on James 2 :24
Ye see then how - It is evident from this example that Abraham's faith was not merely believing that there is a God; but a principle that led him to credit God's promises relative to the future Redeemer, and to implore God's mercy: this he received, and was justified by faith. His faith now began to work by love, and therefore he was found ever obedient to the will of his Maker. He brought forth the fruits of righteousness; and his works justified - proved the genuineness of his faith; and he continued to enjoy the Divine approbation, which he could not have done had he not been thus obedient; for the Spirit of God would have been grieved, and his principle of faith would have perished. Obedience to God is essentially requisite to maintain faith. Faith lives, under God, by works; and works have their being and excellence from faith. Neither can subsist without the other, and this is the point which St. James labors to prove, in order to convince the Antinomians of his time that their faith was a delusion, and that the hopes built on it must needs perish.
on James 2 :24
Ye see then - From the course of reasoning pursued, and the example referred to.
How that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only - Not by a cold, abstract, inoperative faith. It must be by a faith that shall produce good works, and whose existence will be shown to men by good works. As justification takes place in the sight of God, it is by faith, for he sees that the faith is genuine, and that it will produce good works if the individual who exercises faith shall live; and he justifies men in view of that faith, and of no other. If he sees that the faith is merely speculative; that it is cold and dead, and would not produce good works, the man is not justified in his sight. As a matter of fact, therefore, it is only the faith that produces good works that justifies; and good works, therefore, as the proper expression of the nature of faith, foreseen by God as the certain result of faith, and actually performed as seen by men, are necessary in order to justification. In other words, no man will be justified who has not a faith which will produce good works, and which is of an operative and practical character. The ground of justification in the case is faith, and that only; the evidence of it, the carrying it out, the proof of the existence of the faith, is good works; and thus men are justified and saved not by mere abstract and cold faith, but by a faith necessarily connected with good works, and where good works perform an important part. James, therefore, does not contradict Paul, but he contradicts a false explanation of Paul's doctrine. He does not deny that a man is justified in the sight of God by faith, for the very passage which he quotes shows that he believes that; but he does deny that a man is justified by a faith which would not produce good works, and which is not expressed by good works; and thus he maintains, as Paul always did, that nothing else than a holy life can show that a man is a true Christian, and is accepted of God.
on James 2 :24
2:24 Ye see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only - St. Paul, on the other band, declares, A man is justified by faith, and not by works, Rom 3:28. And yet there is no contradiction between the apostles: because, They do not speak of the same faith: St. Paul speaking of living faith; St. James here, of dead faith. They do not speak of the same works: St. Paul speaking of works antecedent to faith; St. James, of works subsequent to it.