Page images


and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it

rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six 18 months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one 20 convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the

had himself referred to that history when he sought to call down fire from heaven on the village of the Samaritans (Luke ix. 54). The inference is, at the best, uncertain. It is, perhaps, more to the purpose to note that the son of Sirach, with whose teaching that of the Epistle presents so many parallels, had dwelt with great fulness on the history of Elijah (Ecclus. xlviii. 1-12). It is remarkable that the Old Testament narrative does not directly state that the drought and the rain came as an answer to Elijah's prayer, and that this is therefore an inference drawn by St James from the fact of the attitude of supplication described in 1 Kings xviii. 42. An interesting coincidence in connexion with this reference to Elijah's history presents itself in the narrative given in Josephus (Ant. xviii. 8, § 6) of the troubles caused by Caligula's insane attempt to set up his statue in the Temple at Jerusalem. Petronius, the then Governor of Judæa, was moved by the passionate entreaties of the people, and supported the efforts made by Agrippa I., who remained at Rome, to turn the Emperor from his purpose. It was one of the years of drought that brought about the great famine foretold by Agabus (Acts xi. 28). No rain had fallen for many weeks, and the people-Christians, we may well believe, as well as Jews, though Josephus, of course, makes no mention of the former-were “instant in prayer,” calling upon the Lord God of Israel to send rain upon the earth. Suddenly rain fell in a plenteous shower from an almost cloudless sky. The earth was refreshed, and the pressing danger averted. Petronius, Josephus relates, was much moved by this manifestation, this Epiphany, of the Divine Power, and looked upon it partly as an answer to the prayers of the people, partly as the reward of the equity which he had shewn in dealing with them. According to the date which, on independent grounds, has here been assigned to St James's Epistle, the event referred to must have happened but a few months before, or but a few months after, it. If before, he may well have had it in his thoughts. If after, it may well have been in part the effect of his teaching. Students of Church History will remember the strikingly parallel instance of the prayers of the soldiers of the Thundering Legion in the Expedition of Marcus Aurelius against the Marcomanni (Euseb. Hist. v. 5. Tertull. A pol. c. 5).

19. if any of you do err from the truth, and one conviert him...] Better, as the verb is passive, if any of you be led astray. The "truth” here is obviously not the faith which was common to Jews and Christians, but specifically “the truth as it is in Jesus," the truth which the “ brethren,” who held the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ” (ch. ii. 1), had received as their inheritance. To convert one who had so strayed, in thought or will, in belief or act, was to bring him back to the truth.

sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

20. from the error of his way] The noun always involves the idea of being deceived as well as erring. Comp. 2 Pet. ii. 18, iii. 17; 1 John iv. 6.

shall save a soul from death] The soul is obviously that of the sinner who is converted. Death, bodily and spiritual, would be the outcome of the error if he were left alone, and in being rescued from the error he is therefore saved also from death. and shall hide a multitude of sins] The

phrase is one of those which St James has in common with St Peter (1 Pet. iv. 8). It occurs also in the LXX. of Ps. lxxxv. 2, and in a nearly identical form in Ps. xxxii. I. The Hebrew, and English version, of Prov. X. 12 present a still closer parallel, but the LXX. seems to have followed a different text, and gives “Friendship covers all those that are not contentious.' The context leaves hardly any room for doubt that the “sins” which are thought of as covered are primarily those of the man converted, and not those of the converter. There is, however, a studied generality in the form of the teaching, which seems to emphasise the wide blessedness of love. In the very act of seeking to convert one for whom we care we must turn to God ourselves, and in covering the past sins of another our own also are covered. In such an act love reaches its highest point, and that love includes the faith in God which is the condition of forgive

The absence of any formal close to the Epistle is in many ways remarkable. In this respect it stands absolutely alone in the New Testament, the nearest approach to it being found in 1 John v. 21. It is a possible explanation of this peculiarity, that we have lost the conclusion of the Epistle. It is, however, more probable that the abruptness is that of emphasis. The writer had given utterance to a truth which he desired above all things to impress on the minds of his readers, and he could not do this more effectually than by making it the last word he wrote to them.




Opinions of the Press. “The modesty of the general title of this series has, we believe, led many to misunderstand its character and underrate its value. The books are well suited for study in the upper forms of our best schools, but not the less are they adapted to the wants of all Bible students who are not specialists. We doubt, indeed, whether any of the numerous popular commentaries recently issued this country will be found more serviceable for general use.”—Academy,

“A very important work in the nature of a Scriptural text-book foi the use of students has been undertaken by the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press-namely, the separate issue of the several books of the Bible, each edited and annotated by some Biblical scholar of high reputation.... The value of the work as an aid to Biblical study, nol merely in schools but among people of all classes who are desirous to have intelligent knowledge of the Scriptures, cannot easily be overestimated.”—The Scotsman.

