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is right, and allows such short Warning to be on our Guard. If indeed we let one thing or another be provoking us almost perpetually, we must not think it a great Alleviation, that our Peevishness doth not dwell on any single Point long, but quickly provides itself a fresh Object. Or if we fly out at once into such Extravagances, as to do in a little Time almost as much Milchief, as we could in a great deal : it is a poor Plea to make in our own Favour, that when we have fatiated our Fury, or worn down our Spirits with it, we are calm again.
But if undue Hastiness neither returns fre. quently, nor goes outrageous Lengths; though always a Tranfgrefsion, yet it is in some Meafure an excuseable one ; whereas the Aggravations of rooted lasting Bitterness are most heinous. For when there hath been Space for Warmth to cool, for Reason to resume its Dominion, for Religion to foften Men into a Spirit of Forgiveness, for Friends to interpofe their Advice and Persuasions, for every Motive to exert itself; still to continue implacable, and deļiberately to fortify ourselves in the Wrong, is confirmed Wickedness. And
And yet Men indulge it strangely : and if nothing chances in a very little while to appeafe their first Rage, allow it
to settle into a Habit of ill Will; which give ing them less impetuous Agitations, than they felt at first, they fancy themselves to have sufficiently recovered their Temper, and proceed in their Guilt without suspecting it. We should therefore be conscientiously watchful over our Hearts in this particular. And readiest of all we should be to lay afide that Displeasure, which we ought never to have entertained : and be Friends again immediately, when it is our own Fault, that we ever were otherwise. Yet, I fear, many cherish unreasonable Refentment, because they secretly feel it is unreasonable, and never forgive those, whom they have once injured. They have run into a Difficulty, out of which they cannot extricate themselves to their Liking: and therefore will perfift for ever in acting amiss, rather than own, that they have acted fo at all. Now, it must be granted, their Situation is a very mortifying one. Anger implies a Charge upon another of Misbehaviour. And when this Charge hath been brought and urged, perhaps in very strong Terms; to retract it, and make Submissions instead of receiving them, must doubtless be a Talk highly disagreeable : which is an excellent Reason for
avoiding avoiding causeless Wrath : but it is no Rèas. son for persevering in it. Solomon's Counsel is very
wise : Go not forth hastily to strive, left thou know not what to do in the End thereof, when thy Neighbour hath put thee to Shamed: But if we are got into such a Condition, the speediest Retreat is the best. Good People will moderate our Shame, by accepting our first Advances towards a Confession, that we have erred. And if others require fuller Satisfaction, we must give it them : for it would be monstrous to do them yet more Wrong, because we have done them some already.
But nearest in Guilt to the Anger, which was originally causeless, is that which becomes so by lasting beyond its Cause. Many Things furnish just Ground of Animadversion ; fo just, that we thould be to blame, if we omitted it: and yet are of so Night a Nature, that we should be more to blame, if we did not, after duly signifying our Dislike of them, return immediately to our former Disposition and Behaviour, even towards the Person concerned. For there would be no living in any Comfort, if every little Offence were to be lengthened out, and the most made of it that can. ThereProv. XXV. 8.
fore in such Cases, far from letting the Sun go down upon our Wrath, we should not let the next Hour, sometimes the next Moment, see the least Marks of it. Where there is Need, they may continue longer : and be increased or lessened, according to the Occasion. The Tokens of our Displeasure may be suspended for a Time, and gentler Methods tried ; which are always the best, when they are likely to be effectual ; then resumed, if Circumstances demand it. But as soon as ever the Fault is reformed, though not perfectly, yet as far as we can fairly expect, after all Allowances made, (and in most cases a great many should be made) then without Delay we should declare ourselves reconciled, for we cannot any longer be angry and not fin.
One principal Discouragement of such Reformation is, that we commonly require of Persons, besides the Assurance of giving no Offence for the future, great Submissions for what is past. And they should always think it their Duty to make them: but we should for the most Part think it ours not to insist on them. Indeed their chief Objection against acknowledging their Misdemeanour, frequently
Eph. iv. 26.
is, that they imagine it will be in vain. And were they but undeceived by any little Intimations of our Disposition to forgive, they would repay us fully afterwards for that Goodness, to which they would gladly have applied before, if Despair had not withheld them. Or if they cannot oven thus be brought to own themselves culpable in fo
Words : yet perhaps they will do it, readily and sufficiently, in a less direct Manner. And the Truth is, that some Sorts of Acknowledgements may be unsuitable to fome Sorts of Persons on fome Occasions. But if should by Miftake apprehend it beneath him to comply with what in Strictnefs he is bound to: yet, provided he shews but any Way, that he is conscious of his Error, and purposes to avoid it for the future, both Charity and Humanity forbid rigorous Demands of more, Nay, though even such tacit Confessions and Promises may be fomewhat imperfect and ambiguous, favourable and liberal Constructions ought to be put upon them: for we should ever encourage Persons to amend by facilitating the Means of it, to the best of our Power. Much more then is it incumbent on us to banish Resentment intirely, when all the Satis