« AnteriorContinuar »
servant to be his own case, and remembers, that he daily needs God's pardon and his brother's charity, will not be apt to rage at the levities, or misfortunes, or indiscretions, of another; greater than which he considers, that he is very frequently and more inexcusably guilty of.
4. Consider the example of the ever-blessed Jesus, who suffered all the contradictions, of sinners, and received all affronts and reproaches of malicious, rash, and foolish persons, and yet, in all of them, was as dispassionate and gentle as the morning sun in autumn; and in this also he propounded himself imitable by us. For, if innocence itself did suffer so great injuries and disgraces, it is no great matter for us quietly to receive all the calamities of fortune, and indiscretion of servants, and mistakes of friends, and unkindnesses of kindred, and rudenesses of enemies; since we have deserved these and worse, even hell itself. .
5. If we be tempted to anger in the actions of government and discipline to our inferiors (in which case, anger is permitted so far, as it is prudently instrumental to government, and only is a sin, when it is excessive and unreasonable, and apt to disturb our own discourse, or to express itself in imprudent words or violent actions), let us propound to ourselves the example of God the Father ; who at the same time and with the same tranquillity, decreed heaven and hell, the joys of blessed angels and souls, and the torments of devils and accursed spirits : and, at the day of judgment, when all the world shall burn under his feet, God shall not be at all inflamed, or shaken in his essential seat and centre of tranquillity and joy. And if, at first, the cause seems reasonable, yet defer to execute thy anger, till thou mayest better judge. For, as Phocion told the Athenians, who, upon the first news of the death of Alexander, were ready to revolt, “Stay a while; for if the king be not dead, your haste will ruin you; but, if he be dead, your stay cannot prejudice your affairs ; for he will be dead to-morrow, as well as to day :” so if thy servant or inferior deserves punishment, staying till to-morrow will not make him innocent; but it may possibly preserve thee so, by preventing thy striking a guiltless person, or being furious for a trifle.
6. Remove from thyself all provocations and incentives to anger; especially, 1. Games of chance and great wager,
Patroclus killed his friend b, the son of Amphidamas, in his rage and sudden fury, rising upon a cross game at tables. Such also are petty curiosities, and worldly business and carefulness about it: but manage thyself with indifferency, or contempt of those external things, and do not spend a pas, sion upon them; for it is more than they are worth. . But they, that desire but few things, can be crossed but in a few In not heaping up, with an ambitious or curious prodigality, any very curious or choice utensils, seals, jewels, glasses, precious stones ; because those very many accidents, which happen in the spoiling or loss of these rarities, are, in event, an irresistible cause of violent anger. 3. Do not entertain nor suffer talebearers ; for they abuse our ears first, and then our credulity, and then steal our patience, and, it may be for a lie; and, if it be true, the matter is not considerable; or if it be, yet it is pardonable. And we may always escape with patience, at one of these outlets; either, 1. By not hearing slanders; or, 2. By not believing them; or, 3. By not regarding the thing; or, 4. By forgiving the person. 4. To this purpose also it may serve well, if we choose (as much as we can) to live with peaceable persons, for that prevents the occasions of confusion; and if we live with prudent persons, they will not easily occasion our disturbance. But, because these things are not in many men's power, therefore I propound this rather as a felicity than a remedy or a duty, and an act of prevention than of cure.
7. Be not inquisitive into the affairs of other men, nor the faults of thy servants, nor the mistakes of thy friends; but what is offered to you, use according to the former rules; but do not thou go out to gather sticks to kindle a fire to burn thine own house. And add this; “If my friend said, or did, well in that, for which I am angry, I am in the fault, not he; but if he did amiss, he is in the misery, not I: for either he was deceived, or he was malicious; and either of them both is all one with a miserable person; and that is an object of pity, not of anger.”
8. Use all reasonable discourses to excuse the faults of others; considering that there are many circumstances of
time, of person, of accident, of inadvertency, of infrequency, of aptness to amend, of sorrow for doing it; and it is well, that we take any good in exchange; for the evil is done or suffered.
9. Upon the arising of anger, instantly enter into a deep consideration of the joys of heaven, or the pains of hell: for “fear and joy are naturally apt to appease this violenced.”
10. In contentions be always passive, never active; upon the defensive, not the assaulting part; and then also give a gentle answer, receiving the furies and indiscretions of the other, like a stone into a bed of moss and soft compliance ; and you shall find it sit down quietly: whereas anger and violence make the contention loud and long, and injurious to both the parties.
11. In the actions of religion, be careful to temper all thy instances with meekness, and the proper instruments of it: and, if thou beest apt to be angry, neither fast violently, nor entertain the too-forward heats of zeal, but secure thy duty with constant and regular actions, and a good temper of body, with convenient refreshments and recreations.
