James 3:15

The apostle suggests here that those who aspired too hastily to become Christian teachers (ver. 1) showed themselves to be sadly deficient in wisdom. They were unwise at once in their estimate of their own powers, and in their judgment as to the kind of public discussions, which would be profitable for the Church. The cause of gospel truth could never be advanced by dogmatic disputations or bitter personal wrangling. Attend, therefore, says James in ver. 13, to a description first of false wisdom (vers. 14 16), and then of true (vers. 17, 18). Many members of the Churches of "the Dispersion" desired to appear "wise" (ver. 13), but only some were really so. Many might even be "knowing," or "endued with knowledge," who were not wise.

"Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,
Have ofttimes no connection."

(Cowper.) Knowledge is only a hewer of wood, while wisdom is the architect and builder. A man may possess a large library, or even amass vast stores of knowledge, and yet be "a motley fool." Indeed, no fool is so great as a knowing fool. The wise man is he who can use his knowledge for the largest moral and spiritual good. And the true wisdom is bound up with the life of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Job 28:28; 2 Timothy 3:15). It makes the will of God its rule, and his glory its end. So the man who lives without God should be thought of as the impersonation of stupidity, and Satan as the supreme fool of the universe. But, if a man be "wise unto salvation," how will his wisdom appear?

1. By "his good life. (Ver. 13.) The quiet even flow of one's daily occupation will furnish an ample sphere for it. Even the heathen philosopher, Seneca, has said, Wisdom does not show itself so much in precept as in life - in a firmness of mind and a mastery of appetite. It teaches us to do, as well as to talk; and to make our words and actions all of a color." The weighty 'Essays' of Lord Bacon "come home to men's business and bosoms;" yet their author cannot justly be called "the wisest," if he was in his own life "the meanest of mankind."

2. By "his works in meekness of wisdom. Character is perceived not only by its subtle aroma, but in connection with individual actions. Wisdom shows itself in acts of holiness. And these acts are done in meekness," which is one of wisdom's inseparable attributes. True wisdom is mild and calm, patient and self-restraining. And yet a meek spirit is not a mean spirit. The "poor in spirit" are not the poor-spirited. The "meekness of wisdom" consists with the greatest courage and the most ardent zeal. An old commentator says, "Moses was very meek in his own cause, but as hot as fire in the cause of God." And the Man Christ Jesus was mild, just because he was strong and brave. There was no fierceness, no fanaticism, no sourness, about him. He is our perfect Pattern of the "meekness of wisdom" (1 Peter 2:22, 23; Matthew 27:12-14). The spirit of strife and wrangling is not the spirit of Christ. James now proceeds to a statement of principles regarding false or earthly wisdom (vers. 14 16).

I. ITS NATURE. (Ver. 14.) The spurious wisdom of the "many teachers' carried in it not so much burning zeal as "bitter zeal." Its spirit was factious, arrogant, bigoted, Its roots lay in the angry passions of the heart. Its aim was personal victory rather than the triumph of the truth. While it may be sometimes dutiful to contend earnestly in defense of the gospel, the love of controversy for its own sake, and the cherishing of a contentious spirit towards brethren, is always sinful, much less a ground for "glorying." A professing Christian who lives to foster either doctrinal wranglings or social quarrels presents to the world a caricature of Christianity, and is himself a living lie "against the truth."

II. ITS ORIGIN. (Ver. 15.)

1. "Earthly. Every good gift is from above; but this so-called wisdom is of earthly origin, and busies itself about earthly things. Those cultivate it whose souls are wholly immersed in worldly pursuits.

2. Sensual;" i.e. psychical or natural, as opposed to spiritual. It originates in the lower sphere of man's intellectual nature; it is the wisdom of his unspiritual mind and his unsanctified heart. Until the human spirit becomes possessed by the Spirit of God, its works will be "the works of the flesh."

3. "Devilish." The false wisdom is demoniacal in source, as it is in character. The envious heart, like the evil tongue, "is set on fire by hell" (ver. 6). Implicitly followed, this wisdom will tend to make a man "half-beast, half-devil." These three adjectives correspond to our three great spiritual enemies. Earthly wisdom has its origin in the world; natural wisdom, in the flesh; demoniacal wisdom, in the devil. And, recognizing this, our prayer should be, "From all such deceits, good Lord, deliver us."

