James 1:13
When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.
Sermons
The Natural History of EvilC. Jerdan James 1:12-15
Temptation and its HistoryT.F. Lockyer James 1:12-18
A Tremendous GenealogyC. F. Deems, D. D.James 1:13-15
Beginnings of SinT. Adams.James 1:13-15
Death, the Result of SinR. Johnstone, LL. B.James 1:13-15
Drawn and DraggedW. Arnot.James 1:13-15
Drawn Away and EnticedJ. Caldwell, D. D.James 1:13-15
Evil Self-OriginatedT. Manton.James 1:13-15
Evil: its IssueJohn Adam.James 1:13-15
Evil: its OriginJohn Adam.James 1:13-15
God Tempts no ManJohn Johnston.James 1:13-15
Iniquity FinishedDaniel A. Clark.James 1:13-15
Man not Tempted by GodW. W. Champneys.James 1:13-15
Of the Nature of TemptationsS. Charke, D.D.James 1:13-15
SinDr. Schwarz.James 1:13-15
Sin DestructiveJames 1:13-15
Sin in the HeartT. Brackenbury.James 1:13-15
Sin is Fatal to the SoulDean Goulburn.James 1:13-15
Sin Will Destroy the SinnerW. Arnot, D. D.James 1:13-15
Sin's Beginning, Progress, and EndA. Roberts, M. A.James 1:13-15
Sin's ConsummationJames 1:13-15
Temptation to Sin not from GodT. Somerville, D. D.James 1:13-15
Temptations to Evil not from GodJ. Abernethy, D. D.James 1:13-15
The Allegory of Sin and DeathDean Plumptre.James 1:13-15
The Bitterness of Finished SinJames 1:13-15
The Connection Between Disease and SinW. G. Herder.James 1:13-15
The Consequences of SinJames Vaughan, M. A.James 1:13-15
The Depravity of the Will the Cause of SinR. South, D. D.James 1:13-15
The Natural History of SinT. East.James 1:13-15
The Origin of EvilC. F. Deems, D. D.James 1:13-15
The Progress and End of SinJ. N. Pearson, M. A.James 1:13-15
The Sinner's ProgressS. Cox, D. D.James 1:13-15
The Sins of Men not Chargeable Upon God, But Upon ThemselvesAbp. Tillotson.James 1:13-15
The Temptation not from GodR. Wardlaw, D. D.James 1:13-15
The Vigour of LustT. Manton.James 1:13-15
The Workings of SinEssex RemembrancerJames 1:13-15
Transferring the Blame of SinT. Manton.James 1:13-15
In the previous part of the chapter James has spoken of "temptation" in the general sense of "trial," and as coming mainly in connection with outward circumstances. In this passage he proceeds to speak of it in the sense in which the word is now ordinarily used, as meaning only internal trial by solicitation to sin. Ver. 12 marks the transition from the one sense to the other, and predicates "blessedness" of "the man that endureth temptation" in either form.

I. THE GENESIS OF TEMPTATION. (Vers. 13, 14.) The sacred writers very rarely deal in such abstract psychological analysis as we have in this passage. These verses remind us that there is natural history in the moral world as well as in the physical - "the law of sin and of death" as well as "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." There are two conflicting theories always prevalent regarding the origin and development of temptation.

1. The false theory. (Ver. 13.) Men are prone to ascribe the authorship of temptation to God. This heresy is as old as the garden of Eden and the Fall. Our first parents blamed God for the first sin. And the world has adopted the same excuse, in various forms, ever since. Systems of philosophy have done so. Pantheism, for example, says that man is only a mode of the Divine existence, and that good is God's right hand, while evil is his left, Fatalism teaches that all events - good and evil - come to pass under the operation of a blind necessity. Materialism in our day regards the vilest passions of bad men and the holiest aspirations of believers as alike only products of our physical organism. And the same dreadful error prevails equally in common life. Superstitious persons, from the time of James until ours, have had the impression that their misdeeds are necessitated by the Divine decrees. Some blame their nature for their sins, and ascribe to their Maker the origination of their corrupt propensities, as the poet Burns did once and again in lines of daring blasphemy. Others trace their sins to their circumstances, blaming God's providence for surrounding them with evil influences, which, they submit, lay them under an inevitable necessity of sinning. But the apostle advances reason and argument against this impious theory. Think, he says, of the purity and perfection of the Divine nature. Moral evil has no place in God. There is nothing in him that temptation can take hold of. And if he is not himself open to the seductions of sin, it is impossible that he can be a tempter of others. God is the infinite Light, and sin is darkness. God is the eternal Righteousness, and sin is crookedness. God is the unchangeable Beauty, and sin is deformity. So, he will not and cannot solicit men towards what is opposed to his own nature. He tries and tests men; but he does not tempt them. He does not cause sin; he simply permits it. When we pray, as Christ has taught us to do, "Bring us not into temptation," we beg that God may not in his providence place us in circumstances from which our hearts may take occasion to sin.

2. The true theory. (Ver. 14.) Temptation originates within the heart of the sinner himself. It is in vain for him to blame his Maker. Sin is no part of our original constitution, and it is not to be excused on the plea of an unfavorable environment. A man sins only when he is "enticed" by the bait, and "drawn away" by the hook of "his own lust." That is, the impelling power which seduces towards evil is the corrupt nature within us. The world and the devil only tempt effectually when they stir up the filthy pool of depraved personal desire. "Lust" includes, besides the appetites of the body, the evil dispositions of the mind, such as pride, malice, envy, vanity, love of ease, etc. Any appeal made from without to these vile principles and affections can be successful only with the consent of the will. Every man is personally responsible for his sin; fur each man's sin takes its rise in "his own lust." Conscience brushes away the cobwebs of the false theory, and assures us all that we are "merely our own traitors." Only one Man has ever lived within whose soul there was no hook or bait of corrupt desire on which any evil suggestion could fasten; and no one but he could say, "The prince of the world cometh, and he hath nothing in me."

II. THE GENEALOGY OF SIN. (Ver. 15.) "Lust" is throughout this passage personified in allegorical fashion as a harlot, ever striving, like the harlot Folly of Proverbs 9:13-18, to allure and captivate the will. First, she draws the man "who goes right on his way" out of the path of sound principle and wholesome pleasure; and then she entices him into her embrace with the siren strain, "Stolen waters are sweet." Lust may be said to "conceive," when it obtains the consent of the will, or disarms its opposition. The man who dallies with temptation, instead of meeting it with instant and prayerful resistance, will be sure eventually to succumb to it. From the guilty union of lust with the will, a living sin is born. The embryo corruption becomes developed into a deed of positive transgression. And this is not all. Sin, the progeny of lust, itself grows up from the infancy of mere choice to the adult life of settled habit; and "when it is full-grown," it in turn becomes, as the result of union with the will, the mother of death. It was so with the sin of our first parents in Paradise. It was so with the sin of Achan (Joshua 7:21); he saw, coveted, took, and died. It is so with the sin of licentiousness, which has suggested the figure of this passage; the physical corruption which the practice of sensuality entails is just a sacrament of spiritual death. Death is the fruit of all sin. Sin kills peace; it kills hope; it kills usefulness; it kills the conscience; it kills the soul. The harlot-house of lust and sin becomes the vestibule of perdition. As Milton has it, in a well-known passage of bk. 2. of 'Paradise Lost' - a passage suggested by this very verse - Sin is

"The snaky sorceress that sat
Fast by hell-gate, and kept the fatal key;"

while Death, her son, is "the grizzly Terror" on the other side, which stood

"Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell."

III. THE GLORY AWAITING HIM WHO ENDURES. (Ver. 12.) This comfortable word reminds us of the Beatitudes. The blessedness of which it speaks belongs not only to all Christians who - " letting patience have its perfect work " - endure "temptations" in the sense in which the word is used in ver. 2, but to all also who escape victorious from the solicitations of evil desire, referred to in the verses which we have been considering. Notice here:

1. The character of the blessed man. He "loves the Lord," and in the spirit of this love he "endures temptation." Love is the substance of the Christian character, and love "endureth all things." Love alone will enable a man to stamp out lust.

2. His glorious reward. "He shall receive the crown of life." Not a chaplet of parsley, not even a diadem of gold; but a crown composed of life. Eternal life itself will be the believer's reward. Temptation unresisted, as we have seen, is always pregnant with sin and death; but holy endurance entails upon one the gracious reward of spiritual life, which shall be confirmed in spotless purity forever and ever. This glorious blessing is guaranteed; the believer has for it a definite warranty from his Redeemer.

3. The time and condition of its bestowal. It is "when he hath been approved;" i.e. tested as gold or silver in the white heat of the refiner's fire. The one way to the kingdom is the way of persevering endurance. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life."

LESSONS.

1. Flee from spiritual death.

2. Crucify sin.

3. Mortify lust.

4. Cultivate the grace of endurance.

5. Watch and pray against outward occasions of evil.

6. Sprinkle the conscience with the blood of atonement, and wash the soul in the laver of regeneration. - C.J.







Let no man say,... I am tempted of God.
I. THE CHARACTER GIVEN OF GOD.

1. "God cannot be tempted of evil."(1) The absolute and infinite self-sufficiency of His blessedness. That blessedness is altogether independent of every other being whatever besides Himself. It is full: incapable of either diminution or increase: springing as it does from the infinite perfection of His own immutable nature. He can never have any. thing for which to hope; and never anything to fear.(2) He is placed beyond all such possibility by the absolute perfection of His moral nature. "God cannot be tempted with evil." His nature is necessarily and infinitely opposed to everything of the kind; and to such a nature what is sinful or impure never can present aught capable of exerting even the remotest influence.

2. "Neither tempteth He any man."(1) God tempts no man, by presenting to him inducements, motives, persuasives, to sin.(2) God tempts no man by any direct inward influence; by infusing evil thoughts, inclinations, and desires.(3) God "tempteth not any man" by placing him in circumstances in which he is laid under a natural necessity of stoning.

II. Proceed we now to THE ADMONITION FOUNDED ON WHAT IS SAID OF GOD: — "Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God"; "for God tempteth no man: "or to put it according to the order of thought we have chosen to follow — "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man: let no man therefore say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man." It is because every such thought of God is impious, that the saying is condemned as impious. The delusion before us is one of the most fearful palliations of sin, and opiates to the conscience, that the deceitful heart of man has ever suggested. But, if conscience is allowed to speak in sincerity, its utterance will be — "I am a voluntary sinner. No extraneous force has kept me back from good; no such force has compelled me to evil. I have followed my own inclinations. My heart and my will have been in all the evil I have done. It is all my own."

1. Let the unbelieving sinner beware of imagining that the guilt of his rejecting the gospel lies anywhere else than with himself.

2. There is one view in which you would do well to remember God "cannot be tempted with evil." He can never be induced to act, in any step of His procedure, inconsistently with any attribute of His character, or, in a single jot or tittle, to sacrifice the claims of the purest moral rectitude.

III. THE TRUE NATURE OF TEMPTATION. "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." In this description temptation is to be understood as relating to the state of the mind between the moment of the first entrance of the sinful thought, and the actual commission of the evil; — the state of the mind while the enticement is working within among the hidden desires and appetencies of the heart, exerting there its seductive influence. "Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust." This is evidently meant to be emphatic. It refers back to the preceding verse — "Let no man say, I am tempted of God": God "tempteth not any man." The "lust" by which he is tempted, is not of God: it is "his own lust." And all evil that is in man is his own. Within our own hearts are seated many evil desires. The devil needs not introduce them. There they are. He acts upon them, no doubt, in his own mysterious and insidious way. But the extraneous operations of a tempter are not at all required to stir up their evil exercise. They work of themselves. From all the objects around us, that are fitted to gratify those desires, our senses are so many inlets of temptation to our hearts. Nor are even our senses necessary to the admission of temptation. The imagination can work independently of them, And both in waking and in sleeping hours, many a time is it busy in summoning tempting scenes before them. The principle of the words before us may be applied alike to prosperity and adversity. In adversity, "our own lusts" may tempt us to "charge God foolishly," and that too both in our hearts and with our lips; and thus to give sinful indulgence to ungodly tempers of mind. Then again, in the time of prosperity; "our own lust" may often tempt us to the abuse of it. We may be led to forget God, at the very time when His accumulated kindnesses give Him the stronger claim on our grateful and devout remembrance. We may give, in our hearts, the place of the Giver to His gifts.

IV. THE FEARFUL CONSEQUENCES OF YIELDING TO TEMPTATION. "When lust hath conceived." The obvious meaning of the figurative allusion is, that when the evil desire is admitted into the mind, and, instead of being resisted, prayed against, and driven out, is retained, fostered, indulged, and through dwelling upon the object of it, grows in strength, and at length is fully matured, it will come forth in action; as after the period of gestation and growth, the child in the womb comes to the birth. The lust, having thus conceived, "bringeth forth sin"; that is, produces practical transgression — sin in the life — actual departure from the way of God's commandments. "And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." That God's righteousness may not only condemn justly, but appear as condemning justly, the sentence is thus connected with the act — with the effect and manifestation of the evil principle. But the very language implies that the sin did not begin with the act: it is finished in the act; and the evil of the act concentrates in it all the previous evil of the thoughts, desires, and motives from which it arose, and by which it was ultimately matured into action. The "death" — that death which is "the wages of sin" — follows on the commission of it, as surely as, in nature, the birth follows the conception.

