James 2:14
What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
Sermons
Works the Test of FaithC. Jerdan James 2:14-19
A Barren FaithM. Luther.James 2:14-26
A Child of God Cannot Live an Ungodly LifeSword and Trowel.James 2:14-26
A Dead FaithJ. H. Hambleton.James 2:14-26
A Living FaithAbp. Sumner.James 2:14-26
A Working Faith NecessaryR. Erskine.James 2:14-26
Abraham the Friend of GodEssex RemembrancerJames 2:14-26
Abraham the Friend of GodThos. Coleman.James 2:14-26
Abraham the Friend of GodT. Kidd.James 2:14-26
Abraham the Friend of GodJames 2:14-26
Abraham's Faith and PrivilegesT. Manton, D. D.James 2:14-26
Believing and DoingS. Rutherford.James 2:14-26
Believing and WorkingJames 2:14-26
Cheap BenevolenceJames 2:14-26
Conviction not ConversionJames 2:14-26
Creed and ConductT. Bagley.James 2:14-26
Doctrine and PracticeLife of Archbishop Whately.James 2:14-26
Doing Better than TalkingJames 2:14-26
Empty-HeadedA. Plummer, . D. D.James 2:14-26
FaithJ. Parker, D. D.James 2:14-26
Faith a Nerve-CentreRobt. Whyte, D. D.James 2:14-26
Faith and EmotionJ. Parker, D. D.James 2:14-26
Faith and its ManifestationA. Maclaren, D. D.James 2:14-26
Faith and WorksT. Guthrie, D D.James 2:14-26
Faith and WorksArchbishop Whately.James 2:14-26
Faith and WorksJeremy Taylor, D. D.James 2:14-26
Faith and WorksJ. Trapp.James 2:14-26
Faith and WorksBp. Beveridge.James 2:14-26
Faith and WorksA. Macdonald.James 2:14-26
Faith and WorksT.F. Lockyer James 2:14-26
Faith in Germ and ManifestedA. R. Fausset, M. A.James 2:14-26
Faith More than CreedDean Plumptre.James 2:14-26
Faith Perfected by WorksJ. A. Bengel.James 2:14-26
Faith Shown by WorksThe ChurchJames 2:14-26
Faith Without Works is DeadM. O'Sullivan, M. A.James 2:14-26
Friendship with GodS. Palmer.James 2:14-26
Friendship with GodD. Thomas.James 2:14-26
Friendship with GodC. P. Eyre, M. A.James 2:14-26
Good WorksJ. Donne.James 2:14-26
Good WorksR. W. Lowrie.James 2:14-26
Good WorksD. Swing.James 2:14-26
Inconsideration and IgnoranceT. Manton.James 2:14-26
JustificationR. W. Evans, B. D.James 2:14-26
JustificationWilliam Marsh, D. D.James 2:14-26
Justification by Works, and not by Faith OnlyJames Stark.James 2:14-26
Justification, According to St. Paul and St. JamesW. Weldon. Champneys, M. A.James 2:14-26
Living .Faith a Working FaithW. Arnot.James 2:14-26
Luther's View of FaithProctor's Gems of ThoughtJames 2:14-26
Mouth MercyJ. Trapp.James 2:14-26
On the Existence of a DeityG. Clayton, M. A.James 2:14-26
One FaithfulF. Jackson.James 2:14-26
Opposite FoesW. Arnot, D. D.James 2:14-26
Pretence of LiberalitR. Turnbull.James 2:14-26
Productive FaithG. Fisk, LL. B.James 2:14-26
RahabC. H. Spurgeon.James 2:14-26
Religion More than Intellectual AssentA. Maclaren, D. D.James 2:14-26
Saving FaithT. L. Cuyler, D. D.James 2:14-26
Scriptural Evidence of Saving FaithC. Yale.James 2:14-26
St. James and St. PaulA. R. Fausset, M. A.James 2:14-26
St. Paul and St. James on FaithW. H. M. Aitken, M. A.James 2:14-26
The Connection Between Faith and WorksB. Beddome, M. A.James 2:14-26
The Faith of Christians Contrasted in its Results with the Faith of Fallen SpiritsD. Thomas.James 2:14-26
The Faith of RahabT. Manton.James 2:14-26
The Friend of GodG. Brooks.James 2:14-26
The Friend of GodC. H. Spurgeon.James 2:14-26
The Friendship of GodHomilistJames 2:14-26
The Highest FriendshipHomilistJames 2:14-26
The Test of FaithJ. Eyre, M. A.James 2:14-26
The Vital Efficacy of FaithTheological Sketch-bookJames 2:14-26
Two Kinds of Faith -- the Spurious and the GenuineJohn King, M. A.James 2:14-26
Vain ManDean Plumptre.James 2:14-26
What Doth it ProfitA. Plummer, D. D.James 2:14-26
Words and DeedsJ. Trapp.James 2:14-26
Words UselessJ. Trapp.James 2:14-26
Works the True Test of FaithT. Hammond.James 2:14-26
Works Through FaithH. A. James, B. D.James 2:14-26
God has joined faith and works together; but perverse human nature will insist upon putting them asunder. In the apostolic age, Paul met with many people who made works everything, to the neglect of faith; and James met with others who made faith everything, to the neglect of works.. In our time, too, multitudes outside the Church are saying that good conduct is the one thing needful, while orthodoxy of creed is comparatively unimportant.

"For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight;
His can't be wrong whose life is in the right."


(Pope.) Within the Church, on the other hand, many are clinging to a lifeless formal faith - a faith which assents to theological propositions, but which does not influence dispositions. This latter error the apostle here exposes and refutes.

I. THE INSUFFICIENCY OF A BARREN FAITH. (Ver. 14.) The case supposed is not that of a hypocrite, but of a self-deceiver. The man has faith, of a sort; but it is only the cold assent of the intellect. It does not purify his heart, or renew his will, or revolutionize his moral nature, as saving faith always does. Its weakness is seen in the fact that it is unproductive. It does not stir up its possessor to any habit of self-denial or of sympathetic benevolence. This faith coexists, perhaps, with respect of persons (vers. 1-13); or with an unbridled tongue, or a passionate temper, or a disposition to decline accepting the blame of one's own sins (James 1.). How many persons who "say they have faith" by assuming the responsibilities of Church membership, yet "have not works"! How many do not observe family prayer, or impart religious instruction to their children, or make any real sacrifice of their means for Christ's cause, or devote themselves to any personal effort to advance his kingdom! James asks concerning such inoperative faith - Cut booze? And the answer is, that no good use can be made of it. The faith which does not fill one's heart with love to God, and which does not produce practical sympathy towards one's fellow-men, is a spurious, worthless, bastard faith. Such a faith not only leaves its possessor unsaved, but increases the moral deterioration which shall make him the longer the less worth saving.

II. EVIDENCE ADDUCED TO SHOW THIS INSUFFICIENCY. (Vers. 15-19.)

1. An illustrative case. (Vers. 15-17.) It is the bitterest mockery for a man who is himself living in ease and comfort to say to his shivering starving brother, when he sends him away empty-handed, "Depart in peace; do not give way to despondency; God has said he will never forsake his people; he shall give his angels charge concerning you; and I myself will pray for you. 'Sentimental professions of sympathy which have no outcome of practical help do not "profit either person. They tempt the destitute man to become a misanthrope; and they ruin the moral health of the false sympathizer (1 John 3:16-18). Mere lip-charity is not true charity; and a professed faith which is palpably barren of good works is dead in itself."

2. A direct challenge. (Ver. 18.) This challenge is represented as offered by a true and consistent believer. He defies the professing Christian who divorces faith from practice, to exhibit his faith apart from works. He says in effect, "A believer is to 'let his light shine.' Well, I point to the new life which I am living as the appropriate manifestation of my faith; but, since you neglect good works, it is for you to indicate how you can manifest your faith otherwise." A faith which produces no works is unable to show itself; therefore it is not true faith at all.

3. An actual example. (Ver. 19.) Should any professing Christian of "the Dispersion" have been pluming himself upon his correct theology and. his notional faith, here was a solemn warning to him. Should he have been resting satisfied with the thought that, living in the midst of polytheism, he was holding fast by the Hebrew doctrine of the unity of God, this verse would remind him of the profitlessness of such a conviction, unless it; expanded into the blossoms and fruits of holiness. "The demons believe," and yet they remain demons. The unclean spirits whom Jesus exorcised had plenty of head-knowledge and head-faith about both God and Christ; but their faith was of a kind that made them "shudder" with terror when they realized the great verities. Being a merely intellectual credence, it could not cleanse the soul; it could only produce the "fear" which "hath punishment." Learn, in conclusion, that "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness." True saving faith not only asks, with Paul, "Who art thou, Lord?" but with him also passes from that question to this other, "What shall I do, Lord?" - C.J.