III. ITS RESULTS. (Ver. 16.) Where there are "bitter zeal and faction" in the heart, these may be expected to produce commotion and wretchedness in society. What misery has not the spirit of strife and self-seeking wrought in the midst of families, and in the bosom of Churches! It is a fruitful source of heart-burnings and of lifelong alienations. It sows tares among the wheat. And the harvest of "this wisdom" shall be "a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow."


1. Loathe the vile spirit of strife.

2. Covet earnestly the gift of holy wisdom.

3. Remember that the climax of the true wisdom consists in meekness. - C.J.

This wisdom descendeth not from above.
There are two characteristics here specified which we shall find are given as the infallible signs of the heavenly wisdom; and their opposites as signs of the other. The heavenly wisdom is fruitful of good deeds, and inspires those who possess it with gentleness. The other wisdom is productive of nothing really valuable, and inspires those who possess it with contentiousness. This test is a very practical one, and we can apply it to ourselves as well as to others. How do we bear ourselves in argument and in controversy? Are we serene about the result, in full confidence that truth and right should prevail? Are we desirous that truth should prevail, even if that should involve our being proved to be in the wrong? Are we meek and gentle towards those who differ from us? or are we apt to lose our tempers and become heated against our opponents? If the last is the case we have reason to doubt whether our wisdom is of the best sort. "In meekness of wisdom." On this St. James lays great stress. The Christian grace of meekness is a good deal more than the rather second-rate virtue which Aristotle makes to be the mean between passionateness and impassionateness, and to consist in a due regulation of one's angry feelings (Eth. Nic. IV. 5.). It includes submissiveness towards God, as well as gentleness towards men; and it exhibits itself in a special way in giving and receiving instruction, and in administering and accepting rebuke. It was, therefore, just the grace which the many would-be teachers, with their loud professions of correct faith and superior knowledge, specially needed to acquire. "But if," instead of this meekness, "ye have bitter jealousy and faction in your heart, glory not, and lie not against the truth." With a gentle severity St. James status as a mere supposition what he probably knew to be a fact. There was plenty of bitter zealousness and party spirit among them; and from this fact they could draw their own conclusions. It was an evil from which the Jews greatly suffered; and a few years later it hastened, if it did not cause, the overthrow of Jerusalem. This "jealousy" or zeal (ζῆλος) itself became a party name in the fanatical sect of the Zealots. It was an evil from which the primitive Church greatly suffered, as passages in the New Testament and in the sub-Apostolic writers prove; and can we say that it has ever become extinct? Jealousy or zeal may be a good or a bad thing, according to the motive which inspires it. To make it quite plain that it is to be understood in a bad sense here, St. James adds the epithet "bitter" to it, and perhaps thereby recalls what he has just said about a mouth that utters both curses and blessings being as monstrous as a fountain spouting forth both bitter water and sweet. Moreover, he couples it with "faction" (ἐριθεία), a word which originally meant "working for hire," and especially "weaving for hire" (Isaiah 38:12), and thence any ignoble pursuit, especially political canvassing, intrigue, or factionsness. What St. James seems to refer to in these two words is hitter religious animosity; a hatred of error (or what is supposed to be such), manifesting itself, not in loving attempts to win over those who are at fault, but in bitter thoughts and words and party combinations. "Glory not, and lie not against the truth." To glory with their tongues of their superior wisdom, while they cherished jealousy and faction in their hearts, was a manifest lie, a contradiction of what; they must know to be the truth. In their fanatical zeal for the truth, they were really lying against the truth, and ruining the cause which they professed to serve. Of how many a controversialist would that be true; and not only of those who have entered the lists against heresy and infidelity, but of those who are preaching crusade against vice!" This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish." The wisdom which is exhibited in such a thoroughly un-christian disposition is of no heavenly origin. It may be a proof of intellectual advantages of some kind, but it is not such as those" who lack it need. pray for (James 1:5), nor such as God bestows liberally on all who ask in faith. And then, having stated what it is not, St. James tells in three words, which form a climax, what the wisdom on which they plume themselves, in its nature, and sphere, and origin, really is. It belongs to this world, and has no connection with heavenly things. Its activity is in the lower part of man's nature, his passions, and his human intelligence, but it never touches his spirit. And in its origin and manner of working it is demoniacal. Not the gentleness of God's Holy Spirit, but the fierce recklessness of Satan's emissaries, inspires it. Does this seem to be an exaggeration? St. James is ready to justify his strong language. "For where jealousy and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed." And who are the authors of confusion and vile deeds? Are they to be found in heaven, or in hell? Is confusion, or order, the mark of God's work? Jealousy and faction mean anarchy; and anarchy means a moral chaos in which every vile deed finds an opportunity. We know, therefore, what to think of the superior wisdom which is claimed by those in whose hearts jealousy and faction reign supreme. The professed desire to offer service to God is really only a craving to obtain advancement for self. Self-seeking of this kind is always ruinous. It both betrays and aggravates the rottenness that lurks within. It was immediately after there had been a contention among the apostles, "which of them was accounted to be greatest" (Luke 22:24), that they "all forsook Him and fled."

