James 5:10
Brothers, as an example of patience in affliction, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Good ExamplesB. C. Sowden.James 5:10
Patience Aids Every VirtueJames 5:10
Patience Reduces PainHenry Smith.James 5:10
The Uses of AfflictionThe StudyJames 5:10
What is AfflictionJames 5:10
The Coming of the LordT.F. Lockyear James 5:7-11
Bear and ForbearC. Jerdan James 5:9-11
Here we have another exhortation to patience, with other examples of its exercise. In vers. 7, 8, however, the apostle has had in view the persecutions which believers suffer at the hands of the ungodly; while he now refers to the trial of patience which arises from collision of feeling among Christian brethren themselves.

I. A WARNING AGAINST IMPATIENCE WITH ONE ANOTHER. (Ver. 9.) "Murmur not, brethren," implies that believers are apt within their hearts, if not also openly, to complain of each other. Indeed, it sometimes requires greater patience to bear with composure the little frictions of feeling to which close contact with Christian brethren exposes, than to endure open and overt wrongs at the hands of persons who are not such. The warning has a lesson:

1. For the family circle. What a happy society is that of a well-ordered family, where love reigns between husband and wife, and where the parents enjoy the confidence and obedience of wisely trained children! But this fireside happiness can be enjoyed only in connection with constant mutual forbearance. How prone, sometimes, are even husband and wife to misunderstand each other! And how often are households made unhappy by envying and quarrelling among the children! Let us remember that the persons who live in the same house with us are in the very best position for appraising the value of our Christian profession. They know at least whether we are learning to bear kindly with the infirmities of our own relations, and to endure with patience petty discomforts in domestic life. The grace of God within the soul will enable us to "walk within our house with a perfect heart" (Psalm 101:2).

2. For the business circle. How many offences arise among Christian men when engaged in the toil and strain of commercial competition! One brother grudges the worldly successes of his neighbor; and perhaps his heart harbors against him uncharitable accusations of dishonest dealing. But, as Abraham long ago was content that Lot should appropriate to himself the best of the land rather than that their herdmen should quarrel, so still it will do a Christian man less harm to make sometimes what is financially a bad bargain, than to soil his soul by cherishing evil thoughts regarding any brother believer.

3. For the Church circle. There is apt to be murmuring and grumbling in ecclesiastical life. Sometimes the spiritual office-bearers of a congregation get but little thanks for the work which they do. Sometimes, also, the people forget that they ought to have large mutual patience with one another. The liberal progress-loving member is apt to groan over the attitude of his conservative let-things-alone brother; and the educated and cultured Christian may fail at times to forbear with the man of narrow and exclusive views. The exemplary Church member, while ready at all times to maintain and defend his own opinions, is yet willing gracefully to yield (wherever conscience does not forbid) to what the majority decide upon, that thereby he may promote the general peace and edification.

II. THE SANCTION BY WHICH THIS WARNING IS ENFORCED. (Ver. 9.) James employs a sweetly persuasive motive in the word "brethren." To complain of each other is to sin against the highest and most sacred brotherhood. This motive, however, is only lightly touched, in passing. The apostle backs up his warning with a solemn sanction. Echoing, as he does so often, his Master's words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:1), he speaks of the bar of God, and of the Lord Christ the Judge. To refuse to forbear with brethren, he says, amounts virtually to an assumption of the judicial office, and will expose one's self to be "judged." For what right have we to judge our brethren? We lack the necessary discrimination; our own hearts are impure; and we shall very soon have ourselves to appear before the judgment-bar. Already, indeed, "the Judge standeth before the doors." He is near at hand, to discharge perfectly those functions which we are so prone to usurp; and, in doing so, to condemn all who may have been guilty of such usurpation.

III. THE ENCOURAGEMENT AFFORDED BY CERTAIN OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES. (Vers. 10, 11.) It should cheer us, under this and every other form of trial, to remember how the great seers and saints of old endured their afflictions.

