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face that there was one passage in the Epistle, which, though written with no such purpose, might easily, interpreted as the Pharisees would interpret it, seem to give a countenance to the position which they maintained. St James had written, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (ch. ii. 10). How easy it would be for the Judaisers to lay hold of such words, and ignoring the fact that he was speaking of the Law, new and yet eternal, the Law of the King, and yet the Law of freedom, to represent him as insisting on the observance of the whole Mosaic Code, as urging that the neglect of circumcision and new moons and sabbaths stood on the same footing as the violation of the great Laws of duty which were not of to-day or yesterday !
4. The reference to the persecutions to which the brethren were exposed in ch. ii. 6, is, it will be noted, in the present tense. It indicates a stage of suffering which has not yet receded into the past of history. The two persecutions to which the Churches of Judæa were exposed prior to the Council of Jerusalem were, (1) that in which Saul, the Pharisee, made himself the tool of the Sadducean priesthood, and in which deeds of violence were done precisely corresponding to St James's description (Acts ix. 2), and (2) that in which Herod Agrippa, seeking probably to gain the support of that priesthood as well as of the people, took a leading part (Acts xii. 1, 2). It is on the death of James the son of Zebedee in that persecution that the brother of the Lord, as we have seen, first comes into a new prominence, and it is not an improbable supposition that it was in face of the new responsibilities thus imposed upon him, that he wrote the Epistle that bears his name.
5. Another coincidence will help us, it is believed, to approximate yet more closely to the date as to which we are enquiring. If we believe, as is shewn in the notes on ch. ii. 15-18 to be probable, that the words which speak of the contrast between the works of one who feeds the hungry and clothes the naked, and the dead faith of one who rests in an orthodox belief, refer, more or less directly, to the generous help that had been given by the disciples at Antioch to the suffering poor at Jerusalem, we find fresh grounds for the conclusion already arrived at; and accepting the dates commonly received for the chronology of the Acts, we have the years between A. D. 44, the date of the help so given, and A. D. 51, the year of the Council, as the limits within which we may place the composition of the Epistle. In all probability, i.e. it was written while Paul and urnabas were absent from Antioch on their first missionary journey (Acts xiii.), and it was when they returned from their labours that they found their work thwarted and threatened by the false interpretation which had been put upon its teaching. The probable reference to the name of Christian in ch. ii. 7 is, it is obvious, in agreement with this conclusion. It may be mentioned that the view here taken agrees in the main with that maintained by Alford (Commentary), by Neander (Pflanzung und Leitung, 11. p. 576), and most recent Commentators, and is accepted, as far as the date of the Epistle is concerned, by Mr Bassett (Introduction to Commentary). Bishop Wordsworth (Introduction to St James), following Lardner and De Wette and the school of Commentators who see in St James's teaching that which was intended to correct inferences drawn from St Paul's, places it naturally after the Epistles to the Galatians and Romans, circ. A.D. 61. It may be questioned, however, in addition to the positive arguments for the earlier date and against the presence of any such purpose in St James's thoughts, whether copies of those Epistles were likely to have found their way to Jerusalem during St James's life-time. Apostolical epistles were not likely to be transcribed by the hundred and circulated broadcast in that early age, and the burden of proof lies on those who assume that copies of what was written for Rome or Galatia would be at once despatched by a special courier to the Bishop of Jerusalem. The date of A. D. 61 or 62, shortly before the martyrdom of James in the latter year, must therefore be rejected, as supported by no adequate proof, and as being against the balance of the circumstantial evidence which has been here adduced.
shadow of a doubt. Even if there were not, as has been said . above, an unbroken consent of all historical, traditional, and legendary notices as to the continued residence of the Bishop of Jerusalem in the city which was, in modern language, his see, the local colouring of the Epistle would indicate with sufficient clearness where the writer lived. He speaks, as the prophets of Israel had done, of the early and the latter rain (ch. v. 7); the hot blast of the Kausón or Simoom of the desert (ch. i. 11), the brackish springs of the hills of Judah and Benjamin (ch. iii. 11), the figs, the olives, and the vines with which those hills were clothed (ch. iii. 12),-all these form part of the surroundings of the writer. Storms and tempests, such as might have been seen on the sea of Galilee or in visits to Cæsarea or Joppa, and the power of man to guide the great ships safely through them, have at some time or other been familiar to him (ch. iii. 4).
