Dearly beloved, every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change nor shadow of alteration. For of His own will hath He begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of His creature. You know, my dearest brethren. And let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak and slow to anger. For the anger of man worketh not the justice of God. Wherefore, casting away all uncleanness and abundance of naughtiness, with meekness receive the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
Verse 16-17. Do not err, nor deceive yourselves by yielding to temptation; beg God his supporting grace, for every good gift is from him. Wi.
Verse 18. By the word of truth. Some, with S. Athanasius, understand the eternal word made man. Others commonly understand the word of the gospel, by which we have been called to the true faith, &c. — Some beginning of his creatures, (or as the Greek signifies) such a beginning as are the first-fruits; and perhaps S. James may so call the Jews, as being the first converted to believe in Christ. Wi.
Verse 19. You know, or you are sufficiently instructed in these things. — Let every man be swift to hear the word of God, but slow, or cautious in speaking, especially slow to anger, or to that rash passion of anger, which is never excusable, unless it be through a zeal for God’s honour, and against sin. Wi. — S. James in this epistle does not aim at a regular discourse: he proposes a diversity of moral sentences, which have not much connection with each other. He here instructs the faithful how to behave in conversation. He recommends to them modesty and prudence in their discourses; and rather to be fond of hearing much, than of speaking much; and of practising the truth, than of preaching it to others. “For not those who understand the law, nor those who preach it, are justified before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified before God.” Rom. c. ii. 13. C. — A wise man is known by the fewness of his words. Sapiens verbis innotescit paucis. Regl. S. Ben. c. vii. With hearing, the wise man will become wiser. Sen. lib. ii. de Irâ. c. 28. — Anger is a short madness. The best cure is to permit it to subside, and to let our reason have time to reflect upon the propriety of doing what we are at first inclined to. The first motions to anger are frequently indeliberate, and consequently not sinful; but we must be careful to resist as soon as we perceive them, lest they should become too violent, and obtain the consent of our will. C. — Learn of me, says our Saviour, because I am meek and humble of heart. Mat c. xii. 29. If, says S. Francis de Sales, being stung and bit by detractors and enemies, we fly out, swell, and are enraged, it is a great sign that neither our humility nor meekness are true and sincere, but only apparent and artificial. It is better, says S. Austin, writing to Profuturus, to deny entrance to just and reasonable anger, than to admit it, be it ever so little; because, being once admitted, it is with difficulty driven out again; for it enters as a little twig, and in a moment becomes a beam: and if it can once but get the night of us, and the sun set upon it, which the apostle forbids, it turns into a hatred, from which we have scarcely any means to rid ourselves; for it nourishes itself under a thousand false pretexts, since there was never an angry man that thought his anger unjust. Introduction to a devout life, p. 3. c. viii.
Verse 20. The anger of man, &c. Let us not then be angry with each other on the way to eternal life, but rather march on with the troop of our companions and brethren meekly, peaceably, and lovingly; nay, I say to you absolutely and without exception, be not angry at all, if it be possible, and admit no pretext whatsoever to open the gate of your heart to so destructive a passion: for S. James here tells us positively, and without reservation, “the anger of man works not the justice of God.” S. Francis, ibidem. — The patient man is better than the valiant; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh cities. Prov. c. xvi. 32. The anger of man is the daughter of pride, the mother of enmities, he enemy of peace and harmony, and the source of stubbornness and blindness of mind and heart. The justice of God is humility, meekness, charity, peace, docility, and forbearance. How great the contrast!
Verse 21. All uncleanness. The Greek shews that hereby is meant a sordid, filthy uncleanness, infecting and defiling the soul. — The engrafted word. The word and doctrine of Christ, by the labours of his preachers, and chiefly by his divine grace engrafted and fixed in your souls. Wi.
ST. FELIX III 526-530 COUNCIL OF ORANGE II 529 Confirmed by Boniface II (against the Semipelagians) Original Sin, Grace, Predestination
And thus according to the statements of the Holy Scriptures written above, or the explanations of the ancient Fathers, God being propitious, we ought to proclaim and to believe that through the sin of the first man free will was so changed and so weakened that afterwards no one could either love God as he ought, or believe in God, or perform what is good on account of God, unless the grace of divine mercy reached him first. Therefore, we believe that in the [case of] the just Abel, and Noah and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the multitude of the ancient saints that illustrious faith which the Apostle Paul proclaims in their praise [Heb. 11], was conferred not by the good of nature, which had been given before in [the case of] Adam, but through the grace of God. Even after the coming of the Lord we know and likewise believe that this grace was not held in the free will of all who desired to be baptized, but was bestowed by the bounty of Christ, according to what has already been said often, and Paul the Apostle declares: It has been given to you for Christ, not only, that you may believe in him, but also that you may suffer for him [Phil. 1:29]; and this: God, who has begun a good work in you, will perfect it even to the day of our Lord [Phil. 1:6]; and this: By grace you are made safe through faith, and this not of yourselves: for it is the gift of God [Eph. 2:8]; and that which the Apostle says about himself:I have obtained mercy, that I may be faithful [1 Cor. 7:25; 1 Tim. 1:13]; he did not say: “because I was,” but: “that I may be.” And that: What have you, that you have not received?[1 Cor. 4:7]. And that: Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights [Jas. 1:17]. And that: No one has anything, except it has been given him from above [John 3:27]. Innumerable are the testimonies of the Sacred Scriptures which can be brought forward to prove grace, but they are passed over out of a desire for brevity; also because, in truth, more [proofs] will not profit those for whom a few do not suffice.
[III. Predestination] According to the Catholic faith we believe this also, that after grace has been received through baptism, all the baptized with the help and cooperation of Christ can and ought to fulfill what pertains to the salvation of the soul, if they will labor faithfully. We not only do not believe that some have been truly predestined to evil by divine power, but also with every execration we pronounce anathema upon those, if there are [any such], who wish to believe so great an evil. This, too, we profess and believe unto salvation, that in every good work we do not begin, and afterwards are helped by the mercy of God, but He Himself, with no preceding good services [on our part], previously inspires us with faith and love of Him, so that we may both faithfully seek the sacraments of baptism, and after baptism with His help be able to perform those [acts] which are pleasing to Him. So very clearly we should believe that the faith-so admirable-both of that famous thief, whom the Lord restored to his native land of paradise [Luke 23:43], and of Cornelius the centurion, to whom the angel of the Lord was sent [Acts 10:3], and of Zacheus, who deserved to receive the Lord Himself [Luke 19:6], was not from nature, but a gift of God’s bounty.