1. The example of the prophets. (Ver. 10.) The Jewish Christians had a deep reverence for the memory of these noble men. The prophets had been the religious teachers of ancient Israel; through them the Divine Spirit himself had spoken. The influence which they exercised while they lived had sometimes been prodigious; indeed, their power was often greater than the power of the sovereign. Yet the lot of the prophets had been one of sore affliction. They were an example to the New Testament Church:

(1) Of suffering. Their trials came upon them as the result of the fidelity with which they "spake in the name of the Lord." It was so with Moses, Elijah, Micaiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel. The Jews indeed were accustomed to confess that the prophets generally had been persecuted (Matthew 23:30, 37; Acts 7:52; Hebrews 11:36-38). No wonder, then, since trouble fell on these great men, that it should fall on us. We may be well contented to follow in the faith that has been trodden by "the goodly fellowship."

(2) Of long-suffering. We are to think also of the meekness of the prophets when enduring their unparalleled afflictions. They were sorely tried by the murmurings of their "brethren," to whom they spoke the Word of God; yet how patiently they bore it all! They laid hold upon the Divine strength, and thus learned to bear and forbear. And so, despite their infirmities and occasional lapses from patience, of these men "the world was not worthy."

2. The example of Job. (Ver. 11.) Although the Book of Job is a poem, our apostle evidently believed it to have an underlying basis of veritable history. The man Job actually existed; and his proverbial patience is an example to the Church. Think of the dreadful distresses which came thick and fast upon him. By successive strokes he was deprived of property, family, health, reputation, and true sympathy. Yet Job left his sufferings with God. He learned to forbear with the bigotry and stupidity of his friends. He evinced at last, in spite of some serious failures, a spirit of perfect submission to the Divine will. He interceded for his misguided comforters; and God forgave them. Job's case, however, is introduced here chiefly with the view of pointing to "the end" or conclusion which the Lord gave to him (Job 42:12). His God, whom he feared, rewarded signally, even in this life, his wonderful patience. And the great lesson which we should learn from Job's career is "that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful." He is so in the very sending of trial, in the measure of it, in the grace which he gives to bear it, in the unraveling of its merciful purpose, and in the happy issues with which he rewards his people, when they "have been approved" (James 1:12). Trial is a goodly discipline intended to prepare for the "goodly heritage;" and thus they will be "bleared' who shall have "endured." - C.J.

An example of suffering affliction
Man is so formed by nature that examples, whether good or bad, have a great influence upon him. The bad, indeed, have more power to corrupt than the good to reform the world: nevertheless, upon all who are well disposed, good examples are not without a considerable effect. Good examples in general tend to establish us in the belief of the infinite advantages of true religion, which appears with most convincing evidence when, in the lives and actions of those who profess it, we behold a lovely counterpart of its Divine doctrines and admirable precepts. The cause is known by its effects, the fountain by its streams. Good examples are further advantageous as they are corrective: they strongly operate upon the principles of an ingenuous shame, and therefore contribute to reform the vicious and to improve the virtuous. We may also observe that such good and amiable models are powerfully attractive. Their lustre is truly bright, their beauty truly alluring: they seize on our esteem, steal our affections, and so insinuate themselves into the soul as by insensible degrees to transform it into their own likeness. When the sincere follower of Christ contemplates the illustrious patterns held up to him in Scripture, he will naturally be led to reflect that he is not single in the difficulties of the human race. Through the Divine blessing and assistance he will determine to tread the same path, and, like them, despise the allurements and terrors of the world. It is highly useful to attend not only to the patterns proposed in Scripture, but also to all those good examples which through any other means fall within the sphere of our knowledge; more particularly of such persons as have been persecuted for righteousness' sake, and have with heroic fortitude borne witness to the truth in the face of sufferings and death. If we have borne any particular relation to persons eminent for piety and virtue, their examples ought to be peculiarly beneficial to us. It may be presumed that, by our greater affection for such endeared friends, we shall be better prepared to receive the influence of their good examples. If we have had the benefit of their instructions and reproofs, of their admonitions, prayers and counsels, we shall be the more inexcusable if we are not disposed to resemble them. Eminent examples of piety and virtue, whether near or more remote, are like lights set up in the world for the direction of mankind in general, and for the comfort of the good: some of these, like the luminaries of heaven, extend their influence to all nations and times. In order to induce us to imitate those excellent examples which are held forth to us in Scripture, or which by any other means come within the circle of our knowledge, let us attend to the following encouraging considerations.