Though a man say he hath faith, and have not works.
The popular notion of faith is, that what a man does not deny, he believes; and that if he will maintain a doctrine in argument, he thereby proves that he believes it. Now this may not be faith in the true sense at all. The true notion of faith is, conviction in action, principles operating in the life, sentiments embodied in conduct. Faith is practically nothing so long as it is merely in the head. Head faith can save no man. This is exactly so in daffy life. There is no witchery or mystery in this doctrine at all. Faith cannot save you in commerce, any more than it can save you in religion. Faith cannot save the body, any more than it can save the soul. So let us save Christianity from the supposed mistake of setting up a fanciful scheme of salvation; let us be simply just to the Son of God, by showing that He requires only the very same common-sense conditions of salvation that are required by ourselves in the common relations of our daily life. A man believes that if he puts his money into certain funds he will get back good interest with the most assured security. Yet at the end of the year he gets literally nothing. How was that? Because, though he believed it, he did not put any money into the funds. Can faith pay him? A man thoroughly believes that if he takes a certain mixture, prescribed for him by good medical authority, he will be recovered from his disease; but he gets no better; because, though he believed in the mixture, he did not take it. Can faith save him? Yet this is the very thing which people want to do with religion! They get a certain set of notions into their heads; they call those notions orthodox, and they expect that those notions will save them! It is an insult to common sense. The question is not whether those notions are in our head, but, what effect have they upon our life? Do they find their way from the head to the heart, from the heart to the hand? Fine geographical knowledge will never make a traveller. An exact knowledge of the chemical properties of water will never make a swimmer. You must bring your faith to a practical application. If I really and truly, with understanding and heart, receive the truths of the Christian religion, is there anything in them, as such, likely to move my life in a practical direction? Are they too subtle and speculative for time? As a mere matter of fact, the truths of Christianity are infinitely practical. They touch life at every point. In the morning, they are a loud call to duty; in the evening, they are a solemn judgment upon the day: when we go to business, they say, "Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you." Here, a peculiar danger discovers itself. The man who wishes to avoid all that is most spiritual and holy in the Christian religion, inquires whether he cannot do all these duties as a mere moralist, without being what is distinctively known as a saint. He says he loves justice and mercy, benevolence and sympathy, and asks whether he cannot exercise or display them apart from what is called "saving faith in Christ." Let us consider that question. There is a conduct that is philosophical, and there is a conduct that is spiritual; that is to say, there is a conduct that is based on logic, on the so-called fitness of things, on self-protection; and there is a conduct based upon a spiritual conception of sin, upon a realisation of Divine oversight and Divine judgment; and it is undoubtedly open to us to Consider the respective merits of each theory of life. I accept the spiritual, because I believe it to be fundamental; it is not a clever theory, it is a living reality; it is not a self-pleasing speculation, it is a law, a judgment, an eternal quantity. I must have a moral standard which I did not set up, and which I cannot pull down; a moral law which will harmonise with my nature, and yet for ever be above it; a law that will judge me; a law acting through all time, applying in all lands, overriding all circumstances and accidents; far above me as the sun, round about me as the light; not a guess on the part of man, but a distinct and solemn and final revelation from God. This I have in Christ Jesus; and if I accept it by a living faith, it will come out in a holy, tender, wise, and useful life, and thus I shall be saved by faith.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

There is no analogy between mind and matter more remarkable than the reaction to which both are liable. Draw a pendulum, for example, over on one side; let go; obeying the law of gravitation, it seeks its centre. It does more, swings over to the other side. Twist a cord that has a weight attached to it, and loosen: revolving rapidly on its axis, it untwines itself; does more, passes by malay turns in an opposite direction. Or follow the billow, that, driven by the tempest, launches itself on an iron shore. Thundering it bursts into snowy foam; but more, like men retreating from a desperate charge, it recoils back into the deep. Even so of change of manners or opinion; how prone are men to pass from one to an opposite extreme, borne by the recoil beyond the line of truth! A danger this, that reformers, whether of Church or State, public morals or private manners, need to guard against. In this way we account for the very remarkable judgment that Luther pronounced on this Epistle of the Apostle James. He denied its Divine authority, he said it was not inspiration; and, not content with refusing it Divine authority, he spoke of it most contemptuously, calling it a "chaffing epistle." Luther fancied that he saw in the Epistle of James a discrepancy between what James taught and what Paul taught, in regard to justification by the righteousness of Jesus Christ; and believing that he saw that, he rashly rejected this Epistle, scared by a phantom, by the mere appearance of discrepancy. There is no real discrepancy. Explanation of the appearance of it lies in this, that the Epistle of James was written after the Epistles of Paul had been perverted, grossly abused, turned to the basest purposes. Men had risen up, who held that if a man had knowledge, that was enough; if he gave a cold and intellectual assent to certain doctrines, though his heart was impious and his life impure, he might be saved. It was against this pestilent heresy that honoured Christ in word, but dishonoured Him in work; it was against those that held the doctrine of a spurious faith, against these that James took pen in hand, and asked, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? Faith, if it hath not works, is dead."

I. Now let me remark by way of caution that I may not be misunderstood, that notwithstanding what the apostle appears to say, and does say, that nevertheless we are saved by faith, we are saved by faith in the merits of Jesus Christ alone. James says, "Can faith save him?" I say it can — undoubtedly it can. Not the spurious faith, the false and spurious faith that is without works, and is dead, but such a faith as bringeth forth works; and how? Not by any merit of its own, for it is the gift of God, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit, and it is no more than the rope which the drowning man clutches, and by which another pulls him living to the shore. God its Author, the heart its seat, good works its fruits, Christ its object, and it saves the sinner by bringing him to the Saviour. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Saved if my faith is weak? Ay, however weak your faith is, if it is a true and living faith, it is enough. Our blessed Lord drew lessons from singing birds and gay flowers; and I have seen in the conservatory a plant from which such saints as John Bunyan's Mr. Feeble-mind might gather strength, and draw something more fragrant than its odours, and something more beautiful than its purple flowers. Climbing the trellis that it interwove with greenest verdure and flowery beauty, it sprang from the soil by a mere filament of a stem, unlike the pine of yonder mountains, unlike the sturdy oaks that are built to carry their heads, and bear the storms they have to encounter. You require to trace this upwards and downwards to believe that that living shred, that filament of a stem, could be the living sustaining, channel that carried the sap from the root to all these flower's and verdant branches. And when I looked on it I thought how like it looks to the feeble faith of some living saint; but there the likeness ceases. Roughly handled one day, that filament of a stem was broken and separated from the living root; branches and flowers withered away.

II. Let me now remark, in the second place, that whale it is by faith that unites us to Jesus Christ that we are saved, good works are the certain fruit of this living, saving faith. One of France's bravest marshals had in a civil war for his opponent the Prince of Conde, and in Conde he had a foeman worthy of his steel, the only man that could rival Turenne in handling troops, in moving armies, in sudden and successful attacks. Well, one night when Conde was supposed to be many leagues away, Turenne was sleeping soundly in his tent. He was suddenly aroused by shouts, and the roar of cannon an d of musketry, that were to him the certain signs of a midnight assault, He hastened from his tent, he cast his eyes around him, and at once discovering by the burning houses, by the quarters of the attack, by the skill with which it was planned, by the energy with which it was executed, the genius of his only rival, he turned to his staff and said, "Conde is come." Certain men announce themselves; certain causes announce themselves: and especially in cases of sudden conversion you can almost as surely say, "Conversion is come, salvation is come, Christ is come." It is nothing but faith that can unite us thus to Christ. Faith announces itself, but in another way. The Apostle Paul, while he says that salvation "is of faith and not of works, lest any man should boast," speaks as distinctly of works. This his subject, his trumpet utters no uncertain sound. On the contrary, while he says that salvation is not of works but of faith, "lest any man should boast"; while he says that we are cleansed through Christ from sin, in the very same passage he adds that "we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." You talk of predestination and foreordination. I say predestination and foreordination have as much to do with good works as they have to do with salvation; and good works, according to that passage of Paul, are in all cases as sure as foreordination can keep them, the natural fruit of faith. And how can it be otherwise? In every other region where it works, is not faith the grand worker in this world? In the character of God, in the Person, love, and work of Jesus Christ, in an eternal world, in the Bible with its gracious promises and its glowing prospects, faith has to do with the noblest truths, and, if any man here, not devout in heart, not holy in life, says that he has faith, he deceiveth himself. But God says, "Be not deceived, neither whoremongers, nor unclean persons, nor covetous persons, that are idolaters, have any inheritance in the kingdom of God."

III. Let me now, in the third place, turn your attention briefly to this remark which follows from the former, that the hopes of salvation through faith, which are founded on a faith without works, are of necessity therefore false, and being false are therefore fatal. Last century, in my country, whatever it may have been in this or elsewhere, and I believe it is true of most — last century faith was out of fashion, unless at a communion season. The peculiar doctrines of the gospel, at least in Scotland, were in many places, and in most indeed, seldom presented before the people. "Christ and Him crucified" were thrust into a corner. Such was the state of matters then and there. Virtue and vice — the beauties of virtue and the ugliness of vice, these were the favourite topics of the ministers, and the people had so little taste that they did not fall in love with Virtue, and even some of those that were accustomed to paint her in the pulpit, had very little regard for her themselves. And strange to say, the more the people had virtue preached to them, the less they practised it. And Jesus shut out of the pulpit, the Cross taken from the preacher, the love of Jesus never heard or carried to people's hearts, there was nothing to produce good works; there was no pith in preaching, there was no straw to make bricks with, there was no seed to yield up a harvest, there was, so to speak, no backbone to support the soft parts and keep the form erect. The religion that we want is the religion that has Christ for its root, and good works in everything for its fruits. And any other religion is dead, James says. James says, "Faith if it have not works, is dead." Not dead like a stone, which, in the flashing diamond, and in the sculptured marble, may be beautiful — but dead like that lifeless body, putrid, foul, horrible in its decay. Let me now turn your attention to this — that believers are called by Christ's Word to be workers. You are called to be believers; believe. And then when you believe, you are called to be workers. "Hold to the faith, be steadfast, steady, unmovable"; But He adds now, as He added then by the voice of Paul, "Always abounding in the work of the Lord."

(T. Guthrie, D D.)

I. THE APOSTLE'S ARGUMENT. The apostle was thoroughly well aware how easy it is for the mind of man to slide into a notional possession of faith, which in itself possesses no power, and is altogether unprofitable. Persons of sanguine temperament have often wrought themselves up into a notion that they possessed faith, and they have seemed to exercise that faith towards Christ as its legitimate object; but it has been rather the sentiment of faith than faith itself, with its vitality and energy. It is possible that this delusion may be practised for a considerable time and to a great extent. And what would be amongst its immediate effects? Unsteadiness, inconsistency, want of spiritual progress, and, at length, decline from all profession. The person who is under the sentiment rather than the power of a real faith may be like the branch of a tree, cut off and planted without a root; it may be fresh and green to all appearance for a time, but there is no life in it, it is a dead branch, it is a powerless thing, it will never blossom, it will yield no fruit.

II. THE ILLUSTRATION. The mind of man may be acted on by the distresses of others: there may be a kind and a degree of commiseration felt for human wretchedness; nay, there are those who will weep with emotion over a tale of fiction, and almost by the power of human sympathy realise it as if it were true, and seem ready to give up the heart at once to the deepest impression that can be made. We delight in the manifestation of human sympathy — we begin to anticipate that it will become very profitable in its results; but still there may be the power of selfishness within, that shall at length obliterate the impressions that have been made on the sensitive nature: the emotion passes, and the step has not been taken, it may be, to alleviate that distress which is known to exist. And there is a disposition in the mind of man — a complex disposition — first to cherish images and pictures of distress that excite the emotion, and then to escape from the emotion when it has been excited. The apostle, then, puts this case, and says — "What does all this profit?" There is the naked object — he is unclothed; there is the hungry — he is unfed. Where is all this emotion, all this expressed sympathy? It has passed away like a vapour. Human sympathy, like faith, if it is to work anything, must bring out its direct results, or it is altogether an unprofitable thing.

