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uo avail, in order to shew that human salvation entirely depends on the Spirit of Christ mortifying and quickening us; and that therefore we must aim at mortification before all other things.
As to what pertains to this eighth verse now under consideration, in it he effects two things. 1. After his dissuasion from carnal vices which render men infamous among all the sober and prudent, he dissuades also from all spiritual ones, which are deemed lighter faults, which are not accounted as vices among the generality. 2. He enumerates some expressly, that from these it may be understood that others of the same kind are to be condemned and abandoned.
1. But now ye also put off all these.] In this general persuasion we must first observe the circumstance of time denoted by the particle now. As if he had said, Ye were overwhelmed with spiritual vices as long as sin lived in you ; but now, since it is mortified and hath ceased to live, ye ought and ye can put these things away : For God requires from Christians in a state of grace, another life and other manners than those to which they were heretofore accustomed in a state of sin. So the Apostle in many places declares. Thus Rom. xiii. 12, The night is far spent ; the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off, &c. And i Thess. v. 5, 6, Ye are the children of the day, and not of the night: let us not sleep as do others, &c. Augustine, De vita Christiana, wisely remarks, Let us not flatter ourselves with the name of Christians : but let us believe that this is the very reason we shall be judged, if we falsely claim to ourselves a name which doth not belong to us. Cyprian also says, We are Philosophers not in word, but in deed; neither do we talk great things but we live them. Now, therefore, we especially must lay aside those vices, because we are Christians born again.
2. Secondly, We should well weigh that act to which the Colossians are exhorted by the word ån63809€ ; which may be explained either to put off, as men put off their old and dirty clothes, or to lay aside, from the sight, from the affections, and from all the senses, as the corpses of the dead shut up in sepulchres. And this last best agrees with the preceding word, mortify: as if he had said, Not only mortify your sins; but as though they were dead remove them from you, and put them away, and separate them from you altogether as dead bodies.
Now the instructions to be gathered are these :
1. Sin cleaves to the regenerate themselves, nor can it be entirely eradicated : yet we must still labour to put it off more and more every day
2. We must not account sin a pleasure ; but a thing to be hated by a Christian as deadly poison, or to be avoided as a putrid carcase. Now what it is to put away sin, by what power it is done, and how far it can be done by us in this life, we have explained in the exposition of the fifth verse, at these words, Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth: What is there said of the act of mortifying, may be applied to this act of putting off
3. Thirdly, we should consider that this object of putting off is of wide signification; as wide as the nature of sin itself: not this or that sin, but all sins are to be put off. For because some are enumerated just after, it is not by way of restriction to them, but by way of exemplification : for both those which are specially named, and all others besides (it is intimated) should be put off.
3. We are all prone by our nature and ready to run headlong into all sins. For original and inbred sin, although it is only one actually, yet is it virtually a whole army of vices; not unlike a seed, which is actually single, but virtually all those which are produced from it. Their corporeal constitution, and other external causes, make some men more inclined to certain vices; but there is no actual sin into which a man may not fall, in whom the nursery and fountain of all sin exists. We must, therefore, be on our guard against and avoid them all. So much of the general persuasion. Now let us come to the specification of the particular sins, in that order in which they are adduced ; and first to those of the heart.
Anger, wrath, malice.] Anger in this place signifies an inordinate desire unjustly to injure one's neighbour for some past offence. It is briefly defined by Damascenus, lib. 2, cap. 16, õpetis tñs åvTITIMWPNTEws, the appetite for revenge. And in this unjust and vindictive desire of revenge (as the Schoolmen say) the formal of anger is contained. Oumos, or wrath, denotes the hasty excitement of this passion, and that accession of blood around the heart, which the Schoolmen call the material of anger. Whence the same Damascenus says, in the passage before quoted ; Θυμός εςτι ζεσις του περί καρδίαν "αιματος εξ αναθυμίασεως της χολής Yivouév. Wrath is the boiling up of the blood around the heart, which arises from the kindling of resentment. Kanía or malice, as some will have it, is a general vice, and denotes that vicious propensity which infects all the affections and desires, and inclines them to evil. Whence Bernard, in his Serm. 1, De pugn. spir, says, malice is the taste for evil: it is, then, the property of malice to make evil savoury and sweet; and, on the contrary, to render good insipid and unpleasant. But in this place I consider naxía to denote especially that machination of evil in the heart, which is wont to arise from anger in malevolent and incensed minds. We see all these in the example of Cain, Gen. iv. 5, Cain was very wroth and his countenance fell : thence he contrives the murder of Abel, when he says, Let us go out: This was the effect of his malice. From the same disease of malice proceeded those words of Esau, Gen. xxvii. 41, The days of mourning for my father are at hand, then will I slay my brother Jacob.