V. THE IMPORTANCE OF FORMING AND CHERISHING RIGHT, AND OF AVOIDING WRONG, CONCEPTIONS ON THIS SUBJECT. "Do not err, my beloved brethren." It is as if the apostle had said — "Beware of mistakes here." And certainly there are few subjects on which it is of more essential consequence to have correct ideas, or on which misapprehensions are more perilous. The thought that is specially reprobated in the passage which has been under review is one which cannot fail to affect all the principles, and feelings, and practices of the Christian life. It affects our views of God: and these lie at the foundation of all religion. According as they are right or wrong, must our religion be right or wrong, it must equally affect our views of ourselves — of ourselves as sinners; inasmuch as all the penitential humiliation, all the contrite broken-heartedness, on account of our sins, which we ever ought to feel, lose entirely their ground, and are inevitably gone, the moment we say, or think, that "we are tempted of God" — that in any way our sin and guilt are attributable to Him. It must, in the same way, affect our conceptions of sin itself; of its "exceeding sinfulness" and unutterable guilt. And thus it will affect our views of our need of a Saviour; and especially of such a Saviour, and such a salvation, as the gospel reveals.

1. Let believers be impressed with the necessity of unceasing vigilance over their own hearts. Their worst enemies are in their own bosoms.

2. Let all consider the necessity of the heart being right with God. It is only in a holy heart, a heart renewed by the Spirit, a heart of which the lusts are laid under arrest, and crucified, that He can dwell.

3. Ponder seriously the certain consequences of unrepented and unforgiven sin: and by immediate recourse to the Cross, and to the blood there shed for the remission of sins, shun the fearful end which otherwise awaits you.

(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)

Essex Remembrancer.
I. IT REMINDS US OF THE DEPRAVITY OF HUMAN NATURE.

II. WE ARE TAUGHT HOW SURELY THE EVIL PRINCIPLE WILL WORK IN THE HEART, IF UNCHECKED AND UNRESTRAINED, TILL IT HAS BROUGHT FORTH FRUIT UNTO DEATH. Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. It is the internal desire which gives temptation its power over man. Were there no appetite for the intoxicating liquor, the cup which contains it would be offered in vain. Were there no covetous desire, the prospect of gain would be no temptation to deviate from the path of rectitude. In every case it is the state of the heart which gives to temptation its power to subdue. Its suddenness may surprise into transgression, but when its success is owing entirely to this circumstance, repentance may be expected quickly to arise. The case supposed in the text is not of this nature. The temptation is embraced and followed. The sinner is "drawn away of his own lust and enticed" to his ruin. The stronger the sinful propensity has become by indulgence, the greater is the power which every corresponding temptation has to overcome him. He is the less disposed, and therefore the less able to resist. Pleasure in some form is the bait that hides the hook by which he is drawn and enticed. The death which is the end of sin will therefore be of as long duration as the life which is the fruit of holiness. It will not be an arbitrary undeserved punishment, but the wages of sin, its proper desert. Such is the death which sic, when it is finished, bringeth forth.

III. WE LEARN HOW EASILY GOD CAN BRING SIN TO LIGHT. Should sin escape detection in this life, we know that nothing can be concealed from the eye of God, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of all hearts. The day shall declare every man's work of what sort it is. Every one must give an account of himself to God, must narrate his own proceedings, and unfold his own character, before an assembled universe.

IV. THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPRESSING THE FIRST RISINGS OF EVIL IN THE HEART, AND GUARDING AGAINST THE FIRST STEP IN A WRONG COURSE.

V. WE LEARN THAT NOTHING CAN BE MORE WRONG THAN FOR .ANY MAN TO THROW THE BLAME OF HIS SINS UPON GOD. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man." The all-wise, pure, perfect, self-sufficient, almighty Creator and Ruler of the universe can be under no temptation to evil, neither can He place temptation in the way of any one to induce him to sin. This would be to act in direct contrariety to His own nature. A wicked man may say, "If God has given me such passions how can I help being led astray by them?" God has not given you such passions; you have given them to yourself. The desires He gave you were needful to the great purposes of human existence. Without them the powers of man could not be called into action. You have perverted them, and allowed them to gain the mastery over reason, conscience, and religion. Suppose a friend recommended to you a servant whom he had uniformly found, after a long trial, faithful and obedient, and you had spoiled that servant, after taking him into your service, by every unwarrantable indulgence, till he had tyrannised over you, and wasted your property, would you have any right to complain of your friend for recommending him, would not the blame rest entirely with yourself? Everything becomes a temptation to a depraved heart — prosperity or adversity; wealth or poverty; success or disappointment. On the other hand, "All things work together for good to them that love God, and are the called according to His purpose."

VI. Finally, WE LEARN, THAT SUCH BEING THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN, THERE IS NO SECURITY FROM THE RUIN WHICH SIN WILL INEVITABLY BITING UPON THE TRANSGRESSOR, BUT IN THAT COMPLETE RENOVATION OF OUR NATURE WHICH IN SCRIPTURE IS CALLED REGENERATION — A NEW CREATION. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" — corrupt in its tendencies. But, "whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God."

(Essex Remembrancer.)

Archbishop Trench points out that many words, which when first used bad an innocent and even commendable meaning, have come by use to carry a doubtful or malignant sense; and in this degradation of our words he sees a proof and illustration of human depravity. The word "temptation," both in Greek and English, is a case in point. According to its derivation and original use, the word simply means "test," whatever tends to excite, to draw out and bring to the surface, the hidden contents of the heart, whatever serves to indicate the ruling bent. But in process of time the word has come to have a darker significance. For if there is much that is good in us, there is also much that is evil. And because, in their intercourse with each other, men are too often bent on provoking that which is evil in each other, rather than on eliciting and strengthening that which is good, the word "temptation" has sunk from its original plane, and has come to signify mainly such testings and trials of character as are designed to draw out the evil that is in us; trials and tests skilfully adapted to our besetting infirmities, and likely to develop the lower and baser qualities of our nature. It is because of this double meaning of the word that we meet in Scripture such apparently contradictory phrases as, "Lead us not into temptation," and, ' "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." It is in this double meaning of the word, moreover, that we find the key to the apparently contradictory statements that God does tempt men, and that He does not tempt them. He does tempt us all in the sense that He puts us all to the proof, and compels us at times to see what manner of men we are. But if, in this sense, God tempts every man, there is a sense in which "He tempts no man." For it is never the design of the trials to which He puts us to bring out and confirm that which is evil in us. It is always His purpose to bring out and confirm that which is good in us; or, if He show us wherein we are weak, it is not that we may remain weak and foolish, but that we may seek and find strength and wisdom in Him. When we have fallen into "temptation," in the bad sense of that word — when, that is, we have yielded to an evil influence, and have suffered our baser passions to be excited — we are apt to say, "I am tempted of God," to plead: "Well, after all, He made me what I am. Am I to blame for my passionate temperament, or for the strength and fierceness of my desires?" Or, again, we say: "Circumstances were against me. The opportunity was too tempting, my need or my craving was too importunate, to be resisted. And are not our circumstances and condition appointed by Him?" Thus we charge God foolishly, knowing and feeling all the while that it is we ourselves who are to blame whenever the lower part of our nature is permitted a supremacy against which the higher part protests. God tempts no man, affirms St. James, and assigns as a reason, "for God is unversed in evil," or, "God is incapable of evil," or, "God is untemptable with evil"; for in these three several ways this one word is translated. His implied argument is sufficiently clear, however we may render his words. What he assumes is, "Every one who tempts another to do evil must have some evil in his own nature. But there is no shadow or taint of evil in God, and therefore it is impossible that God should tempt any man." But if the evil temptations we have to encounter do not come from God, whence do they come? St. James replies, "Every man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own lust, and enticed" — the man's lust being here conceived of as a harlot who lavishes her blandishments upon him; "then the lust, having conceived, bringeth forth sin; and the sin, when it is mature, bringeth forth death." The origin of sin is in man's own breast, in his own hot and extravagant desires for any kind of temporal or sensual good; and the apostle traces the sinner's career through the successive steps that lead down to death.

1. First, the man is drawn aside. James conceives of him as occupied with his daily task, busily discharging the duties of his daily calling. While be is thus engaged, a craving for some unlawful or excessive gratification, for a gain that cannot be honestly secured, or an indulgence which cannot be taken soberly and in the fear of God, springs up within his mind. The craving haunts his mind, and takes form in it. He bends his regards on it, and is drawn towards it. At first, perhaps, his will is firm, and he refuses to yield to its attraction. But the craving is very strong; it touches him at his weak point. And when it comes back to him again and again, it swells and grows into what St. James calls a "lust." It is "his own lust," the passion most native to him, and most potent with such as he — the love of gain, or the love of rule, or the love of distinction, or some affection of a baser strain. For a time tie may resist its fascination; but ere long his work is laid aside, the claims of duty are neglected, the warnings of conscience unheeded. All he means is to get a nearer view of this strange, alluring visitor, to lift its veil, to see what it is like and for what intent it beckons him away. And so he takes his first step: he is drawn aside from the clear and beaten path of duty.

2. Then he is enticed, "allured," as the Greek word implies, "with pleasant baits." His craving waxes stronger, the object of desire more attractive, as he advances. All specious excuses — all that moralists have allowed or bold transgressors have claimed — are urged upon him, until at last his scruples are overborne, and he yields himself a willing captive to his lust.

3. Then lust" conceives." The will consents to the wish ' the evil desire grows toward an evil deed. He can know no rest till his craving be gratified. The good work in which he was occupied looks tame and wearisome to him. He is fevered by passion, and absorbed in James 2:4. Having conceived, "lust bringeth forth sin." The bad purpose has become a bad deed, and the bad deed is followed by its natural results. Coming to the light, his evil deeds may be reproved. When the sin is born, the man may recognise his guilt. He may repent, and be forgiven and restored.

5. But if he do not turn and repent, the last step will be taken, and sin, being matured, will bring forth death. Action will grow into habit, the sinful action into a habit of sinning. As sin grows and matures, it will rob him of his energy. He will no longer make a stand against temptation. He will wholly surrender himself to his lust, until all that makes him man dies out of him, and only the fierce, brutal craving remains. Hogarth has left us a familiar series of pictures entitled "The Rake's Progress," in which the career of a profligate spendthrift is sketched from its commencement to its close. Were I an artist, I would paint you a similar series on a kindred but wider theme — the Sinner's Progress.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

Now, affliction is an evil of which God Himself is the author, very consistently with the perfect purity of His nature, and with the tenderest compassion for His servants: "Whom He loveth, He rebuketh and chasteneth"; and the design is worthy of supreme goodness as well as rectitude, for it is to try the virtues of the afflicted in order to strengthen them, that they may be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7). But there is another kind of temptation here spoken of, of which God is not the author or cause. The meaning of this, certainly, is a solicitation to sin; when the intention is not to prove the sincerity of feeble virtue in order to confirm and increase it, but to subvert and destroy it; to draw the weak and unwary into wickedness which leadeth to their ruin. This is what the perfectly holy and good God is not capable of.

I. THAT GOD IN ALL HIS WORKS AND WAYS, THE WHOLE OF HIS ADMINISTRATION TOWARDS MANKIND, STANDETH PERFECTLY CLEAR OF TEMPTING THEM TO MORAL EVIL. He is not in the least degree, or by a fair construction, in any part of His conduct, accessary to any one of their offences. But all religion resteth upon this principle, utterly inconsistent with His tempting any man or any creature, that God is only pleased with rational" agents doing that which is right, and displeased with their doing what is wrong in a moral sense: if that be denied, piety is entirely subverted, and all practice of virtue on the foundation of piety. A being who is wholly incapable of any moral turpitude, cannot solicit any others to it, nor give them the least countenance in it, which must always necessarily suppose a corrupt affection. Another of the Divine attributes is goodness, equally essential to his character, but if God be good, He cannot tempt any man.

2. Let us proceed to consider the works of God which relate to man, and we shall be convinced that far from having a tendency, or showing a design, to draw him into sin, which is tempting him, on the contrary, they provide against it in the best manner. And, first, if we look into the human constitution, which is the work of God, this sense of right and wrong discovereth itself early; it is not the result of mature reflection, close reasoning, and long study, but it plainly appeareth that the gracious author of our being intended to prevent us with it, that we should not be 'led astray before our arriving at the full exercise of our understanding. To this sense of good and evil, there is added in our constitution a strong enforcement of the choice, and the practice of the former, in that high pleasure of self-approbation which is naturally and inseparably annexed to it. Must it not be acknowledged, then, that the frame of our nature prompteth to the practice of virtue at its proper end, and that the designing cause of it did not intend to tempt us to evil, but to provide against our being tempted? It is true that liberty is a part of the constitution, which importeth a power of doing evil, and by which it is that we are rendered capable of it. This, as well as the other capacities of our nature, is derived from God; but there is no rational profence for alleging that gift to be a temptation, because liberty is not an inclination to evil, but merely the mind's power of determining itself to that, or the contrary, according as the motives to the one or the other should appear strongest; and that the author of the constitution hath cast the balance on the side of virtue, we may see from what hath been already said, since tie hath given us virtuous instincts, with a sense of moral obligations, and added a very powerful sanction to them. Besides, liberty is absolutely necessary to the practice of virtue, as well as to the being of moral evil; nor could we without it have been capable of rational happiness.

3. Again, if we consider the administration of providence, and the Divine conduct towards all men, we shall find that the same design is regularly pursued by methods becoming the wisdom of God, and best suited to our condition; the design, I mean, not of tempting us to sin, but preserving us from it. As God sent men into the world, a species of rational beings, fitted by the excellent faculties wherewith He endued them for rendering Him very important service, and enjoying a great measure of happiness, so He constantly careth for that favourite workmanship of His hands. Of all the nations of men who are made to dwell on the face of the earth, none are without witness of their Maker's mercies, for He continually doth them good, "sending them rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, and filling their hearts with food and gladness." Now if such kindness be the character of the Divine administration, what is the tendency of it? Is it to tempt men, to lead them to sin, which is rebellion against Himself, and against their own reason? But when men had wilfully corrupted their ways, and turned the bounty of God into lasciviousness, Providence hath sometimes interposed in a different manner, that is, by awful judgments suddenly spread over nations or cities.