III. THE CONCLUSION of the apostle's argument. "Even so," saith he, "faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" — or, as the margin says, "being by itself." The conclusion is inevitable. The true faith which justifies does invest the possessor of it with a power of working works acceptable to God. If there be no works acceptable to God — if there be, for instance, no power of holiness manifested in the ordinary details of the Christian professor's life — it profits nothing, it leaves the sinner as it found him; it is but a cremation of his own mind, it is not that faith which brings the soul by the Spirit into union with Christ, and gives it both power and activity. "Even so, faith, if it hath not works, is a dead thing." And we ask, therefore, of the Christian professor, when he tells us he has faith, the production of his works — not simply and on the whole ground of the evidence of his faith, but in order that the works may give consistency to his profession, and proof that he has possessed the death and the life of the Lord Jesus Christ by direct investiture from God Himself.

(G. Fisk, LL. B.)

I. THE SPURIOUS FAITH WHICH THE TEXT CONDEMNS. "What doth it profit, though a man say he hath faith." The first point to be observed is that this faith is a faith of outward profession. We know how easily men are often persuaded to say what they do not feel, and to profess what they do not steadfastly believe and heartily embrace. This radical evil runs through the whole description given by the apostle of the kind of faith which he reprobates. It is something more talked about than felt, more boasted of than experienced, more used for self-confident display than applied to the business and practice of life. We observe, further, that there is a false faith which presumes without warrant upon its title to the favour of God and the happiness of heaven. The freeness with which the blessings of redemption are promised in the gospel has ever been the occasion — though most unjustly — with men of corrupt and insincere minds for turning the grace of God into licentiousness. This was the signal abuse which St. James found it necessary to combat, and he leaves it neither root nor branch. He first asks, with a keen sense of holy contempt for such an empty faith, "What doth it profit?" Does it make him who boasts in the possession of it a whit the better? Does it impress the slightest lineament of the Saviour's image on his mind? Or will it produce any salutary effect upon his future and eternal condition? Can this faith — this notional faith, this faith of mere profession, this faith which produces no fruit — can this faith save him? It may delude him with many hopes, it may raise him to temporary excitement and exultation, it may urge him even to meet death without fear; but can it save him? This is the only important question; and it can have no other answer than a fearful negative! Again, the apostle presses a powerful argument from analogy. He compares faith with charity or love. For any one to say he has faith without its proper fruit is the same thing as to say that he has love without its appropriate fruit. Your sympathy goes no further than words or sentimental feelings; it stops at the very point which would give evidence of its vitality, and therefore it is not true Christian love, it profiteth nothing. Apply the same reasoning to faith. If yours is a faith which produces no fruit, "if it hath not works, it is dead, being alone." A further step which the apostle takes for the detection of a spurious faith is the direct demand of evidence respecting its existence. Thou bossiest of an impalpable something which thou canst not prove to have any existence whatever. Here are no signs of life, no proof that the whole of thy profession is not either hypocritical or delusive. Say what you will, there is no faith where there are no works. Is it replied, Yes, I certainly do believe in the existence of God? That may be, and yet you may be destitute of the faith which saves the soul; for even "devils believe and tremble," yet they remain devils still, and are for ever excluded from salvation! Once more, look at the examples of Scripture, the very examples quoted by St. Paul for the purpose of proving that a man is justified by faith only. Do not the cases of Abraham and of Rahab show that this justifying faith was also a working faith? A profession of faith, accompanied though it be by the clearest convictions of the judgment, is nothing but a lifeless carcass, unless it breathes and acts in holy thoughts and holy conduct, showing forth the praises of Him who is its great Author, and who has promised eternal salvation to every one that believeth.

II. THE NATURE OF THAT FAITH WHICH BY IMPLICATION IS COMMENDED IN THE TEXT. Of this faith God is the Author. It is His gift, and the most precious of all the spiritual gifts which He bestows upon man. Hence faith is not a notion, not an opinion, not a mere product of the understanding; it is a vital, efficacious principle inwrought into the soul by Divine grace. It is the very life by which we live; the might of Divine omnipotence, strengthening the weakness of a dying worm, and kindling all holy affections within the human breast. This faith accepts, without hesitation, the Divine testimony, resting with implicit confidence on the Word of God, and desiring no other and no higher authority than this for the most perfect and unlimited trust, and for the most sincere and universal obedience. Hence follows the cordial acceptance of Christ crucified as the object of our faith. It must be with a faith which unites the soul to Christ in holy bonds, which makes us one with Him and Him with us, which causes us daily to feed on Him in our hearts, and to hold sacred fellowship with Him as our Guide, Redeemer, and Friend. Finally, it must be by a faith which, while it puts away from itself all merit of works, yet brings forth abundantly those works of holy obedience which are the proper fruits of the Spirit, and which flow as legitimate effects from the holy principles which grace has implanted in the breast.

III. MAKE PRACTICAL USE OF THIS DOCTRINE. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." It is adduced as an evidence of the irresistible power of Demosthenes over the minds of his hearers that, when he had finished his speech against Philip of Macedon, the assembly instantly exclaimed, "Come, let us fight against Philip!" Their resolution, however, though ardently and sincerely expressed while under the excitement produced by most thrilling eloquence, was but ill-sustained or vindicated by their future conduct. Now, the faith of Christ not only prompts to holy and energetic resolves, but ensures a practice corresponding with such resolves. It is a living faith, and the proof of its life is in its effects. And it is not bare life, but life in action — life in the discharge of holy service — life in spiritual power, which faith exhibits. The Christian is not only a living, but a fruitful, branch in the True Vine. The sap which flows from the root does not expend itself wholly in leaves — there is the bud, the blossom, and the ripened cluster. The Christian is not a paralysed member of the mystical body of Christ, but moves and acts as the Head directs, not only possessing life, but feelings its power, and consciously and cheerfully yielding to the influence of its Guide.

(John King, M. A.)

There are two main errors in religion which it is the duty of Christ's ministers frequently and fully to point out. the one, that we can be righteous by our own deservings; the other, that whereas works are not meritorious, they may be neglected.

I. THAT FAITH MUST BE PROVED BY SOME TEST; and —

II. THAT THE TEST ESPECIALLY PROPOUNDED OF IT IS SCRIPTURE IS THAT OF HOLY WORKS.

I. That a mere profession of belief is useless must appear very evident to any one who chooses to give the matter the slightest consideration. For there are numerous examples in Scripture of those who rightly professed, but whose heart nevertheless was not right with God. The fact is that there are various kinds of faith spoken of in Scripture, which have each its appropriate fruit, but of which one kind only leads to close union with Christ, and consequently to eternal life.

1. There is an historical faith. We read the Scripture narrative, and we credit it. As well might it be imagined that the belief in the existence of water would quench our thirst, the knowledge of a remedy would cure a disease. No: to believe in Christ in this way has no more saving virtue than to believe the record given of any other being.

2. There is another faith of which the Scripture speaks. Our Lord told His disciples that if they had faith as a grain of mustard seed, they might bid a ponderous mountain be removed, and it should move at their word (Matthew 17:20). And it cannot be doubted that, in the earlier days of Christianity, there were those who cast out devils in the Saviour's name, and in His name did many mighty works, who yet were not His friends, or savingly converted to Him. The faith whereby miracles are wrought has its appropriate effect. And what is this? Why, the benefit (supposing it to he cure of diseases) is to those on whom the cure is performed. It benefits not the soul of the man who works the wonder, unless you would imagine that, by the administering of a medicine to the patient the physician therein cures also himself.

3. There is a third kind of faith which the Scriptures describe. Perhaps I should not err in calling it the faith of the passions. It is the belief which is grounded upon fear or admiration — any passing emotion of the mind. Hence it produces effects wholesome it would appear for the time, but of a most limited character. Such was the faith of Lot's wife. She believed the coming ruin of Sodom. She quitted the devoted city. But the lingering love of her ancient home returned: her faith faltered. Such a faith was that of Herod. tie believed the plain truths which the prophet of the desert proclaimed to him. He began a reformation. But his faith lasted not long. As soon as lust was attacked, it summoned all its powers, quenched in the monarch's breast his feeble belief of the Baptizer's mission. And so you see there are kinds and degrees of faith which save not the soul. Is not the inference inevitable, that we must try and prove our faith and bring it to the touchstone? that we must ascertain if ours be the genuine faith of God's elect?

