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The Epistle Of James Practically Explained by Augustus Neander

James ii. 1

We have already spoken of the distinction between the large numbers of the poor, and the much smaller number of the rich, in these churches. Diversities and inequalities of condition, originating in the natural organization and relations of society, were not to be clone away by Christianity, but rendered less grievous; were to be equalized by the common bond of love, and made a ground for the exercise of this Christian love. If it be true, (a matter on which we cannot decide with certainty) that the first glow of Christian enthusiasm gave rise for the time to a proper community of goods; yet was this a state of things adapted only to that period, when the new feeling of fellowship with each other in the divine life burst forth with a power, which for a while swallowed up all individual distinctions. But this could not be permanent. The inequalities founded in nature must at length re-appear, and the individual and personal be again allowed its just claims. Only the feeling should still remain, which united all as one heart and one soul; and through the love that cared for the wants of all, made as it were a common stock of the possessions of all. But this was now wanting in these churches; and the differences of rank and wealth were no longer repressed by the consciousness of that higher Christian equality. Hence, in opposition to such an unchristian aristocracy, James says: |My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of Glory, with respect of persons.| He thus expresses the contradiction, between the disposition to estimate the worth of believers by such temporal advantages, and faith in Jesus as the Lord of Glory! To him who acknowledges Jesus as such, the one dignity of belonging to him must seem so great, that all personal advantages of an earthly nature must be less than nothing in comparison. His glory, in which all believers are called to participate, far outshines all earthly splendor.

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