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

I. THE PRESCRIBED COURSE: THAT REQUIRED BY AND INDICATIVE OF TRUE WISDOM (ver. 13). "Wise" — that is, gifted with spiritual discernment and discretion, with capacity and enlightenment in regard to Divine things. "Endued with knowledge" — having large information, acquaintance with facts, doctrines, precepts. The ablest, those whose intellects are the clearest and whose judgments are the soundest, must work in the dark; they must stumble and err egregiously if they lack requisite information. Religion is often represented under this aspect. It is the highest and, indeed, the only true wisdom. Well, how is such a person to proceed? How is he to prove his character, how evince his wisdom? "Let him show out of a good conversation his works." He is to manifest what he really is, to give open evidence of his spiritual understanding and prudence. His light is to shine, his principles are to appear. The grand general effect is to be a consistent, godly walk — a walk regulated by the doctrines and the precepts of Christianity. Out of it he is to show his works — that is, rising from the even tenor of his way, the fair and fertile field of holy living, special, individual works of faith and love are to stand forth prominent, conspicuous. These fruits of the Spirit are to come out as the separate, noticeable features, and prove the nature of the tree on which they are found growing. He adds, "with meekness of wisdom." Here is the disposition, the spirit in which their works were to be shown forth out of a good conversation. In it lies the special distinction and difference between the true and the false wisdom, which he unfolds in this passage. The expression is remarkable — "the meekness of wisdom" — that is, the meekness which is characteristic of wisdom, which is its proper attribute. Meekness is gentleness, mildness, submissiveness. Wisdom is a thing calm, quiet, peaceful. It is not fierce, violent, contentions. It is not passionate, disputatious, or tumultuous, It looks at matters with a steady, patient mind, and shapes its course with deliberation and caution. It knows how weak and prone to err the very best are, and what need there ever is for consideration and forbearance. Let us not mistake, however. This meekness is not a feeble, crouching, despicable thing; on the contrary, it is strong, noble, and victorious. It is consistent with the utmost firmness; and, indeed, that is saying little, for it is essential to true and enduring firmness. Jesus was meek and lowly in heart; He did not strive nor cry, when reviled He reviled not again, when He suffered lie threatened not; and yet He was most perfectly stedfast, immovable as a rock is the prospect of — yes, and under the pressure of — sorrows and sufferings, not only infinitely beyond human endurance, but even as far beyond human conception. And so, in all ages, the gentlest of His servants have been the strongest, The most stable and invincible. Think of the meek, lamb-like pair, Henry Martyn and Daniel Corrie, whose friendship was so close and whose characters were so similar. Where shall we find any more resolute, unbending than they were? It is also consistent with the most ardent zeal. Along with it, under it, there may be the warmest affections — a faith and love of no ordinary fervour and power. We see this in the sainted men to whom I have already referred. They were animated by a zeal which consumed them as that of their Divine Master did Him. Who of mortals dared more or accomplished more than Moses, the leader and lawgiver of Israel? And yet was not he the meekest of men? The prophet testifies, "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength."