II. Whether that which is proposed in Scripture is not the evidence of holy works. Our Lord's declaration seems precise enough: "By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:16, 20). This test, then, we must adopt. It must be carefully observed that by good fruits, good works, I do not mean merely moral conduct. For, though where this exists not there can be no genuine faith or real religion, yet the life may be to the eye unblamable, and yet there be in the heart none of that spiritual principle or influence which God requires. Each part of Christian doctrine, if I may so speak, will be exhibited by its appropriate proof. Genuine faith, receiving the sad truth of man's corruption, will be evidenced by a real, not a merely professed, humiliation before God. Now, though certainly love may exist when it is but professed, yet surely the best proof of its existence is the actual exhibition of it. Desire is in the same way best shown by men's really making exertions to obtain that which they say they long for. Fear is most clearly exhibited when we actually shrink from that which we say we dread. If, then, the best proof of the existence of all these passions or principles be the really doing that which they, if actually felt, would naturally prompt to, so we may conclude it is in spiritual things: the best proof of repentance is an earnest endeavour to be freed from the power and punishment of that sin which we say we mourn for. And, further, genuine faith receiving the record which God has given of His Son will be manifested in an actual resorting to Christ for forgiveness and a cordial affection to His person, work, and offices. Practice is the proper fruit of every gracious affection: it is the proper proof of the true knowledge of God: "Hereby," says the apostle, "we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments" (1 John 2:3). Practice is the proper fruit of real repentance. Hence John the Baptist required the Jews to "bring forth fruits meet for repentance." Practice is the proper evidence of genuine faith. It was by actually complying with God's command to offer up his son that Abraham showed his real belief in the Lord's word. Practice is the proper evidence of a true closing with Christ for salvation. This is evident from the different reception, as we read in the Gospels, Christ's calls met with. By some they were declined or deferred: "Suffer me first to go and bury my father." Practice is the proper evidence of real thankfulness to God. And that this test is the true one is proved by what we see to be the dealings of God with men. We find that He tries, or, as it is sometimes called in Scripture, He "tempts" men, i.e., He brings them into situations where natural principles and affections run counter to the requirements of His Word. Thus Abraham was tried to see whether paternal affection would prevail over his trust in God's declarations. Thus Hezekiah was tried to see whether natural vainglory would overcome humble gratitude for God's mercy. Thus Peter was tried to see whether the fear of man were stronger than love to Jesus Christ. This test, let me further observe, is needed for the individual himself. Some mistakenly deny this. They allow that, to others, the proper proof of a man's profession is his actually walking in the fear and good ways of the Lord; but they say that he, for himself, as if by intuition, knows whether he has really laid hold on Christ, whether he really loves God. Do not these men understand that the human heart is "deceitful above all things"? Do they not remember that there is such a thing as self-deception, a persuasion of the mind that we desire, love, fear that which, on proof, we desire not, love not, fear not? David, sensible of this, entreated the Lord to examine and prove him, and to try his reins and his heart (Psalm 26:2). And so every humble believer will desire. He will not be content with notions: he must have things. He is not satisfied with a religion of the lips or of the thoughts: he must see it influencing the whole man. He relies not on any conduct as the ground of acceptance in God's sight: he does look at it for evidence whether or no he has laid hold upon the things which make for his eternal peace, whether or no he has truly come to Christ for salvation. And now, seeing these things are so, let me seriously, in concluding the subject, ask you what proof you are giving of the reality of your profession?

(J. Eyre, M. A.)

It seems likely that St. James had seen St. Paul's epistles, for he uses the same phrases and examples (cf. vers. 21, 23, 25, with Romans 4:3; Hebrews 11:17, 31, and vers. 14, 24 with Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16). At all events, the Holy Spirit by St. James combats, not St. Paul, but those who abuse St. Paul's doctrine.

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

St. Paul meets the legalist; St. James the Antinomian.

(W. H. M. Aitken, M. A.)

They do not stand face to face fighting against each other, but back to back fighting opposite foes.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

Plainly St. James means by works the same thing as St. Paul means by faith; only he speaks of faith in its manifested development; St. Paul speaks of it in its germ.

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

are blood relatives.

(S. Rutherford.)

Plutarch, who was a young man at the time when this Epistle was written, has the following story of Alexander the Great, in his "Apothegms of Kings and Generals": The young Alexander was not at all pleased with the successes of his father, Philip of Macedon. "My father will leave me nothing," he said. The young nobles who were brought up with him replied, "He is gaining all this for you." Almost in the words of St. James, though with a very different meaning, he answered, "What does it profit [τί ὄφελος], if I possess much and do nothing?" The future conqueror scorned to have everything done for him. In quite another spirit the Christian must remember that if he is to conquer he must not suppose that his Heavenly Father, who has done so much for him, has left him nothing to do. There is the fate of the barren fig-tree as a perpetual warning to those who are royal in their professions of faith, and paupers in good works.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

Are you any more a Christian because of all that intellectual assent to these solemn verities? Is not your lifelike some secularised monastic chamber, with holy texts carved on the walls, and saintly images looking down from glowing windows on revellers and hucksters who defile its floors? Your faith, not your creed, determines your religion. Many a "true believer" is a real infidel.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

God is too wise to be put off with words; He turns up our leaves, and looks what fruit: whereof if He will, He lays down His basket and takes up His axe (Luke 13:7).

(J. Trapp.)

Two gentlemen were one day crossing the river in a ferry-boat. A dispute about faith and works arose; one saying that good works were of small importance, and that faith was everything; the other asserting the contrary. Not being able to convince each other, the ferry-man, an enlightened Christian, asked permission to give his opinion. Consent being granted, He said, "I hold in my hands two oars. That in my right hand I call 'faith'; the other, in my left, 'works.' Now, gentlemen, please to observe, I pull the oar of faith, and pull that alone. See! the boat goes round and round, and the boat makes no progress. I do the same with the oar of works, and with a precisely similar result — no advance. Mark 1 I pull both together, we go on apace, and in a very few minutes we shall be at our landing-place. So, in my humble opinion," he added, "faith without works, or works without faith, will not suffice. Let there be both, and the haven of eternal rest is sure to be reached." As the flower is before the fruit, so is faith before good works. Faith is the parent of works, and the children will bear a resemblance to the parent. It is not enough that the inward works of a clock are well constructed, and also the dial-plate and hands; the one must act on the other, the works must regulate the movement of the hands.

(Archbishop Whately.)

Two rival architects were once consulted for the building of a certain temple at Athens. The first harangued the crowd very learnedly upon the different orders of architecture, and showed them in what manner the temple should be built; the other, who got up after him, only observed that what his brother had spoken he could do — and thus he gained the cause.

Can faith save him?
Men dwelling, as those Jews dwelt, in the midst of a heathen population, were tempted to trust for their salvation to their descent from Abraham, and to their maintaining the unity of the Godhead as against the Polytheism and idolatry of the nations. They repeated their creed, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4). It entered, as our creed does, into the morning and evening services of the synagogue, It was uttered by the dying as a passport to the gates of Paradise. It was to this that they referred the words of Habakkuk that the just should live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4). St. James saw, as the Baptist had seen before him; how destructive all this was of the reality of the spiritual life, and accordingly takes this as the next topic of his letter.

(Dean Plumptre.)

It is not every faith that saves the soul. There may be a faith in a falsehood which leads only to delusion and ends in destruction. \\'hen the Eddystone lighthouse was to be rebuilt, Winstanley, the noted engineer, contracted to rear a structure which should withstand the assaults of time and tempests. So confident was his faith in the showy structure of his own skill, that he offered to lodge in it, with the keeper, through the autumnal gales. He was true to his word. But the first tremendous tempest which caught the flimsy lighthouse in the hollow of its hand hurled both building and builder into the foaming sea. We fear that too many souls are rearing their hopes for eternity upon the sands of error; when the testing floods come and the winds beat upon their house, it will fall, and sad will be the fall thereof. There is a faith that saves; it puts us into immediate and vital union with the Son of God. Because He lives, we shall live also. When a human soul lets go of every other reliance in the wide universe, and hangs entirely upon what Jesus has done, and can do for him, then that soul "believes on Christ." To Him the believer entrusts himself for guidance, for pardon, for strength, and for ultimate admission into the exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

1. Faith is a very simple process. Thanks be unto God that the most vital of all acts is as easily comprehended as a baby comprehends the idea of drawing nourishment from a mother's breast and of falling asleep in a mother's arms. Jesus propounds no riddle when He invites you and me to come to Him just as the blind beggar and the penitent harlot came.

2. Faith is not only a simple, it is a sensible act. Do you consider it a sensible thing to purchase a United States Bond? Yes; because it gives you a lien on all the resources of the great Republic. So the highest exercise of the reason is to trust what the Almighty God has said and to rely on what He has promised. Infidelity plays the idiot when it rejects God, and pays the penalty. Faith is wise unto its own salvation.

3. Faith is a stooping grace. That heart-broken, self-despising woman weeping on the feet of her Lord is a beautiful picture of its lowliness and submission. Self must go down first, before we can be lifted up into Christ's favour and likeness. On the low grounds falls the fertilising rain of heaven; the bleak mountain tops are barren. God resisteth the proud and giveth His grace unto the lowly.

4. Faith is the strengthening grace. Through this channel flows in the power from on high. The impotent man had laid many a weary year by the pool of Bethesda. When Jesus inquired, "Wilt thou be made whole?" and his faith assented, the command came instantly, "Rise, take up flay bed and walk." At once the man leaps up, and a helpless bundle of nerves and muscles receives strength sufficient to walk and to carry his couch. Faith links us to Omnipotence.

5. Finally, it is the grace which completely satisfies. When a hungry soul has found this food, the aching void is filled; "Lord, evermore give me this bread." When the sting of guilt is taken away, and the load of condemnation is lifted off, then comes relief, rest, hope, joy, fellowship with the Divine. Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. Without this faith it is impossible to please God: when it is exercised and we come, and ally ourselves with our blessed, pardoning, life-giving Saviour, He, too, beholds the happy result of His work and is satisfied.

(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

Be ye warmed and filled.
y: — For a man to say to him, that hath purse penniless, body clotheless, scrip meatless, remaining harbourless," Go get thee meat, go clothe thy back, go fill thy bag, go lodge thyself," maketh show only of false liberality. If a surgeon say to the wounded person, "Get thee salve, and heal thyself," yet giveth him neither salve nor plaster, nor anything whereby his sore may be healed, comforteth but slenderly. A physician bidding his cure and patient to wax strong, to recover health, to walk abroad, and yet applieth nothing, neither prescribeth anything whereby strength may be gotten, health recovered, former state restored, by bare words profiteth nothing, he that meeteth wayfaring man, far from all path or highway, wandering, and saith," Go aright," yet teacheth not which hand he must turn on, which way he must take, which path ha must follow, helpeth the strayer nothing towards his proposed journey. So to bid the hungry go fill his belly, and yet to give him nothing, is no charity; for the surgeon to persuade the wounded man to cure himself, teaching him whereby he may do it, is no pity; for the physician to exhort his patient to recover help and health, and prescribe not whereby the sickness may be repelled, and former state restored, is no remedy; to bid a man keep the right way, when he is altogether out, and not to set him in the path he must follow, is no courtesy. So-to say to the cold, "Go warm thee," to the hungry, "Go feed yourselves," is no compassion or mercy. Thus by this similitude the apostle showeth that that is no faith which is in words only, and not accompanied with works of charity.

(R. Turnbull.)

