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The Epistle Of James Practically Explained by Augustus Neander

James iii. 3-8

He then proceeds to show, by many striking examples drawn from actual life, what power may reside in things seemingly trivial, -- how much depends on the government of the tongue. |Behold we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us, and we turn about their whole 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 helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter [forest] a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire,| -- (that is, as a spark can set a whole forest on fire, so may a word spoken by the tongue be the occasion of great mischief) -- |a world of iniquity: so is the tongue amongst our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature [life], and it is set on fire of hell.| By this is meant, that as the tongue is set on fire by the flames of hellish passion, so from the tongue does the fire spread over the whole course of life. He then shows how vain a thing is man's dominion over the natural world, if he, aspiring to rule the world, is himself through passion a slave of the world; what a reproach it is to man, claiming subjection from all animals, not to be able to bridle his own tongue. |For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and things in the sea, is tamed and hath been tamed of mankind. But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.|

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