Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

be no bigger than the cause : 3. That if it goes forth, it be not expressed in any action of uncharitableness, or unseasonable violence : 4. Whether it goes forth or abides at home, it must not dwell long any where; nor abide in the form of a burning coal, but at the most of a thin flame, thence passing into air salutary and gentle, fit to breathe, but not to blast. There is this only nicety to be observed : That, although an anger arising for religion, or in the matter of government, cannot innocently abide long; yet it may abide till it hath passed forth into its proper and temperate expression, whether of reprehension or chastisement, and then it must sit down. But if the anger arises from another cause, (provided it be of itself innocent, not sinful in the object or cause,) the passion in its first spring is also innocent, because it is natural, and on the sudden unavoidable : but this must be suppressed within, and is not permitted to express itself at all : for in that degree in which it goes out of the mouth, or through the eyes, or from the hand, in that degree it is violent, ought to be corrected and restrained; for so that passion was intended to be turned into virtue. For this passion is like its natural parent or instrument: and if choler keeps in its proper seat, it is an instrument of digestion; but if it goes forth into the stranger regions of the body, it makes a fever: and this anger, which commences upon natural causes, though so far as it is natural it must needs be innocent, yet when any consent of the will comes to it, or that it goes

forth in

any

action or voluntary signification, it also becomes criminal. Such an anger is only permitted to be born and die; but it must never take nourishment, or exercise any act of life.

33. But if that prohibition be indefinite, then it is certain, the analogy of the commandment, of which this is an explication, refers it to revenge or malice: it is an anger that is wrath, an anger of revenge or injury, which is here prohibited. And I add this consideration : That since it is certain, that Christ intended this for an explication of the prohibition of homicide, the clause of“ without cause?," seems less natural and proper. For it would intimate, that though anger of revenge is forbidden, when it is rash and unreasonable; yet

4 Eixñ significat in ranum ; i. e. non solùm extra cansam, sed et extra modum.

that there might be a cause of being angry, with a purpose of revenge and recompense, and that in such a case it is permitted to them, to whom in all other it is denied, that is, to private persons; which is against the meekness and charity of the Gospel. More reasonable it is, that as no man might kill his brother, in Moses's law, by his own private authority; so an anger is here forbidden, such an anger which no qualification can permit to private persons; that is, an anger with purposes of revenge.

34. But Christ adds, that a farther degree of this sin is, when our anger breaks out in contumelies and ill language, and receives its increment according to the degree and injury of the reproach. There is a homicide in the tongue, as well as in the heart; and he that kills a man's reputation' by calumnies, or slander, or open reviling, hath broken this commandment. But this is not to be understood so, but that persons in authority, or friends', may reprehend a vicious person in language proper to his crime, or expressive of his malice or iniquity. Christ called Herod," fox:" and although St. Michael “ brought not a railing accusation” against Satan, yet the Scripture calls him “ an accuser," and Christ calls him “ the father of lies;" and St. Peter, “ a devourer," and a“ roaring lion;" and St. John calls Diotrephes, “ a lover of pre-eminence," or ambitious. But that which is here forbidden, is not a representing the crimes of the man for his emendation, or any other charitable or religious end, but a reviling him to do him mischief, to murder his reputation: which also shows, that whatever is here forbidden is, in some

[ocr errors]

Δεινήν δε βροτών υπαλεύεο φήμην. .
φήμη γαρ τε κακή πέλεται κούφη μέν αείραι
Ρεΐα μάλ', αργαλέη δε φέρειν, χαλεπή δ' αποθέσθαι.

Hesiod. 'Epy, lib. ii.
Insnevit pater optimus hoc me,
Ut fugerem exemplis vitiorum quæque notando :
Quum me hortaretur parcè, frugaliter, atque
Viverem uti contentus eo quod mî ipse parâsset ;
Nonne vides Albi nt malè vivat filius, utque
Barras inops?

A turpi meretricis amore
Cùm deterreret; Sectani dissimilis sis.
Ne sequerer mechas

Deprensi non bella est fama Treboni,
Aiebat.

Horat, Sat, iv. lib. i.

sense or other, accounted homicide; the anger in order to reproach, and both in order to murder, subject to the same punishment, because forbidden in the same period of the law; save only that, according to the degrees of the sin, Christ proportions several degrees of punishment in the other world, which he apportions to the degrees of death which had ever been among the Jews, viz. the sword, and stoning to death, which were punishments legal and judicial; and the burning infants in the valley of Hinnom, which was a barbarous and superstitious custom used formerly by their fathers, in imitation of the Phænician accursed rites.

