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THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JAMES - Chapter 1 - Verse 10

Verse 10. But the rich, in that he is made low. That is, because his property is taken away, and he is made poor. Such a transition is often the source of the deepest sorrow; but the apostle says that even in that a Christian may find occasion for thanksgiving. The reasons for rejoicing in this manner, which the apostle seems to have had in view, were these:

(1.) Because it furnished a test of the reality of religion, by showing that it is adapted to sustain the soul in this great trial; that it cannot only bear prosperity, but that it can bear the rapid transition from that state to one of poverty; and,

(2,) because it would furnish to the mind an impressive and salutary illustration of the fact that all earthly glory is soon to fade away. I may remark here, that the transition from affluence to poverty is often borne by Christians with the manifestation of a most lovely spirit, and with an entire freedom from murmuring and complaining. Indeed, there are more Christians who could safely bear a transition from affluence to poverty, from prosperity to adversity, than there are who could bear a sudden transition from poverty to affluence. Some of the loveliest exhibitions of piety which I have ever witnessed have been in such transitions; nor have I seen occasion anywhere to love religion more than in the ease, and grace, and cheerfulness, with which it has enabled those accustomed long to more elevated walks, to descend to the comparatively humble lot where God places them. New grace is imparted for this new form of trial, and new traits of Christian character are developed in these rapid transitions, as some of the most beautiful exhibitions of the laws of matter are brought out in the rapid transitions in the laboratory of the chemist.

Because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. That is, since it is a fact that he will thus pass away, he should rejoice that he is reminded of it. He should, therefore, esteem it a favour that this lesson is brought impressively before his mind. To learn this effectually, though by the loss of property, is of more value to him than all his wealth would be if he were forgetful of it. The comparison of worldly splendour with the fading flower of the field, is one that is common in Scripture. It is probable that James had his eye on the passage in Isa 40:6-8. See Barnes on "Isa 40:6-8".

See Barnes on "1 Pe 1:24-25".

See also Ps 103:15; Mt 6:28-30.

{a} "as the flower of the grass" Isa 40:6 {*} "grass" or, "herb"

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