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finition, perhaps, not altogether accurate. Seneca says, that Aristotle's definition of anger, that it is 'a desire of requiting pain,' differs but little from his own, viz. · That anger is a desire of inflicting punishment,' book i. of anger, chap. iii. where he discusses it with great elegance, according to the maxims of the Stoics. But Aristotle reckons ủopynotavb among vices, or extremes in the 7th chapter of the 2d book of his Ethics to Nicomedes. But Phavorinus says, that 'anger is a desire to punish the person appearing to have injured you, contrary to what is fit and proper. But in whatever manner it be defined, it is beyond a doubt that it cannot, properly speaking, belong to God. Lactantius Firmianus, therefore, is lashed by the learned, who, in his book of the anger of God, chap. iv. in refuting the Stoics, who contend, that anger ought not in any manner whatever to be ascribed to God, has ventured to ascribe to the Deity commotions and affections of mind, but such as are just and good. Suarez, however, excuses him, in his disputation
of the divine justice,' sect. 5, and contends, that the nature of anger is very specially preserved in the disposition of punishing offences.
But however this matter be, certain it is, that God assumes no affection of our nature so often to himself, in Scripture, as this : and that too, in words, which for the most part, in the Old Testament, denotes the greatest commotion of mind. Wrath, fury, the heat of great anger, indignation, hot anger, smoking anger, wrathful anger, anger appearing in the countenance, inflaming the nostrils, rousing the heart, flaming, and consuming, are often assigned to him, and in words too, which, among the Hebrews, express the parts of the body affected by such commotions."
In fine, there is no perturbation of the mind, no commotion of the spirits, no change of the bodily parts, by which either the materiality, or formality d (as they phrase it) of anger is expressed, when we are most deeply affected thereby, which he has not assumed to himself.
b A deprivation of irascibility. c Numb. $xv. 4. Deut. xij. 17. Josh. vii. 26. Psal. lxxvii. 49. Isa. xiii. 9. Deut. xxix. 24. Judges ii. 14. Psal. Ixxiv. 1. lxix. 24. Isa. xxx. 30. Lam. ii. 6. Ezek. v. 15. Isa. xxxiv. 2. 2 Chron. xxviii. 11. Ezra x. 14. Hab. iii. 8. 12.
d The materiality of anger is, what is essentially necessary to constitute anger ; the fornuality means its external marks and characters.
But since with God 'there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,' beyond all doubt it will be worth while strictly to examine what he means by this description of his most holy and unchangeable nature, so well accommodated to our weak capacities. Every material circumstance, such as, in us, is the commotion of the blood, and gall about the heart, and likewise those troublesome affections of sorrow and pain, with which it is accompanied, being entirely excluded, we shall consider, what this anger of God means.
First, Then it is manifest, that by the anger of God, the effects of anger are denoted. God is not unrighteous who taketh vengeance;' Rom. iii. 5. And it is said, Eph. v. 6. · Because of these things, the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience. That is, God will most assuredly punish them. Hence the frequent mention of the wrath to come; that is, the last and everlasting punishment. Thus, that great and terrible day, ‘in which God will judge the world by that man whom he hath ordained,' is called the day of his wrath,' because it is the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God;' Rom. ii. 5. And he is said to be slow to wrath, because he oftentimes proceeds slowly, as it seems to us, to inflict punishment, or recompense evil. But, perhaps, this difficulty is better obviated by Peter, who removes every
idea of slowness from God, but ascribes to him patience and long-suffering in Christ towards the faithful; and of this dispensation, even the whole world, in a secondary sense, are made partakers. “The Lord is not slack,'. says he, concerning his promise (the promise, viz. of a future judgment), as some men count slackness, but is long. suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance;' 2 Pet. iii. 8, 9.
Nay, the threatening of punishment is sometimes described by the words anger, fury, wrath, and fierce wrath. Thus, Jonah iii. 9. · Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish, not;' that is, whether he may not, upon our humiliation and repentance, avert from us the grievous punishment denounced by the prophet.
But, secondly, It denotes a constant and immutable will in God of avenging and punishing, by a just punishment, every injury, transgression, and sin. And hence that ex
pression, Rom. ix. 22. •What if God willing to shew his anger ;' that is, his justice, or constant will of punishing sinners: for when any external operations of the Deity are described by a word denoting a human affection that is wont to produce such effects, the Holy Scripture means to point out to us some perfection perpetually resident in God, whence these operations flow, and which is their proper and next principle.