“Dr MACLEAR's commentary for Schools on The Book of Joshua is, as may be anticipated from him, clear and compendious. The historical books of the Old Testament are especially adapted for such an exegesis, elucidating many minute points, which might escape the observation of a less careful student. Another volume of the same series, The Gospel of st Matthew, with Mr Carr's annotations, deserves equally high praise. The commentary is terse and scholarly, without losing its interest for ordinary readers. The maps, the index, and the tabulated information in the Appendix all enhance the usefulness of this handy little volume. The name of the editor, Dr PLUMPTRE, is in itself enough to recommend the edition of The General Epistle of St James, in the same series. More copious than the companion volumes, it contains some lengthy notes in the form of an excursus—e.g. on the personal relation of St Paul and St James the Less.”—Guardian.

The Book of Judges. J. J. LIAS, M.A. “His introduction is clear and concise, full of the information which young students require, and indicating the lines on which the various problems suggested by the Book of Judges may be solved. We are greatly pleased with his masterly and helpful addition to our Old Testament literature."Baptist Magazine.

1 Samuel, by A. F. KIRKPATRICK. “Remembering the interest with which we read the Books of the Kingdom when they were appointed as a subject for school work in our boyhood, we have looked with some eagerness into Mr Kirkpatrick's volume, which contains the first instalment of them. We are struck with the great improvement in character, and variety in the materials, with which schools are now supplied. A clear map inserted in each volume, notes suiting the convenience of the scholar and the difficulty of the passage, and not merely dictated by the fancy of the commentator, were luxuries which a quarter of a century ago

the Biblical student could not buy....As to the notes themselves, we

10,000 5/12/84

have found each single difficulty which puzzled us in our youth noticed and fairly solved.”—Church Quarterly Review, April, 1881.

To the valuable series of Scriptural expositions and elementary commentaries which is being issued at the Cambridge University Press, under the title “The Cambridge Bible for Schools,' has been added The First Book of Samuel by the Rev. A. F. KIRKPATRICK. Like other volumes of the series, it contains a carefully written historical and critical introduction, while the text is profusely illustrated and explained by notes.”The Scotsman.

“To the volume on I. Samuel we give our very warm commendation. It is designed, not for teachers, but for learners, and especially for young men in schools and colleges. At the same time, it will be interesting and profitable to all who wish to read the Bible intelligently.”Methodist Recorder.

II. Samuel. A. F. KIRKPATRICK, M.A. “ Small as this work is in mere dimensions, it is every way the best on its subject and for its purpose that we know of. The opening sections at once prove the thorough competence of the writer for dealing with questions of criti. cism in an earnest, faithful and devout spirit; and the appendices discuss a few special difficulties with a full knowledge of the data, and a judicial reserve, which contrast most favourably with the superficial dogmatism which has too often made the exegesis of the Old Testament a field for the play of unlimited paradox and the ostentation of personal infallibility. The notes are always clear and suggestive; never trifling or irrelevant; and they everywhere demonstrate the great difference in value between the work of a commentator who is also a Hebraist, and that of one who has to depend for his Hebrew upon secondhand sources.”Academy,

“The Rev. A. F. KIRKPATRICK has now completed his commentary on the two books of Samuel. This second volume, like the first, is furnished with a scholarly and carefully prepared critical and historical introduction, and the notes supply cverything necessary to enable the merely English scholar-so far as is possible for one ignorant of the original language-to gather up the precise meaning of the text. Even Hebrew scholars may consult this small volume with profit.”-Scotsmun.

The Book of Job. Able and scholarly as the Introduction is, it is far surpassed by the detailed exegesis of the book. In this Dr DAVIDSON'S strength is at its greatest. His linguistic knowledge, his artistic habit, his scientific insight, and his literary power have full scope when he comes to exegesis. ... The book is worthy of the reputation of Dr Davidson; it represents the results of many years of labour, and it will greatly help to the right understanding of one of the greatest works in the literature of the world.”—The Spectator.

“In the course of a long introduction, Dr DAVIDSON has presented us with a very able and very interesting criticism of this wonderful book. Its contents, the nature of its composition, its idea and purpose, its integrity, and its age are all exhaustively treated of.... We have not space to examine fully the text and notes before us, but we can, and do heartily, recommend the book, not only for the upper forms in schools, but to Bible students and teachers generally. As we wrote of a previous volume in the same series, this one leaves nothing to be desired. The

« PreviousContinue »