Introduction to James Chapter 5
In this chapter the apostle reproves the vices of rich men, and denounces the judgments of God upon them; exhorts the saints to patience under sufferings; warns them from vain and profane swearing, and presses to various duties and branches of religious worship, private and public, and to the performance of several good offices of love to one another. He represents the miseries of wicked rich men as just at hand, James 5:1 because they made no use of their riches, either for themselves, or others, and because of the trust they put in them, heaping them up against a time to come, James 5:2, and because of their injustice in detaining the hire of labourers from them, James 5:4 and because of their wantonness and luxury, James 5:5 and because of their cruelty to the innocent, James 5:6 and such who suffer at their hands are exhorted to exercise patience, from the instance of the husbandman waiting patiently for the fruit of the earth, and the rain to produce it; and from the consideration of the coming of Christ, the Judge, being near at hand, James 5:7 and from the example of the prophets of the Lord, who suffered much, and were patient, and so happy; and particularly from the instance of Job, his patience, the end of the Lord in his afflictions, and his pity and compassion towards him, James 5:10. But of all things the apostle entreats them, that they would take care of profane swearing, and all vain oaths, since these bring into condemnation, James 5:12 and from hence he passes to various exercises of religion; the afflicted he advises to prayer; and those in comfortable circumstances of body and mind to singing of psalms, James 5:13, and such that are sick, to send for the elders of the church to pray over them, and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord, whereby not only the sick man would be delivered from his sickness, the Lord raising him up, but even his sins would be declared to be forgiven, James 5:14. And not only it became the elders to pray for sick persons, but also the saints in general, one for another, and to acknowledge their faults to each other, since the fervent prayer of every righteous man is of great avail with God, James 5:16 of which an instance is given in Elias, whose prayer, though a man subject to like passions as other men, against, and for rain, was very successful, James 5:17. And Christians should not only be concerned for the health of each other's bodies, but also for the good of their souls; wherefore, whenever it is observed that any are straying from the path of truth, methods should be taken to restore them, and turn them from the error of their ways; and whoever is the happy instrument of such a restoration is the means of saving a soul from death, and hiding a multitude of sins, James 5:19.