4. And, lastly, if we consider the revelation of the gospel, and that whole Divine scheme contained in it, which God in love to mankind hath formed for our salvation, we must see that the whole design of it is directly opposite to the design of tempting; it is to turn every one of us from our iniquities. But for the general tenor of the Divine administration towards men, it designedly favoureth their escape from temptations, and directeth them to the paths of virtue (1 Corinthians 10:13). Some, indeed, to shun the dangerous mistake of imputing sin and temptation to God as in any respect its cause, have run into the opposite equally absurd extreme of withdrawing moral evil altogether from under God's government of the world, and deriving it from an original independent evil principle; which scheme, as it destroyeth the true notion of vice representing it not as the voluntary act of imperfect intelligent beings, but as flowing from an independent necessity of nature. The generality of Christians, owning the unity of God, do also acknowledge His perfect purity and goodness, and in words, at least, deny Him to be the author of sin: but I am afraid the opinions received among some of them are not perfectly consistent with these true principles. For instance, to represent the nature of men as so corrupted, without any personal fault of theirs, that they are under a fatal necessity of sinning, and that it is utterly impossible for them to do anything which is good. What thoughts can a man have of this, but that it is the appointed condition of his being, to be resolved ultimately into the will of his Maker, just like the shortness of his understanding, the imperfection of his senses, or even the frailty of his body?The counsels of God concerning men's sins, and the agency of His providence about them, not in overruling the issue, but in ascertaining and by its influence determining them, as intending events, ought also to be considered with the utmost caution.

1. And, first of all, that God is not tempted with evil, neither tempteth any man, tendeth to preserve in our minds the highest esteem and reverence for Him. It is not possible for us to have a veneration for a tempter.

2. This doctrine tendeth to beget and confirm in us an utter abhorrence of sin, because it is the thing God hateth, and will have nothing to do, no kind of communication with it.

II. The second instruction relating to temptations, now to be considered, amounteth to this, that the true and most useful account of the origin of sin to every particular person, that which really is the spring of prevailing temptation, Is HIS OWN LUST; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.

1. Wbat is meant by lust. To understand this we must look into the inferior part of the human constitution. Since it pleased God to form man as he is, compounded of flesh and spirit, it was necessary there should be in his nature affections suitable to both. This leadeth us to a true notion of what the apostle calleth lust; it signifieth the whole of those affections and passions which take their rise from the body and the animal part of our nature, and which terminate in the enjoyments and conveniences of our present state, as distinguished from the moral powers and pleasures of the mind, and the perfection of them, which requireth our chief application as being our principal concern and ultimate happiness. That inferior part of our constitution, in itself innocent and necessary for such beings, yet giveth the occasion whereby we, abusing our liberty, are drawn away and enticed to evil by various ways; such as, vehement desires beyond the real value of the objects; an immoderate indulgence in the gratification of those desires, either in instances which are prohibited by reason and the laws of God, or even within the licensed kinds, above the proper limits which the end of such gratification hath fixed; all tending to weaken the devout and virtuous affections which are the glory of our nature and the distinguishing excellence of man. Other affections also tempt us, as sorrow, which often through our weakness exceedeth in proportion the event which is the occasion of it. 2. To consider how men are tempted by lust, being drawn away and enticed. And here what I would principally observe is, that lusts are only the occasions or temptations to moral evil, not necessitating causes. The mind is free, and voluntarily determineth itself upon the suggestions of appetites and passions, not irresistibly governed by them; to say otherwise, is to reproach the constitution and the author of it; and for men to lay upon Him the blame of their own faults, which yet their consciences cannot help taking to themselves. Let us reflect on what passeth in our own heart on such occasions, to which none of us can be strangers; and we shall be convinced that we have the power of controlling the inclinations and tendencies which arise in our mind, or not consenting to them, and a power of suspending our consent till we have farther considered the motives of action, and that this is a power often exerted by us. The most vehement desires of meat and drink are resisted upon an apprehension of danger; the love of money and the love of honour are checked, and their strongest solicitations sometimes utterly denied, through the superior force of contrary passions, or upon motives of conscience.

3. To show, that in the account which the text giveth, we may rest our inquiry, as to all the valuable purposes of it, concerning the origin of sin in ourselves. The true end of such inquiry is our preservation and deliverance from sin, that we may know how to avoid it, or repent of it when committed; excepting so far as they contribute to those ends, speculations about it are curious but unprofitable.What I have just now hinted directeth us to the proper application of this subject.

1. And, first, upon a review of the whole progress of temptation from the first occasion of it to the last unhappy effect, the finishing of sin, which, I suppose, we are all agreed is the just object of our deepest concern, we may see what judgment is to be made, and where we ought to lay the blame.

2. From this doctrine of the apostle which I have endeavoured to explain, we see where our greatest danger is of being led into sin, and whence the most powerful and prevailing temptations arise, that is, from the lusts of the heart.

3. And therefore, thirdly, if we would maintain our integrity, let us keep the strictest watch over our own appetites and passions, and here place our strongest, for it will be the most effectual defence.

(J. Abernethy, D. D.)

Next to the belief of a God, and His providence, there is nothing more fundamentally necessary to the practice of a good life than the belief of these two principles. First, that God is not the author of sin, that He is in no way accessary to our faults, either by tempting or forcing us to the commission of them. For if He were, they would not properly be sins, for sin is a contradiction to the will of God; but supposing men to be either tempted or necessitated thereto, that which we call sin would either be a mere passive obedience to the will of God, or an active compliance with it, but neither way a contradiction to it. Nor could these actions be justly punished; for all punishment supposeth a fault, and a fault supposeth liberty and freedom from force and necessity; so that no man can be justly punished for that which he cannot help, and no man can help that which he is necessitated to. And though there were no force in the case, but only temptation, yet it would be unreasonable for the same person to tempt and punish. Secondly, that every man's fault lies at his own door, and he has reason enough to blame himself for all the evil that he does. And this is that which makes men properly guilty, that when they have done amiss, they are conscious to themselves it was their own act.

I. THAT GOD DOTH NOT TEMPT ANY MAN TO SIN.

1. The proposition which the apostle here rejects, and that is, that God tempts men, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God." Now, that we may the more distinctly understand the meaning of the proposition, which the apostle here rejects, it will be very requisite to consider what temptation is, and the several sorts and kinds of it. Temptation does always imply something of danger. And men are thus tempted, either from themselves, or by others; by others, chiefly these two ways. First, By direct and downright persuasion to sin. And to be sure God tempts no man this way. He offers no arguments to man to persuade him to sin; He nowhere proposeth either reward or impunity to sinners; but, on the contrary, gives all imaginable encouragement to obedience, and threatens the transgression of His law with most dreadful punishments. Secondly, men are likewise tempted, by being brought into such circumstances, as will greatly endanger their falling into sin, though none persuade them to it. The allurements of the world are strong temptations; riches, honours, and pleasures are the occasions and incentives to many lusts. And, on the other hand, the evils and calamities of this world, especially if they threaten or fall upon men in any degree of extremity, are strong temptations to human nature. That the providence of God does order, or at least permit, men to be brought into these circumstances which are such dangerous temptations to sin, no man can doubt, that believes His providence to be concerned in the affairs of the world. All the difficulty is, how far the apostle does here intend to exempt God from a hand in these temptations. Now, for the clearer understanding of this it will be requsiite to consider the several ends which those who tempt others may have in tempting them; and all temptation is for one of these three reasons. First, for the exercise and improvement of men's graces and virtues. And this is the end which God always aims at, in bringing good men, or permitting them to be brought, into dangerous temptations. And this certainly is no disparagement to the providence of God, to permit men to be thus tempted, when He permits it for no other end but to make them better men, and thereby to prepare them for a greater reward. And this happy issue of temptations to good men the providence of God secures to them either by proportioning the temptation to their strength; or. if it exceed that, by ministering new strength and support to them, by the secret aids of His Holy Spirit. And where God doth secure men against temptations, or support them under them, it is no reflection at all upon the goodness or justice of His providence to permit them to be thus tempted. Secondly, God permits others to be thus tempted, by way of judgement and punishment, for some former great sins and provocations which they have been guilty of (Isaiah 6:10). So likewise (Romans 1:24) God is said to have given up the idolatrous heathen "to uncleanness, to vile and unnatural lusts" (Romans 28; 2 Thessalonians 2:11). But it is observable, that, in all these places which I have mentioned, God is said to give men up to the power of temptation, as a punishment of some former great crimes and provocations. And it is not unjust with God thus to deal with men, to leave them to the power of temptation, when they had first wilfully forsaken Him; and in this case God doth not tempt men to sin, but leaves them to themselves, to be tempted by their own hearts' lusts; and if they yield and are conquered, it is their own fault. Thirdly, the last end of temptation which I mentioned is to try men, with a direct purpose and intention to seduce men to sin. Thus wicked men tempt others, and thus the devil tempts men. But thus God tempts no man; and in this sense it is that the apostle means that "no man when he is tempted, is tempted of God." God hath no design to seduce any man to sin.

2. I now proceed to the second thing which I propounded to consider, viz., the manner in which the apostle rejects this proposition, "Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God." By which manner of speaking he insinuates two things. First, that men are apt to lay their faults upon God. For when he says, "Let no man say" so, he intimates that men were apt to say thus. It is not unlikely that men might lay the fault upon God's providence, which exposed them to these difficult trials, and thereby tempted them to forsake their religion. But however this be, we find it very natural to men to transfer their faults upon others. They think it is a mitigation of their faults, if they did not proceed only from themselves, but from the violence and instigation of others. But, especially, men are very glad to lay their faults upon God, because He is a full and sufficient excuse, nothing being to be blamed that comes from Him. Secondly, this manner of speech, which the apostle here useth, doth insinuate further to us, that it is not only a false, but an impious assertion, to say that God tempts men to sin.

3. Third thing I propounded to consider; namely, The reason or argument which the apostle brings against this impious suggestion; that "God cannot be tempted with evil"; and therefore no man can imagine that He should tempt any man to it.First, consider the strength and force of this argument: and — First, we will consider the proposition upon which this argument is built, and that in, that "God cannot be tempted by evil." He is out of the reach of any temptation to evil. For, first, He hath no temptation to it from His own inclination. The holy and pure nature of God is at the greatest distance from evil, and at the greatest contrariety to it. He is so far from having any inclination to evil, that it is the only thing in the world to which He hath an irreconcilable antipathy (Psalm 5:4; Habakkuk 1:13). Secondly, there is no allurement in the object to stir up any inclination to Him towards it. Thirdly, neither are there external motives and considerations that can be imagined to tempt God to it. All arguments that have any temptation are founded either in the hope of gaining some benefit, or in the fear of falling into some mischief or inconvenience. Now the Divine nature, being perfectly happy, and perfectly secured in its own happiness, is out of the reach of any of these temptations.

2. Consider the consequences that clearly follow from it, that because God cannot be tempted with evil, therefore He cannot tempt any man to it. For why should He desire to draw men into that which He Himself abhors, and which is so contrary to His own nature and disposition? Bad men tempt others to sin, to make them like themselves, and that with one of these two designs; either for the comfort or pleasure of company, or for the countenance of it, that there may be some kind of apology and excuse for them. And when the devil tempts men to sin, it is either out of direct malice to God, or out of envy to men. But the Divine nature is full of goodness, and delights in the happiness of all His creatures. His own incomparable felicity has placed Him as much above any temptation to envying others as above any occasion of being contemned by them. Now, in this method of arguing, the apostle teacheth us one of the surest ways of reasoning in religion; namely, from the natural notions which men have of God. Inferences: First, let us beware of all such doctrines as do any ways tend to make God the author of sin; either by laying a necessity upon men of sinning, or by laying secret design to tempt and seduce men to sin. We find that the holy men in Scripture are very careful to remove all thought and suspicion of this from God. Elihu (Job 36:3), before he would argue about God's providence with Job, he resolves, in the first place, to attribute nothing to God that is unworthy of Him. "I will (says he) ascribe righteousness to my Maker." So likewise St. Paul "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid" (Romans 7:7). "Is the law sin?" that is, hath God given men a law to this end, that He might draw them into sin? Far be it from Him. "Is Christ the minister of sin? God forbid" (Galatians 2:17). Secondly, let not us tempt any man to sin. All piety pretends to be an imitation of God; therefore let us endeavour to be like Him in this. Thirdly, since God tempts no man, let us not tempt Him. There is frequent mention in Scripture of men's tempting God, i.e., trying Him, as it were, whether He will do anything for their sakes that is misbecoming His goodness, and wisdom, and faithfulness, or any other of His perfections. Thus the Israelites are said to have "tempted God in the wilderness forty years together," and, in that space, more remarkably ten times. So likewise if we be negligent in our callings, whereby we should provide for our families, if we lavish away that which we should lay up for them, and then depend upon the providence of God to supply them, and take, care of them, we tempt God to that which is unworthy of Him; which is to give approbation to our folly, and countenance our sloth and carelessness.

