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happiness, we only exchanged our cares. Nothing is more certain than that every station of life, from the lowest to the highest, has its own particular cares and trials. These cares and trials are not the less real, nor the less tormenting, because persons who are placed in other stations often do not see them at all, and seldom see them to be what they truly are.
Try, all of you, therefore, my dear children, to weed entirely out of your hearts this most painful and malignant passion of envy. You
do so, if you will; for none who sin
cerely and heartily desire to amend their faults, and with earnest and humble prayers, beseech God's assistance, ever fail in receiving it. Pray then all of you fervently to God through Christ, that he will graciously send you the aid of his Holy Spirit to cleanse your hearts from all evil, especially, I may now add, from "envyings and such like”—for it is certain that otherwise you cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
"He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls." Proverbs xxv. 28.
WE are all liable to wrong feelings, and are tempted but too often to do evil, some in one way, some in another; and it is the resisting, or the yielding to, these temptations, that makes the difference between virtue and vice, between good men and bad men. I have often observed also that people are apt to make less resistance against the temptations to anger than against the temptations to any other fault whatever. Indeed many people seem to make no resistance at all. There are many, who, when they have given way to anger, will say that they are naturally hot-tempered, and cannot help flying into a passion when they are provoked. Having made this confession, which, indeed, in the way in which they make it, often sounds more like
a boast than a confession of sin, they think they have done all that is necessary, and rest satisfied without being at any pains to amend their tempers. They suppose that because they acknowledge themselves to be passionate, they may expect that every body is to submit to their humours.
But is this reasonable? Is this right? They may as well say that they are naturally dishonest, and that therefore they may be allowed to steal, or that they are naturally hard-hearted, and may therefore claim the privilege of being cruel. In this manner we might pretend to excuse every wrong propensity which we are either too indolent to take the trouble to cure, or too fond of to be willing to part with. Unhappily the temptations to anger occur so frequently, that a passionate person is almost always at war with himself or with others. He can have no lasting tranquillity in his own bosom, and will be always feeling resentment of one kind or another. His passion commonly originates in pride, and he therefore suffers all the torments which a proud spirit brings on itself.
He thinks so highly of himself, expects so much, and requires so much, that almost everything, how trifling soever, interferes with him, and with what he supposes to be his due. Hence come affronts, competitions, jealousies, and contentions, with all that host of unkind words and violent deeds which destroy the peace of private families, and fill the world at large with miseries innumerable. Perhaps, my dear young friends, you think while you are now listening to me, that what I have been saying can in no way regard you; that your trifling quarrels, and childish resentments can lead to no consequences beyond the moment, and that a few angry words, words forgotten as soon as said, cannot deserve any very serious reproof.
I allow that the causes of your quarrels may be trifling, but still the effects on your own tempers may be very serious. A habit of quarrelling shows a captious disposition, and a want of self-control, and that your mind may be said to resemble the city alluded to in the text, "a city that is broken down and without walls." Every evil thing
can enter into that city, and tumult and misery will be the portion of those who dwell
in it. So, in like manner, the " spirit that hath no rule" is at the mercy of every passion, and at the slightest provocation becomes the absolute prey of rage, revenge, and contention.
It is impossible for me here to particularize the many kinds of provocation, and the many kinds of anger, to which the spirit that hath no rule, and the irritable temper, are liable. I will at this time speak only of that sort of squabbling about trifles which is not uncommon among those children who allow their tempers to be uncontrolled. Should there be any among you who are now listening to me who feel that you have in you anything of this disposition, or that you are ready to take offence and ready to give it, let me beg of you to put these questions to hearts: your
First. Does this temper contribute to your happiness?
Secondly. Is it a mark of superior sense? Thirdly. Can it be pleasing to God?