2 To show that a Christian man must govern his tongue with the bridle of faith and charity, 6 he declareth the commodities and mischiefs that ensue thereof: 15 and how much man’s wisdom 17 differeth from heavenly.

My [a]brethren, be not many masters, [b]knowing that we [c]shall receive the greater condemnation.

For in many things we [d]sin all. [e]If any man sin not in word, he is a perfect man, and able to bridle all the body.

[f]Behold, we put bits into the horses’ mouths, that they should obey us, and we turn about all their body.

Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small rudder, whithersoever the governor listeth.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth of great things: [g]behold, how great a thing a little fire kindleth.

And the tongue is fire, yea, a [h]world of wickedness: so is the tongue set among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and [i]setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell.

For the whole nature of beasts, and of birds, and of creeping things, and things of the sea is tamed, and hath been tamed of the nature of man.

But the tongue can no man tame. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

[j]Therewith bless we God even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the [k]similitude of God.

10 [l]Out of one mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing: my brethren, these things ought not so to be.

11 Doth a fountain send forth at one place sweet water and bitter?

12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bring forth olives, either a vine figs? so can no fountain make both salt water and sweet.

13 [m]Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show by good conversation his works in meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, rejoice not, neither be liars against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is sedition, and all manner of evil works.

17 But the wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of [n]mercy and good fruits, without judging, and without hypocrisy.

18 [o]And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, of them that make peace.

Footnotes

  1. James 3:1 The sixth part or place: Let no man usurp (as most men ambitiously do) authority to judge and censure others righteously.
  2. James 3:1 A reason: Because they provoke God’s severity against themselves, which do so curiously and rigorously condemn others, being themselves guilty and faulty.
  3. James 3:1 Unless we surcease from this masterlike and proud finding fault with others.
  4. James 3:2 Or, stumble.
  5. James 3:2 The seventh place, touching the bridling of the tongue, joined with the former, so that it is manifest that there is no man which may not justly be found fault withal, seeing it is a rare virtue to bridle the tongue.
  6. James 3:3 He showeth by two similitudes the one taken from the bridles of horses, the other from the rudders of ships, how great matters may be brought to pass by the good moderation of the tongue.
  7. James 3:5 On the contrary part he showeth how great discommodities arise by the intemperance of the tongue, throughout the whole world, to the end that men may so much the more diligently give themselves to moderate it.
  8. James 3:6 An heap of all mischiefs.
  9. James 3:6 It is able to set the whole world on fire.
  10. James 3:9 Amongst other faults of the tongue, the Apostle chiefly reproveth backbiting and speaking evil of our neighbors, even in them especially which otherwise will seem godly and religious.
  11. James 3:9 He denieth by two reasons, that God can be praised by that man, that useth cursed speaking, or to backbite: first because man is the image of God, which whosoever reverenceth not doth not honor God himself.
  12. James 3:10 Secondly, because the order of nature which God hath set in things, will not suffer things that are so contrary the one to the other, to stand the one with the other.
  13. James 3:13 The eighth part which hangeth with the former, touching meekness of mind, against which he setteth envy and a contentious mind. And in the beginning he stoppeth the mouth of the chief fountain of all these mischiefs, to wit, a false persuasion of wisdom, whereas notwithstanding there is no true wisdom, but that is heavenly, and frameth our minds to all kinds of true moderation and simplicity.
  14. James 3:17 He setteth mercy against the fierce and cruel nature of man, and showeth that heavenly wisdom bringeth forth good fruits, for he that is heavenly wise, referreth all things to God’s glory, and the profit of his neighbor.
  15. James 3:18 Because the world persuadeth itself that they are miserable which live peaceably and simply, on the contrary side the Apostle pronounceth that they shall at the length reap the harvest of peaceable righteousness.