The Tongue a .Fire
James 3:5-6
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles!…

1. There is a resemblance between an evil tongue and fire.

(1) For the heat of it. It is the instrument of wrath and contention, which is the heat of a man — a boiling of the blood about the heart (Proverbs 17:27).

(2) For the danger of it. It kindleth a great burning. The tongue is a powerful means to kindle divisions and strifes. You know we had need look to fire. Where it prevaileth it soon turneth houses into a wilderness: and you have as much need to watch the tongue (Proverbs 26:18).

(3) For the scorching. Reproaches penetrate like fire.

(4) It is kindled from hell. When you feel this heat upon your spirit, remember from what hearth these coals were gathered.

2. There is a world of sin in the tongue. Some sins are formal and proper to this member, others flow from it. It acteth in some sins, as lying, railing, swearing, &c. It concurreth to others, by commanding, counselling, persuading, seducing, &c. It is made the pander to lust and sin. Oh! how vile are we if there be a world of sin in the tongue — in one member!

3. Sin is a defilement and a blot.

4. Tongue sins do much defile. They defile others. We communicate evil to others, either by carnal suggestions, or provoke them to evil by our passion. They defile ourselves. By speaking evil of them we contract guilt upon ourselves.

5. All evil tongue hath a great influence upon other members. When a man speaketh evil, he will commit it. When the tongue hath the boldness to talk of sin, the rest of the members have the boldness to act it (1 Corinthians 15:33).

6. The evils of the tongue are of a large and universal influence, diffuse themselves into all conditions and states of life. There is no faculty which the tongue doth not poison, from the understanding to the locomotive; it violently stirreth up the will and affections, maketh the hands and the feet "swift to shed blood" (Romans 3:14, 15). There is no action which it doth not reach; not only those of ordinary conversation, by lying, swearing, censuring, etc., but holy duties, as prayer, and those direct and higher addresses to God, by foolish babbling and carnal requests; we would have God revenge our private quarrel. There is no age exempted; it is not only found in young men that are of eager and fervorous spirits, but in those whom age and experience hath more matured and ripened. Other sins decay with age, this many times increaseth; and we grow more forward and pettish as natural strength decayeth, and "the days come on in which is no pleasure."

7. A wicked tongue is of an infernal origin. Calumnies and reproaches are a fire blown up by the breath of hell. The devil hath been "a liar from the beginning" (John 8:44), and an accuser of the brethren, and he loveth to make others like himself. Learn, then, to abhor revilings, contentions, and reproaches, as you would hell flames; these are but the eruptions of an infernal fire; slanderers are the devil's slaves and instruments. Again, if blasted with contumely, learn to slight it; who would care for the suggestions of the father of lies? The murderer is a liar. In short, that which cometh from hell will go thither again (Matthew 5:22).

(T. Manton.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

WEB: So the tongue is also a little member, and boasts great things. See how a small fire can spread to a large forest!

The Tongue
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