35. The remedies against anger, which are prescribed by masters of spiritual life, are partly taken from rules of prudence, partly from piety, and more precise rules of religion. In prudence: 1. Do not easily entertain, or at all encourage, or willingly hear, or promptly believe, tale-bearers and reporters of other men's faults: for oftentimes we are set on fire by an ignis fatuus, a false flame, and an empty story. 2. Live with peaceable people, if thou canst. 3. Be not inquisitive into the misdemeanours of others, or the reports which are made of you. 4. Find out reasons of excuse, to alleviate and lessen the ignorances of a friend, or carelessnesses of a servant. 5. Observe what object is aptest to inflame thee, and, by special arts of fortification, stop up the avenues to that part. If losses, if contempt, if incivilities, if slander, still make it the greatest part of your employment to subdue the impotency of that passion that is more apt to raise tempests. 6. Extirpate petty curiosities of apparel, lodging, diet, and learn to be indifferent in circumstances; and if you be apt to be transported with such little things, do some great thing, that shall cut off their frequent intervening. 7. Do not multiply secular cares, and troublesome negotiations, which have variety of conversation with several humours of men, and accidents of things; but frame to thyself a life, simple as thou canst, and free from all affectations. 8. Sweeten thy temper, and allay the violence of thy spirit, with some convenient, natural, temperate, and medicinal solaces; for some dispositions we have seen inflamed into anger, and often assaulted by peevishness, through immoderate fasting and inconvenient austerities. 9. A gentle answer is an excellent remora to the progresses of anger, whether in thyself

or others. For anger is like the waves of a troubled sea; when it is corrected with a soft reply, as with a little strand, it retires, and leaves nothing behind it but froth and shells; no permanent mischieft. 10. Silence is an excellent art : and that was the advantage which St. Isaac", an old religious person in the primitive church, is reported to have followed ; to suppress his anger within his breast, and use what means he could there to strangle it, but never permitting it to go forth in language. Anger and lust being like fire, which if you enclose, suffering it to have no emission, it perishes and dies; but give it the smallest vent, and it rages to a consumption of all it reaches. And this advice is coincident with the general rule which is prescribed in all temptations, that anger be suppressed in its cradle and first assaults *. 11. Lastly: let every man be careful, that in his repentance, or in his zeal, or his religion, he be as dispassionate and free from anger as possible ; lest anger pass upon him in a reflex act, which was rejected in the direct. Some mortifiers, in their contestation against anger, or any evil or troublesome principle, are like criers of assizes, who, calling for silence, make the greatest noise; they are extremely angry, when they are fighting against the habit or violent inclinations to anger.

36. But, in the way of more strict religion, it is advised, that he who would cure his anger should pray often. It is St. Austin's counsel to the bishop Auxilius, that, like the apostles in a storm, we should awaken Christ, and call to him for aid, lest we shipwreck in so violent passions and impetuous disturbances. 2. Propound to thyself the example of meek and patient persons; remembering always, that there is a family of meek saints, of which Moses is the precedent; a family of patient saints, under the conduct of Job. Every one in the mountain of the Lord shall be gathered to his own tribe, to his own family, in the great day of jubilee: and the

Terminum etiam marinis Auctibus fabricator descripsit; arena maris exigna sæpe inter duas acies intercapedo est: si reprimere iram non potes, inemento quia indignabundum mare nil ultra spumam et fluctnationem effert. Simocatta.

u Ex quo factus sum monachus, statui apud me, ut iracundia extra guttur meum non procederet, dixit S. Isaac Eremita.

3 Melius enim est negare primum iræ introitum, etiam de causa probabili satis et gloriosa, quàm admissam ejicere. – S. Aug. ad l'rofuturum.

angry shall perish with the effects of anger; and peevish persons shall be vexed with the disquietness of an eternal worm, and sting of a vexatious conscience, if they suffer here the transportations and saddest effects of an unmortified, habitual, and prevailing anger. 3. Above all things endeavour to be humble, to think of thyself as thou deservest, that is, meanly and unworthily; and in reason, it is to be presumed, thou wilt be more patient of wrong, quiet under affronts and injuries, susceptive of inconveniences, and apt to entertain all adversities, as instruments of humiliation, deleteries of vice, corrections of indecent passions, and instruments of virtue. 4. All the reason, and all the relations, and all the necessities of mankind, are daily arguments against the violences and inordinations of anger. For he that would not have his reason confounded, or his discourse useless, or his family be a den of lions; he that would not have his marriage a daily duel, or his society troublesome, or his friendship formidable, or his feasts bitter; he that delights not to have his discipline cruel, or his government tyrannical, or his disputations violent, or his civilities unmannerly; ог his charity be a rudeness, or himself brutish as a bear, or peevish as a fly, or miserable upon every accident, and in all the changes of his life, must mortify his anger. For it concerns us as much as peace, and wisdom, and nobleness, and charity, and felicity are worth, to be at peace in our breasts, and to be pleased with all God's providence, and to be in charity with every thing, and with every man.

The Seventh Commandment.

37. “ Thou shalt not commit adultery.” These two commandments are immediate to each other, and of the greatest cognation ; for anger and lust work upon one subject; and the same fervours of blood which make men revengeful, will also make men unchaster. But the prohibition is repeated in the words of the old commandment: so“ it was said to

s Ubi furoris insederit virus, libidinis quoque incendium necesse est penetrare. - Cassian.

Numquid ego à te
Magno prognatam deposco Consule-
Velaiamque stolâ, mea cùm conferbait ira?

Horat. Serm. lib. i. Sat. 2.

« PreviousContinue »