II. THE OPPOSITE COURSE WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT INDICATES (ver. 14). "But if" — implying, not obscurely, that this was no mere supposition, but the actual and painful fact in too many instances" ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts." The word rendered "envying" is literally zeal, but it often has the meaning of jealousy, emulation, rivalry. It originates in bitter feelings, not in attachment to truth, but in opposition to per-sons — in selfish, ambition, crooked designs. Its root is evil. It appears in bitter actings, venting itself, as it does, in speeches and proceedings fitted to wound, alienate, exasperate. It scatters firebrands, reckless of feelings and of consequences. And it issues in bitter results, causing conflicts, separations, and manifold evils. "And strife" — rivalry. This is the natural consequence of such envying — such unhallowed and envenomed zeal. It is the parent of controversy, with all that passion and violence by which it is so often marked. He says, if ye have this "bitter envying and strife in your hearts." It is "in your hearts," not in your conduct, your proceedings. No; and the manner in which the thing is put here teaches, as it doubtless was designed to do, more than one important lesson. The spring of this whole evil lies within, in the region of the heart. It is all to be traced to its carnal lusts, its depraved principles and propensities. And it must be dealt with there, if dealt with thoroughly, dealt with to any good purpose. You can get rid of the fruits only by cutting down the deadly upas tree on which they grow so luxuriantly. Again, it intimates that there might be much of this envying and strife in the bosom, while it did not fully appear, but was skilfully disguised in the life. And still farther, it teaches that we are not to judge here by mere appearances; for as in one case our decision might be too favourable, as we have seen, so in another it might be the very opposite. It is not always what outwardly seems to be envying and strife that is so in reality. We are to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints, and we may do it most resolutely without being in the least degree actuated by such a spirit. He says, if ye have these feelings in your hearts, "glory not, and lie not against the truth." "Glory not" — boast not of your alleged wisdom, pride not yourselves on any such supposed attainment. And "lie not" — bringing out still more strongly the contrariety, the direct and thorough antagonism. They professed to believe, and even presumed to teach, the Christian system. They set themselves up as its witnesses and advocates. Well, by the spirit they manifested, and the conduct to which it led, they flatly contradicted the truth, they misrepresented its whole nature and design. Missionaries, from India and elsewhere, tell us that this is perhaps the very greatest hindrance with which they have to contend, and that no argument is more frequently used or more difficult to combat. He now characterises the so-called wisdom of these parties. "This wisdom descendeth not from above" (ver. 15); or, more pointedly, is not such as descendeth from above — it is not that, it has nothing in common with that, which so descendeth. It is wholly different from the heavenly in its origin and nature. It is "earthly." It belongs to this lower, clouded sphere, this world of sin and sense, and bears throughout its impress. It is prevalent in earthly affairs. It may gain men a reputation for ability, for discretion, for sagacity, and raise them to professional or political eminence. Not to be despised in its own place, this has nothing spiritual and saving in its composition. It is marked by earthly principles. Its calculations and its plans are framed on the basis of the opinions, maxims, and habits which prevail in society. Self-interest and expediency go a great length with it, and often shut out all higher considerations of truth and duty. And it is devoted to earthly objects. It seeks not heavenly ends and interests, but those which are worldly. Gain rather than godliness is what it pursues. It labours for the meat which perishes, not for that which endures unto everlasting life. "Sensual." What is intimated is, that this wisdom, however imposing it may seem, and however useful it may really be, pertains not to our nobler being — the soul — as it is when possessed and purified by the Holy Ghost. It is limited to the narrow, inferior domain of self, with its circle of objects and interests. It is unspiritual. Another feature yet remains, and the most repulsive of all — "devilish." It is demoniacal, satanic. Not from above, it is from below. The tongue was said to be set on fire of hell; and the wisdom which keeps company with envying and strife has the same origin. What a dark and dreadful description! This account of it he justifies by the effects which it produces. "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work" (ver. 16). The wisdom consists with, if not in, "envying and strife"; and where such a spirit prevails, what are its natural fruits, its inevitable results? The terms are the same as those used in the 14th verse, without the qualification of "bitter," that being understood, and not requiring repetition. "There is confusion" — disorder, anarchy, tumult, all kinds of agitation and disturbance. "And every work." They are productive of whatever is bad and base, of all sorts and measures of wickedness. There is no error, no folly, no vice, no crime to which they do not readily conduct. They shut out everything good, they open the door to everything evil. As the fruit reveals the species of tree on which it grows, so do the effects here the nature of those principles from which they proceed.

(John Adam.)


