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James 5:3  (King James Version)
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Adam Clarke
<< James 5:2   James 5:4 >>


James 5:3

Your gold and silver is cankered - Instead of helping the poor, and thus honoring God with your substance, ye have, through the principle of covetousness, kept all to yourselves.

The rust of them shall be a witness against you - Your putrefied stores, your moth-eaten garments, and your tarnished coin, are so many proofs that it was not for want of property that you assisted not the poor, but through a principle of avarice; loving money, not for the sake of what it could procure, but for its own sake, which is the genuine principle of the miser. This was the very character given to this people by our Lord himself; he called them , lovers of money. Against this despicable and abominable disposition, the whole of the 12th chapter of St. Luke is levelled; but it was their easily besetting sin, and is so to the present day.

Shall eat your flesh as it were fire - This is a very bold and sublime figure. He represents the rust of their coin as becoming a canker that should produce gangrenes and phagedenous ulcers in their flesh, till it should be eaten away from their bones.

Ye have heaped treasure together - This verse is variously pointed. The word ̔ , like as, in the preceding clause, is left out by the Syriac, and some others; and , fire, is added here from that clause; so that the whole verse reads thus: "Your gold and your silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall consume your flesh. Ye have treasured up Fire against the last days." This is a bold and fine image: instead of the treasures of corn, wine, and oil, rich stuffs, with silver and gold, which ye have been laying up, ye shall find a treasure, a magazine of fire, that shall burn up your city, and consume even your temple. This was literally true; and these solemn denunciations of Divine wrath were most completely fulfilled. See the notes on Matthew 24 (note), where all the circumstances of this tremendous and final destruction are particularly noted.

By the last days we are not to understand the day of judgment, but the last days of the Jewish commonwealth, which were not long distant from the date of this epistle, whether we follow the earlier or later computation, of which enough has been spoken in the preface.


 
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