Dr. Guthrie, in his autobiography, describes an odd character among his Scotch country parishioners at Arbirlot "who died as he lived, a curious mixture of benevolence and folly." The lawyer who drew his will, after writing down several legacies of five hundred pounds to one person, a thousand to another, and so on, at last said, "But, Mr. — , I don't believe you have all that money to leave." "Oh!" was the reply, "I ken that as well as you; but I just want to show them my goodwill."

This age aboundeth with mouth-mercy, which is good cheap. But a little handful were better than a great many such mouthfuls.

(J. Trapp.)

"Be ye warmed." But what with? With a fire of word. "Be filled." But what with? With a mess of words.

(J. Trapp.)

Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
It is a very important matter that we recognise right principles in relation to God and in relation to human life and duty; but it is still more important that the principles we recognise intellectually be embodied in actual conduct. However comprehensive the range of a man's faith or credence, if he is no better in his life for it, then plainly it is of no saving value. As far as the practical issues of his faith go, he might as well be without it. "The devils believe"; yes, and remain devils. Here is a man who professes to believe in patriotism, who can discourse ably of the nobleness of living for one's country and echo the loyal sentiments of patriot worthies; and yet he never studies one national question, and in time of national panic, suffering, or peril, he is the very last man to do one act of real patriotism. What is the value of his fine sentiments about devotion to Fatherland? Even so faith, if it hath no works, is dead, being alone. As food and light and air and warmth, and other elements of the material world, are assimilated with our physical organisation, promoting physical growth and strength and beauty, so the truth of God, relative to man's character and life, is to be assimilated with our moral and spiritual being, producing in us moral and spiritual vigour and health and symmetry. If it is not so apprehended — if it does not dwell in us as a fashioning nutritive force and inspiration, coming out in our daily life, then we have not vitally apprehended it. Look at this a little in detail. The life and teachings of Christ are the true model and standard for human life. That is a truth to which general assent is given. And what are the moral qualities which He manifested? He was meek and lowly at heart; He was painstaking with the feeble and prejudiced; He had sympathy; He had heroism; He saw the good there was in human nature, and sought to expand it. His was a Spirit of holy zeal; His was a Spirit of self-sacrifice. And His teachings harmonise with Himself. They bear the same heavenly stamp upon them. "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." "Love your enemies": "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Now look out upon every-day life. Are Christ and His teachings copied and obeyed with loving and willing obedience by those who profess to recognise and revere them? That is the vital point. If, after the duties of the day, you who admit Christ to be your example, were to be asked, "Have you taken Him as your model to-day in the practical concerns of life? Have you dealt with your fellow-men as He would deal with them? Have you bought and sold as you can suppose He would buy and sell? Have you kept your motives pure, as you know He would keep His motives pure? Have you regulated your thoughts and feelings as He would regulate His?" It is very possible to have Christ in our creed — to believe in Him as an historic personage; to believe that He came forth from the Father; to give earnest thought to the mastery of His unparalleled teachings, and yet be sadly wanting in heart-homage and devotedness to Him. One little living act of obedience outweighs in value all a man's mere philosophising and intellectual credence. Christ demands actual doing (Matthew 7:21). The future life is another truth to which general assent is given. This life is not all. It is, in relation to the magnitude and scope of our existence, but as the portal to the edifice. The life we live here is chequered and transitory, but that which is to come is everlasting. Now, the true life in relation to that great future is one of anticipation and earnest spiritual preparation. If we truly realised our citizenship to be yonder, we could not but be aliens here. Can the swallow love the frost and snow and leaden skies of our winter? Can the home-sick emigrant; forget the mother-country whence he came out? Can the man of refined taste and cultured mind be content amidst squalor and ignorance? Can the true-hearted mother be at rest while the wail of her babe in distress summons her to its cot? And if we have souls that know that their true mother-country is in a summer clime: that have been breathed into by the quickening Spirit of God, there will instinctively be a sense of alienship here; a patient waiting there may be, still a waiting for the redemption which draweth nigh. Now, what does a man's faith in the future do for him? What fruit does faith in immortality bear upon its branches? or, like the fig-tree which Christ cursed, has it nothing but leaves? The moral accountability of man to God is another generally accepted truth. Now what kind of life does a man's faith in tills truth develop? That is the great question. Is it society, or is it God that he has chiefly before him, in what he is and does? Consider this in reference to the motives. Are they pure? In our intercourse with each other, very often only the actions are seen; the motives are hidden away in the secret chamber of a man's own breast. But the Lord looketh on the heart. Now, does the faith which we have in God as the Judge, who looketh down into the springs of action, make us careful to purify and rightly regulate the secret and interior life? What does faith do? Now, the faith that leads to works is just what men often lack. There are several things that are secondary, which are commonly elevated into substitutes and equivalents for obedience. Men are losing sight of the real end of life — right doing and being — and resting in these lower and intermediate stages. Some rest in a correct theology. They have true and lofty principles in their creed; but — but they keep them in that form. They are not expounded into living blossom and fruit. There is another class whose aim it is to be happy. The end of a Christian life is gained, they imagine, when they are able to glow with gladsome emotions. But your emotions are only worth anything as they inspire to right action. That is their purpose — to make us strong for obedience. Another class rest in the observance of ordinances and religious ceremonies. Churches and ordinances and Sabbath-days are intended simply to be helps. And as means of grace they are indispensable. But the means are often elevated into an end of themselves, and many a man reckons he has been religious when he has only been gathering inspiration for religion. In such externalisms do men rest, and the solemn, noble path of obedience lies before them untrodden. Can a faith that does not carry them beyond these things, that does not stir them up to any self-denials, any active form of goodness, any culture of a right manhood, save them? What the better is any one for believing in God if in his life he is practically atheistic? What does it matter that a man believes in the love of God in Christ, if there is no response of love in his own heart? What is the profit of a man every day reading his Bible, with faith in its inspiration, if he goes forth into the world forgetting all its teachings? What is the moral worth of any sort of intellectual credence that leaves the life barren of good works? Can such faith save?

(T. Hammond.)

Believing that Jesus is the Son of God, yet not to imitate His character, not to follow His precepts, not to conform to His commands, is no more acceptable faith than to speak kind words to a neighbour, and not assist his wants is acceptable and satisfactory love. Suppose, therefore, a person to profess dependence on Christ Jesus — to profess, that is, that he knows the corruption of his heart, the infirmity of his faith, and consequently, that he trusts not to his own righteousness, but to the atonement made on the Cross for the unrighteous; supposing this, we say, these are excellent words, they represent the state of the Christian's mind; But still St. James is aware how prone a man's heart is to deceive him; and knowing this, he requires a proof of this dread of God's wrath, this hatred of sin, this love of Christ in delivering us from sin. "Thou hast faith"; thou professest to believe in Christ; I would not doubt your profession, or deny that your belief; but examine yourself, prove your own soul; let me witness a proof of your faith in your life and practice; how else can it be known?" Show me thy faith without thy worlds." Thou canst not; it is impossible. Thou canst not show it except by works, for faith is hidden in the heart; it cannot be seen of itself — it can be only judged of by its effects. It is like the life which animates the body; we cannot see it, we cannot tell what it depends on; but this we know, if the principle of life be sound and healthy, the man will breathe with freedom and move with ease. So, if there be sound and acceptable faith, though it lie deep in the recesses of the heart, its existence there will be evident; it will freely breathe in piety towards God — it will actively work in charity towards men. Here, then, is the reason why St. James requires us to show our faith by our works; because there can be no other proof of our having that faith at all, which will avail us in the sight of God. There may be a belief in Christ which the mind cannot resist, because the evidence of the Christian revelation is too strong to be set aside; there may be a belief in Christ which grows out of our birth and education, which we receive, like our language, from the country in which we are born; more than this, there may be a belief in Christ strong enough to disturb our conscience, and yet, it is to be feared, "a savour of death "rather than life, because it is a body without a spirit. It is not strong enough to quicken the soul with a new and vital principle — not powerful enough to "crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts" — not powerful enough to raise the heart from things below to things above, so that it shall "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," and "have its treasure in heaven." And all this is done, and must be done, by that faith which does justify a man in the sight of God. Such faith rests, indeed, upon historical truth; but it is much more than the belief of an historical fact: such faith is much more than national, though it rejoices in knowing that God hath chosen the country to which we belong as one to which His saving truth should be made known; such faith is not intellectual only, though it approves itself to the judgment of the renewed mind; such faith is not dead or inactive, but lively and energetic; it inspires laborious exertion; it breathes in love to God and man; it breaks forth in spiritual desires; it refreshes itself by spiritual meditation; it dreads what God's Word condemns — it approves what God's Word approves; it contends against the indwelling principle of sin — it aspires after the perfection of holiness, complete participation of the Divine nature.

(Abp. Sumner.)

The Church.
I had the privilege of opening a beautiful country church some years since in a neighbourhood surrounded almost entirely with infidels. The preacher directed my attention to a tall, vigorous man in the congregation, and said be would give me his history when the service was over. He was, it seems, a violent, passionate, close-fisted man. Not a farthing could anybody get out of him for the salvation of souls or for the elevation of humanity. "A few months ago," said the minister, "he gave his heart to Jesus. The infidels in the community said, 'Wait a little while; touch his pocket, and you will see where his religion is.' Presently," continued my friend, "I came to him with a subscription paper, and spoke of the difficulties and embarrassments under which we laboured in the neighbourhood, for want of a church. 'Well,' said the man, 'let us build a church.' 'What will you give us?' inquired the preacher. ' Fifty pounds,' was the prompt reply; and the minister passed through the community with the subscription paper, at the head of which was this amount, written in the gentleman's own handwriting, which surprised everybody. A few days afterwards the most trying circumstance of his life occurred, His dear wife trembled for him. 'Oh, my husband!' she exclaimed, 'don't go.' His reply way, 'I must go; my duty calls me there. I am perfectly cool and collected, I shall become excited, but I will not say a word, or do a thing out of the way.' He passed through the fiery ordeal without the least taint of anger upon him. The community then said, 'Surely there is something in this. You have reached his pocket, you have conquered his anger, and you have subtitled the man. There is power in the gospel of Christ.' "A few weeks after my visit there I received the sad intelligence that that gentleman had been buried. He had gone out into the forest, and, unfortunately, a tree fell on him and crushed him to the earth, and yet did not entirely destroy him. They carried him to the house, and sent for a physician and the minister. He calmly asked for the Bible, and read in a clear voice a chapter in St. John's Gospel. After shutting the Bible he closed his hands upon his breast; "and such a prayer," said my ministerial brother, "I never heard from mortal lip" for his wife, for his children, for his pastor, for the Church, and for his infidel friends. In a moment or two, after saying 'Amen,' he closed his eyes and sweetly fell asleep in Jesus. The infidels said, 'There is something in religion.' "A few weeks since I met with that good pastor again. I inquired about his infidel neighbours, and he replied, "All of them but one are happily converted to God."