1. Concerning the former, which is wicked wisdom (if we may call it wisdom, by the common speech of men so calling it), it is described here by three qualities.(1) It is earthly, such as savoureth altogether of the earth and of the world, and of worldly demeanour and manners. The wisdom of earthly and worldly minded men is to be proud, contentious, quarrellous, given to revenge every offence, every injury.(2) As earthly, so is this wisdom sensual, naturally blind in heavenly things. Such whereunto by common sense, men are carried as brute beasts, who, suffering injuries one of the other, forthwith either strike again Or push with horn, or bite and tear with mouth, and so are avenged. Such wisdom is to be contentious and given to revenge; this wisdom is not purged, but corrupt with evil affections of nature. This proceedeth from those who, being carnal men, men natural, not regenerate, perceive net the things of God, neither can they understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. This is a part of the wisdom of the flesh, which is enmity with God, and neither is, neither can be, subject to Him.(3) It is devilish. The original of envy and contention, wherein the wicked worldlings repose wisdom, is from Satan himself, the author, the well-head of maliciousness, envy, contention among men, whereunto only through him are men moved. Now as the worldly and wicked wisdom is by properties noted, so is it also set down by effects, which follow contention and strife. Whereof St. James saith, "Where envying and strife is, there is sedition and all manner of evil works." Whereby he teacheth that sedition and all manner of evil works ensue and follow contention and strife among men, and therefore ought it with all carefulness and diligence to be avoided.

II. Now as there is wisdom which is wicked, so ALSO IS THERE GODLY WISDOM, whereof St. James saith, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, without hypocrisy." Where the apostle in eight properties setteth down this heavenly wisdom unto men.

(R. Turnball.)

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion.
That the life of man is unhappy, that his days are not only few, but evil, that he is surrounded by dangers, distracted by uncertainties, and oppressed by calamities, requires no proof. This is a truth which every man confesses, or which he that denies it denies against conviction. When such is the condition of beings, not brute and savage, but endowed with reason, and united in society, who would not expect that they should join in a perpetual confederacy against the certain or fortuitous troubles to which they are exposed? that they should universally cooperate in the proportion of universal felicity? that every man should easily discover that his own happiness is connected with that of every other man? This expectation might be formed by speculative wisdom, but experience will soon dissipate the pleasing illusion. Instead of hoping to be happy in the general felicity, every man pursues a private and independent interest, proposes to himself some peculiar convenience, and prizes it more as it is less attainable by others. When the ties of society are thus broken, and the general good of mankind is subdivided into the separate advantages of individuals, it must necessarily happen that many will desire when few can possess, and consequently that some will be fortunate by the disappointment or defeat of others, and, since no man suffers disappointment without pain, that one must become miserable by another's happiness. The misery of the world, therefore, so far as it arises from the inequality of conditions, is incurable. Every man may, without a crime, study his own happiness if he be careful not to impede, by design, the happiness of others. In the prosecution of private interest, which Providence has either ordained or permitted, there must necessarily be some kind of strife. Where blessings are thrown before us as the reward of industry there must be a constant struggle of emulation. But this strife would be without confusion if it were regulated by reason and religion, if men would endeavour after lawful ends by lawful means. But as there is a laudable desire of meliorating the condition of life which communities may not only allow, but encourage, as the parent of useful arts; as there is likewise an honest contention for preference and. superiority, by which the powers of greater minds are pushed into action; so there is likewise a strife, of a pernicious and destructive kind, which daily disturbs the quiet of individuals, and too frequently obstructs, or disturbs, the happiness of nations; a strife which always terminates in confusion, and which it is therefore every man's duty to avoid himself, and every man's interest to repress in others. This strife the apostle has, in his prohibition, joined with envying. And daily experience will prove that he has joined them with great propriety; for perhaps there has seldom been any great and lasting strife in the world of which envy was not either the original motive or the most forcible incentive. The ravages of religious enthusiasts and the wars kindled by difference of opinions may perhaps be considered as calamities, which cannot properly be imputed to envy; yet even these may often be justly suspected of rising from no higher or nobler causes. No man whose reason is not darkened by some inordinate perturbation of mind can possibly judge so absurdly of beings, partakers of the same nature with himself, as to imagine that any opinion can be recommended by cruelty and mischief, or that he, who cannot perceive the force of argument, will be more efficaciously instructed by penalties and tortures. The power of punishment is to silence, not to confute. Whenever, therefore, we find the teacher, jealous of the honour of his sect, and apparently more solicitous to see his opinions established than approved, we may conclude that he has added envy to his zeal, and that he feels more pain from the want of victory, than pleasure from the enjoyment of truth.


