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Bad Temper.

Bad Temper.

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Published by glennpease

"Let every one be slow to wrath : for the wrath of man worketh
net the righteousness of God." JAMES i. 19, 20.

"Let every one be slow to wrath : for the wrath of man worketh
net the righteousness of God." JAMES i. 19, 20.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 25, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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BAD TEMPER. BY ALFRED WILLIAMS MOMMEEIE"Let every one be slow to wrath : for the wrath of man worketh net the righteousness of God." JAMES i. 19, 20. TT is a common saying that every one has a temper but a fool. Certainly he who sees wrong done without feeling angry must be either a fool or a knave. The capability of anger is one of our most valuable endowments. The Stoics, I know, maintained that we ought to era- dicate it ; but it has a most important function to fulfil. The emotion of anger in the moral sphere, just like the sensation of pain in the physical, is intended to warn us that something is wrong. Anger, to use Locke's words, " is an un- easiness or discomposure of the mind" which springs up when injury has been done to our- 154 Common Sins. selves or to others ; and its purpose is to stimu- late us to a remedial course. The protective power of this passion is very great. "Without any other armour," says Horace Smith, " than an offended frown, an indignant eye and a rebuking voice, decrepit age, timid womanhood, the weak- est of our species, may daunt the most daring; for there is something formidable in the mere sight of wrath, even when it is incapable of in- flicting any chastisement on its provoker. It is a moral power which tends to repair the inequal- ity of physical power, and to approximate the strong and the weak towards the same level."
But, however useful and necessary, the pas- sion of anger becomes very dangerous when it is not criticised and controlled by reason. Feel- ing and emotion may constantly mislead us ; and therefore their promptings should never be un- reflectingly obeyed. For example, the instinc- tive suggestions of pleasure and pain always require to be interpreted by thought. It is a common thing for a man to feel pain, or rather to fancy he feels it, in a limb that has been am- putated ; and again, conduct which will result in mischief, may be for a time highly pleasurable. Similarly the mere fact that anger exists in our minds is no proof that the anger is legitimate; Bad Temper. 155 still less does it warrant us in thoughtlessly manifesting the anger, and manifesting it in proportion as it is felt. "We are only at liberty to yield to the emotion if, and so far as, reason allows. When we yield without reflection, anger degenerates into bad temper into what our text calls "the wrath of man." Let us look into this. (1.) Eeflection may show us that we have no right to be angry at all. Circumstances may often arise at which we cannot help feeling vexed or annoyed, but in which nevertheless there is nothing to justify the emotion of anger. How- ever disagreeable, for example, the weather might be, we should never dream of getting angry with it. It is only children and savages whose anger is excited by inanimate objects. But whenever anything is said or done by a human being con- trary to our desires and tastes, we are all of us
more or less apt to feel enraged. And yet a little reflection may show that this feeling of anger is unreasonable. People do not exist for the sole purpose of furthering our wishes. "VVe have no business to feel angry with them, unless they have encroached upon our rights, unless they have violated a moral obligation. For example : a man says to me, " Sir, I don't like your style of 156 Common Sins. preaching." Should I be justified in being angry with him ? Certainly not. In disliking it, he only exercises a right of his own ; he does not violate mine. Or, to take another equally simple illustration : suppose, in the course of an argument with your friend, you insist strongly upon some view of which he disapproves. He will very probably lose his temper ; but has he any right to do so ? Surely not. You are under no moral obligation to agree with him. You have as much right to your opinions as he has to his. Mani- festly then, in all such cases, if the feeling of anger arises, it ought instantly to be crushed. "Wrath is only righteous when applied to moral wrong. St Chrysostom truly says, " Anger is a sort of sting implanted in us, that we might therewith attack the devil, and not one another." In this matter, as in all others, Christ should be our example. How often must He have been grieved, disappointed, and vexed at the unsym- pathetic conduct of His disciples. Yet He was never angry with them. If the feeling ever arose in Him, it was never manifested. His anger was exhibited only against the mischievous cant of the Pharisees and Scribes. (2.) Eeflection may show that, though we may

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