Friday, April 18, 2008

The Christian's Daily Walk: Sinful Anger

Henry Scudder, The Christian’s Daily Walk in holy Security and Peace. Phila, Presbyterian Board, nd. [edited, abridged, and modernized by SML] 137-140.

Remedies against sinful anger, to help you, so that passion and heat of anger do not kindle, or at least do not break out beyond appropriate bounds.

1. Convince your judgment thoroughly that passion and rash anger is forbidden and hated by God, Matt 5:22; Eccl 7:9.

  • It is a fruit of the flesh, Gal. 5:20
  • A work of the Devil, James 3:14-15.
  • Bred and nourished by pride, Prov 21:24, folly, Prov 24:29, and self-love, Jonah 4:1-3.
  • It makes a man unfit to pray, I Tim 2:8
  • to hear the Word, I Peter 2:1; James 1:19,
  • to perform any worship to God; and unfit to hear reason, or give or receive good counsel.
  • God forbids his children the company of the froward, Prov 22:24,
  • who abound in transgressions, Prov 29:22;
  • and there is more hope of a fool than of him, Prov 29:20.
  • For these reasons, fix in your mind such an abhorrence of this vice that you may beware and shun it with all caution.

2. Watch carefully for when anger begins to stir in you, and before it breaks out into speech or behavior, set your reason at work to prevent or restrain it. Set faith at work, having pertinent scriptures ready in your mind, such as:

  • Be angry, but sin not. Eph 4:26
  • Anger rests in the bosom of fools, Eccl 7:9
  • Should I sin against God? Should I play the fool?

3. If you can't keep anger from rising in you, still, be sure that you bind your tongue and hand to good behavior. Make a covenant with them, not to show it or partake with it any further than considerate reason and good conscience advise you, Ps 39:1. Set a law to yourself, Ps 149:3, that you will not chide or strike while you are in the heat of anger. If there be cause of either, defer it until you have more government over yourself. Conscience of duty should lead you to chiding and correcting when there is cause, not passion: in passion you serve and revenge yourself upon the party, but not God.

4. Both before and when you are angry, see God, by the eye of your faith, as present with you, in hearing and looking upon you, Ps 11:4-5. This will make you peaceable and quiet, causing you not only to hold your hands and tongue, but this also will calm and abate the inward heat and passion of your mind.

5. If you feel your corruption and weakness to be such, and the provocation to anger so great, that you fear you cannot contain yourself, then, if it be possible, avoid all occasions of anger, and remove yourself, in a peaceable and quiet manner, from the person, object, or occasion thereof. And at all times shun the company of an angry man, as much as your calling will give you leave, lest you learn his ways, Prov 22:24-25.

6. However it may happen that anger kindles in you and breaks you; be sure that you subdue it before it grow into hatred of him with whom you are angry. For this cause let not the sun go down upon your wrath, Eph 4:26; you know not what hatred it may grow into before morning. And the best means that I know to subdue it is if you find your heart to rise against any, pray heartily to God for him in particular, for his good, Matt 5:44; to this you are commanded. Be so far from seeking revenge, that you force yourself to be loving and kind, showing all good offices of love with wisdom, as you shall have occasion; overcoming evil with good, Rom 13:17-21. Pray also to God for yourself, that he would please to subdue this passion in you. This act of love to him with whom you are angry, performed before God, in whose sight you dare not dissemble, will excellently quench wrath, and prevent hatred against him, and will give proof between God and your conscience that you love him.

Do not say, "I am so crossed and provoked, never 'any the like';" for Christ was more injured and more provoked than you, and yet never was in a passion, 1 Peter 2:23, Heb 12:2,3. And you provoke God a thousand times more every day, yet he is patient with you.

Do not say, "it is such a headstrong passion, that it is impossible to bridle and subdue it;" for, I can assure you, that by using means, these prescribed, if you also do often and much abase yourself before God for your passion and folly, and daily repent of it, and watch over yourself, you may, even if most hasty and passionate, become most meek and patient before you die.

Rules to know when anger is sinful.

You sin in your anger,

1. When it is without cause;

  • when neither God is dishonored, nor your neighbor or yourself is injured;
  • when it is for little things, and only because you are crossed in your will and desire, and such;
  • but chiefly when you are angry with any for well doing, 1 Kings 22:24-26.

2. Even though you have cause for anger, if it extinguish your love to the person with whom you are angry; so that you neglect the common and needful offices of that love.

3. When it goes beyond due measure, when it is too much and too long.

4. It is sinful when it results in evil and unseemly effects, such as neglect, or ill performance of any duty to God or man; also when it breaks out into loud, clamorous, or reviling speeches, or into churlish, sullen, or indecent behavior, or when it is accompanied by any injurious act.