ONREMEDIES AGAINST THE VICE OF ANGER
Consider first, that in order to subdue the passion of anger, and to keep it within the bounds fixed by the divine law, we must watch, we must pray, and we must fight against it. But to the end we may be quite in earnest in this warfare, we must, in the first place, be thoroughly convinced how dangerous an enemy we have to deal with; that our all is here at stake; and that, if we suffer this tyrant to hold the dominion in our souls, neither the gift of tongues, nor prophecy, nor knowledge, nor faith, though strong enough to move mountains or to raise the dead to life, nor giving our whole substance to the poor, nor our bodies to the flames, will ever bring us to Jesus Christ. Because, as long as we refuse to take up his yoke upon us, by denying ourselves, and learning of him to be meek and humble of heart, we are none of his, for we have not his spirit. And therefore he will declare to us, ‘depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.’ O ye slaves to anger and revenge, have you ever well considered this? O, how is it possible that so many thousands that pretend to believe the gospel, and that expect to be saved by it, should be so indifferent about the subduing this mortal enemy to the spirit of the gospel and to the salvation of their souls?
Consider 2ndly, more in particular, those three prescriptions against this passion, viz., watching, praying, and fighting. First, we must watch the motions of this enemy, whose attacks are the most dangerous when they are sudden and unforeseen: and therefore we must forecast, for example, in the morning the occasions in which we may be likely to meet with provocations or temptations; that so we may either decline them, or at least prepare and arm ourselves against them. Secondly, we must pray, with all the fervour and earnestness of our soul, for the victory which God alone can give; and we must pray with an humble distrust in ourselves, and an entire confidence in God, through the merits of the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the great pattern of meekness, patience, and humility. Thirdly, we must fight – by resisting without delay the first assault of the enemy; by calling in all the powers of the soul to still the storm that begins to arise; by running to the embraces of the cross; by turning away from the temptation, and going out of the company, or at least by keeping silence till the commotion is over, or answering nothing but with sweetness and meekness.
Consider 3rdly, that in order to overcome this passion, we must also learn to despise and humble ourselves: for anger usually proceeds from an unhappy pride, which makes us ever unwilling to be thwarted, or contradicted, or opposed by any one; and therefore makes us swell with indignation, and fly at them that oppose us, and seek to revenge every little slight we receive, either in word or deed. Alas! if we did but know ourselves, and what poor wretches indeed we are, and what we have deserved by our sins, there would be no room left for our being angry with any person for either slighting or offending us; who, by our having so often, and so grievously offended our creator, have justly deserved that all his creatures should rise up against us, and revenge his cause upon us, and that they should both despise us and abhor us.
Conclude to make use of all these remedies against this unhappy passion and never to make any truce with it till thou hast brought it under; otherwise it will fill thee with sin, and will never suffer either peace or grace to abide in thy soul.