James 1:16
Do not err, my beloved brothers.
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(16) Do not err, my beloved brethren.—Thus far James the Wise has declared what God is not, what qualities are alien to Him; but this is only a negative aspect of the truth, and he now would show the positive—namely, that God is the Author of all and every good. And this lesson he introduces with a caution to his brethren beloved, not to err. He is most earnest and emphatic. “Be not ye deceived,” however much the world may wander in delusive paths. A marked change from the dreadful tenor of the last verse is here made to bright reflections on the gifts of God; and a new incentive to endurance is found in the happy thoughts of His goodness.

James 1:16-17. Do not err, &c. — By supposing that God is the author of sin, or that any thing which is sinful in the heart or conduct of man can, with truth, be ascribed to him: as well might darkness and coldness be attributed to the sun. It is indeed a grievous error to ascribe the evil, and not the good, which we receive, to God. No evil, but every good gift — Of every kind: whatever is beautiful, excellent, and good in any creature in the universe; all the members and senses of our bodies, and all our temporal blessings; and every perfect gift — Every gift of truth and grace, whatever tends to holiness and happiness here or hereafter; is from above — From heaven, not from earth, much less from hell; and cometh down from the Father of lights — Whether material or spiritual, in the kingdom of grace and glory; the author of all truth, knowledge, wisdom, holiness, and happiness. The appellation of Father is here used with peculiar propriety. It follows in the next verse, he begat us. With whom is no variableness — In his understanding; or shadow of turning — In his will; but he is immutably wise and good, holy and happy. He infallibly discerns all good and evil, and invariably loves the one and hates the other. There is in both the Greek words here used a metaphor taken from the heavenly bodies, particularly proper, where the Father of lights is mentioned; both words are applicable to any celestial body which has a daily vicissitude of day and night, and sometimes longer days, sometimes longer nights. In God is nothing of this kind. He is mere light. If there be any such vicissitude in us, it is from ourselves, not from him. “Will he give us holy desires at one time, and evil inclinations at another? No: he always gives us what is good, and nothing but good. It is blasphemous, therefore, as well as absurd, to suppose that God either tempts or constrains men to sin, on purpose that he may have a pretence for making them miserable. Some are of opinion that in the word παραλλαγη, translated variableness, there is an allusion to the parallaxes of the heavenly bodies. But as these were not known to the common people, the apostle, in a letter addressed to them, would hardly introduce a reference to such things.” — Macknight.1:12-18 It is not every man who suffers, that is blessed; but he who with patience and constancy goes through all difficulties in the way of duty. Afflictions cannot make us miserable, if it be not our own fault. The tried Christian shall be a crowned one. The crown of life is promised to all who have the love of God reigning in their hearts. Every soul that truly loves God, shall have its trials in this world fully recompensed in that world above, where love is made perfect. The commands of God, and the dealings of his providence, try men's hearts, and show the dispositions which prevail in them. But nothing sinful in the heart or conduct can be ascribed to God. He is not the author of the dross, though his fiery trial exposes it. Those who lay the blame of sin, either upon their constitution, or upon their condition in the world, or pretend they cannot keep from sinning, wrong God as if he were the author of sin. Afflictions, as sent by God, are designed to draw out our graces, but not our corruptions. The origin of evil and temptation is in our own hearts. Stop the beginnings of sin, or all the evils that follow must be wholly charged upon us. God has no pleasure in the death of men, as he has no hand in their sin; but both sin and misery are owing to themselves. As the sun is the same in nature and influences, though the earth and clouds, often coming between, make it seem to us to vary, so God is unchangeable, and our changes and shadows are not from any changes or alterations in him. What the sun is in nature, God is in grace, providence, and glory; and infinitely more. As every good gift is from God, so particularly our being born again, and all its holy, happy consequences come from him. A true Christian becomes as different a person from what he was before the renewing influences of Divine grace, as if he were formed over again. We should devote all our faculties to God's service, that we may be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.Do not err, my beloved brethren - This is said as if there were great danger of error in the point under consideration. The point on which he would guard them, seems to have been in respect to the opinion that God was the author of sin, and that the evils in the world are to be traced to him. There was great danger that they would embrace that opinion, for experience has shown that it is a danger into which men are always prone to fall. Some of the sources of this danger have been already alluded to. Notes, James 1:13. To meet the danger he says that, so far is it from being true that God is the source of evil, he is in fact the author of all that is good: every good gift, and every perfect gift James 1:17, is from him, James 1:18. 16. Do not err in attributing to God temptation to evil; nay (as he proceeds to show), "every good," all that is good on earth, comes from God. Viz. in imputing your sins to God, and saying, that when you are tempted you are tempted of him. Do not err, my beloved brethren. For to make God the author of sin, or to charge him with being concerned in temptation to sin, is a very great error, a fundamental one, which strikes at the nature and being of God, and at the perfection of his holiness: it is a denying of him, and is one of those damnable errors and heresies, which bring upon men swift destruction; and therefore to be guarded against, rejected, and abhorred by all that profess any regard unto him, his name and glory. {13} Do not err, my beloved brethren.

(13) Another reason taken from opposites: God is the author of all goodness, and so, since he is always like himself; how then can he be thought to be the author of evil?

Jam 1:16 introduces the statement which follows as one particularly important. Not only the exhortation: μὴ πλανᾶσθε, but also the added address: ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί, shows how important this observation appeared to the author. A new line of thought, unconnected with the preceding, does not indeed begin with this verse; μὴ πλανᾶσθε must not therefore be considered, with Hornejus, Gebser, and others, only as the concluding formula to what goes before. Theile correctly observes: ubi antecedentia respicit, nunquam finit cohortationem, sed ita interpositum est, ut continuet ac firmet, nunc illustrando, nunc cavendo. The same formula is found in 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Galatians 6:7 (similarly 1 John 3:7); in all those places it precedes a thought certain to the Christian conscience, by which a preceding expression is confirmed in opposition to a false opinion: this is also the case here. Grotius inserts an entirely foreign reference when he says: hoc vult: ne putate vestrum studium sufficere sine precibus; see Luke 18:1. There is here no reference whatever to prayer.16–18. God and His perfect gifts

16. Do not err …] The absolute goodness of God had been presented so far on its negative side as excluding all origination of evil. But the writer feels that that is but a partial view. It has a brighter aspect, more full of hope and blessing, and the error against which he protests is chiefly hurtful as excluding that aspect from its due influence on faith and conduct.Jam 1:16. [10]Μὴ πλανᾶσθε, do not err) It is a great error to attribute to God the evils which we receive, and not the goods. It is the part of love, to lead us away from this error. A faithful admonition. Comp. ch. Jam 5:19.

[10] Μὴ οὖν is the reading of the Alexandr. and the Lat. Vers. This one example will show that I do not attribute too much weight to the agreement of these two, when unsupported by other evidence; for I have not wished to indicate this various reading in the margin of the text.

Vulg. has “Nolite itaque errare.”—E.Verses 16-18. - The connection of thought with what goes before appears to be this. God cannot be the author of temptation, which thus leads to sin and death, because all good and perfect gifts, and these only, come from him. Verse 16. - Do not err; better, be act deceived; μὴ πλανᾶσθε. The same formula is also found in 1 Corinthians 6:9; 15:83; Galatians 6:7.
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