1. We serve the same God and Father. He is as deserving of the zeal and fidelity of His servants now as ever, has the same blessings treasured up in Himself, the same power in heaven, and the same care of His people here on earth. If we cultivate repentance and faith, piety and virtue, we have the same hopes of acquiring His favour, for He is "no respecter of persons."

2. Another encouraging circumstance is that we profess the same doctrine in general even with those who lived before the time of Christ.

3. Again, we are blessed with the same assistance, we are favoured with the same outward means and institutions, we are blessed with the public worship of God, the benefit of prayer, of the preaching His Word, and of the administration of the sacraments; we have moral and religious treatises in abundance, doctrinal, practical and devotional. Nor is there any want of internal assistance and consolation that either our own weakness, the irregularity of our passions, or the temptations with which we are encompassed, may render necessary to encourage us in our Christian course.

4. To conclude all, let it be considered that we have the promise and expectation of the same reward with them. Attentively, therefore, let us eye all the good examples with which we are acquainted that we may catch a portion of that heavenly ardour which animated them.

(B. C. Sowden.)

Affliction is the dark soil in which is deposited the heavenly seed, that germinates, and brings forth fruit to the glory of God. Affliction is a furnace, in whose ardent flame the Refiner of souls is consuming our human imperfections. Affliction is a rod, under whose kindly chastisement the Father of Spirits is educating us for immortality. Affliction is a baptism, from whose cleansing wave the saints of the Most High come forth fit for the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Affliction is a cup, whose bitter draught is administered by the good Physician to purify our spiritual natures. Affliction is a dark cloud, on which the God of covenant has painted the rainbow of hope, and which He has irradiated with the halo of celestial glory. Would you, then, bring forth much fruit? would you be purified of remaining imperfections? would you be trained for immortality? would you be fitted for the marriage-supper? would you be sanctified in your spiritual nature? would you be encircled in the bow of promise or adorned with the halo of glory? You must needs suffer affliction; for "it is through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom."

The Study.
1. God visits with sickness to cause careless sinners to bethink themselves concerning their souls' estate, who, perhaps, never had a serious thought about it before.

2. God visits us with sickness in order to instruct and teach us things we know not (Psalm 90:12). The path of the cross is the path of light.

3. God sends such trials and distresses in order to mortify and kill sin in us.

4. God sends sickness to awaken in us the spirit of prayer and supplication, and make us more earnest and importunate in our addresses to the throne of grace.

5. Another end is to loosen our hearts from the things of the world, and cause us to look and long for heaven.

6. God designs to make the world bitter, and Christ sweet to us.

7. God visits with sickness and distress in order both to prove and improve His people's graces (Deuteronomy 8:2; Revelation 2:10). Grace is hereby both tried and strengthened.

8. God's aim is to awaken us to redeem time, to prepare for flitting, and clear up our evidence for heaven.

(The Study.)

And of patience.
Patience to the soul is as bread to the body, the staff of either the natural or spiritual life; we eat bread with all our meats, both for health and relish; bread with flesh, bread with fish, bread with broths and fruits. Such is patience to every virtue; we must hope with patience, and pray in patience, and love with patience, and whatsoever good thing we do, let it be done in patience.

As the lid is made to open and shut, to save the eye; so patience is set to keep the soul, and save the heart whole to cheer the body again. Therefore, if you mark when you can go by an offence and take a little wrong, and suffer trouble quietly, you have a kind of peace and joy in your heart, as if you had gotten a victory; and the more your patience is, still the less your pain is. For as a light burden, borne at the arm's end, weigheth heavier by much than a burden of treble weight if it be borne upon the shoulders, which are made to bear; so if a man set impatience to bear a cross, which is not fit to bear, it will grumble and murmur, and start and shrink, and let the burden fall upon his head; like a broken staff which promiseth to help him over the water, and leaveth him in the ditch. But if you put it to patience, and set her to bear it which is appointed to bear, she is like the hearty spies that came from Canaan, and said, "It is nothing to overcome them"; so patience saith, "It is nothing to bear, it is nothing to fast, it is nothing to watch, it is nothing to labour, it is nothing to be envied, it is nothing to be backbited, it is nothing to be imprisoned; "In all these things we are more than conquerors."

(Henry Smith.)

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