1. That strife may well be supposed to proceed from some corrupt passion, which is carried on with vehemence, disproportioned to the importance of the end openly proposed.

2. It is a token that strife proceeds from unlawful motives when it is prosecuted by unlawful means. The man whose duty gives way to iris convenience, who, when once he has fixed his eye upon a distant end, hastens to it by violence over forbidden ground, or creeps on towards it through the crooked paths of fraud and stratagem, as he has evidently some other guide than the Word of God, must be supposed to have likewise some other purpose than the glory of God or the benefit of man.

3. There is another token that strife is produced by the predominance of some vicious passion when it is carried on against natural or legal superiority. Thus, if we consider the conduct of individuals towards each other, we shall commonly find the labourer murmuring at him who seems to live by easier means. We shall hear the poor repining that others are rich, and even the rich speaking with malignity of those who are still richer than themselves. And if we survey the condition of kingdoms and commonwealths it will always be observed that governors are censured, that every mischief of chance is imputed to ill designs, and that nothing can persuade mankind that they are not injured by an administration either unskilful or corrupt. It is very difficult always to do right. To seem always to do right to those who desire to discover wrong is scarcely possible. Every man is ready to form expectations in his own favour, such as never can be gratified, and which will yet raise complaints if they are disappointed.

II. THE EVILS AND MISCHIEFS PRODUCED BY THAT CONFUSION WHICH ARISES FROM STRIFE. That the destruction of order, and the abolition of stated regulations, must fill the world with uncertainty, distraction, and solicitude, is apparent, without any long deduction of argument.

(John Taylor, LL. D.)

Belongs, Demoniacal, Demonic, Demon-like, Descendeth, Descending, Devil, Devilish, Earthly, Evil, Flesh, Heaven, Natural, Nature, Physical, Sensual, Spirits, Unspiritual, Wisdom
1. We are not rashly or arrogantly to reprove others;
5. but rather to bridle the tongue, a little member,
9. but a powerful instrument of much good, and great harm.
13. The truly wise are mild and peaceable, without envy and strife.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
James 3:13-15

     5191   thought

James 3:13-16

     5894   intelligence

James 3:13-17

     5974   value
     8367   wisdom, importance of
     8720   double-mindedness

James 3:14-15

     5348   injustice, nature and source
     5929   resentment, against people

James 3:14-16

     4122   Satan, tempter
     5786   ambition, negative
     5928   resentment, against God
     8733   envy

January the Twenty-Sixth the Fire of Envy
"Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work!" --JAMES iii. 13-18. In Milton's "Comus" we read of a certain potion which has the power to pervert all the senses of everyone who drinks it. Nothing is apprehended truly. Sight and hearing and taste are all disordered, and the victim is all unconscious of the confusion. The deadly draught is the minister of deceptive chaos. And envy is like that potion when it is drunk by the spirit. It perverts every moral and spiritual sense.
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

The Tongue.
Preached April 28, 1850. THE TONGUE. "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell."--St. James iii. 5-6. In the development of Christian Truth a peculiar office was assigned to the Apostle James. It was given to St. Paul to proclaim Christianity
Frederick W. Robertson—Sermons Preached at Brighton

