James 3

* Cautions against proud behaviour, and the mischief of an

unruly tongue. (1-12) The excellence of heavenly wisdom, in

opposition to that which is worldly. (13-18)

1-12 We are taught to dread an unruly tongue, as one of the

greatest evils. The affairs of mankind are thrown into confusion

by the tongues of men. Every age of the world, and every

condition of life, private or public, affords examples of this.

Hell has more to do in promoting the fire of the tongue than men

generally think; and whenever men's tongues are employed in

sinful ways, they are set on fire of hell. No man can tame the

tongue without Divine grace and assistance. The apostle does not

represent it as impossible, but as extremely difficult. Other

sins decay with age, this many times gets worse; we grow more

froward and fretful, as natural strength decays, and the days

come on in which we have no pleasure. When other sins are tamed

and subdued by the infirmities of age, the spirit often grows

more tart, nature being drawn down to the dregs, and the words

used become more passionate. That man's tongue confutes itself,

which at one time pretends to adore the perfections of God, and

to refer all things to him; and at another time condemns even

good men, if they do not use the same words and expressions.

True religion will not admit of contradictions: how many sins

would be prevented, if men would always be consistent! Pious and

edifying language is the genuine produce of a sanctified heart;

and none who understand Christianity, expect to hear curses,

lies, boastings, and revilings from a true believer's mouth, any

more than they look for the fruit of one tree from another. But

facts prove that more professors succeed in bridling their

senses and appetites, than in duly restraining their tongues.

Then, depending on Divine grace, let us take heed to bless and

curse not; and let us aim to be consistent in our words and

13-18 These verses show the difference between men's pretending

to be wise, and their being really so. He who thinks well, or he

who talks well, is not wise in the sense of the Scripture, if he

does not live and act well. True wisdom may be know by the

meekness of the spirit and temper. Those who live in malice,

envy, and contention, live in confusion; and are liable to be

provoked and hurried to any evil work. Such wisdom comes not

down from above, but springs up from earthly principles, acts on

earthly motives, and is intent on serving earthly purposes.

Those who are lifted up with such wisdom, described by the

apostle James, is near to the Christian love, described by the

apostle Paul; and both are so described that every man may fully

prove the reality of his attainments in them. It has no disguise

or deceit. It cannot fall in with those managements the world

counts wise, which are crafty and guileful; but it is sincere,

and open, and steady, and uniform, and consistent with itself.

May the purity, peace, gentleness, teachableness, and mercy

shown in all our actions, and the fruits of righteousness

abounding in our lives, prove that God has bestowed upon us this

excellent gift.

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