II. THAT EVERY MAN IS HIS OWN GREATEST TEMPTER. "BUut every man is tempted, when he is drawn aside of his own lust, and enticed." In which words the apostle gives us a true account of the prevalency of temptation upon men. It is not because God has any design to ensnare men in sin; but their own vicious inclinations seduce them to that which is evil. To instance in the particular temptations the apostle was speaking of, persecution and suffering for the cause of religion, to avoid which many did then forsake the truth, and apostatise from their Christian profession. They had an inordinate affection for the ease and pleasure of this life, and their unwillingness to part with these was a great temptation to them to quit their religion; by this bait they were caught, when it came to the trial. And thus it is proportionably in all other sorts of temptations. Men are betrayed by themselves. First, that as the apostle doth here acquit God from any hand in tempting men to sin, so he does not ascribe the prevalency and efficacy of temptation to the devil. I shall here consider how far the devil by his temptations is the cause of the sins which men, by compliance with those temptations, are drawn into. First, it is certain that the devil is very active and busy to minister to them the occasion of sin, and temptations to it. Secondly, the devil does not only present to men the temptations and occasions of sin; but when he is permitted to make nearer approaches to them, does excite and stir them up to comply with these temptations, and to yield to them. And there is reason, from what is said in Scripture, to believe that the devil, in some cases, hath a more immediate power and influence upon the minds of men, to excite them to sin, and, where he discovers a very bad inclination or resolution, to help it forward (John 13:27; Acts 5:3). Thirdly, but for all this the devil can force no man to sin; his temptations may move and excite men to sin, but that they were prevalent and effectual proceeds from our own will and consent; it is our own lusts closing with his temptations that produce sin. Fourthly, from what hath been said it appears that though the devil be frequently accessary to the sins of men, yet we ourselves are the authors of them; he tempts us many times to sin, but it is we that commit it. I am far from thinking that the devil tempts men to all the evil that they do. I rather think that the greatest part of the wickedness that is committed in the world springs from the evil motions of men's own minds. Men's own lusts are generally to them the worst devil of the two, and do more strongly incline them to sin than any devil without them can tempt them to it. Others, after he has made them sure, and put them into the way of it, will go on of themselves, and are as mad of sinning, as forward to destroy themselves, as the devil himself could wish; so that he can hardly tempt men to any wickedness which he does not find them inclined to of themselves. So that we may reasonably conclude that there is a great deal of wickedness committed in the world which the devil hath no immediate hand in. Second observation, that he ascribes the efficacy and success of temptation to the lusts and vicious inclinations of men, which seduce them to a consent and compliance with the temptations which are afforded to them. "Every man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own lust, and enticed." Lay the blame of men's sins chiefly upon themselves, and that chiefly upon these two accounts: First, the lusts of men are in a great measure voluntary. By the lusts of men I mean their irregular and vicious inclinations. Nay, and after this it is still our own fault if we do not mortify our lusts; for if we would hearken to-the counsel of God, and obey His calls to repentance, and sincerely beg His grace and Holy Spirit to this purpose, we might yet recover ourselves, and "by the Spirit mortify the deeds of the flesh." Secondly, God hath put it in our power to resist these temptations, and overcome them; so that it is our own fault if we yield to them, and be overcome by them. First, it is naturally in our power to resist many sorts of temptations. If we do but make use of our natural reason, and those considerations which are common and obvious to men, we may easily resist the temptations to a great many sins. Secondly, the grace of God puts it into our power, if we do not neglect it, and be not wanting to ourselves, to resist any temptation that may happen to us; and what the grace of God puts into our power, is as truly in our power as what we can do ourselves. Learn: First, not to think to excuse ourselves by laying the blame of our sins upon the temptation of the devil. Secondly, from hence we learn what reason we have to pray to God, that He would "not lead us into temptation," i.e., not permit us to fall into it; for, in the phrase of the Scripture, God is many times said to do these things which His providence permits to be done. Thirdly, from hence we may learn the best way to disarm temptations, and to take away the power of them; and that is by mortifying our lusts and subduing our vicious inclinations.

(Abp. Tillotson.)

1. Man is apt to transfer the guilt of his own miscarriages.(1):Beware of these vain pretences. Silence and owning of guilt is far more becoming; God is most glorified when the creatures lay aside their shifts.(2) Learn that all these excuses are vain and frivolous, they will not hold with God.

2. Creatures, rather than not transfer their guilt, will cast it upon God Himself.(1) Partly because by casting it upon God the soul is most secure. When He that is to punish sin beareth the guilt of it, the soul is relieved from much horror and bondage; therefore, in the way of faith, God's transacting our sin upon Christ is most satisfying to the spirit (Isaiah 53:6).(2) Partly through a wicked desire that is in men to blemish the being of God. Man naturally hateth God; and our spite is shown by profaning His glory, and making it become vile in our thoughts; for since we cannot raze out the sense of the Deity, we would destroy the dread and reverence of it. We charge God with our evils and sins divers ways —(a) When we blame His providence, the state of things, the times, the persons about us, the circumstances of Providence, as the laying of tempting objects in our way, our condition, &c., as if God's disposing of our interests were a calling us to sin: thus Adam (Genesis 3:12).(b) By ascribing sin to the defect and faint operation of the Divine grace. Men will say they could do no otherwise; they had no more grace given them by God (Proverbs 19:3).(c) When men lay all their miscarriages upon their fate, and the unhappy stars that shone at their birth, these are but blind flings at God Himself veiled under reflections upon the creature.(d) When men are angry they know not why.(e) Most grossly, when you think God useth any suggestion to the soul to persuade and incline it to evil.(f) When you have an ill understanding and conceit of His decrees, as if they did necessitate you to sin. Men will say, "Who can help it? God would have it so" — as if that were an excuse for all.

3. God is so immutably good and holy that He is above the power of a temptation. Men soon warp and vary, but He cannot be tempted. And generally, we deal with God as if He could be tempted and wrought to a compliance with our corrupt ends, as Solomon speaketh of sacrifice offered with an evil mind (Proverbs 21:27); that is, to gain the favour of heaven in some evil undertaking and design.

4. The Author of all good cannot be the author of sin.

(T. Manton.)

I. THERE IS A TENDENCY IN THE MIND OF TRANSGRESSORS TO TRACE THEIR ERRORS AND INIQUITIES TO TEMPTATIONS PLACED IN THEIR WAY BY THE MORAL RULER OF THE WORLD.

II. TO EVINCE THE UTTER ABSURDITY AND INCONSISTENCY OF ASCRIBING, IN ANY MANNER OR TO ANY EXTENT, THE MORAL DELINQUENCIES OF MEN TO THE AUTHOR OF THEIR BEING, THE APOSTLE REMINDS US OF THE MORAL RECTITUDE OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER. He cannot be imagined as making any arrangements of the natural, or forming any plans in the moral world, of which the direct and necessary effect would be to lead His creatures into that which He has so solemnly declared that He cannot look upon but with abhorrence. Since He views with unmixed complacence the progress of His rational offspring in holiness and benevolence, can we imagine that He should either endow them with capacities, or place them in circumstances, the direct tendency of which should be to lead them into the paths of malevolence and impurity?

III. Having shown from the holiness of the Divine character that God is not the author of human temptations, he next grounds this assertion on THE DIVINE CONDUCT TO THE HUMAN FAMILY.

1. Examine, O man! the moral constitution of thy nature, and see if thou canst detect there any arrangement for thy departure from the path of holiness and peace. God has so formed the human mind that the perception of virtue awakens a sentiment of pleasure, and the presence or discovery of vice a feeling of disapprobation and disgust.

2. Look next into the history of Divine providence. Why has He been so mindful of man, and so careful of his comfort? Not, surely, to tempt him to in. gratitude against his bountiful Benefactor, or to encourage him in rebellion against His authority and law. No! the goodness of God is designed to lead them who are the objects of it unto repentance.

3. Turn, now, to the revelation of the gospel, and see if there be any statements or provisions there that tend to countenance or confirm the strange delusion with which sinners seek to allay the alarms of conscience. Was not the Son of God manifested to destroy the works of the devil? Vegas He not sent to bless us, in turning every one of us from our iniquities?

(John Johnston.)

I. In support of the first, or negative part of the proposition — THAT GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF SIN OR TEMPTATION., I confine myself entirely to the argument suggested by the text, "God cannot be tempted with evil." There must be a certain analogy, or congenial resemblance, between every cause and its effect. We cannot find in the effect any attribute or quality which was not first inherent in the cause by which it was produced. How then can evil, moral evil, flow from the Divine nature, from which it is not only excluded, but to which it is directly opposite and contradictory?

II. In the text, TEMPTATIONS ARE POSITIVELY ASCRIBED TO THE LUSTS OF MEN; and therefore the guilt and misery arising from them must centre entirely in the person of the offender. Reflect upon that fatal hour when temptation assailed, and at last prevailed against you. What did you then feel? Why did you hesitate for a moment about gratifying the favourite passion? Did not another principle within you suggest danger, and hold you in suspense? Was not every concession to the tempting object extorted against the most earnest remonstrances, and the most awful forebodings of conscience? Lessons:

1. The doctrine, now illustrated, affords the strongest consolation and encouragement under the manifold dangers and trials to which we are exposed in the present state of probation and discipline. God tempts no man to sin. Omnipotent power and goodness are ever ready to interpose in the defence of struggling virtue.

2. From the doctrine of the text we may discern not only the weakness and folly, but the arrogance and impiety of those subterfuges and apologies to which sinners have recourse in order to extenuate or cancel their personal guilt.

3. Let us abhor every sentiment and expression tending so much as to insinuate that God is the author of temptation. Some errors may be set on foot while yet no more than the outworks of religion are attacked. But whatever misrepresents the perfections and moral government of God is immediately levelled against the foundation which supports the whole fabric of our faith.

(T. Somerville, D. D.)

Even a Christian master is especially careful not to throw temptations in the way, for instance, of his servants. He would not leave sums of money about, because it would be throwing temptation in their way. If he did it through accident, then the honest servant would preserve the money, and put it into the master's hands when he returned. If he purposely did it to try his servant, then he would be guilty if the servant took it; and if the man left it about for the very purpose, we know whose servant that master would be. It was nothing less than devilish to place the helmet and broadsword in sight of the imprisoned Joan of Arc, expecting that the sudden impulse of old and dear associations, the sudden spring of reviving habit, would lead her to put them on, and so break her word and forfeit her life. To think, then, that what a Christian master would not knowingly do, God would do, were blasphemy.

(W. W. Champneys.)

Drawn away of his own lust.
I. How SIN BEGINS. NOW here is a point on which a most profane idea is often held, which our text begins with contradicting. Sin, saws an old proverbial saying, is a child that nobody will own. Men are forward to commit it, but they are backward to acknowledge that they gave it birth. But "drawn away of his own lust," does the apostle say? Why does he not rather say" Drawn away by Satan"? Because the Lord is evidently aiming in this place to make men see that sin is their own doing — and that they are inexcusable in doing it. As some men are profane enough even to charge their sins upon the Lord, so many are glad, however, to lay all the blame of their transgressions at the door of Satan. "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." But no, says the doctrine of our text — you are self-tempters. It is your own lust that is to blame. However busy Satan is to ensnare you he has an active fellow-worker in your own ungodly bosom. God made man upright; but man has spoiled the nature which his God bestowed on him.

II. SIN'S PROGRESS. "Lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin." Now this I call sin's progress, because the lust itself, that is to say, the desire of what is evil, is a sin as well as the act of sin which it brings forth. The law of God reaches to the heart. It says, "Thou shalt not covet." Evil desires, that is, when cherished in the heart, lead on to evil deeds.

III. THE END OF SIN. Many of those who practise it seem to think its end is peace. Lessons:

1. To lay the blame of sin at the right door.

2. To prize unspeakably the tender mercies of a Saviour, and to plead hard for them.

3. That we should "keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of them are the issues of life."

(A. Roberts, M. A.)

Here James traces the whole evil done by man, first, back to its proper source, and then forward to its final issue. He says, in this case the temptation is not from God; the inducement to sin, and the influence by which it is yielded to, are not from Him but from ourselves.