ANALYSIS OF THE EPISTLE.
The structure of the Epistle is, as every reader will feel, altogether informal and unsystematic, and an analysis can hardly aim at more than tracking the succession of topics and indicating, where possible, the latent sequence of thought.
CHAP. I. Writing to those of whom he thinks as exposed to trials and temptations, he opens with words of comfort as to the work they are meant to do (1–4). That they may accomplish that work men want the wisdom which learns the lessons of experience, and wisdom is given to those who ask for it in faith (5-7). In want of faith there is instability, and the secret reason why faith is in most men. so weak is that they prefer the false riches to the true. Conquer that temptation, and trials lead straight on to the crown of life (8—12).
Nor must men think that they can plead destiny and God's Will as an excuse for yielding to temptation. That Will is
absolutely righteous. Evil is found not in circumstances but in man's lust and appetite (13—17). From God comes all good and nothing but good, above all, the highest good of the Word of truth which regenerates our life (18—21). Well for us, if we receive that Word and do it; woe for us, if we only think we have received it, and substitute a ritual observance for works of pitying love (22—27).
CHAP. II. How hollow such a ritual religion may be is seen even in the synagogues of believing Jews. They profess faith in Him who was poor Himself and the Friend of the poor, and in the very place where they meet to worship Him they insult the poor and act with base servility towards the rich. Small as men may think this fault, it is a wilful transgression of the law of Christ by which we are to be judged (1-13). It will profit such breakers of the Law little to say that they have maintained the faith of Israel in the Unity of the Godhead in the midst of the worshippers of Gods many and Lords many. Faith without works is dead, and the ultimate acquittal and acceptance of a man will depend not so much on what he has believed as on the manner in which belief has influenced practice (14-26).
CHAP. III. Nor was this the only evil of which the Christian synagogue was the scene. Men were struggling for preeminence as teachers, each with his doctrine and interpretation. Thence came wrangling and debate, and the tongue shot forth the fiery arrows of bitter words (148). To suppose that a man could be wise or religious while he was uttering curses and anathemas was as monstrous as any natural portent, salt and sweet water gushing from the same spring, figs borne by olivetrees, and the like (9—12). Far other than that was the true wisdom that comes from above. Let men look first on this picture and then on that, and so make their choice (13—18).
CHAP. IV. In strong contrast with the life regulated by such a wisdom is the unwisdom of those who think only of gratifying the promptings of their lower nature. From those promptings comes nothing but discords and confusion. Men must choose once more between the friendship of the world and that of God, between the lower and the higher life (1–8). Repentance, humility, the temper that refrains from judging, are the indispensable conditions of all true blessedness (9—12). The eagerness that throws its selfish aims and plans into the future, near or far, must be repressed by dwelling on the shortness and uncertainty of life (13—17).
CHAP. V. As if conscious that he had nearly reached the limit of his Epistle, the writer takes up the more solemn tone of the older prophets in his warnings to the rich. They little know the miseries which he foresees as close at hand, the swift judgment that is coming upon the oppressors and persecutors (1–7). What is a thought of terror for them is, however, one of encouragement and comfort for the patient sufferers. The "end of the Lord” for such, will be as full of blessing as that of Job and the prophets who had endured patiently in the days of old (7-11). A few more rules of life are needed for men's daily conduct. To abstain from rash and random oaths; to find in prayer and psalmody the true utterance of sorrow or of joy (12, 13); to trust to simple remedies and the prayer of faith in times of sickness (14, 15); to confess faults, one to another, in the belief that the prayer for forgiveness and other spiritual blessings is as mighty now as was Elijah's prayer for drought or rain (17, 18); to think not only or chiefly of saving ourselves, but to aim by prayer and counsel and act, at saving others (19, 20)—this is the true pattern of the life of Christ's disciples. Having said this, the writer has not ng ore to say, and the Epistle ends.