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THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JAMES - Chapter 1 - Verse 11

Verse 11. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat. Isaiah (Isa 40:7) employs the word wind, referring to a burning wind that dries up the flowers. It is probable that the apostle also refers not so much to the sun itself, as to the hot and fiery wind called the simoom, which often rises with the sun, and which consumes the green herbage of the fields. So Rosenmuller and Bloomfield interpret it.

It withereth the grass. Isa 40:7. It withereth the stalk, or that which, when dried, produces hay or fodder—the word here used being commonly employed in the latter sense. The meaning is, that the effect of the hot wind is to wither the stalk or spire which supports the flower, and when that is dried up, the flower itself falls. This idea will give increased beauty and appropriateness to the figure —that man himself is blasted and withered, and then that all the external splendour which encircled him falls to the ground, like a flower whose support is gone.

And the grace of the fashion of it perisheth. Its beauty disappears.

So shall the rich man fade away an his ways. That is, his splendour, and all on which he prided himself, shall vanish. The phrase "in his ways," according to Rosenmuller, refers to his counsels, his plans, his purposes; and the meaning is, that the rich man, with all by which he is known, shall vanish. A man's "ways," that is, his mode of life, or those things by which he appears before the world, may have somewhat the same relation to him which the flower has to the stalk on which it grows, and by which it is sustained. The idea of James seems to be, that as it was indisputable that the rich man must soon disappear, with all that he had of pomp and splendour in the view of the world, it was well for him to be reminded of it by every change of condition; and that he should therefore rejoice in the providential dispensation by which his property would be taken away, and by which the reality of his religion would be tested. We should rejoice in anything by which it can be shown whether we are prepared for heaven or not.

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