12. If anger rises suddenly and violently, first restrain it with consideration ; and then let it end in a hearty prayer for him, that did the real or seeming injury. The former of the two stops its growth, and the latter quite kills it, and makes amends for its monstrous and involuntary birth.
Remedies against Anger, by way of consideration.
1. Consider, that anger is a professed enemy to counsel; it is a direct storm, in which no man can be heard to speak or call from without: for if you counsel gently, you are despised : if you urge it, and be vehement, you provoke it more. Be careful therefore to lay up beforehand a great stock of reason and prudent consideration, that, like a besieged town, you may be provided for, and be defensible from within, since you are not likely to be relieved from without. Anger is not to be suppressed but by something, that is as inward as itself, and more habitual. To which purpose add, that,
2. Of all passions, it endeavours most to make reason useless. 3. That it is a universal poison, of an infinite object : for no man was ever so amorous, as to love a toad; none so · envious, as to repine at the condition of the miserable ; no man so timorous, as to fear a dead bee; but anger is troubled at every thing, and every man, and every accident: and therefore, unless it be suppressed, it will make a man's condition restless. 4. If it proceeds from a great cause, it turns to fury; if from a small cause, it is peevishness : and so is, always, either terrible or ridiculous'. 5. It makes a man's body monstrous, deformed, and contemptible; the voice horrid; the eyes cruel ; the face pale or fiery ; the gait fierce; the speech clamorous and loud. 6. It is neither manly nor ingenuous. 7. It proceeds from softness of spirit, and pusillanimity; which makes, that women are more angry than men, sick persons more than the healthful, old men more than young, unprosperous and calamitous people, than the blessed and fortunate. 8. It is a passion fitter for flies and insects, than for persons, professing nobleness and bounty. 9. It is troublesome not only to those, that suffer it, but to them, that behold it; there being no greater incivility of entertainment, than for the cook's faults or the negligence of the servants, to be cruel, or outrageous, or unpleasant in the presence of the guests. 10. It makes marriage to be a necessary and unavoidable trouble ; friendships, and societies, and familiarities, to be intolerable. 11. It multiplies the evils of drunkenness, and makes the levities of wine to run into madness. 12. It makes innocent jesting to be the beginning of tragedies. 13. It turns friendship into hatred; it makes a man lose himself, and his reason, and his argument, in disputation. It turns the desires of knowledge into an itch of wrangling. It adds insolency to power. It turns justice into cruelty, and judgment into oppression.' It changes discipline into tediousness and hatred of liberal institution. It makes a prosperous man to be envied, and the unfortunate to be unpitied. It is a confluence of all the irregular passions : there is in it envy and sorrow, fear and scorn, pride and prejudice, rashness and inconsideration, rejoicing in evil, and a desire
1 ο θυμός φόνων αίτιον, συμφοράς σύμμαχον, βλάβης σύνεργος και ατιμίας, χρημάτων arcana, fra dè xed plogãs dexnzóv.---Aristot.
Dicere quid cæna possis ingratius istå ?
to inflict it, self-love, impatience, and curiosity. And lastly, though it be very troublesome to others, yet it is most troublesome to him, that hath it. .
In the use of these arguments and the former exercises, be diligent to observe, lest, in your desires to suppress anger, you be passionate and angry at yourself for being angry; like physicians, who give a bitter potion, when they intend to eject the bitterness of choler ; for this will provoke the person, and increase the passion. But placidly and quietly set upon the mortification of it; and attempt it first for a day, resolving that day not at all to be angry, and to be watchful and observant; for a day is no great trouble: but then, after one day's watchfulness, it will be as easy to watch two days, as at first it was to watch one day; and so you may increase, till it becomes easy and habitual.
Only observe, that such an anger alone is criminal, which is against charity to myself or my neighbour; but anger against sin is a holy zeal, and an effect of love to God and my brother, for whose interest I am passionate, like a concerned person : and if I take care, that my anger makes no reflection of scorn or cruelty upon the offender, or of pride and violence, or transportation to myself, anger becomes charity and duty. And when one commended Charilaus, the king of Sparta, for a gentle, a good, and a meek prince, his colleague said well, “ How can he be good, who is not an enemy even to vicious persons: ?”
3. Remedies against Covet ousness, the third Enemy of Mercy.
Covetousness is also an enemy to alms, though not to all the effects of mercifulness: but this is to be cured by the proper motives to charity before mentioned, and by the próper rules of justice ; which being secured, the arts of getting money are not easily made criminal. To which also we may add,
1. Covetousness makes a man miserable k; because riches are not means to make a man happy: and unless felicity Amaram amaro bilem pharmaco qui eluunt. i Plutar. de Odio et Invidiâ,
* Quid refert igitur quantis jumenta fatiget
Porticibus, quanta nemorum vectetur in umbra, Jugera quot vicina foro, quas emerit ædes ? Nemo malus felix.-Juv. Sat. 4.