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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on Nature and Grace.: Chapter 17

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 17 [XVI.]—Explanation of This Text Continued.

Accordingly, after emphatically describing the evil of the tongue—saying, among other things: “My brethren, these things ought not so to be” 1165 —he at once, after finishing some remarks which arose out of his subject, goes on to add this advice, showing by what help those things would not happen, which (as he said) ought not: “Who is a wise man and endowed with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” 1166 This is the wisdom which tames the tongue; it descends from above, and springs from no human heart. Will any one, then, dare to divorce it from the grace of God, and with most arrogant vanity place it in the power of man? Why should I pray to God that it be accorded me, if it may be had of man? Ought we not to object to this prayer lest injury be done to free will which is self-sufficient in the possibility of nature for discharging all the duties of righteousness? We ought, then, to object also to the Apostle James himself, who admonishes us in these words: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him; but let him ask in faith, nothing doubting.” 1167 This is the faith to which the commandments drive us, in order that the law may prescribe our duty and faith accomplish it. 1168 For through the tongue, which no man can tame, but only the wisdom which comes down from above, “in many things we all of us offend.” 1169 For this truth also the same apostle pronounced in no other sense than that in which he afterwards declares: “The tongue no man can tame.” 1170



Jas. iii. 10.


Jas. iii. 13-17.


Jas. 1:5, 6.


Ut lex imperet et fides impetret.


Jas. iii. 2.


Jas. iii. 8.

Next: Chapter 18