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Remedies against Unmercifulness and Uncharitableness.

1. Against Envy, by way of consideration.

Against envy I shall use the same argument we would use to persuade a man from the fever or the dropsy. 1. Because it is a disease; it is so far from having pleasure in it, or a temptation to it that it is full of pain, a great instrument of vexation: it eats the flesh, and dries up the marrow, and makes hollow eyes and lean cheeks and a pale face. 2. It is nothing but a direct resolution never to enter into heaven by the way of noble pleasure taken in the good of others. 3. It is most contrary to God. 4. And a just contrary state to the felicities and actions of heaven, where every star increases the light of the other, and the multitude of guests at the supper of the Lamb makes the eternal meal more festival. 5. It is perfectly the state of hell and the passion of devils; for they do nothing but despair in themselves,264264Nemo alienae viruti invidet, qui confidit suae.—Cic. contra M Anton. and envy other’s quiet or safety, and yet cannot rejoice either in their good or in their evil, although they endeavour to hinder that and procure this with all the devices and arts of malice and of a great understanding. 6. Envy can serve no end in the world: it cannot please anything, nor do anything, nor hinder anything, but the content and felicity of him that hath. 7. Envy can never pretend to justice as hatred and uncharitableness sometimes may; for there may be causes of hatred and I may have wrong done me, and then hatred hath some pretence, though no just argument. But no man is unjust or injurious for being prosperous or wise. And therefore many men profess to hate another, but no man owns envy as being an enmity and displeasure for no cause, but goodness or felicity: envious men, being like cantharides and caterpillars, that delight most to devour ripe and most excellent fruits.265265Homerus, Thersitis maloa mores describens, makitim summam apposuit, Pelidae inprimis erat atque inimicus Ulyssi. It is of all crimes the bassist: for malice and anger are appeased with benefits, but envy is exasperated, as envying to fortunate persons both their power and their will to do good, and never leaves murmuring till the envied person be levelled, and then only the vulture leaves to eat the liver. For if his neighbour be made miserable, the envious man is apt to be troubled: like him that is so long unbuilding the turrets, till all the roof is low or flat, or that the stones fall upon the lower buildings and do a mischief that the man repents of.

2. Remedies against Anger, by way of exercise.

The next enemy to mercifulness and the grace of alms is anger, against which there are proper instruments both in prudence and religion.

1. Prayer is the great remedy against anger; for it must suppose it in some degree removed before we pray, and then it is the more likely it will be finished when the prayer is done. We must lay aside the act of anger as a preparatory to prayer; and the curing the habit will be the effect and blessing of prayer; so that if a man, to cure his anger, resolves to address himself to God by prayer, it is first necessary that, by his own observation and diligence, he lay the anger aside before his prayer can be fit to be presented; and when we so pray, and so endeavour, we have all the blessings of prayer which God hath promised to it to be our security for success.

2. If anger arises in thy breast, instantly seal up thy lips and let it not go forth;266266   Ira cum pectus rapida occupavit, Futiles linguae jubeo cavere Vana latratus jaculantis.—Sappho.
   Turbatus sum, et non sum locutus.Psalm, xxxix.
for, like fire when it wants vent, it will suppress itself. It is good, in a fever, to have a tender and a smooth tongue; but it is better that it be so in anger; for if it be rough and distempered, there it is an ill sign, but here it is an ill cause. Angry passion is a fire, and angry words are like breath to fan it; together they are like steel and flint sending out fire by mutual collision. Some men will discourse themselves into passion; and if their neighbour be enkindled too, together they flame with rage and violence.

3. Humility is the most excellent natural cure for anger in the world; for he, that by daily considering his own infirmities and failings, makes the error of his neighbour or servant to be his won case, and remembers that he daily needs God’s pardon and his brother’s charity, will not be apt to rage at the levities, or misfortunes, or indiscretions, of another, greater than which he considers that he is very frequently and more inexcusably guilty of.

4. Consider the example of the ever-blessed Jesus, who suffered all the contradictions of sinners, and received all affronts and reproaches of malicious, rash, and foolish persons, and yet in all of them was as dispassionate and gentle as the morning sun in autumn; and in this also be propounded himself imitable by us. For if innocence itself did suffer so great injuries and disgraces, it is no great matter for us quietly to receive all the calamities of fortune and indiscretion of servants, and mistakes of friends, and unkindnesses of kindred, and rudeness of enemies, since we have deserved these and worse, even hell itself.