(The Church.)

I will show thee my faith by my works.
The mode of instruction here proposed is the philosophical method of Scripture. It is to develop the character of faith by the test of experiment. It gives us the most vivid impressions of a genuine faith; it shows us what it is by its works.

I. SOME OF THE OPERATIONS OF FAITH IN VARIOUS SITUATIONS FITTED TO BRING OUT ITS NATURE.

II. SOME OF ITS LEADING CHARACTERISTICS.

1. It is a belief in Divine testimony respecting unseen things, with corresponding affections, purposes, and actions.

2. Faith is a reasonable thing. It is the perfection of reason to believe, not this false world, not the father of lies, but God; and especially to believe Him on subjects of too large grasp for our puny minds, and quite beyond the range of our senses, not excepting His declarations on the high mysteries of the Trinity and the atonement of His well-beloved Son.

3. Faith is bold and unbending. It gives inflexibility of purpose and action — not from obstinacy, ambition, or other unworthy motive — but simply because it rests on immutable truth.

4. Faith is very powerful. We have seen the proof, not in abstract reasoning, but in facts — in its actual works, exhibited by sundry devoted servants of God. Here is not theory, but experiment. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."

5. Another attribute of faith is sublimity. The scene spread out before its e) e, how vast! how boundless! even the whole circle of revealed truth.

6. Another obvious characteristic of faith is its moral excellence. Learn —

1. Its Divine origin.

2. Saving faith is the same in every age and nation.

3. Some of the victories which faith is called to achieve at the present day, and in the future.

(C. Yale.)

I. TRUE FAITH IS VISIBLE. The objects of faith indeed are invisible; an unseen God, an unseen Saviour, and an unseen world; but faith itself is not so; it is something that may be seen. It may not be so at all times, or in an equal degree; for as clouds are about the Divine throne, so they sometimes encompass the Christian, and hide his graces from himself and the view of others. Yet it is at all times visible to Him Whose eyes are as a flame of fire, and knows them that are His and them that are not so. He can see it, though the rank weed of unbelief growing by which overshadows it, spoils its beauty, and hinders its growth. Genuine faith produces such a change in the disposition and conduct that it may be seen.

II. TRUE FAITH IS MADE VISIBLE BY ITS FRUITS. Those who partake of the benefits of Christ's death will imitate the virtues of His life: and as they hope to be with Him in heaven, so they will endeavour to be like Him on earth. This only will prove the truth of our own religion, and recommend it to others; for it is not by thinking right, but doing well, that we are to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Neither the amiableness of our disposition, nor discernment into the mysteries of the gospel, nor flaming zeal, nor strict regard to modes of worship, though of Divine institution, will prove the reality of our religion without a sanctified heart and a holy life (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

1. We may observe, though works are distinct from faith, so distinct that they are frequently opposed to it, yet they always accompany it as the proper fruit and effect of saving faith, like water from the fountain, or light from the sun.

2. As good works are the concomitants, so also the touchstone of faith, and the rule by which we are to judge of its being genuine.

3. The truth of these propositions is confirmed by the examples which the apostle adduces.

III. THOSE WHO PRETEND TO FAITH, AND YET ARE DESTITUTE OF GOOD WORKS, ARE AWFULLY DECEIVED. Such will one day be the scorn of men and angels, and even of God Himself. If the heart be unhumbled and the life unholy, duties neglected and corruptions unsubdued, our faith is a mere pretence, and our hope is all a delusion. That faith which leaves a man where it finds him, as much attached to the world and under the power of sin and Satan as before, is no faith at all. Hence we may learn —

1. It is as impious to deny the utility and necessity of good works as it is to ascribe merit to them. They are the way to the kingdom, as one said, though not the cause of reigning.

2. All works performed before faith, or while in a state of unbelief, are no better than dead works, and cannot be acceptable with God. Works do not give value to faith, but it is faith that makes works acceptable; it is the tree that makes the fruit good, and not the fruit that makes the tree good.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

If a man would have an evidence that the sun hath just risen within our hemisphere, though it be not within his view as yet, he will see it better by looking west than by looking east; for, before he can see the body of the sun, he may see the light of it shining upon some high tower or mountain; and so by looking west he will see the sun has risen, or is rising in the east. So, when the world would have an evidence of your being a believer, they will not look to your faith, but to your works, and the rays and beams that flow from faith. And to look towards your works is to look away quite contrary to your faith; for as faith and works are contrary in the matter of justification, so faith renounces all works in point of dependence, though it produces them in point of performance. There. fore, seeing the world will not look to your heart, which they cannot see, but to your life, and will not look to your faith, which God only sees, but to your works which the world may see; Oh, take care that it be a working faith: "Show me thy faith by thy works."

(R. Erskine.)

If a man offer me the root of a tree to taste, I cannot say, this is such a pear, or apple, or plum; but if I see the fruit I can. If a man pretend faith to me, I must say to him, with St. James, can his faith save him? such a faith as that the apostle declares himself to mean — a dead faith — as all faith is that is inoperative and works not. But if I see his works I proceed the right way in judicature — I judge according to my evidence, and if any man will say, those works may be hypocritical, I may say of my witness, he may be perjured; but as long as I have no particular cause to think so, it is good evidence to me as to hear that man's oath, so to see this man's works.

(J. Donne.)

A prelate, since deceased, was present whose views were not favourable to the doctrine of Election. "My lord," said he, addressing the archbishop, "it appears to me that the young clergy of the present day are more anxious to teach the people high doctrine than to enforce those practical duties which are so much required." "I have no objection," said His Grace, "to high doctrine if high practice be also insisted upon; otherwise it must, of course, be injurious."

(Life of Archbishop Whately.)

St. James' sign is the best: "Show me thy faith by thy works." Faith makes the merchant diligent and venturous, and that makes him rich. Ferdinando of Arragon believed the story told him by Columbus, and therefore he furnished him with ships, and got the West Indies by his faith in the undertaker. But Henry VII. of England believed him not, and therefore trusted him not with shipping, and lost all the purchase of that faith.

(Jeremy Taylor, D. D.)

Saving faith is the nodus or ganglion, or nerve-centre, so to speak, where the most vital lines of force converge; the point whence radiate, as from the golden milestone in the Roman Forum, roads of influence and command to the utmost extremities of the empire of the soul.

(Robt. Whyte, D. D.)

Proctor's Gems of Thought.
Justifying faith according to Luther was not human assent, but a powerful, vivifying thing, which immediately works a change in the man, and makes him a new creature, and leads him to an entirely new and altered mode of life and conduct.

(Proctor's Gems of Thought.)

It appeared by the fruits it was a good land (Numbers 13:23). It appeared that Dorcas was a true believer by the coats she had made.

(J. Trapp.)

A bishop of the Episcopal Church says, "When I was about entering the ministry, I was one day in conversation with an old Christian friend, who said, "You are to be ordained; when you are ordained, preach to sinners as you find them; tell them to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and they shall be as safe as if they were in heaven; and then tell them to work like horses."

We are surely not despising fruits and flowers when we insist open the root from which they shall come. A. man may take separate acts of partial goodness, as you see children in the spring-time sticking daisies on the spikes of a thorn-twig picked from the hedges. But these will die. The basis of all righteousness is faith, and the manifestation of faith is practical righteousness. "Show Me thy faith by thy works" is Christ's teaching, quite as much as it is the teaching of His sturdy servant, James. And so we are going the shortest way to enrich lives with all the beauties of possible human perfection when we say, Begin at the beginning. The longest way round is the shortest way home; trust Him with all your heart first, and that will effloresce into whatsoever things are lovely and of good report.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The fundamental article of Christian belief is the existence of the one only living and true God. Unless this fundamental principle be admitted, there can be no such thing as personal accountableness — no such thing as either religion or morality in the world.

I. First, then, we call your attention to the infallible proofs by which we evince THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.

1. And first, we appeal to the works of God, in creation and in Providence.

2. I refer you, secondly, for proof to the Word of God, or that inspired testimony which He has granted of His mind and will.

3. This truth may be further evinced by a distinct consideration of the human structure, both in body and in mind.

4. We evince the existence of God from the consent of all nations, from the earliest period of time, in all habitable parts of the universe, down to the present hour.

5. I have only one more evidence to produce, which is this: that even Satan himself, who is the father of lies, never yet ventured to impugn the great truth for which I am contending.

II. Now, secondly, let me inquire WHAT WE BELIEVE CONCERNING THIS GOD, whose being is indubitably certain.

1. First we believe that God is one.

2. Secondly, we are taught to believe that God exists in a mode altogether unsearchable and incomprehensible; so that in the simple and undivided essence there are three distinguishable subsistences — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

3. Again, we believe that this God is a Being of all possible excellence, and of infinite glory and blessedness; infinitely good and infinitely great; of unsearchable wisdom, of inviolable truth, of immaculate purity, of exhaustless patience, of unbending equity, of incomparable benignity, and of boundless love.

4. We believe in the relations which this high and holy God sustains towards the human family. I must believe not only what God is, but what God is to me; and therefore say, "I believe in God the Father Almighty." I believe in Him as the creating Father; as the preserving Father, whose "tender mercies are over all His works." As the redeeming Father, as the governing Father.

III. THE CHARACTER AND INFLUENCE OF THAT BELIEF in the being of a God whenever it is sincere.

1. This belief must be personal.

2. This faith must be the result of knowledge, discernment, and conviction.

3. This faith must be fiducial and filial. It must be associated with complacency, love, trust — yes, and appropriation too.

