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Chapter I.

How our fourth conflict is against the sin of anger, and how many evils this passion produces.

In our fourth combat the deadly poison of anger has to be utterly rooted out from the inmost comers of our soul. For as long as this remains in our hearts, and blinds with its hurtful darkness the eye of the soul, we can neither acquire right judgment and discretion, nor gain the insight which springs from an honest gaze, or ripeness of counsel, nor can we be partakers of life, or retentive of righteousness, or even have the capacity for spiritual and true light: “for,” says one, “mine eye is disturbed by reason of anger.”911911    Ps. xxx. (xxxi.) 10. Nor can we become partakers of wisdom, even though we are considered wise by universal consent, for “anger rests in the bosom of fools.”912912    Eccl. vii. 10 (LXX.). Nor can we even attain immortal life, although we are accounted prudent in the opinion of everybody, for “anger destroys even the prudent.”913913    Prov. xv. 1 (LXX.). Nor shall we be able with clear judgment of heart to secure the controlling power of righteousness, even though we are reckoned perfect and holy in the estimation of all men, for “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”914914    S. James i. 20. Nor can we by any possibility acquire that esteem and honour which is so frequently seen even in worldlings, even though we are thought noble and honourable through the privileges of birth, because “an angry man is dishonoured.”915915    Prov. xi. 25 (LXX.). Nor again can we secure any ripeness of counsel, even though we appear to be weighty, and endowed with the utmost knowledge; because “an angry man acts without counsel.”916916    Prov. xiv. 17 (LXX.). Nor can we be free from dangerous disturbances, nor be without sin, even though no sort of disturbances be brought upon us by others; 258because “a passionate man engenders quarrels, but an angry man digs up sins.”917917    Prov. xxix. 22 (LXX.).  ᾽Ανὴρ θυμώδης ἐγείρει νεῖκος, ἀνὴρ δὲ ὀργιλος ἐξώρυξεν ἁμαρτίαν. The old Latin as given by Sabatier has “Vir animosus parit zixas: vir autem iracundus effodit peccata.” The verse is quoted by Gregory the Great in a passage which seems a reminiscence of Cassian’s words with the reading effundit for effodit (Moral V. xxxi.). Jerome’s rendering in the Vulgate is quite different: “Vir iracundus provocat zixas: et qui ad indignandum facilis est erit ad peccandum proclivior.”

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