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EPHESIANS - Chapter 4 - Verse 26

Verse 26. Be ye angry, and sin not. It has been remarked that the direction here is conformable to the usage of the Pythagoreans, who were bound, when there were any differences among them, to furnish some token of reconciliation before the sun set. Burder, in Ros.Alt, u. neu. Morgenland, in loc. It is implied here,

(1.) that there may be anger without sin; and

(2.) that there is special danger, in all cases where there is anger, that it will be accompanied with sin. Anger is a passion too common to need any description. It is an excitement or agitation of mind, of more or less violence, produced by the reception of a real or supposed injury, and attended commonly with a desire or purpose of revenge. The desire of revenge, however, is not essential to the existence of the passion, though it is probably always attended with a disposition to express displeasure, to chide, rebuke, or punish. Comp. Mr 3:5. To a great extent the sudden excitement on the reception of an injury is involuntary, and consequently innocent. Anger is excited when a horse kicks us; when a serpent hisses; when we dash our foot against a stone; and so when a man raises his hand to strike us. The object or final cause of implanting this passion in the mind of man, is to rouse him to an immediate defence of himself when suddenly attacked, and before his reason would have time to suggest the proper means of defence. It prompts at once to self-protection; and when that is done its proper office ceases. If persevered in, it becomes sinful malignity, or revenge —always wrong. Anger may be excited against a thing as well as a person; as well against an act as a man. We are suddenly excited by a wrong thing without any malignancy against the man; we may wish to rebuke or chide that, without injuring him. Anger is sinful in the following circumstances:

(1.) When it is excited without any sufficient cause—when we are in no danger, and do not need it for a protection. We should be safe without it.

(2.) When it transcends the cause, if any cause really exists. All that is beyond the necessity of immediate self-protection is apart from its design, and is wrong.

(3.) When it is against the person rather than the offence. The object is not to injure another; it is to protect ourselves.

(4.) When it is attended with the desire of revenge. That is always wrong, Ro 12:17,19.

(5.) When it is cherished and heightened by reflection. And

(6.) when there is an unforgiving spirit; a determination to exact the utmost satisfaction for the injury which has been done. If men were perfectly holy, that sudden arousing of the mind in danger, or on the reception of an injury, which would serve to prompt us to save ourselves from danger, would exist, and would be an important principle of our nature as it is now, it is violent; excessive; incontrollable; persevered in—and is almost always wrong. If men were holy, this excitement of the mind would obey the first injunctions of reason, and be wholly under its control; as it is now, it seldom obeys reason at all—and is wholly wrong. Moreover, if all men were holy; if there were none disposed to do an injury, it would exist only in the form of a sudden arousing of the mind against immediate danger—which would all be fight. Now, it is excited not only in view of physical dangers, but in view of the wrongs done by others—and hence it terminates on the person, and not the thing, and becomes often wholly evil.

Let not the sun go down. Do not cherish anger. Do not sleep upon it. Do not harbour a purpose of revenge; do not cherish ill-will against another. When the sun sets on a man's anger, he may be sure it is wrong. The meaning of the whole of this verse then is, "If you be angry, which may be the case, and which may be unavoidable, see that the sudden excitement does not become sin. Do not let it overleap its proper bounds; do not cherish it; do not let it remain in your bosom even to the setting of the sun. Though the sun be sinking in the west, let not the passion linger in the bosom, but let his last rays find you always peaceful and calm.

{f} "not the sun" Ec 7:9

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