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The Epistle Of James Practically Explained by Augustus Neander

James iv. 8-10

The inward and the outward James comprehends as one. Purity of heart from all worldly stains, must show itself in purity of the outward conduct. This is expressed by James (who delights to embody truth in a specific form) as keeping the hand, the instrument of sin, pure from every sinful act; and purity of life, exhibited in the external walk, must lead back again to its source, inward purity of heart. |Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded| (divided between God and the world). The Greek term expresses the idea (which we have already explained ) of a man who has as it were two souls; to whom is wanting the true harmony of the inner life, which proceeds only from the all-controlling direction of the soul to God; of the man who is divided between opposite tendencies to God and to the world. Such a spiritual state is in direct contrariety with that sanctification of the heart, which James requires; it being the very ground of true sanctification, that but one soul should dwell in man, that in all things the single animating principle should be love to God. It was therefore necessary, first of all, to arouse those who were sunk in worldly pleasure to a sense of the vanity of such enjoyments, to the wretchedness of their condition. A godly sorrow must be awakened in them; the anguish of repentance as a ground of true joy, -- the joy in God of those who are dead to the world and wholly devoted to Him. So Christ says in the Sermon on the Mount, with which we find so many points of harmony in this Epistle: Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. |Be afflicted| (feel your wretchedness), |and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.|

Thus James comprehends all in self-abasement before God, as the condition of all true exaltation, which comes alone from God; as the Saviour has said: Whoso exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. James here speaks of an inward act of the spirit, not of one which can become an object of outward perception; although this inward act must make itself known in the outward form of the whole life. Hence he says, -- abasement before God, in the eye of God, as that which can take place only between the soul and God. Here too the relation is such as man can sustain to God alone, not to any created being. He who is conscious to himself of such a relation to God, for that very reason will be far from placing himself in a similar relation to any human being. As his whole life thus has its root in conscious dependence on God, he will thereby be secured from every form of bondage to man.

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