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As to the first question, the answer is very easy. No one who looks at the fierce and distorted countenances of children when they are quarrelling, or on their fretful sullen looks when their anger is brewing, or even when it is subsiding, can for a moment suppose that quarrelling makes them happy.
As to the second question, I shall no less easily be able to convince you that a quarrelsome temper is not a mark of superior sense. In fact, it is quite the contrary. What can be a greater folly than to do what always makes us miserable? What can be a greater folly than for people to say and do in a passion things which they are heartily ashamed of afterwards? And this is what almost all people do when they quarrel. They say and do things which they had not meant either to say or to do, but into which they are hurried by the impetuosity of their spirit, over which they have no rule, and to which they give themselves up.
We are now come to the third and last, and most momentous question, "Can a quarrelsome temper be pleasing to God?"
Your own hearts will suggest the answer to this question. But I will also desire you to add the following reflections to the thoughts which I doubt not are already passing through your minds.
Children, from their bodily weakness, from their ignorance, and immature understandings, cannot perform great actions. God does not expect it from them. But God does expect from them meekness, gentleness, complyingness, and kindness, both towards their parents, and their other superiors, and also towards each other. This is their particular duty; and therefore those children who are captious, contentious, fierce and quarrelsome, are not only sinful, but they also sin exactly on that point in which they are most expected by God, on which it is most their duty, to keep themselves right.
It is needless for me to say more on this matter now. All of you, who will ponder these things in your hearts, must see that the folly, the misery, the wickedness of "him who hath no rule over his own spirit" is what I have already told you that it is. But the
government of your tempers is of so much importance, affects so materially both your own happiness, and the happiness of all persons with whom you are connected, that I purpose to return to the subject in my next
ON THE GOVERNMENT OF THE TEMPER.
"The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."-1 Peter iii. 4.
A GOOD temper is to the mind what health is to the body; and in like manner a bad temper may be truly said to be a perpetual disease. You have all of you probably, my young friends, however healthy you may generally have been, yet occasionally known what it is to be ill. You still remember the throbbing pulse, the aching head, the weariness of the limbs, and the general uneasiness which you have felt whenever fever has taken up its place in your veins. The mind, when under the influence of a bad temper, is affected in the same feverish way. It is ill at ease, the thoughts are under no regulation, the very opinions are warped, none of the faculties are under due control. You do not forget how eager you were, when
you were ill, to be well again, and, unless indeed you were very foolish and unreasonable, how willing you were to take all the necessary
I address myself to those amongst you who are as willing to be cured of their mental and moral disorders, as they then were of their bodily illnesses. Now is the time, in the season of youth, when the sinews of the mind, like those of the outward form, are flexible, and before bad habits are become by indulgence a second nature; now is the time, at which this work must be begun. A bad temper must be cured now; and, if not now, the cure will rarely be effected at all; for though it may sometimes happen that a bad temper, which has been suffered to go unchecked in childhood, will be corrected in after years, yet these instances are rare. It requires very painful struggles to alter any long indulged habit, struggles of which those only are capable who have very strong minds, and the highest principles. It is much more common to meet with people. who are continually lamenting that they were