On Evil Speaking
James 4:11-12
Speak not evil one of another, brothers. He that speaks evil of his brother, and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law…


1. This precept does not extend so far as to hinder us from telling another man his faults with a view to his amendment.

2. It is no crime to descant upon the faults of our neighbour which are public and notorious; for where can be the harm for any man to talk of what every one knows?

3. Though nothing can justify ill-grounded uncharitable opinions, yet in cases where we have sufficient information a wide difference is to be made between what we say in a mixed company and what we disclose to a particular friend, who is virtually under a covenant with us not to betray our private conversation.

4. Nor do we act contrary to this precept when we are called upon by lawful authority to speak what we know against a criminal.

5. We are so far from acting against the precept of my text, that it is an act of charity as well as justice to strip the wolf of his sheep's clothing, which he has put on to make a prey of the innocent and unsuspecting.

6. Though it is our duty not to speak ill of any man, without some of the above reasons, yet it does not follow that we ought to speak well of everybody promiscuously and in general, because we ought to make a distinction where there is a difference.


1. An affectation of wit.

2. Hastiness or precipitancy in judging before we know the whole of the case.

3. Malice.

4. Envy.

5. Little personal animosities.

6. An ill life in general. Those who know a great deal of ill of themselves are apt to suspect ill of everybody else.

7. Talkativeness.


(J. Seed, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

WEB: Don't speak against one another, brothers. He who speaks against a brother and judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge.

Of Judging Our Neighbour
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