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Aquinas’ Homily Notes on James 1:22-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 5, 2010

These notes can provide excellent points for homilies, meditation, or further study.

Fifth Sunday after Easter. — (From the Epistle.)
” If any man among you seem to be religions, and bridleth not his tongue,
but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”
— S. Jos. i. 26.

St James in these words exhorts us to the bridling of the  tongue, and there are three reasons which move us so to do.  Firstly, because he who does not bridle his tongue, falls into many sins: (Prov 10:19), “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin.”  Secondly, because he incurs many bad punishments: (Ecclus 20:8), ” He that useth many words shall hurt his own soul.”   Thirdly, because he who bridles his tongue, acquires many good things: (Prov 18:13), ” He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”

I. On the first head it is to be noted, that Scripture treats of many tongues, by which are signified those different sins which are committed by the tongue ; and such tongues are to be bridled—

  • (1) The deceitful tongue, which is in double dealings and betrayals: Ps 120:2, ” Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue.” Jer 9:8, ” Their tongue is as an arrow shot out, it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.”
  • (2) The boastful tongue, which is proud and arrogant : Ps 12:3, ” The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that speaketh proud things/'(3) The serpent-like and poisonous tongue, which utters envies and detractions: Ps 140:3, ” They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent, adders’ poison is under their lips.”

    (4) A lying tongue, that utters perjuries, falsehoods, and false witnesses: Prov 6:16, “Six things does the Lord hate, a proud look, a lying tongue,” &c.

  • (5) The bland tongue, which utters deceits : Prov 6:24, ” Keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.”
  • (6) The tongue of a third person, which utters seducements and allurements: Ecclus 28:19, “The tongue of a third person hath cast out valiant women, and
    deprived them of their labour.” The first tongue is in the deed of sensuality of the man loving the woman ; the second, that of the woman loved ; the third that of the herald or messenger who conveys the words of the lover to the beloved, and vice versa.
  • (7) The wicked tongue, which utters flatteries: Prov 17:4, ” A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips.”  They are false lips which do evil by inciting flatterers.
  • (8)  The tongue which is sword-like, which consists of things angry and furious, and which slays many by railings and reproaches : Ps 57:4, ” The sons of men whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.”
  • (9) The deceitful tongue, which abides in false merchants and deceivers; they deceive the simple by recommending their wares, and defrauding by false weights, numbers, and measures: Prov 26:28, Vulg, ” A deceitful tongue loveth not truth,”  that is, loveth not Christ; “and a slippery mouth worketh ruin,” i.e., of body and soul: Prov 21:6, “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue,” i.e. in operation, ” is a vanity, and tossed to and fro,” without soul and discretion, “of them that seek death,” i.e., willingly or unwillingly.
  • (10) Tongue of blasphemy, which is in those who blaspheme God
    and the saints.
  • (11) Tongue without grace, which utters mockeries and derisions with those who willingly speak idle words : Ecclus 21:21, “A man without grace is as a vain fable.”

II. On the second head it is to be noted, that the man who
does not bridle his tongue incurs many penalties —

  • (1) Ruin: Prov 12:13, Vulg., “For the sins of the lips ruin draweth nigh to the evil man.”  Eccles 10:12,  The lips of a fool will swallow up himself.”
  • (2) He can have nothing prosperous in this life: Ps 140:11, “Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth.”
  • (3) Labour.
  • (4) Sorrow: Ps 9:7, Vulg., “Under his tongue are labour and sorrow.”
  • (5) Perverse destruction of him who speaks.
  • (6) Expulsion from eternal life : Ps 52:4-5, ” Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue. God shall likewise destroy thee for ever.”
  • (7) The burning up of the deceitful tongue itself: Ps 41:17, Vulg., “Their tongue hath been dry with thirst.”
  • (8) The torture of the evil tongue by infernal fire: Luke 16:24, ” Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue.”
  • (9) The gnawing of the tongue itself: Rev 16:10, ” And they gnawed their tongues for pain.”
  • (10) Eternal death: Prov 18:21, ” Death and life are in the power of the tongue” — i.e., in its operation or works. He who bridleth his tongue
    will have eternal life ; he who does not do this, will come
    into eternal death.
  • (11) He will suffer every evil: Prov 17:20, ” He that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief” — that is, into the evil of Gehenna. Prov 13:8, ” He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life; but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction” — i.e. eternal destruction.

III. On the third it is to be noted, that three benefits arise
from the bridling of the tongue —

  • (1) Perfection of life: James 3:2, ” If any man offend not in word, the same is a
    perfect man.”
  • (2) Elevation of the mind to God: Lam 3:28, ” He sitteth alone and keepeth silence.”
  • (3) The gaining of eternal life: Ps 34:12-13, ” What man is he that desireth life and loveth many days that he may see good if Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.”

3 Responses to “Aquinas’ Homily Notes on James 1:22-27”

  1. […] UPDATE: Aquinas’ Homily Notes on James 1:22-27.  Contains excellent points for homilies, meditation, or further study. […]

  2. […] Aquinas’ Homily Notes on James 1:22-27. See previous note. […]

  3. […] Aquinas’ Homily Notes on James 1:22-27. See previous note. […]

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