4. Once more, this faith must be practical. It must issue in devotion, worship, communion, fellowship, holy fear of God, a cautious avoidance of all that will displease Him, and a conscientious performance of all that will be acceptable in His sight. It must be discovered by patient submission, and by an earnest desire after the present and everlasting enjoyment of Him as the supreme and all-satisfying Good.Conclusion:

1. I infer from this subject the folly and criminality of doubting and denying the existence of a God.

2. In the next place, we may infer the paramount duty of extending the knowledge of God, and promoting faith in His being, and government, and laws.

3. Finally, we infer the happiness of those who have the prospect of seeing God face to face, and enjoying Him as the supreme Good through eternal ages; to have the mind fixed upon Him, absorbed in Him, for ever serving and enjoying Him as the ultimate happiness!

(G. Clayton, M. A.)

The devils also believe, and tremble.
I. THEY ARE ENGAGED IN A COMMON WORK. Both are believers, Neither Christians nor devils are sceptics. The Christian believes in an unseen Saviour. Devils believe in that which is the foundation of all truth, that there is "one God." The Bible also teaches that they believe in many other things common to our creed; such as the Divinity of Christ and the approaching of a terrible retribution.

II. THEIR COMMON WORK PRODUCES OPPOSITE PERSONAL RESULTS.

1. The faith of Christians produces great mental happiness.

(1)Gratitude.

(2)Admiration.

(3)Benevolence.

(4)Hope.

2. The faith of devils produces great mental misery.

(1)Remorse for the past.

(2)Apprehension for the future.

III. THE CAUSE OF THIS GREAT DIFFERENCE IN THE PERSONAL RESULTS OF FAITH. The two classes occupy different standpoints in relation to truth. Lessons:

1. Both the happiness and misery of spiritual existences are independent of material circumstances.

2. Faith in moral truth, in all worlds, must always have an influence on the emotions.

3. The faith in Divine truth which is to save must be exercised now.

4. Spiritual happiness here is the great evidence of personal Christianity.

5. Heaven and hell are mental realities.

(D. Thomas.)

(1 Peter 1:8): — Why believing should in one case produce "joy unspeakable," and in another convulse the spirit with paroxysms of agony.

I. THE OBJECT OF FAITH IS THE SAME IN BOTH CASES. That Object is God — God as the Creator, Sustainer, and Saviour. Christians, while contemplating God, grow glad in His presence; their faith rises into rapture, "joy unspeakable and full of glory." But what of the devils? They gaze on the same object, but no cheering light flashes on their woe-worn countenance.

II. IN BOTH CASES THERE IS A KNOWLEDGE OF HISTORICAL FACTS. There is one marked difference, however, in this historic knowledge — viz., the Christian has read the history, but the devil has lived it! Startling is the reflection that Satan has been the contemporary of all ages! What, then, is the result of the Satanic knowledge? Does knowledge inspire joy? Nay! As Satan stands in the solemn temple of history, he trembles under the remorseless tyranny of self-condemnation!

III. IN BOTH CASES THERE IS A BELIEF IN DIVINE FAITHFULNESS. Satan never knew an instance in which the Divine faithfulness had failed! The Divine unchangeableness is a cause of terror to lost spirits. Hath God spoken, and shall He not perform? Can any suggest to Omniscience an idea which might reverse His purposes? The Divine immutability is, on the contrary, the source of the Christian's most rapturous joy! The Christian knows nothing of the suspense which fickleness would have occasioned, and which is so fatal to calmness and rapture; he rests his head on the assurances of the eternal.

IV. It still remains to be known why "believing" should be attended with results so diverse. We submit that the secret is this, viz., IN THE CASE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS ACCOMPANIED BY HOPE, WHEREAS IN THE CASE OF SATAN IT IS ASSOCIATED WITH UTTER HOPELESSNESS. Having cleared our way thus far, we are in a position to do two things, viz. —

1. To remove certain practical errors, and —

2. To explain the nature of the faith which produces "joy unspeakable and full of glory."

1. We now see that faith is not a mere intellectual exercise.

2. That faith is not a mere credence of Divine facts.

3. That faith is not a mere belief in Divine predictions. What, then, is the true faith? The faith which produces joy is the trust and confidence of the heart in the atonement and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ! It is easy to see the bearing of this argument on all efforts for the evangelisation of humanity.Let me remind you of three facts:

1. That on earth alone can joy-producing faith be exercised.

2. That the propagation of this faith is entrusted to human instrumentality.

3. That we are responsible for the propagation of this faith up to the extent of our capability.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Faith begins in conviction, and there are many who halt at this stage. They have heard the evidence, examined it, and are clearly, fully persuaded of its truth. But they never get beyond that. They are like a neap-tide as you have seen it rolling in from the sea. It comes with a demonstrative rush as though it would carry everything before it, but when it reaches a certain point there it stops, and with all the ocean at its back it does not exceed the mark where it is accustomed to pause. It is possible to reach the half-way point of conviction and not be saved. Sir Noel Paton received a chrysalis as a specimen to paint in a picture. It served the purpose, was wrapped in cotton, placed in a small tin box, put by in a cabinet, and forgotten. The spring time came, summer and autumn followed with more than wonted splendour, and again it was winter, when, while Sir Noel was looking for something else, his eyes fell upon the small tin box. He opened it and found, not the chrysalis, but a dead butterfly — one beautiful wing outstretched against the polished metal, the other partially developed and still entangled among the cotton. The chrysalis had burst into a half-formed butterfly and perished. So a soul may arrive at the half-way point of a full surrender, and yet perish short of it. "If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins."

Will; thou know, O vain man.
1. From that "Wilt thou know?" Presumers are either ignorant or inconsiderate. False and mistaken faith is usually a brat of darkness: either men do not understand what faith is, or do not consider what they do.

2. From that "O vain or empty man." Temporaries are but vain men; like empty vessels, full of wind, and make the greatest sound; they are full of windy presumptions and boasting professions.

(1)Full of wind, they have a little airy knowledge, such as puffeth up (2 Peter 1:8).

(2)Of a great sound and noise; can talk of grace, boast of knowledge, glory in their faith. A vain faith and a vain man are oft suited and matched.

3. Hypocrites must be roused with some asperity and sharpness. So the apostle, "O vain man"; so Christ, "O ye foolish and blind"; so John the Baptist, "O ye generation of vipers." Hypocrites are usually inconsiderate, and of a sleepy conscience, so that we must not whisper, but cry aloud.

4. An empty barren faith is a dead faith.(1) Because it may stand with a natural state, in which we are "dead in trespasses and sins."(2) Because it receiveth not the quickening influences of the Spirit.(3) Because it wanteth the effect of life, which is operation; all life is the beginning of operation, tendeth to operation, and is increased by operation; so faith is dead, like a root of a tree in the ground, when it cannot produce the ordinary effects and fruits of faith.(4) Because unavailable to eternal life, of no more use and service to you than a dead thing. Oh! pluck it off; who would suffer a dead plant in his garden? "Why cumbereth it the ground?" (Luke 13:7).

(T. Manton.)

The Greek adjective is almost literally the equivalent of our "empty-headed" as a term of contempt. It answers clearly to the "Raca" of Matthew 5:22.

(Dean Plumptre.)

empty-handed, and empty-hearted. Empty-headed, in being so deluded as to suppose that a dead faith can save; empty-handed, in being devoid of true spiritual riches; emptyhearted, in having no real love either for God or man.

(A. Plummer, . D. D.)

If I see fruit growing upon a tree, I know what tree it is upon which such fruit grows. And so if I see how a man lives, I know how he believes.

(Bp. Beveridge.)

(see R. V.): — Faith is the mother who gives birth to the virtues as her children.

(M. Luther.)

Abraham... Justified by works.
I. THOSE WHO WOULD HAVE ABRAHAM'S PRIVILEGES JUST LOOK TO IT THAT THEY HAVE ABRAHAM'S FAITH. He —

1. Received the promises with all humility.

2. Improved them with much fidelity.

II. BELIEVERS MUST SEE THAT THEY HONOUR AND JUSTIFY THEIR FAITH BY WORKS. They must —

1. Be loyal to Christ.

2. Work with a spirit suiting the gospel.

3. Be prudent.

4. Be thankful.

III. SERIOUS PURPOSES OF OBEDIENCE ARE ACCEPTED FOR OBEDIENCE.

IV. FAITH IS NOT GENUINE UNLESS IT PRODUCES SUCH ACTIONS AS ABRAHAM'S.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Our natural disposition with regard to spiritual exercises is a compound of indolence, coldness, and faint-heartedness; therefore we need continually to be stirred up, chafed, and animated by the Word of God and by prayer. As water, though naturally cold, admits of a high degree of heat, but if removed from the fire will gradually become cold again, so our religious affections, to whatever fervour, liveliness, and vigour they may have been raised, will, if not kept awake and recruited by fresh matter, insensibly abate into lukewarmness and even coldness. Though there still be latent spiritual life, its glow is only kept up by active stirring. Hence St. James says, that "through works is faith made perfect," that is, through the perpetual activity and stir of practical devotion.

(J. A. Bengel.)

The Friend of God.
Homilist.
I. THE FRIENDSHIP OF GOD IS CONNECTED WITH THE RICHEST COMMUNICATIONS OF PEACE AND SPIRITUAL COMFORT.

1. The consciousness that we are reconciled to the Most High, and have in Him a Father and a Friend, sheds over the mind a tranquillity which excels the excitement of worldly joy.

2. The knowledge of God supplies to the devout mind topics on which it loves to dwell, and which call forth into active exercise its purest and best emotions.

3. The imitation of the Divine character gives to the mind the lofty pleasures of benevolent feeling and action.

II. THE FRIENDSHIP OF GOD INVOLVES THE ASSURANCE OF SUCCOUR IN-SEASONS OF PERPLEXITY AND DANGER. His power, knowledge, wisdom, are without limit, and His ever-wakeful eye marks the interests of all who trust in Him.

III. THE FRIENDSHIP OF GOD ASSURES US THAT ALL THE OCCURRENCES OF LIFE, HOWEVER VARIED AND PERPLEXING, SHALL CONTRIBUTE TO AN ULTIMATE WELFARE. Afflictions themselves are part of God's wise and gracious discipline — evidences, not of anger, but of love.