How to Make Use of Christ for Taking the Guilt of Our Daily Out-Breakings Away.
The next part of our sanctification is in reference to our daily failings and transgressions, committed partly through the violence of temptations, as we see in David and Peter, and other eminent men of God; partly through daily infirmities, because of our weakness and imperfections; for, "in many things we offend all," James iii. 2; and, "if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us," 1 John i. 8; "a righteous man falleth seven times," Prov. xxiv. 16; "there is not
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Whether Wisdom Should be Reckoned among the Gifts of the Holy Ghost?
Objection 1: It would seem that wisdom ought not to be reckoned among the gifts of the Holy Ghost. For the gifts are more perfect than the virtues, as stated above ([2705]FS, Q[68], A[8]). Now virtue is directed to the good alone, wherefore Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. ii, 19) that "no man makes bad use of the virtues." Much more therefore are the gifts of the Holy Ghost directed to the good alone. But wisdom is directed to evil also, for it is written (James 3:15) that a certain wisdom is "earthly,
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Prudence of the Flesh is a Sin?
Objection 1: It would seem that prudence of the flesh is not a sin. For prudence is more excellent than the other moral virtues, since it governs them all. But no justice or temperance is sinful. Neither therefore is any prudence a sin. Objection 2: Further, it is not a sin to act prudently for an end which it is lawful to love. But it is lawful to love the flesh, "for no man ever hated his own flesh" (Eph. 5:29). Therefore prudence of the flesh is not a sin. Objection 3: Further, just as man is
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Inconstancy is a vice Contained under Prudence?
Objection 1: It would seem that inconstancy is not a vice contained under imprudence. For inconstancy consists seemingly in a lack of perseverance in matters of difficulty. But perseverance in difficult matters belongs to fortitude. Therefore inconstancy is opposed to fortitude rather than to prudence. Objection 2: Further, it is written (James 3:16): "Where jealousy [Douay: 'envy'] and contention are, there are inconstancy and every evil work." But jealousy pertains to envy. Therefore inconstancy
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Wisdom is in all who have Grace?
Objection 1: It would seem that wisdom is not in all who have grace. For it is more to have wisdom than to hear wisdom. Now it is only for the perfect to hear wisdom, according to 1 Cor. 2:6: "We speak wisdom among the perfect." Since then not all who have grace are perfect, it seems that much less all who have grace have wisdom. Objection 2: Further, "The wise man sets things in order," as the Philosopher states (Metaph. i, 2): and it is written (James 3:17) that the wise man "judges without dissimulation
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether the Seventh Beatitude Corresponds to the Gift of Wisdom?
Objection 1: It seems that the seventh beatitude does not correspond to the gift of wisdom. For the seventh beatitude is: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." Now both these things belong to charity: since of peace it is written (Ps. 118:165): "Much peace have they that love Thy law," and, as the Apostle says (Rom. 5:5), "the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost Who is given to us," and Who is "the Spirit of adoption of sons, whereby
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Backbiting is a Mortal Sin?
Objection 1: It would seem that backbiting is not a mortal sin. For no act of virtue is a mortal sin. Now, to reveal an unknown sin, which pertains to backbiting, as stated above (A[1], ad 3), is an act of the virtue of charity, whereby a man denounces his brother's sin in order that he may amend: or else it is an act of justice, whereby a man accuses his brother. Therefore backbiting is not a mortal sin. Objection 2: Further, a gloss on Prov. 24:21, "Have nothing to do with detractors," says: "The
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Fasting is a Matter of Precept?
Objection 1: It would seem that fasting is not a matter of precept. For precepts are not given about works of supererogation which are a matter of counsel. Now fasting is a work of supererogation: else it would have to be equally observed at all places and times. Therefore fasting is not a matter of precept. Objection 2: Further, whoever infringes a precept commits a mortal sin. Therefore if fasting were a matter of precept, all who do not fast would sin mortally, and a widespreading snare would
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether any one Can be Perfect in this Life?
Objection 1: It would seem that none can be perfect in this life. For the Apostle says (1 Cor. 13:10): "When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away." Now in this life that which is in part is not done away; for in this life faith and hope, which are in part, remain. Therefore none can be perfect in this life. Objection 2: Further, "The perfect is that which lacks nothing" (Phys. iii, 6). Now there is no one in this life who lacks nothing; for it is written (James
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Our Atmosphere is the Demons' Place of Punishment?
Objection 1: It would seem that this atmosphere is not the demons' place of punishment. For a demon is a spiritual nature. But a spiritual nature is not affected by place. Therefore there is no place of punishment for demons. Objection 2: Further, man's sin is not graver than the demons'. But man's place of punishment is hell. Much more, therefore, is it the demons' place of punishment; and consequently not the darksome atmosphere. Objection 3: Further, the demons are punished with the pain of fire.
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether a Religious Sins More Grievously than a Secular by the Same Kind of Sin?
Objection 1: It would seem that a religious does not sin more grievously than a secular by the same kind of sin. For it is written (2 Paralip 30:18,19): "The Lord Who is good will show mercy to all them who with their whole heart seek the Lord the God of their fathers, and will not impute it to them that they are not sanctified." Now religious apparently follow the Lord the God of their fathers with their whole heart rather than seculars, who partly give themselves and their possessions to God and
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether the Separated Soul Can Suffer from a Bodily Fire?
Objection 1: It would seem that the separated soul cannot suffer from a bodily fire. For Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii): "The things that affect the soul well or ill after its separation from the body, are not corporeal but resemble corporeal things." Therefore the separated soul is not punished with a bodily fire. Objection 2: Further, Augustine (Gen. ad lit. xii) says that "the agent is always more excellent than the patient." But it is impossible for any body to be more excellent than the separated
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

