Taken from, Light Shining in Darkness
Written by, William Huntington
Edited for thought and sense.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
–James 1: 22.
This text as well as many more, has had the misfortune of falling into the hands of thieves…
…thieves and robbers, who have stripped it of its meaning, and leave it half dead to its owners. I mean such thieves and robbers as are aiming at heaven; but not by the door of mercy opened by the blood and righteousness of Christ; but who are climbing up another way, a way not cast up by Christ, a way that is right in their own eyes, though in the judgment of God it is the way of death; this thievery is robbing Christ of his honor, as the only way to the Father; and God of his glory, who, in his pity and compassion to ruined man, contrived this way. But will a man rob God ? Yes he will. No wonder then that God says by the law of retaliation, “Behold I come as a thief.”
This text is applied, by the blind leaders of the blind, to make a fair show in the flesh, and to those in flesh make it appear as a voluntary humility. Yes, this text is also used by those who in a blind zeal encompass sea and land to make a proselyte like unto themselves; and yes, it is also used by all such who would appear outwardly righteous before men.
But, if these blind leaders are the unlawful heirs of this text, then think about how the papists, especially the nuns among them, use this passage. Yes, and make sure that you include the Jewish scribes and pharisees and our British advocates for free will, with every other branch of the “in bondage” family, for each of these may claim it, for these all use works, but does God work in them?
James, this great apostle, will tell us himself what he means by this passage. This passage is the word of life, sent home to our hearts, by God. And this word is to be applied by the Holy Spirit. Here the sovereign and good will of God is set forth to his people, which implies that this “making alive” is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs. The creation of us is wholly owing to God’s own free will and good pleasure, as such, it is our new birth. Our creation is not the will of flesh, nor the will of man, but of God. And he makes us alive from a death in sin, from a death in law, from a death to all works of service; and we are made alive in the Spirit, and to a lively hope, which is by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Our God, is the God of salvation, and unto God the Lord belongs the issues of death.
Those that God makes alive are called the firstfruits of his creatures. But was all the harvest, all the crops of the holy land, carried into God’s sanctuary? No; only the first fruits. Was all that the fig tree or the pomegranate tree bore offered to God? No; only the fruit that was first ripe. And does God create all his creatures to live by the word of truth? No; only the first fruits of his creatures. These fruits are gathered from among the rest, which are called creatures, which bear untimely fruits, wild grapes, etc., and are called corrupt trees, with corrupt fruit; and are distinguished from God’s fruit by being called the vintage and harvest of the wicked.
But do those legal workers submit to the sovereign and good will of God? No; they blaspheme the counsel of his will. Are they made alive from death? No; they are under the ministration of it, and stick to it, and contend for their own dead works. Do they receive the word of truth, with which we are begotten, in an honest and good heart? No; their doctrines, writings, sermons, and confessions, are not the word of truth, but confusion and falsehood. The first fruits of his creatures here spoken of were first ripe in the council of God, first ripe under the son of righteousness; they first trusted in Christ, and are the first that shall rise from the dead.
Christ is the firstfruits of all, and these first fruits are God’s creatures reserved unto Him.
But alas! These laborers, who labor for that which is not bread, and who spend money for that which satisfies not, are sad enemies to these first fruits, redeemed from among men; they contend with the creatures, and cleave to them; they contend for the world, for universal redemption; they despise the free woman and love the bond woman; they hate Zion, and cleave to Sinai; they lampoon the first fruits, and assist the corrupt fruits. And surely such works can never be called doing the word; for he that labors aright must first be a partaker of the fruits of the Spirit, and be taken himself out of the world, out of the flesh, and out of legal bondage, and bondage to sin, before he can be called a first fruit of God’s creatures.