I. THE SOURCE OF SUCH TEMPTATION.

1. It does not originate with God. It is here clearly implied, on the one hand, that some are ready to say this, either with their lips or in their hearts. It has been supposed that the reference is to the fatalism which characterised many of the Jews; but for that there seems to be no good warrant. The error is common one, and has ever been found springing up, under this or that form, in the soil of our depraved nature. It appeared at a very early period, and is indeed coeval with the fall itself (Genesis 3:13). In every age men have sought to cast the burden off themselves, and if possible to implicate the great Author of their being in the impurities of their character and conduct. They have done it in various ways. Some have identified sin with God, with His very nature. They have espoused the Pantheistic philosophy, which makes good and evil alike emanate from Him, yea, alike constitute Him, be equally manifestations and features of Him, parts of the universal, all-embracing Deity. Not a few who stop short of that monstrous but fascinating system, yet bring matters to the same issue, so far as the responsibility of their vices and crimes is concerned. They attribute them to Divine suggestion. It has not been uncommon to trace the foulest deeds to ideas and impulses of heavenly origin. Less directly, but not less really, is the same thing done by those who find a shelter in their corrupt dispositions and desires, in those propensities and passions which strongly incite to and issue in evil courses. Genius has boldly, defiantly urged this plea in defence of irregular habits, of gross excesses, and rolled back on the Author of our being the guilt of the darkest misdeeds. Persons of this stamp have appealed to Him, as knowing that He has framed them with passions wild and strong, and have traced their wildest wandering to light from heaven (Burns). And what is perhaps worse, their blind and foolish admirers have endorsed the impious plea, and deemed it sufficient excuse for the foulest immorality and profanity to talk of the poet's galloping blood and quick nerves, of "the gunpowder in his composition," separating him from tame, cold precisions, and raising him far above the common rules of judgment and action. These parties forget that God made man upright, after His own image, without an evil tendency, without one lust, vanity, or imperfection in his constitution. Everything of the sort is the fruit of the fall, of the change wrought in us by apostasy, of our voluntary, wilful, presumptuous rebellion against the authority of heaven. All that is corrupt is of ourselves. The origin of it is human and Satanic; it is not, in whole or part, Divine. Others say, in effect, that they are tempted of God, because of the position they occupy, the circumstances in which they are placed, and the objects by which they are surrounded. High or low, rich or poor, young or old, learned or ignorant, we have each that in our condition which not only tries, but tempts; and for that is not the great Disposer of affairs, He who has fixed our position and appointed our lot, is not He responsible? He fills and directs that stream which is flowing all around, carrying us down by its constant, swollen, resistless current. How can we bear up against it, and if we are swept away by it, is it at all wonderful? God does it, and He could have ordered things far otherwise, He could have shielded us from all such malign influences. Those who entertain the thought overlook the fact that we have often very much to do with these circumstances ourselves. How common a thing is it to choose our own way, regardless of the will of God, and presumptuously to place ourselves in that situation, and among those objects, on which we afterwards cast the blame of the sins we there commit, of the errors and impurities into which we are there seduced! Further, these persons fail to realise the truth, that circumstances in themselves have comparatively little power over us, that they derive their mastery, not from what is in them, but what is in us — from the dispositions and desires on which they operate. And they forget that these very circumstances which are complained of are meant to furnish a wholesome discipline, to supply that moral and spiritual training which we need, and that in the exercise of reason and conscience — above all, by grace sought and obtained, we are to control, to govern them, to rise superior to them, and, instead of allowing them to be masters, make them our servants. Let no man then say that, in these respects or any others, he is tempted of God; let him guard against the most distant approach to such foul blasphemy. So far from anything of the kind, God sets before us the most powerful inducements to reject evil under every form, to avoid it as we should a serpent in our path. How authoritative the commands, how awful the sanctions of His law! while the operations of His providence, and indeed the very constitution of our being, which is His workmanship, supply us with the most convincing evidence that He hates sin and punishes its commission. James gives a reason for this, he founds it on the Divine nature itself. "For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man." "He cannot be tempted with evil." He is infinitely far removed from it, raised above it, under all its forms. He is so because of the absolute perfection of His being and blessedness. He has no want to be supplied, no desire to be gratified. He can gain nothing, can receive nothing. His happiness is complete, absolute, admitting neither of diminution nor enlargement. What inducement, then, can evil present to Him, what bribe can it offer to such a being? "Neither tempteth He any man." The two statements are closely connected. The one follows from, and is based on, the other. He who cannot be tempted cannot tempt. He whose holiness shuts out all solicitation to evil will not, cannot present such solicitation. His spotless, glorious character is opposed equally to either supposition.

2. It originates with man himself. It springs from elements which have their seat in his own bosom. It rises from, it centres in, "lust." This term is not limited here, as it often is in common use among us, to sensual passion, to licentiousness. It is far more general and comprehensive. It denotes strong desire of any kind; and here, as often elsewhere, it means irregular, sinful desire — desire either of what is not lawful, or of what is lawful in an inordinate degree. It may be evil in its very nature, irrespective of extent, or it may be so only by reason of perversion and excess. There is much of this in every bosom. It is the corrupt principle in its various tendencies and motions — its striving, craving for certain objects and indulgences. It is the body of sin in its manifold appetites and members. Here is the primary, prolific source of transgression. The apostle says, "his own lust," and this is a significant and emphatic circumstance. Each person has a particular lust, a master-passion, an evil tendency, which has the chief influence in determining his conduct and moulding his character. All of us have sins that do more easily beset us, by reason of the special principles and propensities which bold sway in our bosom. One is governed by the love of pleasure, another by the love of power. Thin man is ambitious, that is covetous. Here it is the filthiness of the flesh, there it is the filthiness of the spirit, which is dominant. But what is brought out by "his own," is that the lust by which we are tempted is a thing strictly belonging to ourselves. It excludes the idea of foreign action or influence; it confronts and condemns the imagination that God is at all implicated in the matter. Our own lust is more to be dreaded than all Satan's assaults, though these are ever to be watched and feared. But the temptation in question, that which issues in sin, operates, takes effect, has its success in the manner here described. "When he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed." We take the first step in the direction of real and overt acts of disobedience when we allow ourselves to be drawn away and enticed by it; for it acts in both cases, brings about the latter step as well as the former, in this downward process. We break loose from the restraints of various kinds which have helped to hold us back from evil, and gradually yield to the enticements presented, to the fascinations of vanity or vice, of folly or wickedness. The one step precedes and prepares for the other.

(John Adam.)

It is natural for men, in the commission of sin, to design to themselves as much of the pleasure and as little of the guilt as possible; and therefore, since the guilt of sin unavoidably remains upon the cause and author of sin, it is their great business to find out some other cause, upon which to charge it, beside themselves.

1. What the apostle here means by being tempted.

2. What is intended by lust,

1. For the first of these: it is as certain that the Scripture affirms some men to have been tempted by God, and particularly Abraham, as that it is positively affirmed in the verse before the text, that God tempts no man. In the sense that it is ascribed to God, it signifies no more than a bare trial; as when, by some notable providence, He designs to draw forth and discover what is latent in the heart of man. In the sense that it is denied of God, it signifies an endeavour, by solicitations and other means, to draw a man to the commission of sin: and this the most holy God can by no means own, for it would be to take the devil's work out of his hands. But neither does this sense reach the measure of the word in this place; which imports not only an endeavour to engage a man in a sinful action, but an effectual engaging him with full prevalence, as to the last issue of the commission. And thus a man can be only tempted by his own lust; which is —

2. The second thing to be explained. By lust the apostle here means, not that particular inordination or vice that relates to the uncleanness of the flesh; but the general stock of corruption that possesses the whole soul, through all its respective faculties. But principally is it here to be understood of the prime commanding faculty of all, the will, as it is possessed and principled with sinful habits and depraved inclinations.

I. THE MISTAKEN CAUSES OF SIN; in the number of which we may reckon these that follow: —

1. The decree of God concerning things to come to pass is not a proper cause for any man to charge his sins upon; though perhaps there is nothing in the world that is more abused by weak and vulgar minds in this particular. It has no casual influence upon sinful actions; no, nor indeed upon any actions else: forasmuch as the bare decree, or purpose of a thing, produces or puts nothing in being at all. A decree, as such, is not operative or effective of the thing decreed. But it will be replied, Does not everything decreed by God necessarily come to pass? And yet I suppose that none will say that God's foreknowledge of a man's actions does, by any active influence, necessitate that man to do those actions; albeit, that this consequence stands unshakeable, that whatsoever God foreknows a man will do, that shall certainly be done. Otherwise, where is God's omniscience and His infallibility? God hath shown thee, O man, what is good and what is evil. He has placed life and death before thee. This is the rule by which thou must stand or fall: and no man will find that his fulfilling God's secret will, will bear him out in the breach of His revealed.

2. The influences of the heavens and of the stars imprint nothing upon men that can impel or engage them to do evil; and yet some are so sottish as to father their villainies upon these; they were born, forsooth, under such a planet, and therefore they cannot choose but be thieves or rebels all their life after. But admitting that the heavens have an influence upon inferior bodies, and that those glorious lights were not made only to be gazed upon, but to control as well as to direct the lesser world; yet still all communication between agent and patient must be in things that hold some proportion and likeness in their natures; so that one thing can pass no impression upon another, of a nature absolutely and in every respect diverse from it, provided it be also superior to it; and such a thing is a spirit in respect of body. Upon which grounds, what intercourse can there be between the stars and a soul?

3. Neither can any man charge his sins upon the constitution and temper of his body, as the proper cause of them. The body was made to serve and not to command. All that it can do is only to be troublesome, but it cannot be imperious. They are not the humours of the body, but the humours of the mind, to which men owe the irregularities of their behaviour. The sensitive appetites having their situation in the body, do indeed follow the peculiar complexion and temper of it; but reason is a thing that is placed so solely and entirely in the soul, and so depends not upon those inferior faculties; but though it is sometimes solicited by them, yet it is in its power, whether or no it will be prevailed upon. And for all the noise and tumult that is often raised amongst them; yet reason, like the uppermost region of the air, is not at all subject to the disturbances that are below. No man is made an adulterer, a drunkard, or an idle person by his body; his body indeed may incline him to be so, but it is his will only that makes him so. And besides, there have been some in the world, who by the conduct of their reason have made their way to virtue, through all the disadvantages of their natural constitution. Philosophy has done it in many, and religion may do it in all.

4. And lastly, to proceed yet higher: no man can justly charge his sins upon the devil, as the cause of them; for God has not put it into the power of our mortal enemy to ruin us without ourselves; which yet he had done, had it been in the devil's power to force us to sin. The Spirit of God assures us that he may be resisted, and that upon a vigorous resistance, he will fly. He never conquers any, but those that yield; a spiritual fort is never taken by force, but by surrender. It is confessed, indeed, that the guilt of those sins that the devil tempts us to, will rest upon him; but not so as to discharge us. He that persuades a man to rob a house is guilty of the sin he persuades him to, but not in the same manner that he is who committed the robbery. I shall remark this by way of caution: that though I deny any of these to be the proper causes of sin, yet it is not to be denied but that they are often very great promoters of sin, where they meet with a corrupt heart and a depraved will. And it is not to be questioned but that many thousands now in hell might have gone thither in a calmer and a more cleanly way at least, had they not been hurried on by impetuous temptations, by an ill constitution, and by such circumstances of life as mightily suited their corruption, and so drew it forth to a pitch of acting higher and more outrageous than ordinary. For there is no doubt but an ill mind in an ill-disposed body will carry a man forth to those sins, that otherwise it would not, if lodged in a body of a better and more benign temperament. As a sword, covered with rust, will wound much more dangerously, where it does wound, than it could do if it were bright and clean. All this is very true; and therefore, besides those internal impressions of grace, by which God sanctifies the heart, and effectually changes the will, many are accountable to His mercy for those external and inferior assistances of grace. As, that He restrains the fury of the tempter; that He sends them into the world with a well-tempered and rigthtly disposed body; and lastly, that He casts the course of their life out of most of the snares and occasions of sin: so that they can with much more ease be virtuous than other men. But on the other side, where God denies a man these advantages, and casts him under all the forementioned disadvantages of virtue, it is yet most certain that they lay upon him no necessity of sinning.

II. THE PROPER AND EFFECTUAL CAUSE OF SIN IS THE DEPRAVED WILL OF MAN, expressed here under the name of LUST. The proof of which is not very difficult; for all other causes being removed, it remains that it can be only this. We have the word of Christ Himself that it is from within, from the heart, that envyings, wrath, bitterness, adulteries, fornications, and other such impurities do proceed. I shall endeavour further to evince this by arguments and reasons.

1. The first shall be taken from the office of the will, which is to command and govern all the rest of the faculties; and therefore all disorder must unavoidably begin herb. The economy of the powers and actions of the soul is a real government; and a government cannot be defective without some failure in the governor.

2. The second argument shall be taken from every man's experience of himself and his own actions; upon an impartial survey of which he shall find, that before the doing of anything sinful or suspicious, there passes a certain debate in the soul about it, whether it shall or shall not be done; and after all argumentations for and against, the last issue and result follows the casting voice of the will.

3. A third reason is from this, that the same man, upon the proposal of the same object, and that under the same circumstances, yet makes a different choice at one time from what he does at another; and therefore the moral difference of actions, in respect of the good or evil of them, must of necessity be resolved into some principle within him; and that is his will.

4. The fourth and last reason shall be from this, that even the souls in hell continue to sin, and therefore the productive principle of sin must needs be the will. All the blowing of the fire put under a cauldron could never make it boil over, were there not a fulness of water within it. Some are so stupid as to patronise their sins with a plea that they cannot, they have not power to do otherwise; but where the will is for virtue, it will either find or make power.

III. THE WAY BY WHICH A CORRUPT WILL (here expressed by the name of lust) IS THE CAUSE OF SIN; and that is, by "drawing a man aside, and enticing him."

1. It seduces, or draws a man aside; it actually takes himself from the ways of duty: for as in all motion there is the relinquishment of one term before there can be the acquisition of another; so the soul must pass from its adherence to virtue before it can engage in a course of sin. Now the first and leading attempt of lust is to possess the mind with a kind of loathing of virtue, as a thing harsh and insipid, and administering no kind of pleasure and satisfaction. This being done, and the mind clear, it is now ready for any new impression.

2. The other course is by enticing; that is, by using arguments and rhetoric, to set off sin to him with the best advantage, and the fairest gloss. And this it does these two following ways:(1) By representing the pleasures of sin, stripped of all the troubles and inconveniences of sin. Bit now it is the act of lust to show the quintessence and the refined part of a sinful action, separate from all its dregs and indecencies, so to recommend it to the apprehension of a deluded sinner. Lust never deals impartially with the choice, so as to confront the whole good with the whole evil of an object; but declaims amply and magnificently of one, while it is wholly silent of the other.(2) Lust entices by representing that pleasure that is in sin greater than indeed it is;" it swells the proportions of everything, and shows them, as it were, through a magnifying-glass, greatened and multiplied by desire and expectation; which always exhibit objects to the soul, not as they are, but as they would have them be. Nothing cheats a man so much as expectation: it conceives with the air, and grows big with the wind; and like a dream, it promises high, but performs nothing. They are cursed like the earth, not only with barrenness, but with briars and thorns; there is not only a fallacy, but a sting in them: and consequently they are rendered worse than nothing; a reed that not only deceives, but also pierces the hand that leans upon it.But the exceeding vanity of every sinful pleasure will appear by considering both the latitude of its extent and the length of its duration.

1. And first, for the latitude or measure of its extent. It seldom gratifies but one sense at a time; and if it should diffuse a universal enjoyment to them all, yet it reaches not the better, the more capacious part of man, his soul: that is so far from communicating with the senses, that in all their revels it is pensive and melancholy, and afflicted with inward remorses from an unsatisfied, if not also an accusing conscience.

2. And then secondly, for its duration or continuance.

(R. South, D. D.)

