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The Epistle Of James Practically Explained by Augustus Neander

James v. 12

Then follow particular admonitions and exhortations, all which, however, are opposed in spirit to such errors, as were the fruit of the leading evil tendencies in these churches. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ has unfolded the whole Law in its spirituality and glory; everywhere converting the outward and particular to the inward, to the completeness and unity of the inward temper and disposition; at once abolishing and fulfilling the Law, abolishing it in the letter and fulfilling it in its spirit. Thus to the command: Thou shalt hallow the seventh day, is given its higher spiritual import, -- Let every day be holy to thee. In like manner, the requirement to regard an oath as holy, becomes in its true spirit: Let every word be holy to thee, as being consecrated to the Lord, -- as addressed to him, since he is ever before thine eyes. What an oath is to others, shall every word be to the Christian. Hence among true Christians, there will be no need of oaths; since to each his word is holy, and such is the mutual confidence of all, that the word of each is so received among them. So should it be in a truly Christian church, in which all are recognized as genuine Christians. But in these churches, where the proneness to much speaking had naturally led to a careless use of words, there now prevailed the Jewish habit of using many asseverations, in order to give their words a weight which they had not in themselves. Even if they shunned so frequent a use of the name Jehovah, they had other more covert forms of oath in its place, -- the violation of which, however, they made less a matter of conscience. Against this James says expressly: |But above all things, my brethren, swear not; neither by Heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath. But let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.| That is, their Yea and Nay should suffice in place of every other form of confirmation; for if their word is not in itself sufficient, and requires the aid of protestations to procure belief, they bring themselves into condemnation.

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