And what is that perfection but this justice, of which we are discoursing? For we must remove far from God every idea of anger, properly so called, which, in respect of its causes and effects, and of its own nature, supposes even the greatest perturbation, change, and inquietude of all the affections, in its subject; and yet we are under the necessity of ascribing to him a nature adapted to effect those operations, which are reckoned to belong to anger. But since the Scriptures testify, that God works these works, as he is just, and because he is just (and we have proved it above), it plainly appears that, that perfection of the Divine nature is nothing else but this vindicatory justice. Whence Thomas Aquinas asserts', that anger is not said to be in God, in allusion to any passion of the mind, but to the judgment or decisions of his justice. Nay, that anger may not only be reduced to justice, but that the words themselves are synonimous, and that they are taken so in Scripture, is certain. Psal. vii. 6. 9. • Arise, O Lord, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies : and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded. O let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the heart and reins.' To judge in anger, or with justice, are phrases of the same import. Psal. lvi. 7. "Shall they escape by iniquity ? in thine anger cast down the people, O God.' Or, in justice, cast them down, because of their iniquity. Thus, when he justly destroyed the people of Israel by the king of Babylon, he says, it came to pass through his anger ; 2 Kings xxiv. 20. 'For through the anger of the Lord, it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.'
e That is, the principle from which they immediately flow.
f Quest. 47. article 1.
But the apostle says, that this anger or punitory justice is revealed from heaven.' The apostle uses the same word here, that is translated revealed,' in the preceding verse, when speaking of the manifestation or revelation of the righteousness of faith in the gospel. Therefore, some have been of opinion, that the apostle here asserts, that this very anger of God is again and again made known and manifest, or openly declared in the gospel against unbelievers. But to what purpose, then, is there any mention made of heaven, whence that manifestation or revelation is said to have been made ? The apostle, therefore, uses the word in a different sense in the 18th verse from that which it is used in, in the preceding. There it means a manifestation by the preaching of the word; here it signifies a declaration by examples ; and therefore a certain person hath, not improperly, translated the word, “is laid open,' or 'clearly appears ;' that is, is proved by numberless-instances. Moreover, this verse is the principal of the arguments, by which the apostle proves the necessity of justification by faith in the remission of sins through the blood of Christ; because that all have sinned, and thereby rendered God their open and avowed enemy.
The apostle then affirms, that God hath taken care that his anger against sin, or that his justice should appear by innumerable examples of punishments inflicted on mankind for their sins, in his providential government of the world ; and that it should appear in so clear a manner, that there should be no room left for conjectures about the matter. Not that punishment is always inflicted on the wicked and impious, while in this world, or at least that it appears to be so, for very many of them enjoy all the pleasures of a rich and flourishing outward estate; but besides, that he exercises his anger on their consciences, as we proved before ; and that the external good things of fortune, as they call them, are only a fattening of them for the day of slaughter; even in this life he oft-times, in the middle of their career, exercises his severe judgments against the public enemies of heaven; the monsters of the earth, the architects of wickedness, sunk in the mire and filth of their vices; and that too, even to the entire ruin and desolation both of whole nations, and of particular individuals, whom, by a remarkable punishment, he thinks proper to make an example and spectacle of to the world, both to angels and to men.
Therefore, although 'God willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known,'not in that way only, viz. by exercising public punishments in this life, of which we are now speaking, 'endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction :' and though he should not instantly dart his lightnings against all, and every individual of the abandoned and profane, yet mankind will easily discerns what the mind and thoughts of God are, what his right and pleasure, and of what kind his anger and justice are with regard to every sin whatever. Therefore, the apostle affirms, that the anger of God, of which he gives only some instances, is by these judgments openly declared against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men whatever; whether they fail in the worship and duty which they owe to God, or in the duties which it is incumbent on them to perform to one another. Moreover, that the solemn revelation of this divine justice consists, not only in those judgments which sooner or later he hath exercised upon particular persons, but also in the whole series of his divine dispensations towards men, in which, as he gives testimony both to his goodness and patience, inasmuch as he maketh his sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just, and the unjust, and leaves not himself without a witness, in that he doth good, and gives us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness;' so also he gives equally clear signs and testimonies of his anger, severity, and indignation, or of his punitory justice. Hence, on account of the efficacy of the divine anger, exercising its power
and influence far and near, this visible world, as if the very fuel of the curse, is appointed as the seat and abode of all kinds of misery, grief, lamentation, cares, wrath, vanity, and inquietude. Why need I mention tempests, thunders, lightnings, deluges, pestilences, with many things more, by means of which, on account of the wickedness of man, universal nature is struck with horror. All these, beyond a doubt, have a respect to the revelation of God's anger or justice, against the unrighteousness and ungodliness of men.
6 Viz. from those instances of punishment which he is pleased, in his wisdom, sometimes openly and awfully to inflict upon the wicked.
h Matt. v. 46. Acts xiv. 17.