« AnteriorContinuar »
faction hath been offered us, that can be made, though perhaps a full Compensation can never be made. For it is not the Damage, but the Injury done us, that justifies our Anger: And therefore, when the Injury is removed by Repentance, though the Damage continue, the Anger ought to cease: because the Offender being now returned to his right Mind, and become what he should, Displeasure against him afterwards is Displeasure against a good Person, instead of a bad one.
I do not say, that we ought always immediately to believe every one, who professes Concern, and makes fair Promises. But we certainly ought to be careful, that Passion doth not keep us from believing what in itfelf is probable. Unless we are as ready to be reconciled, as we were to be provoked ; and give as much Credit, upon equal Proof, to the Penitence, as we did to the Crime; we are not in a reasonable and Christian Temper. If therefore the Evidences of any one's Amendmvent be strong enough only to fuspend our bad Opinion of him, we should suspend our Anger too: and as they grow sufficient to change it, we fhould change proportionably into kind Behaviour, and due Esteem. Vol. V.
Indeed, supposing there be no Amendment in him, though we cannot possibly think well of him in that Respect, yet we may in others; for there are strange Mixtures in most People of Faults and good Qualities. Or, were we to think ever so ill of him
the Whole, and with ever so much Cause, we should by no Means be at Liberty, even then, to cherish a constant Indignation at him boiling in our Breasts : but our Disapprobation of his Character ought to be gentle and mild. For when Anger, from being an occasional Passion for a Time, degenerates into a settled State of Mind, it deserves a harshre Name, that of Rancour. And though in such a State we may appear composed, and may in Reality feel no vehement Emotions, this alone is far from proving us innocent. If ill Will be the Principle of our Conduct towards
of our Fellow-Crea. tures ; if we suppress their Merit, undervalue their good Actions, give a bad Turn to such as are capable of a better, aggravate their Failures, and do them all the Harm that we safely and quietly can; it is no Alleviation, but the contrary, that we are able to do it without losing the Command of ourselves. And there are some of lo calm a Malice, that they
can plot and execute such Mischief, as the most passionate Man, in the very Fit of his Passion, would recoil at; and yet preserve to others, and perhaps to their own Minds, the Shew of being very good-tempered. But this deliberate filent Hatred, as it is the deepest rooted and most durable, so it is the most horrible, Depravity of all others, and the farthest distant from that Spirit of Forgiveness, without which, we shall not be forgiven.
Let us therefore in Malice be Children; but in Understanding, Men': let us not be overcome of Evil, but overcome Evil with Good
EPHESIANS iv. 26.
Be ye angry, and fin not.
HE due Bounds of Anger, with the
common Excesses of them, have been described in my two last Discourses : And therefore I now proceed, II. To diffuade
you from them, by shewing you their bad Effects; of which you cannot but have seen many already: but still it will be needful to set forth Part of them more distinctly, and add
others to them. Some ill Consequences of immoderate Anger we feel immediately from the very Workings of it within us. For the Passion, prone as we are to indulge it, is essentially uneasy. The Goodness of God hath constituted our inward