« הקודםהמשך »
Purport of our Saviour's Discourse, which is to describe the several Degrees of Tranfgrefsion of the Sixth Commandment; the First of which is that Inward Anger, or Malice and Hatred against our Neighbour, from whence provoking Words and injurious Actions proceed; which is a Thing of quite another Nature from those inward Commotions, which proceed from a Spirit of Love to God and our Neighbour, which Occasion not only sharp Rebukes in Parents, Masters, Judges, and Magistrates, but sometimes severer Censures and Punishments. I add this so much the rather, because there are several very ancient Copies of great Authority in which this Word cirñ, which we render without a Cause, is not to be found; and which is more, two learned Fathers of the Church, St Yerom and St Austin, tell us how they examined into the Matter, and are of Opi: nion, that from being at first put in the Margin by Way of Exposition, it came afterwards ta creep into the Text. For my Part I confess Į cannot help yielding a great Deference to these Ancient Copies and Fathers; and besides, I am fo far from thinking the Word necessary in this Place, that I am of Opinion that being Angry with our Brother, as it is the Beginning of Malice or Hatred against him (and no otherwise can it be a Transgression of the Sixth Commandment) doth not suit well with that Addition'; for no Cause whatsoever is sufficient to justify such Sort of Anger. For let his Transgression be what it will, it should indeed stir us up to Pity and Compafsion, Grief and Concern; but never to Hatred and Revenge, tho' we should happen to be in
fuch Stations wherein we are obliged to cenfuro and punish him for the Tra
The Anger then here condemned, is that which proceeds from inward Hatred to our Neighbour ; for this only can be a Breach of the Sixth Commandment. If we govern our Anger so, as to raise only an Indignation against the Vice, with a Resolution to rescue the Person from it; or are grieved for the Dishonour done to Almighty God, with a Resolution by all honest Ways to remove it, these are not this Anger with our Brother here prohibited; the One proceeding from Love to him; the Other from a Zeal for the Glory of God. Nor are the first Motions of Anger in the Heart, before they fix into Malice or Hatred, to be judged the Anger here prohibited; those first Motions belonging properly to the natural Passion, not to the Vice of Anger; and being indeed not among the Things in our own Power ; but when we let them tempt us to Malice and Hatred, then they grow vitious; but when they only serve to warm and stir us up to our Duty, and to be Incentives of Courage in well-doing, they are virtuous; and as the Apostle says, we are angry and fin not, Eph. iv. 26. The Anger then our Saviour would here guard us against, is that Inward Hatred of our Neighbour, or Desire of Revenge, after we have, or think we have, been affronted or injured by him. This, when it is cherished and entertained, settles into Rancour and Malice ; and is a most fruitful Source of all manner of Mischief. And therefore it concerns us especially to take Care of this first Beginning of the Breach of the Sixth Commandment. In order to the cautioning us against it, there are two Things which seem
necessary, necessary, in which I shall employ the remaining Part of this Discourse ; for I perceive I cannot now finish the whole Subject.
1. It is necessary that we be duly sensible of the evil of this Sort of Anger.
2. That we be directed to the proper Means of preventing and removing it.
I. As to the evil of it, let it be considered,
(1) That in our Saviour's Interpretation, it is the first Step towards the Sin of Murder. And in all Sin, it is both more easy, and turns to much better Account, to watch the first Beginnings of it, than to stay till it has got a Head, and cannot so easily be conquered. When a Leak is first sprung in a Ship, the Mariners take Care to stop it ; and when the first Spark of Fire takes in the Chimney, we put it out as soon as we perceive it; for it may quickly be too late, if it be delayed till the House is all in a Flame. Just so it is with Anger; if it is not prevented or stopt in the Beginning, it quickly grows ungovernable, and is followed with Abundance of Mischief,
(2) Let it be considered what inward Disorders this Anger with our Brother occasions to our felves; how it clouds the Judgment and Understanding with such thick Fumes of Passion, that it is not capable of discerning Truth from Falhood, or Right from Wrong; what a strong Byass it gives to the Affections, that they cannot follow the Conduct of Reason, if the Judgment could perceive it; how furiously it drives a Man upon inalicious wicked Designs, such aš drown all other good Thoughts, and indispose him for asking or taking good Counsel of God or Man. In short, as it utterly incapacitates us to take the Conduct
of our felves, so nothing doth more effectually hinder our following the good Conduct of others.
(3) For let it be considered in the Third Place, that there is no Passion more inconsistent with Society and good Government, than this is. In the Superiour Sort of Men, Rulers, Judges, and Magistrates, there is no greater Enemy to that fair and equal impartial Justice which their Office obliges them to administer to all Mankind ; the least Tincture of Anger is enough to misguide them in their Judgment of Persons or Things ; the greatest Merit shall then only occasion the greater Sufpicion and Jealousie; the justest Cause shall then raise the greater Fury, if there be no handsome Pretext to give it against the Person with whom we are angry. Then in the Inferiour Sort of People, there is nothing more directly opposite to all Government, or more inconsistent with the Office of Magistracy than this Vice. For whereas Magistrates are by their Office to be the publick Avengers of all Injuries, this private Anger takes the Office of Vengeance out of their Hands, and executes itself, though of all other Tempers of Mind it is the most unqualified for it.
(4) Consider that this Anger mixed with Hatred is the most directly opposite not only to this Sixth Commandment, but to the Love of our Neighbour in general; that is, to all the Duties of the Second Table of the Law; and by Consequence likewise to all the Duties of the First. 1 Yohn iv. 20. If a Man Jay, I love God, and bateth his Brother, he is å Lyar: for be that loveth not bis Brother whom he bath seen, how can be love God whom he hath not seen?
So much for the Evil of this Inward Anger against, .or Hatred of our Brother.
In the last Place, it is necessary that we be directed to the proper Means for preventing and removing it. I shall just name a few of the chief of them.
1. First then, If we would avoid Anger, let us avoid a weak, peevith, waspish Difpofition. What is the Reason that what incenses one, another is not in the least moved at it; that what will not provoke a stout Mastiff, will exasperate a little Foist, and set him a barking, till he's both uneasie to himself, and disturbs all the Company? Nothing, but that one Man has not that Firma ness and Steadiness of Mind that another is Master of. As a Body full of Sores and Ulcers is galled with every the least Rub, or Touch, or Squeeze, which a sound Body would not so much as feel. Let us endeavour then after this sound Constitution of Mind ; this inward Calm, and Tranquillity, and Constancy, which is not easily ruffled and discomposed with outward Provocations. And one of the best Arts to compass it, is to keep a good Conscience, which always brings Serenity of Mind, and Stayedness of Spirit along with it. 'And next to a good Conscience, nothing perhaps contributes more to it than not to overload the Mind with distracting Troubles and Cares, more than it can well go through with: And therefore that we suit our Mind to our Fortune, not ambitiously struggling after higher Things than we find the divine Providence has cut out for us.
2. Let us consider this World as a Place full of Trouble; that so we may not be surprized, or think strange of any Disaster that happens to us in