My brothers, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.…
I. The persons whom St. James admonished here are THE BRETHREN to whom he giveth this attribute, which thing he doth very conveniently, inasmuch as in the discourse he is to admonish them of a duty of love, whereunto they ought to be the more prompt. The saints of God may well here be called brethren —
1. Because they have one spiritual and Heavenly Father, which is God, who is Father of us all, of whom are all things, and we in Him.
2. As because we have one spiritual Father we are brethren, so because we have one spiritual mother, we are brethren also. Now, as God is our spiritual Father, so is the Church our mystical mother, which hath brought us forth by a new birth, in whose sweet bosom we are nursed, into whose happy lap we are gathered, and bringeth us up under the most wholesome discipline of Jesus Christ, that we might be holy and blameless before Him through love.
3. Neither that only, but they are also begotten with one seed of their new birth and regeneration, which is the immortal seed of the Word.
4. If Christ vouchsafe us the name of brethren, and so we have Him as a common brother, then are we therefore also brethren by right among ourselves.
5. Finally, inasmuch as the saints divide the same inheritance among them, therefore are they called brethren; for brethren they are as Aristotle writeth, among whom the same inheritance is divided; yea, they which divide the same lands, living, patrimony, possession. The sons and saints of God communicate the same inheritance, divide the same kingdom of their Heavenly Father among them, participate the same good things which are above as co-heirs and joint-heirs of the heavenly patrimony, eternal life; therefore are they brethren.
II. The saints whom He calleth brethren, being the persons whom He admonisheth, in the next place cometh THE THING ITSELF, WHEREOF THEY ARE ADMONISHED to be considered that they have not the faith of Christ in respect of persons, wherewith true love, true charity, true religion, cannot stand or consist.
1. What is here meant by faith? Christian religion, the true service of Christ, the profession of the gospel, whereunto respect of persons is contrary, for if pure religion and undefiled before God be this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their adversities, and to regard the poor in their miseries, as before was taught us, then contrary hereunto is the contempt of the poor and preferring of the rich, which respect of persons is here condemned.
2. Christ is called the glorious Lord in this place, sometimes to like purpose is He called the Lord of glory (Psalm 24:7; Acts 7:2; 1 Corinthians 2:8). Christ may be called the Lord of glory —
(1) Because He is full of majesty, power, and glory, at the right hand of God.
(2) Christ is the Lord of glory because howsoever He first came in baseness and great humility, yet at His second appearing and coming He shall come in unspeakable glory.
(3) Christ is a glorious Lord because He bringeth and advanceth His servants to immortal glory after His appearing in glory.
3. To have this faith of Christ our glorious Lord in respect of persons is to esteem the faith, religion, and profession of Christ by the outward appearance of men.
1. What is respect of persons? It is to respect anything besides the matter and cause itself, which only ought of us to be considered, whereby we decline from the matter to the man, from the thing to the person, and swerve from righteous judgment and true estimation of things.
2. Which sin, as pernicious and perilous in all causes, in all persons, at all times, and in all places, the sacred Scripture condemneth as a thing most repugnant to equity and charity. This evil cannot stand with Christian profession, the gospel teacheth that with God is no respect of persons, but that they all which fear God and work righteousness are accepted through the joyful tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ, in whom there is neither male nor female, bond nor free, neither rich nor poor, but they are all alike unto Him.
Parallel VersesKJV: My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.