IV. THE FRIENDSHIP OF GOD WILL BE THE PORTION OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT, WHEN THE SCENES OF MORTALITY ARE OVER.

(Homilist.)

Homilist.
The only true friendship is that spoken of here. In order to attain it, there must be —

I. PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE.

1. Spiritual.

2. Progressive.

3. Difficult to acquire.

II. TRUST.

1. Mutual.

2. Complete.

3. Founded on faith.

III. UNINTERRUPTED INTERCOURSE.

1. Sameness of interests.

2. Personal communication.

3. Loving devotion.

(Homilist.)

I. How GOD MANIFESTED HIS FRIENDSHIP TO ABRAHAM.

1. By His love.

2. By His sympathy.

3. By His care.

II. How ABRAHAM MANIFESTED HIS FRIENDSHIP TO GOD.

1. By confidence.

2. By communion.

3. By zeal and obedience.

(G. Brooks.)

Abraham was called the Friend of God because he was so. The title only declares a fact. The Father of the faithful was beyond all men "the Friend of God," and the head of that chosen race of believers whom Jesus calls His friends. James says not only that this was Abraham's name, but that he was called by it. Among the Jewish people Abraham was frequently spoken of as "the Friend of Goal." At this present moment, among the Arabs and other Mahommedans, the name of Abraham is not often mentioned, but they speak of him as Khalil Allah, or the "Friend of God," or more briefly as of Khalil, "the Friend." It is a noble title, not to be equalled by all the names of greatness which have been bestowed by princes, even if they should all meet in one. Patents of nobility are mere vanity when laid side by side with this transcendent honour. I think I hear you say, "Yes, it was indeed a high degree to which Abraham reached: so high that we cannot attain unto it." We also may be called friends of God. Jesus Himself invites us to live and act, and be His friends. Surely, none of us will neglect any gracious attainment which lies within the region of the possible. None of us will be content with a scanty measure of grace, when we may have life more abundantly. The other day there lauded on the shores of France a boatful of people sodden with rain and salt-water; they had lost all their luggage, and had nothing but what they stood upright in: they were glad, indeed, to have been saved from a wreck. It was well that they landed at all; but when it is my lot again to cross to France, I trust I shall put my foot on shore in a better plight than that. I would prefer to cross the Channel in comfort, and land with pleasure. There is all this difference between being "saved so as by fire," and having "an abundant entrance ministered unto us "into the kingdom. Let us enjoy heaven on the road to heaven. Why not? Aspire after the best gifts. Grow in grace. Increase in love to God, and in nearness of access to Him, that the Lord may at this good hour stoop down to us as our great Friend, and then lift us up to be known as His friends.

I. Look at the name, "Friend of God," and regard it as A TITLE TO BE WONDERED AT.

1. Admire and adore the condescending God who thus speaks of a man like ourselves, and calls him His friend. The heavens are not pure in His sight, and He charged His angels with folly, and yet He takes a man and sets him apart to be His friend. In this case the august Friend displays His pure love, since He has nothing to gain. You and I need friendship: we cannot always lead a self-contained and solitary life; we are refreshed by the companionship, sympathy, and advice of a like-minded comrade. No such necessity can be supposed of the All-sufficient God. We know how sweet it is to mingle the current of our life with that of some choice bosom friend. Can God have a friend? It cannot be that He is solitary: He is within Himself a whole, not only of unity, but of tri-personality — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — and herein is fellowship enough. Yet, behold, in infinite condescension the Lord deigns to seek the acquaintance of His own creature, the love of man, the friendship of Abraham. Friendship cannot be all on one side. In this particular instance it is intended that we should know that while God was Abraham's Friend, this was not all; but Abraham was God's friend. He received and returned the friendship of God. Friendship creates a measure of equality between the persons concerned. When we say of two men that they are friends, we put them down in the same list; but what condescension on the Lord's part to be on terms of friendship with a man! Again, I say, no nobility is comparable to this. Parmenio was a great general, but all his fame in that direction is forgotten in the fact that he was known as the friend of Alexander. He had a great love for Alexander as a man, whereas others only cared for him as a conqueror and a monarch; and Alexander, perceiving this, placed great reliance upon Parmenio. Abraham loved God for God's sake, and followed Him fully, and so the Lord made him His confidant, and found pleasure in manifesting Himself to him, and in trusting to him His sacred oracles. O Lord, how excellent is Thy lovingkindness, that Thou shouldest make a man Thy friend!

2. I want you also to note the singular excellence of Abraham. How could he have been God's friend had not grace wrought wonderfully in him? A man is known through his friends: you cannot help judging a person by his companions. Was it not a great venture for God to call any man His friend? for we are led to judge the character of God by the character of the man whom He selects to be His friend. Yes; and, though a man with like passions with us, and subject to weaknesses which the Holy Spirit has not hesitated to record, yet Abraham was a singularly admirable character. The Spirit of God produced in him a deep sincerity, a firm principle, and a noble bearing.

3. Follow me while I note some of the points in which this Divine friendship showed itself.(1) The Lord often visited Abraham (Genesis 15:11 17:1; 18:1, etc.).(2) In consequence of these visits of friendship paid to Abraham, secrets were disclosed (Genesis 15:13-16; Genesis 17:16-21; Genesis 18:17-19). Abraham, on his part, had no secrets, but laid bare his heart to the inspection of his Divine Friend. Visits were received, and secrets were made known, and thus friendship grew.(3) More than that, compacts were entered into. On certain grand occasions we read: "The Lord made a covenant with Abram." Once with solemn sacrifice a light passed between the divided portions of the victims. At another time it is written that God sware by Himself, saying, "Surely, blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee." The two friends grasped hands, and pledged their troth.(4) This friendship resulted in the bestowal of innumerable benefits. The life of Abraham was rich with mercies. He was singularly favoured in all things to which he set his hand. The Lord is a Friend who can never know a limit in blessing His friends. Having loved His own He loves them to the end. To Abraham through-the grace of his Divine Friend difficulties were blessings, trials were blessings, and the sharpest test of all was the most ennobling blessing.(5) Since Abraham was God's friend, God accepted his pleadings, and was moved by his influence. Friends ever have an ear for friends. When Abraham pleaded with God for Sodom, the Lord patiently hearkened to his renewed pleadings. Lot was rescued, and Zoar was spared, in answer to that prayer; just as Ishmael had been endowed with earthly blessings in response to the pleading, "O that Ishmael might live before Thee!" and just as the household of Abimelech had been healed in answer to Abraham's supplication.(6) There was also between these friends a mutual love and delight. Abraham rejoiced in Jehovah! He was his shield, and his exceeding great reward, and the Lord Himself delighted to commune with Abraham.(7) Observe, too, that this friendship was maintained with great constancy. The Lord never forsook Abraham: even when the patriarch erred, the Lord remembered and rescued him. He did not cast him off in old age. Constancy is also seen on the human side of this renowned friendship: Abraham did not turn aside to worship any false God.(8) More than that, the Lord kept His friendship to Abraham by favouring his posterity. The Lord styled Israel, even rebellious Israel, "The seed of Abraham My friend" (Isaiah 41:8).

II. Now notice THE TITLE VINDICATED. Abraham was the Friend of God in a truthful sense. There was great propriety and fulness of meaning in the name as applied to him.

1. Abraham's trust in God was implicit. Bathing his forehead in the sunlight of Jehovah's love he dwelt beyond all questions and mistrusts. Oh, happy man, to know no scepticisms, but heroically to believe! He was a perfect child towards God, and therefore a complete man.

2. Next, there was joined to this implicit trust a practical confidence as to the accomplishment of everything that God had promised. Faith is to credit contradictions, and to believe impossibilities, when Jehovah's word is to the front. If you and I can do this, then we can enter into friendship with God, but not else; for distrust is the death of friendship.

3. Next to this, Abraham's obedience to God was unquestioning. Whatever God bade him do, he did it promptly and thoroughly. He was God's servant and yet His friend; therefore he obeyed as seeing Him that is invisible, and trusting Him whom he could not understand.

4. Abraham's desire for God's glory was uppermost at all times. He did not what others would have done, because he feared the Lord. He did not want that a petty princeling, or indeed anybody, should boast of enriching Abraham: he trusted solely in his God, and though he had a perfect right to have taken the spoils of war which were his by capture, yet he would not touch them lest the name of his God should be in the least dishonoured (Genesis 14:22-24).

5. Abraham's communion with God was constant. Oh, happy man, that dwelt on high while men were grovelling at his feet! Oh, that you and I may be cleansed to such a pure, holy, and noble life that we, too, may be rightly called the Friends of God!

III. Regard this name as THE TITLE TO BE SOUGHT AFTER. Oh, that we may get to ourselves this good degree, this diploma, as "Friend of God"! Do you wish to be a friend of God?

1. Well, then, you must be fully reconciled to Him. Love must be created in your heart; gratitude must beget attachment, and attachment must cause delight. You must rejoice in the Lord, and maintain close intercourse with Him.

2. To be friends, we must exercise a mutual choice: the God who has chosen you must be chosen by you. Most deliberately, heartily, resolutely, undividedly, you must choose God to be your God and your Friend. But you have not gone far enough yet.

3. If we are to be the friends of God, there must be a conformity of heart, and will, and design, and character to God. Can two walk together except they be agreed? Our lives must, in the main, run in parallel lines with the life of the gracious, holy, and loving God, or else we shall be walking contrary to Him, and He will walk contrary to us.

4. If we have got as far as that, then the next thing will surely follow — there must be a continual intercourse. The friend of God must not spend a day without God, and he must undertake no work apart from his God.

5. If we are to be the friends of God we must be co-partners with Him. He gives over to us all that He has; and friendship with God will necessitate that we give to Him all that we have.

6. Friendship, if it exists, will breed mutual delight. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him. I am sure if we are God's friends our greatest joy is to draw near to God, even to God our exceeding joy.

IV. THE TITLE TO BE UTILISED for practical purposes.

1. Here is a great encouragement to the people of God. See the possibility that lies within your reach — make it a reality at once.

2. Next, here is solemn thought for those who would be friends of God. A man's friend must show himself friendly, and behave with tender care for his friend. A little word from a friend will pain you much more than a fierce slander from an enemy.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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