The Doctrine of Man
Rev. William Evans—The Great Doctrines of the Bible

Man's Inability to Keep the Moral Law
Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God? No mere man, since the fall, is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but does daily break them, in thought, word, and deed. In many things we offend all.' James 3: 2. Man in his primitive state of innocence, was endowed with ability to keep the whole moral law. He had rectitude of mind, sanctity of will, and perfection of power. He had the copy of God's law written on his heart; no sooner did God command but he obeyed.
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Of the Weight of Government; and that all Manner of Adversity is to be Despised, and Prosperity Feared.
So much, then, have we briefly said, to shew how great is the weight of government, lest whosoever is unequal to sacred offices of government should dare to profane them, and through lust of pre-eminence undertake a leadership of perdition. For hence it is that James affectionately deters us, saying, Be not made many masters, my brethren (James iii. 1). Hence the Mediator between God and man Himself--He who, transcending the knowledge and understanding even of supernal spirits, reigns in heaven
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

"If we Confess Our Sins, He is Faithful and Just to Forgive us Our Sins, and to Cleanse us from all Unrighteousness. If we Say We
1 John i. 9, 10.--"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar," &c. And who will not confess their sin, say you? Who doth not confess sins daily, and, therefore, who is not forgiven and pardoned? But stay, and consider the matter again. Take not this upon your first light apprehensions, which in religion are commonly empty, vain, and superficial, but search the scriptures, and
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Whether it is Lawful to Swear?
Objection 1: It would seem that it is not lawful to swear. Nothing forbidden in the Divine Law is lawful. Now swearing is forbidden (Mat. 5:34), "But I say to you not to swear at all"; and (James 5:12), "Above all things, my brethren, swear not." Therefore swearing is unlawful. Objection 2: Further, whatever comes from an evil seems to be unlawful, because according to Mat. 7:18, "neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit." Now swearing comes from an evil, for it is written (Mat. 5:37): "But
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Attributes of Selfishness.
Formerly we considered the attributes of benevolence, and also what states of the sensibility and of the intellect, and also what outward actions, were implied in it, as necessarily resulting from it. We are now to take the same course with selfishness: and-- 1. Voluntariness is an attribute of selfishness. Selfishness has often been confounded with mere desire. But these things are by no means identical. Desire is constitutional. It is a phenomenon of the sensibility. It is a purely involuntary
Charles Grandison Finney—Systematic Theology

Unity of Moral Action.
CAN OBEDIENCE TO MORAL LAW BE PARTIAL? 1. What constitutes obedience to moral law? We have seen in former lectures, that disinterested benevolence is all that the spirit of moral law requires; that is, that the love which it requires to God and our neighbor is good-willing, willing the highest good or well-being of God, and of being in general, as an end, or for its own sake; that this willing is a consecration of all the powers, so far as they are under the control of the will, to this end. Entire
Charles Grandison Finney—Systematic Theology

Concerning Peaceableness
Blessed are the peacemakers. Matthew 5:9 This is the seventh step of the golden ladder which leads to blessedness. The name of peace is sweet, and the work of peace is a blessed work. Blessed are the peacemakers'. Observe the connection. The Scripture links these two together, pureness of heart and peaceableness of spirit. The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable' (James 3:17). Follow peace and holiness' (Hebrews 12:14). And here Christ joins them together pure in heart, and peacemakers',
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

The Tribute Money
"And they send unto Him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, that they might catch Him in talk. And when they were come, they say unto Him, Master, we know that Thou art true, and carest not for any one: for Thou regardest not the person of men, but of a truth teachest the way of God: Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye Me? bring Me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought
G. A. Chadwick—The Gospel of St. Mark

The Third Commandment
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: For the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.' Exod 20: 7. This commandment has two parts: 1. A negative expressed, that we must not take God's name in vain; that is, cast any reflections and dishonour on his name. 2. An affirmative implied. That we should take care to reverence and honour his name. Of this latter I shall speak more fully, under the first petition in the Lord's Prayer, Hallowed be thy name.' I shall
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

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