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and that, although great gains may be acquired by going out of the line of a christian's duty, and sacrificing GoD and religion to the world; yet, that it is infinitely better to have only the "dry morsel," and the hopes of heaven therewith, than to possess all the advantages of the present life, with the dismal expectation of being eternally miserable in the next.
[For the Sixth Sunday after Trinity.]
MATTHEW v. 22.
Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.
object of our blessed Saviour's
teaching was, to promote the happiness and welfare of society; to make men" dwell together in unity;" and to sweeten the intercourse of human life, by implanting in the minds of his followers all those kind and friendly feelings, which excite men to love, and to do good to, each other. Hence it is, that a considerable part of CHRIST'S holy discourse, called his Sermon on the Mount, consists of an explanation of the social duties; that is, of those duties which,. a man owes to his brethren in the world; and of solemn injunctions to fulfil them.
The gospel for the day contains several of these commandments; and, particularly, such as are directed against wrath, malice, and revenge; to which the fallen nature of man, his violent passions, and blind and obstinate self-love, render him more especially liable. The text tells us what the dreadful consequence of indulging in these sins will be; and will lead me to explain to you, the nature of sinful anger; its fatal effects both here and hereafter; and the motives which should prevent us from indulging it.
Such, my friends, has been the wickedness of human nature, ever since the disobedience of Adam, that we can neither think rightly, nor act properly, without the grace of God. Our wills, inclinations, and passions, became so changed on that sad occa sion, that they have always had a bias to what is wrong; and the best of us, on looking carefully into his own heart, will discover in it many propensities, which are contrary to what is pure, and innocent, and strictly good; and many feelings, that would not have been found there, had man continued to be, what he originally was, a perfect creature, formed in the image of GOD. Among these corrupt dispositions, the consequence of our fall in Adam, is that, against which the text is directed; the disposition to be wrath.
ful; a propensity to flame out into sinful anger, on any trifling injury, any little offence, any opposition or contradiction of our wills and inclinations. I say, sinful anger, because there is certainly a great distinction to be made, with respect to this affection of the mind. To experience a feeling of resentment, when we see any injustice committed towards innocent or unprotected fellow-creatures; or any cruelty shewn to poor helpless animals; or any unprovoked violence offered to ourselves; is not only natural, but praiseworthy; because, this feeling, if properly directed, may lead us to redress the grievances of the poor sufferers or to have recourse to those laws, which have been framed for the express purpose of protecting the innocent, punishing the guilty, and keeping society, by these means, in happiness and peace. But this description of anger is very different from that which the text refers to. The anger that is allowable is of short duration, for "the sun never goes down" upon it; it is not violent, or malicious, for it "sins "not;" it never breaks out into abusive language, for it "keepeth a bridle upon the
lips;" much less does it manifest itself in violent or outrageous behaviour, for its only object is to prevent others from committing, or
continuing to commit, what is injurious ar wrong. This, therefore, is not sinful; but there can be no doubt, that all feelings, and all expressions, which have any thing in them of wrath, bitterness, passion, or rage; are highly criminal in the sight of GOD, and entirely contrary to our duty as christians. A few texts from scripture will sufficiently prove this. "He that is soon angry, "dealeth foolishly," says Solomon; " and he "that is of a hasty spirit exalteth folly." "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; "for anger resteth in the bosom of fools;" "Put off anger, wrath, and malice," says St. Paul, seeing that ye have put off the old "man with his deeds.". "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, "be put away from you, with all 'malice:" to which St. James adds, Wherefore, my "beloved brethren, let every man be swift to "hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for "the wrath of man worketh not the rigate"ousness of GOD." Our blessed LORD, however, puts the sin in a more awful light than either the wise man or the apostles; since he not only enjoins us not to be guilty of it, but points out, at the same time, the punishment that will follow it. "Whoso. "ever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judg