The word "lust" signifies in this place every desire or inclination after things unlawful in any kind. The desire of unlawful pleasures, which is the vice of sensuality. The desire of unlawful riches, which is the foundation of unrighteousness, oppression, and fraud. The desire of obtaining honour by corrupt methods, which is the sin of ambition. The desire of being religious without true virtue, without the sincere love of God and of our neighbour, which is the foundation of idolatry, and of all superstitions. When by any of these desires a man is drawn away from what he knows is right, and enticed to do what the reason of his mind condemns, then is he led into sin.

I. In the nature of things EVERY SIN IS A DEVIATION FROM SOME RULE; and such a deviation as the person is sensible of at the time he acts, and knows that he ought not to have so acted. This it is that makes the action blameworthy in its own nature, and justly punishable by a wise and good governor. But, man being endued with rational faculties, and knowing well the difference between good and evil, is still placed in such a situation as to be frequently tempted to depart from reason, and to act contrary to what he knows is right.

II. Second place, to illustrate and confirm this doctrine BY COMPARING IT WITH SOME REMARKABLE EXAMPLES of sinful men and sinful actions, recorded in Scripture for our admonition. Men at all times, and in all places, when they have been seduced by sin, and begun to apprehend the ill consequences of it, have endeavoured to shift off the blame from themselves, and to lay at least part of the fault upon whatever else they could. But the Scripture, in every history there recorded, has always taken care to direct us with sufficient clearness to the true source of the evil. Our first parent, Eve, when she had eaten of the forbidden fruit, immediately her excuse was, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." Saul comforted himself under his disobedience to an express command of God, with an imaginary intention of sacrificing the choice of his forbidden spoils unto the Lord his God. But the true motive that drew him away from his duty was a covetous desire of the spoil (1 Samuel 15:21, 24). David, in the committing of that great crime, the murder of Uriah, flattered himself with that shameful apology, because Uriah fell by the band of the Ammonites (2 Samuel 11:25). Ahab was willing to persuade himself that he had a right to Ramoth-Gilead, and that God too, by His prophets, encouraged the undertaking. Yet had not his ambition and his passions drawn him away, and blinded his attention, it was easy for him to have perceived that in this whole matter he was acting contrary to the will of God (1 Kings 22:8).

(S. Charke, D.D.)

1. The cause of evil is in a man's self, in his own lusts, the Eve in our own bosom. God gave a pure soul, only it met with viciously disposed matter.

2. Above all things, a man should look to his desires.

3. The way that lust takes to ensnare the soul is by force and flattery.(1) By violence.(a) When your desires will not endure the consideration of reason, but you are carried on by a brutish rage (Jeremiah 5:8).(b) When they grow more outrageous by opposition, and that little check that you give to them is like the sprinkling of water upon the coals, the fire burns more fiercely.(c) When they urge and vex the soul till fulfilled, which is often expressed in Scripture by a languor and sickness.(2) By flattery. This is one of the impediments of conversion — lust promises delight and pleasures (Job 20:12).(a) Learn to suspect things that are too delightful. That which you should look after in the creatures is their usefulness, not their pleasantness — that is the bait of lust.(b) Learn what need there is of great care. Noonday devils are most dangerous, and such things do us most mischief as betray us with smiles and kisses.

(T. Manton.)

We are tempted, it seems — "drawn" into sin. Who draws us? Not God. He is perfectly holy, and by a necessity of nature does good and not evil. God is for us; who is against us? There is indeed a tempter. The evil spirit has no power at all over any of us, except what we concede to him. As the prince of the power of the air, he could do a soul no harm: it is when he is welcomed within a man's own heart that he ensnares. So then, in the last resort, "every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." From this striking figure we learn some specific features of the sad process. The two terms are literally, "drawn out, and hooked." The first expression does not yet mean drawn by the hook; it means rather drawn to the hook. There are two successive drawings, very diverse in character. The first is a drawing towards the hook, and the second is a dragging by the hook. The first is a secret enticement of the will, and the second is an open and outrageous oppression by a superior force, binding the slave and destroying him. The first process, as applied to hunting and fishing, is well known and easily understood. This part of the process is carried on with care and skill and secrecy. No noise is made, and no danger permitted to meet the eye of the victim. By smell or by sight, the fish or the wild animal is "drawn" from the safe, deep hiding-place in the bush or in the river. The victim, not perceiving the danger, is by its own "lust" — its own appetite — drawn to its doom. The next part of the process is the act of fixing the barbed hook in the victim's jaws. The word is "baited"; that is, enticed by the bait to swallow the hook — the hook that is in the first instance unsuspected. When the hook is fastened, there is another drawing; but oh, how diverse from the first! The angler does not now hide himself, and tread softly, and speak in a whisper. There is no more any gentleness. He rudely drags his helpless prey to shore, and takes its life. I have often seen the same process, with the same difference between its commencement and its conclusion, in the tempting of human souls. The best, the only real preventive against these baited hooks, is to be satisfied with a sweetness in which there are no sin and no danger. The human soul that is empty — that is not satisfied with the peace of God — is easily drawn into the pleasures of sin. In a certain Highland lake, I have been told, sportsmen at one season of the year expect no sport. There are plenty of fishes, but they will not take the bait. Some vegetable growth on the bottom at that period is abundant and suitable as food. I have observed, in the process of fishing, that on the part of the victim there are two successive struggles, both violent, both short, and both, for the most part, unavailing. When first it feels the hook, it makes a vigorous effort to shake itself free. But that effort soon ceases, and the fish sails gently after the retreating hook, as if it were going towards the shore with its own consent. What is the reason of its apparent docility after the first struggle? Ah, poor victim! it soon discovers that to draw against the hook, when the hook is fastened, is very painful. Then, when it feels the shore, and knows instinctively that its doom has come, there is another desperate struggle, and all is over. I think I have observed these two struggles, one at the beginning and one at the end, with the period of silent resignation between them, in the experience of an immortal man. There is an effort to resist the appetite, after the victim discovers that he is in its grasp. But the effort is painful, and is soon abandoned. "I will seek it yet again," is the silent resolution of despair. The struggle, with all the agonies of remorse, may be once more renewed when the waters of life grow shallow, and the soul is grazing the eternal shore. The result? Alas! the darkness covers it; we know it not. After the first drawing, which is soft and unexpected, the way of transgressors is hard. The fish with the hook in its jaws is the chosen glass in which the Scripture invites us to see it. The snare of intemperance is the one in which the victim is tormented, and made a show of openly, in sight of the world.

(W. Arnot.)

Of the two verbs used here to describe the temptational agency of lust, the former was originally a venatorial, the second a piscatorial term. Each has its own significance in the description. Before the wild beast can be captured it must be drawn out of its lair. It must be enticed away from its defences, out into the open, where it can be surrounded on all sides, where the assaults can be conducted with greater freedom, where all retreat will be cut off. So temptation will be most effectual when the soul can be enticed out of its retreat, when it exposes itself to the solicitations of evil, and puts itself at the mercy of its foes. When man has lost his adjustments, when his spiritual centre of gravity is disturbed, he is much more susceptible to the power of assaults made upon his integrity, and much more easily overthrown. This, then, is the first endeavour of the Epithumia to induce a change of locality and of environment, to urge man further away from the source of true security, to lead him to advance so far out into the place of exposure that he will fall an easy prey to his adversaries. The other figure carries us a step further. The angler baits his hook to catch the fish. He lures his unwary victim to its death. He offers in sight what he knows will surely attract, and hides within the barbed point which is to capture and to destroy. So in temptation there is this same combination of allurement and destruction. First comes the lure — pleasure, fame, wealth, honour, power, knowledge — the fatal barb which lurks within, so placed that to snatch at it is to swallow death. Man is allured, deceived; yet not unwittingly nor unwillingly. He is "baited from his own lust." His morbid appetite seeks out the forbidden fruit, and greedily plucks it.

(J. Caldwell, D. D.)

Thus James gives us the genesis of evil. It is in the individual man. The man is drawn away from good and caught in evil by his own lust. The writer lays special emphasis on this: it is "his own"; it is not of God — not of the devil — not of the world; it is of the man's self, and in the man's self. It is that in his self without the exhibition of which there would be nothing to which the work of the devil could appeal. It is most important to inculcate in all children that it is a mistake to lay their faults on any one else, even on the devil. That personage has enough to bear without having our sins laid upon him. No sinner can be reformed so long as he makes Satan or any one else responsible for his transgressions. I knew a child of strong character and strong passions who used to have paroxysms of rage. Her parents and others would sometimes tell her to open her mouth and let the bad spirit go under the table. The child was growing into the belief that she was the innocent victim of an unseen being, who was snottier person, and she was learning to shift all the responsibility upon that person, that person not herself. A friend one day taught her the fallacy of this; showed her that she was the only person responsible; that she herself was the bad spirit, and there was nothing to do but have that spirit, namely, herself, totally changed. She went to her closet and prayed — prayed as David prayed (Psalm 51.), when the conviction seized him that it was against God, and God only, that he had sinned. There was no third party in the transaction, From the hour the child had that conviction she was a changed person. So must we all feel. We can never resist temptation as we should, so long as we hold God or any one else responsible for our sins.

(C. F. Deems, D. D.)

It bringeth forth sin
Sin is a reality. It is not a weakness, but a power; a power which gnaws at the very core of life; a power encompassing and swaying the entire range of our being. It is an inward strife, a pain reaching even to the heart. Let us, then, seek first of all to discern the full significance of sin, that in sincere penitence we may turn away from it. It gives sin's history. The history naturally divides itself into three parts: — Sin.

I.In its origin.

II.In its essence.

III.In its results.

I. EVERY MAN IS TEMPTED, WHEN HE IS DRAWN AWAY OF HIS OWN LUST, AND ENTICED. "His own lust" — the emphasis lies there. Do not throw the blame on any external power; least of all upon God, the Holy One, who has written His law in your hearts! He condemns and punishes sin. He desires that you should be holy as He is holy. Do not seek for the guilt outside yourself, among the people who surround you. I know, indeed, how great is the power of custom, of education, of companionships, the power of men over men; bow overmastering are the first impressions of youth, made upon the unconscious spirit and the undeveloped will. But, nevertheless, all these external influences only tempt — they cannot compel; there is no inseparable connection between them and the soul. The tempting lust! Ah, how insignificant and harmless does it appear at first! How beautiful, in the brilliant colours of childhood! The lust after outward show, after enjoyment, after the possession of earthly things — selfish-ness, vanity, ambition! At first these seem only a childish playfulness, as it were, a snatching at things; a sweet gratification in the absorbing attractions of the outer world; but soon they become a habit.

II. But now, further, SIN IS BORN OF LUST. It surrounds us everywhere — nay, it is within us — it has taken possession of our senses and our thoughts. And in what does it essentially consist? In the opposition between the flesh and spirit! Selfishness and the desires of the senses — these are the two fundamental forms of all sin. You perhaps ask me if sin is indeed so universally powerful and universally diffused? Be assured, sin has manifold forms — refined and gross; concealed and bare; violent and torpid.

III. And so our text proceeds: "AND SIN, WHEN IT IS FINISHED, BRINGETH FORTH DEATH." That is the end — dissolution, ruin, death. And how does the corruption of the spirit show itself? Thus: — The conscience becomes dumb; the sense of spiritual realities dull; the nobler feelings of honour vanish; virtue is only an un-comprehended idea; goodness is only policy, or that which is approved by the lax judgment of so-called good society; truth is trampled under the feet of falsehood; and humanity becomes venal, and makes its bargain with the world. And these are the ruinous lineaments of the face of death — indifference, joylessness, hopelessness 1 And these not only take possession of the individual, but proceed further, and, in their moral ruin and destruction, bear violently away. everything which comes within the range of the sinful life: they destroy the entire house which is built upon the sand. Not yonder only, in the other world, are the punishment and recompense received; there is a Divine justice even upon this earth.

(Dr. Schwarz.)

I. THE BEGINNING OF SIN. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." This is the source of all evil. Before the act can be committed the purpose must be formed in the breast, which takes time, design, deliberation. Seduction, theft, perfidy, drunkenness, injustice, murder, the popular vices of the day, require design, arrangement, decision.

II. THE PROGRESS WHICH IT MAKES IN ITS INFLUENCE OVER THE HEART AND CHARACTER OF MAN.

1. The causes brought into operation to produce this. One is the popular reading of the age. Associations with those who have made some advances in vice.

2. Let me show how these principles advance. "When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." No man can become suddenly wicked. At first there must be awful violence done to the conscience. But when you have once gone into this moral contamination, when you cast off the fear of man, no one is astonished, because previously to this you have cast off the fear of God.

III. THE END OF SIN.

1. The death of the body. "Death has passed upon all men, for all have sinned." But there is a natural tendency in sin to hasten this end. I read in my Bible, "Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days." The glutton, the intemperate, the lascivious person, the debauchee, all these men shorten their days.

2. The death of the soul. And what is that? I cannot tell.(1) Allow me to make an appeal to those who are invested with parental authority. Beware lest by connivance and withholding due restraint, you become accessories to the ruin of your children.(2) Let me warn the young against the danger of yielding to the first temptation.

(T. East.)

1. Sin encroaches upon the spirit by degrees. Lust begetteth vigorous motions, or pleasing thoughts, which draw the mind to a full and clear consent; and then sin is hatched, and then disclosed, and then strengthened, and then the person is destroyed.(1) Oh, that we were wise, then, to rise against sin betimes! that we would "take the little foxes" (Song of Solomon 2:15), even the first appearances of corruption! A Christian's life should be spent in watching lust. Small breaches in the sea-bank occasion the ruin of the whole if not timely repaired.(2) This reproves them that boldly adventure upon a sin because of the smallness of it. Consider the danger to yourselves. Great faults do not only ruin the soul, but lesser; dallying with temptations is of a sad consequence. Caesar was killed with bodkins.