5. If we be tempted to anger in the actions of government and discipline to our inferiors, (in which case anger is permitted so far as it is prudently instrumental to government, and only is a sin when it is excessive and unreasonable, and apt to disturb our own discourse, or to express itself in imprudent words or violent actions,) let us propound to ourselves the example of God the Father, who, at the same time, and with the same tranquility, decreed heaven and hell, the joys of blessed angels and souls, and the torments of devils and accursed spirits; and, at the day of judgment, when all the world shall burn under his feet, God shall not be at all inflamed or shaken in his essential seat and centre of tranquility and joy. And if a first the cause seems reasonable, yet defer to execute they anger till thou mayst better judge. For, as Phoeion told the Athenians, who, upon the first news of the death of Alexander were ready to revolt, “Stay a while, for if the king be not dead, your stay cannot prejudice your affairs, for he will be dead tomorrow as well as to day;” so if thy servant or inferior deserves punishment, staying till to-morrow will not make him innocent; but it may, possibly, preserve thee so, by preventing thy striking a guiltless person, or being furious for a trifle.

6. Remove from thyself all provocations and incentives to anger; especially, I. Games of chance and great wagers. Patroclus killed his friend,267267Ηνατι τω υτε παιυα κατεκτανον Ανφιξανατος, Ννπιος ουκ ζξελων, ανφ αστραγελοισι χολωφεις.—Iliad.Ψ 87. the son of Amphidamas, in his rage and sudden fury, rising upon a cross-game at table. Such also are petty curiosities, and worldly business and carefulness about it; but manage thyself with indifferency or contempt of those external things, and do not spend a passion upon them, for it is more than they are worth. But they that desire but few things can be crossed but in a few.268268Qui pauca requirunt, non multis excidunt.—Plut. In not heaping up, with an ambitious or curious prodigality, any very curious or choice utensils, seals, jewels, glasses, precious stones; because those very many accidents which happen in the spoiling or loss of these rarities, are, in event, an irresistible cause of violent anger. 3. Do not entertain nor suffer tale-bearers; for they abuse our ears first, and then our credulity, and then steal our patience, and, it may be, for a lie; and, if it be true, the matter is not considerable; or if it be, yet it is pardonable. And we may always escape with patience at one of these outlets; either, 1. By not hearing slanders; or, 2. By not believing them; or, 3. By not regarding the thing; or, 4. By forgiving the person. 4. To this purpose also it may serve well, if we choose (as much as we can) to live with peaceable persons, for that prevents the occasions of confusion; and if we live with prudent persons, they will not easily occasion our disturbance. But because these things are not in many men’s power, therefore I propound this rather as a felicity than a remedy or a duty, and an act of prevention than of cure.

7. Be not inquisitive into the affairs of other men, nor the faults of thy servants, nor the mistakes of thy friends; but what is offered to you, use according to the former rules; but do not thou go out to gather sticks to kindle a fire to burn thine own house. And add this: “If my friend said or did well in that for which I am angry, I am in the fault, not he; but if he did amiss, he is in the misery, not I; for either he was deceived, or he was malicious; and either of them both is all one with a miserable person; and that is an object of pity not of anger.”

8. Use all reasonable discourses to excuse the faults of others, considering that there are many circumstances of time, of person, of accident, of inadvertency, of infrequency, of aptness to amend, of sorrow for doing it; and it is well that we take any good in exchange for the evil done or suffered.

9. Upon the rising of anger, instantly enter into a deep consideration of the joys of heaven, or the pains of hell; for “fear and joy naturally apt to appease this violence.”269269Homer.

10. In contentions be always passive, never active; upon the defensive, not the assaulting part: and then also give a gentle answer, receiving the furies and indiscretions of the other, like a stone into a bed of moss and soft compliance, and you shall find it sit down quickly; whereas anger and violence, make the contention loud and long, and injurious to both the parties.

11. In the actions of religion, be careful to temper all thy instances with meekness, and the proper instruments of it; and if thou beest apt to be angry, neither fast violently, nor entertain the too forward heats of zeal, but secure thy duty with constant and regular actions, and a good temper of body, with convenient refreshments and recreations.

12. If anger rises suddenly and violently, first restrain it with consideration and then let it end in a hearty prayer for him that did the real or seeming injury. The former of the two stops its growth, and the latter quite kills it, and makes amends for its monstrous and involuntary birth.


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