read in the Bible and what we find in ourselves, as is not to be accounted for except on the supposition that He who wrote the Book had a superhuman acquaintance with the heart. The point is .here passed, in which we can allow the sufficiency of human sagacity; the acquaintance is too profound, too extensive, too accurate, to be measured by mere native powers, and our only way of accounting for the marvellous disclosure, which exhibits to us ourselves — every thought being laid bare, every motion of the will, every remonstrance of the conscience, every conflict between duty and inclination — our only way is by referring the document to more than human authorship. And is there any one of you utterly unaware of this power in Scripture to shadow himself? is there any one of you who has read so little of the Bible, and read it with so little attention, that he has not found his own case described — described with so surprising an accuracy that he feels as though he himself had sat for the portrait? When Scripture insists on the radical corruption of the heart, in its native enmity and deceitfulness, is there any one of us who must not allow that the affirmations in every way hold good — just supposing his own heart to be that of which the affirmations are made? And when, over and above these more general statements, the Bible descends into particulars — when it speaks of the proneness of men to prefer a transient good to an enduring, the objects of sight, however inconsiderable, to those of faith, however magnificent — when it mentions the subterfuges, the excuses of those whom conscience disquiets — when it shows the vain hopes, the false theories, the lying visions, with which men suffer themselves to be cheated, or rather with which they cheat themselves — who is there among us who will venture to deny that the representation tallies most nicely either with what he is or with what he was — with what he is if he have never repented or sought the forgiveness of sin, with what he was if his nature have been renewed by the operation of God's Spirit?

II. We now turn to the second great truth presented in the passage which is under review; THE TRUTH THAT WE SHALL BE NOTHING ADVANTAGED BY THIS REFLECTING POWER OF THE WORD, UNLESS WE SET OURSELVES TO THE ACTING ON ITS DISCLOSURES. St. James, as we before pointed out to you, is speaking of a man who is a hearer only, and not also a doer of the Word. He likens such a man to one, who "having beheld his natural face in a glass, goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was." Are there not many of you who would be ready to own that sermons have occasionally had on them a mighty and almost overcoming effect; so that they have felt constrained to give their full assent to truths uttered in their hearing, though those truths have convinced them of heinous offences, and proved them placed in terrible danger? It is not that no impression has been made; it is not that the preacher's strength has been wholly thrown away, and that there has been no response to his statements in the breasts of those by whom he has been surrounded; it is rather that the hearers have taken no pains to deepen and make permanent the impressions which the preaching has made; nay, perhaps in many cases, that t-hey have actually taken pains to obliterate those impressions, dreading the sacrifices which they must make if resolved to be religious, and therefore crushing the convictions which would have led them to repentance. It is that they have gone from the church into the world, with the voice of the preacher yet ringing in their ears, and so that voice has been drowned in the whirl of business, or in the sounds of pleasure.

III. But now turn, lastly, to the third truth presented by the passage which forms our subject of discourse. This is the truth — THAT BY SUBMITTING IMPLICITLY TO WHAT IS TAUGHT US BY GOD'S WORD, WE SHALL FIND THAT IT BECOMES TO US A "PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY." There has been no such nurse of freedom as the Christian religion. The principles which that religion expounds and enforces — the accuracy with which it defines the province and prerogatives of rulers and the duties of subjects — the rigour with which it denounces every form of injustice, enjoins benevolence, and asserts the brotherhood of man with man — these have caused it to become, though it professes not to interfere with civil institutions, the great extirpator of oppression, the great founder and the great guardian of all that deserves to be called liberty. And this beautiful word "liberty" may be prostituted and abused; it may be bandied about by venal statesmen or turbulent demagogues; but liberty and Christianity are synonymous terms, as are slavery and irreligion. He who would guide a nation to freedom, must take the Bible as his statute-book: and to attack its vices is the direct way to loosen its chains. They little know, who brawl about liberty and show contempt for Christianity, how ignorant they show themselves of the very essence and life of that which they profess to idolise and pursue. God guard us from the liberty which would be enjoined when Christianity was prostrate! It would be near akin to that liberty of which we read in the book of Jeremiah. "Behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the Lord" — a liberty "to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine." But it is rather of an individual, than of a nation, that the apostle speaks in our text. And who, we may well ask, but the true Christian — the doer as well as the hearer of the Word — deserves to be accounted free? Is a man free, just because there are no fetters on his limbs, and he is not the inmate of a prison? There are fetters of the spirit; there are mental chains forged of such material, and fastened with such strength, that he who wears them may sit upon a throne, and be unspeakably more a bondsman than many a wretched thing that grinds in a dungeon. What think ye of the fetters of bad habits? What think ye of the chains of indulged lusts? What think ye of the slavery of sin? The drunkard, who cannot resist the craving for the wine — know ye a more thorough captive? The covetous man, who toils night and day for wealth — what is he but a slave? The sensual man, the ambitious man, the worldly man — those who, in spite of the remonstrances of conscience, cannot break away from their enthralments. But whoso looketh into Scripture and continueth therein, finds himself gradually delivered from all this oppression and all this thraldom. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." If it be not the liberty of him who has no opponent, no tempter, it is the liberty of him who has broken the yoke, and who is ever on the watch that it may never be again fastened round his neck. It is not indeed to our lusts that Christianity proclaims liberty, nor to our natural inclinations and propensities; against these it proclaims war — a war of extermination; but on this very account it is that we declare it brings liberty to man. These lusts, these inclinations, are the taskmasters of man; and until grace gain the ascendency, and give the spirit dominion over the flesh, man is literally in bondage to himself — the lowest of slaves, because he does not hate slavery. And in respect of fears, the bondage is too apparent to admit of debate. But let the Spirit of God apply these blessed words to his heart, "There is now therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," and he casts off his chains and springs from his dungeon. Glorious liberty! Who would not long to be the freed man, by thus being the servant of Jehovah?

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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