2. Lust is fully conceived and formed in the soul, when the will is drawn to consent; the decree in the will is the ground of all practice. Well, then, if lust hath insinuated into your thoughts, labour to keep it from a decree and gaining the consent of the will. Sins are the more heinous as they are the more resolved and voluntary.

3. What is conceived in the heart is usually brought forth in the life and conversation. "Lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin." That is the reason why the Apostle Peter directeth a Christian to spend the first care about the heart — "Abstain from fleshly lusts," and then "have your conversations honest" (1 Peter 2:11, 12). As long as there is lust in the heart there will be no cleanness in the conversation; as worms in wood will at length cause the rottenness to appear.(1) Learn that hypocrites cannot always be hidden; disguises will fall off.(2) Learn the danger of neglecting lust and thoughts. If these are not suppressed, they will ripen into sins and acts of filthiness.(3) Learn what a mercy it is to be hindered of our evil intentions, that sinful consequences are stillborn, and when we wanted no lust we should want no occasion. Mere restraints are a blessing. We are not so evil as otherwise we would be.

4. The result and last effect of sin is death (Romans 6:21; Ezekiel 18:4). Draco, the rigid law-giver, being asked why, when sins were equal, he appointed death to all, answered he knew that sins were not all equal, but he knew the least deserved death.(1) It teacheth us how to stop the violence of lust; this will be death and damnation. OhQ consider it, and set it as a flaming sword in the way of your carnal delights. Observe how wisely God hath ordered it — much of sin is pleasant; aye I but there is death in the pot, and so fear may counterbalance delight. Another part of sin is serious, as worldliness, in which there is no gross act, and so there being nothing foul to work upon shame, there is something dreadful to work upon fear. Well, then, awaken the soul; consider what Wisdom saith (Proverbs 8:36). Why will you wilfully throw away your own souls? Sin's best are soon spent, the worst is always behind.(2) It showeth what reason we have to mortify sin, lest it mortify us. No sins are mortal but such as are not mortified; either sin must die or the sinner. The life of sin and the life of a sinner are like two buckets in a well — if the one goeth up the other must come down. When sin liveth the sinner must die. There is an evil in sin and an evil after sin. The evil in sin is the violation of God's law, and the evil after sin is the just punishment of it.

(T. Manton.)

I. Sin. Lust — that is, impure or inordinate desire, at first harlot-like, for that idea runs through the whole passage — draws away its victims with an art resembling that of a skilful fisher or hunter. Having so far worked on them, got them into its embrace, it conceives — as it were becomes pregnant. This is a decisive stage in the process. It determines all that follows. It leads at once to the bringing forth of sin, and by another step to the bringing forth of death. What, then, is its nature? What are we to understand by this conception? It is produced by the union of lust with the will, the passing of prompting into purpose, desire into determination. It takes place when the two meet and mingle, when inclination, instead of encountering resistance, secures acquiescence. It is consenting, yielding to the workings of corruption, and lending ourselves to the doing of its bidding. When, instead of praying and striving against evil stirring within us and seeking to lead us captive, we tolerate it, dally with it, let it gain strength, and finally obtain the entire mastery, then the impure, criminal union is consummated. The actual transgression straightway ensues. It is sin in the strongest sense of the word — sin actual, obvious, complete in its nature. But are we to infer from this that there is nothing of the kind until it is brought forth? Is all faultless which precedes the birth of the monster? No.

1. There can be no doubt as to the nature and desert of the conception. It is the giving ourselves up to be voluntary slaves of that law which is in the members. We thereby embrace the evil, and it matters little whether action follow or not. He who plans a robbery is a real thief, though in point of fact he may not take away a farthing's worth of his neighbour's property. He may have been defeated in his design; he may not have found the fitting opportunity; he may have failed in courage when the resolution had to be carried into effect. The intention was there, and that is enough; for while human tribunals can deal only with palpable acts, the Divine law is fettered by no such restrictions. Suppose we are not answerable for the rising up of the foul harlot lust, for the blandishments it practises, we certainly are for not rejecting its offers and escaping from its impure embraces. The will is not overmastered by force, but is seduced from its allegiance, and plays the traitor.

2. It is not otherwise with the lust that conceives. We find sin lurking in its bosom, marking every one of its forms and motions. The effect reveals the nature of the cause by which it is produced. The two necessarily correspond. The fruit is good or bad according as the tree on which it grows is the one or the other. Were the fountain-head pure, the waters which issue from it would not be so poisonous. And the testimonies of Scripture on the subject are explicit. One of the commandments of the moral law is directed against coveting — that is, lusting after what is our neighbour's. The works of the flesh enumerated by Paul largely consist of inward dispositions, mental tendencies. Jesus Himself represents evil thoughts as among the things which defile a man. What is often more involuntary, instinctive, than hasty, causeless anger? and yet He makes it a species of murder, and declares that a person chargeable with it is in danger of the judgment. But we are not left to inference, however direct and obvious. We have this concupiscence expressly called sin (Romans 7:7, 23; Romans 8:7). Does any one ask, How can I be held responsible for a thing thus belonging to the very constitution of my being that lies beyond the control of the will, at least in its first stages, in those early risings and actings of it we are now considering? Lust is a feature and function of our inner man as fallen, depraved; and that inner man, as such, we may not trace to God, the great Maker and Governor. He created us in His own image, and we lost, defaced its Divine features by our wilful and inexcusable apostasy. And, further, let it be noted how much of our lust is, in a far more direct and personal way still, the workmanship of our own hand, the fruit of our own doings. We produce and foster it, either entirely originating it or immensely strengthening it; in short, we make it what it actually is by association and indulgence, by the scenes we frequent, the companions we choose, the habits we form, the lives we lead.

II. DEATH. This is the ultimate issue. "And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Sin itself is the offspring of lust; but in turn it becomes a parent. In due time it gives birth to a child, "a grizzly terror," a dark, devouring monster. This takes place when sin is finished; and the most important question here is, How are we to understand that expression? James, we apprehend, speaks here of the act of sin which follows the submission of the will to impure or inordinate desire. Whenever lust conceives it brings forth sin; and that child in every instance grows up, and on arriving at maturity, in turn becomes a parent, its issue being death. There is no transgression which is not pregnant with this hideous progeny. The law connects every violation" of its precepts with death, as its righteous, inevitable punishment. The execution of the sentence may be long deferred, but nothing is more certain; and indeed it is in part inflicted from the time the sin is committed. The evil deed passes away as soon as done, but the guilt remains, staining and burdening the conscience; and not only so, for a virus proceeds from it, an active, malign influence which continues to operate, and that in an ever-widening, augmenting degree. The natural tendency of it is to darken the mind and harden the heart, to increase the strength of depravity and fasten more firmly its yoke, to lead on to repetitions of the same act, and to others still more heinous in their nature. It has wrapped up in it multiplied evils which develop themselves more and more fully, advancing from bad to worse, unless in so far as they are checked and overcome by counteracting influences. But it is not finished, does not produce its mature and final result, until it issue in inevitable separation from God and the endurance of His wrath to all eternity (Romans 6:16, 21, 23). How terrible the death which sin, when finished, thus brings forth! That of the body is but the passage to the region where it reigns in all its horrors. Its nature will not be fully manifested, its work will not be fully done, until it brings forth its brood of future terrors, the pains of hell for ever. James adds an equally tender and solemn warning — "Do not err, my beloved brethren." These words point both backward and forward. They respect what goes before, and introduce what comes after, by way of confirmation. They form the transition from the one to the other, and so may be viewed in connection with either. There is here implied exposure to error. We are prone to go astray as to the origin of temptation; for that is the matter in hand, and to which reference is made by the apostle. The language intimates not less the danger of error in this matter. It is not a light thing to fall into such a mistake. On the contrary, it is perilous in the extreme. It perverts our views of the Divine character; it deadens the sense of sin; it renders us blind and insensible to the only effectual remedy; it fosters pride, self-deception, and fatal delusion. It is pregnant with evils of incalculable magnitude and eternal duration.

(John Adam.)

In this passage we have held up before us the genesis of death. Now, the difficulty is to know whether the death spoken of refers to the spirit or the body. In a large number of cases in Scripture the word refers to spiritual death. But there are passages in which the word "death" seems to refer to that of the body. I am disposed to regard the passage before us in this way, and that for two reasons. First, St. James is a writer who deals chiefly with the outward and visible; and a second reason may be found in the fact that he is here speaking of a form of sin whose results are emphatically, though not exclusively, physical. Lust is the enemy of the body. There are senses, then, in which bodily death is the result of sin. Not in all senses. We must be careful to limit the statement that the death of the body is the result of sin. We are told that "the wicked do not live out half their days." If there bad been no wickedness men would have lived out all their days. In the midst of life there would not have been death, but only at the end of life-when its appointed term had been reached. There would have been no death from disease, but only from what we call the decay of nature. I do not speak positively on this matter. The evidence is not sufficient to do so. I only give this as my conception of the subject. It is significant, too, that our Lord, the only sinless one ever seen on our earth), did not, so far as we can judge from the record, suffer from any disease. Nor must we connect too closely bodily disease with personal sin. in many a case the life begins with a diseased or feeble frame inherited from others. But none the less it is true that the connection between disease and sin is both real and close. We think of consumption as the most fruitful cause of the premature mortality in our land. It does slay its thousands every year; but if it slays its thousands, sin slays its tens of thousands, whilst no small proportion even of what we call consumption is traceable either directly or indirectly to sin. Men of the world talk glibly of young men sowing their wild oats. They are silent as to the harvest which springs therefrom. Were such sins to cease out of our land a marvellous change would come over the health of the nation. A complete crusade against disease must include spiritual as well as sanitary weapons. Minds as well as bodies diseased must have their ministry. We must fight the lust within which leads to sin and, at last, to death. Now, how is this fruitful source of disease and death to be grappled with and overcome? The first essential is that we should feel that it must be dealt with. That was the first step taken in relation to other causes of disease. There was a time when men regarded epidemics like cholera as visitations of God — punishments for sin; and so long as this was the feeling nothing was done. All that men did was to pray for their removal. And when men realise that the most fruitful and constant cause of disease and mortality is sin, they will see that these can cease only as the sin producing them is overcome. There are those who say, "Teach all alike the facts of physiology — let men know all about their bodies, and they will then preserve them from defilement." I have not a particle of faith in such a remedy. Knowledge of the body is no preservation; if it were, the people whose chief business is to understand the body would not need the warning now before us: "Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is full grown, bringeth forth death." Is it thus? Careful inquiry has satisfied me that the students of medicine in our great hospitals are not purer, even if they are as pure, as youths in other walks of life. There are others who say, "Trust to education. Increased knowledge will bring about purer ways. As schools and scholars multiply vice will decrease." Doubtless some forms of vice will decrease. In certain realms knowledge will accomplish much. But no one who knows much of life will say that this is one of those realms. It is not knowledge that is needed. It is the impulse which will prompt to the good, the constraint which will hold us from the evil. There is no force mighty enough that I have ever heard of to grapple with sin save the gospel. Christ alone raises a barrier strong enough to resist the onslaughts of this great enemy. And why is it thus?

1. Because the Christian faith makes us realise that there is a Divine Spirit within us which renders holy even the temple of the body in which it dwells.

2. The Christian faith alone holds up an ideal lofty enough to keep us from impurity.

3. By the constraint of His peerless love He constrains us to live not to ourselves, yielding not to our lower impulses and passions, but unto Him who died for us and rose again.

(W. G. Herder.)

The word here translated "lust" might be more aptly rendered concupiscence, that fleshly principle which seems to have been engendered in the hearts of our first parents at the instant of committing the primal sin; and which is the root of all that is sinful and irregular in our thoughts, words, and actions. The seeds of sin are lodged in the bosom of every infant, and naturally grow up to death. And even those in whom the counteracting principle of Divine grace has done its work most thoroughly are yet made painfully sensible, from time to time, that the flesh, or natural corruption, so "lusteth against the Spirit," that if they do not yield to its wicked solicitations, they are nevertheless greatly hindered from doing the good they would in the manner they would. Thoughts and wishes that savour of original depravity force their way into our minds, and would fain take possession of our will, before we are almost aware. But observe, it is not the first incursion of such thoughts and wishes that makes us actual sinners, though it proves our sinful nature. Evil desire does not conceive, does not become the mother of sin, until married to the will. The wicked inclination has become a fixed purpose; the fixed purpose has been consummated; and now it only remains for retribution to follow. And that retribution is set forth, by a similar figure to what was used before, as the child of sin. Sin being "finished," being ripe and strong and active, and perhaps having signalised itself by many appropriate feats, becomes the parent of death. It fixes a deadly sting in the conscience; is frequently the cause of a premature and violent death among men; and hands over its wretched victim to eternal death by God's righteous judgment. We go for our first example to Eve, the mother of mankind. Concupiscence has now conceived sin; and sin is not long in coming to the birth. And, oh, how quickly does sin produce death! The dissolution of soul and body indeed is somewhat delayed by Divine compassion. But shame has come; for Adam and his wife see themselves to be naked, and gird fig-leaves about their loins. Fear has come; for they dare not meet the Almighty, as aforetime, but slink away, and try to hide themselves. Disease is come; for the principles of decay are even now at work in them, and they have already set out on their journey to the grave. Go on to Cain, and see how another form of concupiscence proceeds. In his case it is envy. A deadly malice is conceived; and so, when some occasion presents itself — a very small one would suffice — to set the bad passion in a flame, he brings forth the sin that has long been breeding within him, and sheds a brother's blood. Wretched man I that innocent blood is not wholly drunk up by the ground. It has gone up to heaven, and cried for vengeance. It is sprinkled on the murderer's conscience; and henceforth Cain's life is a living death. Then Ahab, what a striking instance does he present of the effect of covetousness being nourished instead of stifled. I must allude to one other form of natural corruption — I mean, impure desire. Of the sins and calamities that grow out of this headlong appetite, when it is not held in by the strongest moral and religious curbs, David has furnished a mournful example in his own person. Oh, what would he not have given, when the Law poured a stream of fiery wrath into his conscience, and incest and murder became the furies of his house, what would he not then have given to undo what he had done!

(J. N. Pearson, M. A.)

A large oak-tree was recently felled in the grove adjoining Avondale, near the centre of which was found a small nail, surrounded by twenty-nine cortical circles, the growth of as many years. The sap, in its annual ascents and descents, had carried with it the oxide from the metal, till a space of some three or four feet in length, and four or five inches in diameter, was completely blackened. Is not this a striking illustration of sin as it exists in the hearts of many sincere Christian, s? The nail did not kill the tree; it did not prevent growth; it did not destroy its form and beauty to the eye of the casual observer; but year after year it was silently spreading its influence in the interior of the tree. So, after a believer has been justified by faith in a crucified Saviour, he is made conscious of inherent evil. He may be sensible of pride, envy, ambition, worldly desires, impatience, anger, and unbelief. Should he fail to apply for deliverance to the all-cleansing blood of Jesus, such inherent evils will remain, year after year, corroding and corrupting the seat of his affection and desires. His outward profession may be steady and consistent. His religious life may be continued. There may be growth in religious knowledge, and increased fixedness in religious habits. And yet sin, though hidden, may be percolating through his thoughts and at the end of thirty, forty, or fifty years, he may still be sensible that his nature is not thoroughly renewed.

(T. Brackenbury.)

The trees of the forest held a solemn parliament, wherein they consulted of the wrongs the axe had done them. Therefore they enacted that no tree should hereafter lend the axe wood for a handle on pain of being cut down. The axe travels up and down the forest, and begs wood of the cedar, ash, oak, elm, and even the poplar, not one would lend him a chip. At last he desired as much as would serve him to cut down the briars and bushes, alleging that these shrubs did suck away the juice of the ground, hinder the growth and obscure the glory of the fair and goodly trees. Herein they were content to give him so much; but, when he had got the handle, he cut themselves down, too! These be the subtle reaches of sin. Give it but a little advantage, on the fair promise to remove thy troubles, and it will cut down thy soul also. Therefore resist beginnings.

(T. Adams.)

Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Nothing here reaches maturity in a moment. Things begin to be, they grow, they ripen. It is so in nature, in character, and in the moral world. Sin is a growth; it matures, and then its fruit is death. The growth of sin may be slow at first, but it ripens fast as the time of harvest draws nigh.

I. The game of chance finds its maturity in the abandoned gambler.

II. Indulgence in the cup is matured in the sot.

III. Covetousness finds its maturity in the swindler, the thief, the robber.

IV. Lasciviousness has its maturity in the pollutions and obscenities of the brother.

V. Profanity has its maturity in those unrestrained blasphemies which have sometimes been uttered at the very juncture when life was going out.

VI. The growth of infidelity may be traced from its low beginnings to the same destructive maturity.

VII. So we may trace the sin of lying, from the first instance of prevarication on to the fixed habit of dauntless and deliberate perjury. Conclusion:

1. How may we know when sin has approached nigh to maturity?

(1)Maturity in sin stuns the sensibility of conscience.

(2)Maturity in sin progressively excludes shame.

2. The subject addresses itself to parents.

(1)We should be careful not to corrupt our children by example or precept.

(2)If we love our children, we shall be careful and watchful that others do not corrupt or lead them astray.

(3)In view of this subject, be warned not to let any sin ripen in your heart.

(Daniel A. Clark.)

St. James tells us that, finally, all "sin" brings forth "death"! And I believe this to be true in many senses, that death has a Protean form.

1. It is quite certain that every allowed sin — of any kind — kills the power of the perception of truth. I might put it more strongly still. Sin weakens, and tends to destroy, every power we possess. Physical sin weakens physical strength. And both physical and mental sin weaken both mental and spiritual powers. And if the weakening process is allowed to go on, it will weaken till it kills! It will go on till it "brings forth death"! This is the result of two causes.(1) In the first place, by natural cause and effect, whatever weakens the moral condition, weakens the whole man. It weakens the action of the brain and of the heart; and so affects the whole being.(2) But still more, all the perception of spiritual truth depends upon the operation of the Holy Ghost; and each sin, grieving the Holy Ghost, causes Him to withdraw I-Its assisting power; and, in the same degree, in which He withdraws from us, we are left impotent, and incapable of understanding, or even seeing truth. One habitually allowed sin will deaden the grace both of the mind and the heart, till, by more and more withering processes, the grace of both will die! Why are so many young men and young women prone to infidelity? Why have they grown sceptical of old and familiar truths which were dear to their parents, and were once dear to themselves? Look at their lives, their worldliness, their frivolity, their private habits, their secret or their open sins! There is the reason. Infidelity is a deadening thing. And "sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth that death."

2. Another consequence of any indulged sin is, that it necessarily involves some concealment, if not further positive sin. It cannot be compatible with a perfectly open character. No sin can go on without some hiding; and that hiding of one thing fosters a reservation, and an uncandidness, and untruthfulness in the whole life. And if once this openness goes, almost everything goes with it! Self-respect is essential to make life worth the living. But who can feel self-respect who is conscious of a hidden sin? The whole world may respect him; but self must bleach and tremble! And sin — any habit or affection which is unsanctioned by God and conscience — is destructive of all pure love. True love is too sacred a thing to stay in a breast with wrong deeds or wicked actions! The wrong love kills the good love. It "beings forth death"; and the good love dies. And what is love worth which is always carrying about with it a bad conscience? And who, that is tampering with any sin, whatever may be the service of his life, can escape a bad conscience? What — if all be happy and prosperous outside — and that conscience is gnawing within a man? You are praised by a great many people, and conscience tells you all the while you would not have that praise if they but knew everything! What is all the praise but a very mockery! You are trusted; but you do not deserve that trust! You go on your knees, and say your prayers, but you feel all the while, with that secret sin in the heart, no prayer will avail. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." So sin kills prayer. A life — a real life — is to be useful, and do good to others. But if a person is living in any sin, that sin will paralyse, if not the will, certainly the power, to live to any good purpose. The consciousness of sin will always come across his mind, when he is speaking, checking him, incapacitating him. "Who am I to speak?" I, who am living myself so sinfully! And men are keen judges of each other. They very soon discover what is unreal in all your fine talking! And can God bless any effort that such a man makes? He may speak as an angel; but God has not sent him. This sin will turn his most living words to death!

3. But still more, when that man thinks of his own death, will he not foresee and know how that sin which he is now allowing will come up to his memory! How it will be a thorn in his dying pillow! And what a double dying will that "death" be — when the present "sin brings forth," at the end, its deathly power, to double and increase, a thousand-fold, the pangs of dying! But yet further, and far above all, that "sin" is wounding his own Saviour; and the more you confess it, and the more you hate it, as a Christian, the more you see how it wounds Him. It brings "death" on the Son of God! And no less it is grieving that Holy Spirit who has drawn him so often, and strove with him so patiently and so tenderly! And how can his soul live if that Spirit goes? And it wrongs his Father in heaven. And how can he call himself God's child, or plead the children's right, or claim a Father's love, at the hand of a wronged and outraged God? It kills his sonship! So "sin" — any one indulged sin even now — will be always sapping life, and weakening faith, till faith can believe nothing, and, removing all consciousness, "brings forth" the "death" of hope and heaven! And that is not all.

4. "Sin" is not "finished" yet. All sin has in it a necessity to increase. Sin makes sin. One barrier broken down, the stream of evil rushes on with a greater force; and another barrier giving way, the current swells, till it scarcely knows a check. But what will "sin finished" be? What will it be when, stripped of its soft and beautiful colours, it stands out, without a mask, in its true and native form? What a monster will every, least, sin look beside Perfect Holiness.

(James Vaughan, M. A.)

In looking at the allegory as a whole, we note —

1. Its agreement as to the relation of sin and death with the teaching of St. Paul (Romans 5:12).

2. Its resemblance to like allegories in the literature of other nations, as in the well-known Choice of Hercules that bears the name of Prodicus, in which Pleasure appears with the garb and allurements of a harlot.

3. Its expansion in the marvellous allegory of Sin and Death in Milton's "Paradise Lost," where Satan represents Intellect and Will opposed to God, Sin its offspring, self-generated, and Death the fruit of the union of Mind and Will with Sin. In the incestuous union of Sin and Death that follows, and in its horrid progeny, Milton seems to have sought to shadow forth the shame and foulness and misery in which even the fairest forms of sin finally issue.

(Dean Plumptre.)

The working of sin does not end with the angry speech, the lie, the act of dishonesty or sensual indulgence: it hardens, darkens, debases the nature, renders the heart opener than before to all evil influences, and less open to all good; and unless the Divine mercy intervene, will certainly at last yield as its result death, in the most comprehensive and awful sense of that word. From the nature of things, death, in the great Bible use of the term — blight and desolation over the whole man, spirit, soul and body — is the consequence of sin. Sin renders intercourse with God, who is the Fountain of life, impossible. It consists in the exercise of feelings that in their own nature are utterly inconsistent with true happiness; and it increases constantly in strength, in malignity, in power to destroy the peace of the soul. Death follows sin as naturally, and by as constant a law, as the deadly nightshade bears poison berries. Besides, looked at apart from these essential tendencies of sin, the relation which it bears to conscience and to the justice of God renders the connection between it and death — between iniquity and misery — indissoluble. Death is "the wages of sin," due to it in justice. Under the righteous administration of the affairs of the universe by God, there is the same obligation in justice that sin should be followed by death, as that a labourer should receive the recompense he has been promised and has worked for. Sin is spiritual death, and every act of sin intensifies the spiritual deadness; to sin, and sin alone, is due that awful and mysterious change which severs soul from body, and which we commonly call death; and when sin is "finished" — when it is allowed to go on to its legitimate issues — "it bringeth forth" that intensity of misery, transcending our present powers of conception, which John calls "the second death," and which the Lord Himself, the Faithful Witness, describes as "outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)

Mr. Spurgeon says that he saw, while on a visit to the gardens of Hampton Court, many trees almost entirely covered, and well-nigh strangled by the huge coils of ivy, which were wound about them like the snakes about the unhappy Laocoon. There is no untwisting the folds; they in their giant grip are fast fixed, and the rootlets of the climbers are constantly sucking the life of the trees. There was a day when the ivy was a tiny aspirant, only asking a little aid in climbing; had it been denied, then the tree need not have become its victim, but by degrees the humble weakling grew in strength and arrogance, and at last it assumed the mastery, and became the destroyer. Just the same with the beginning of sin; the least little act of disobedience, it may be a lie, then another, then something else, and they become alarmingly frequent, and each time a little more wicked until they gain the mastery over us, and overwhelm us, and at last drag our souls down to hell.

Many years ago I saw in a museum around stone, as large as a cannonball and quite round. It had been cut through by tools to see what was inside; and what was found? Right in the centre was a little rusty nail. A card stated that this stone had been found in the stomach of a horse. It had first swallowed that little nail, then petrifying matter had gathered round it little by little, till at length it had reached this size and destroyed the life of the animal. So in the end sin will destroy the sinner.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

The bosom sin in grace exactly resembles a strong current in nature, which is setting full upon dangerous shoals and quicksands. If in your spiritual computation you do not calculate upon your besetting sin, upon its force, its ceaseless operation, and its artfulness, it will sweep you on noiselessly, and with every appearance of calm, but surely and effectually to your ruin. So may we see a gallant ship leave the dock, fairly and bravely rigged, and with all her pennons flying; and the high sea, when she has cleft her way into it, is unwrinkled as the brow of childhood, and seems to laugh with many a twinkling smile, and when night falls the moonbeam dances upon the wave, and the brightness of the day has left a delicious balminess behind it in the air, the ship is anchored negligently and feebly, and all is then still save the gentle drowsy gurgling, which tells that water is the element in which she floats, but in the dead of the night the anchor loses it hold, and then the current, deep and powerful, bears her noiselessly whither it will; and in the morning the wail of desperation rises from her decks, for she has fallen on the shoal, and the disconsolateness of the dreary twilight, as the breeze springs with the daybreak and with rude impact dashes her planks angrily against the rock, contrasts strangely with the comfort and peacefulness of the past evening. Such was the doom of Judas Iscariot. Blessed with the companionship of our Lord Himself, dignified with the apostleship, and adorned with all the high graces which that vocation involved, he was blinded to the under-current of his character, which set in the direction of the mammon of unrighteousness, and which eventually ensured for him an irretrievable fall.

(Dean Goulburn.)

There is more bitterness following upon sins ending than ever there was sweetness flowing from sins acting. You that see nothing but well in its commission will suffer nothing but woe in its conclusion. You that sin for your profits will never profit by your sins.

What a frightful picture James paints! Desire has successfully solicited the will to an impure embrace. In the unblessed union the child, Sin, is conceived and finally brought forth. It is a little one. It may be as pretty and as playful as a tiger's kitten. But it grows. When Sin, which is so vigorous, has attained its growth, it becomes a dreadful parent, and its fearful offspring is Death. Before a man sins let him consider this tremendous genealogy. The sinner is the father of his own sin, and the grandfather of his own death!

(C. F. Deems, D. D.)

When Nicephorus Phocas had built a strong wall about his palace for his own security in the night-time, he heard a voice crying to him, "O, emperor! though thou build thy wall as high as the clouds, yet if sin be within, it will overthrow all."

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