You will now see what and what kind of sins are here reproved by the Apostle. It follows that we should, in the second place, offer some reasons for which these sins of an angry mind are to be opposed and extirpated. Gregory, in Moral. 5, cap.31, adduces many :
1. Because through anger the use of wisdom is lost, yea, reason itself is for the time extinguished. Hence, on that passage in Eccles. vii. 9, Anger rests in the bosom of a fool, Basil, in his Homily against anger, says, Anger renders a man altogether ferocious, nor suffers him to remain any more a man. The sentiment of the Poet, Anger is a short madness, is well known.
2. Because through anger, justice, the most illustrious of all the virtues, is violated : for whilst an exasperated mind sits in judgment, every thing which its fury may suggest it thinks right. Hence James, i, 20, The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. We have an example in the sons of Jacob, who, when inflamed with anger, perfidiously and cruelly slaughtered the Shechemites, Gen. xxxiv.; whence they merited that reproach of their dying father, Cursed be their anger for it was fierce, and their wrath for it was cruel, Gen. xlix. 7.
3. Because by anger the kindness of social life (which is peculiar to man) is lost. Hence Solomon, Prov. xxii. 24, says, Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: As if he had said, these are entirely unfit for social life.
4. Because through anger the illumination of the Spirit is shut out. For the God of peace dwelleth not in a disturbed and wrathful heart, but in a mild and peaceful one. Chrysostom, in Hom. 30, ad pop. Antioch. says; The Holy Spirit dwelleth not where rage inhabits. Yea, he shews that such men are more like those possessed with devils, than men filled with the Holy Spirit: for as demoniacs froth and distort their countenances; so angry men have their minds foaming and distorted. See also Basil, De Ira.
5. Because through anger, which has an appetite for revenge, the remission of our sins is hindered, and the Divine wrath is provoked against us. Matt. xi. 26, If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses. Admirably speaks Tertullian, De orat. How rash a thing is it either to pass a day without prayer, or to lose a prayer by continued anger ?
6. Because by being angry that which is the attribute of God is usurped with sacrilegious audacity. Say not I will recompence evil; but wait for the Lord and he shall save thee, Prov. xx. 22. Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, Deut. xxxii. 35. But an angry man (as is commonly said) makes himself the judge, and would have God to be the executioner : Yea, most commonly he would vindicate for
himself and by himself; a property which God hath reserved for himself alone.
Now in the last place it may be inquired, whether all anger is evil and unlawful, since the Apostle advises us to lay aside anger without any distinction. It is clear, that anger is not an affection evil in itself; both because God, who cannot be the author of evil, hath implanted in the human mind the faculty of anger; as especially because we read that Christ was moved with anger, Mark iii. 5. Hence Basil calls anger, the rery strength of the soul; Damascenus, the guardsman of the judgment. Because Eli had not this anger, he stirred up against himself the Divine vengeance, as says Gregory, Moral 5, cap. 30. Hence the Apostle enjoins, Be ye angry and sin not. That is to say, Be ye angry where there is a fault with which ye ought to be angry; otherwise, as Ambrose rightly says, it is not a virtue, but weakness and remissness.
But that we may distinguish the natural and lawful affection from the inordinate and unlawful emotion of the same, we say that that anger is good which arises from a good motive, namely, from the love of God, or of our neighbour; and which tends to a good end, as the glory of God, and the correction of our neighbour; which proceeds according to a prescribed rule, awaiting or following for instance the determination of reason. Hither pertains that saying of Augustine, in De civit. Dei, lib. 9. cap. 5, Under our discipline it is not so much inquired whether a pious mind may be angry, as wherefore he is ungry: for no one of sound reflection would reprehend the being angry with a sinner that he may be corrected. And Bernard, Epist. 69, says, Not to be angry with what one ought to be angry, is to be unwilling to amend a sin : to be more angry than one ought to be, is to add sin to sin. Lastly, Basil in his Homily De Ira, would have anger to be a bridled horse, which obeys reason as a curb. Such anger is not condemned.
On the other hand, it is clear that that anger is evil which arises from a bad beginning, or which tends to a bad end, or is exercised in an improper manner. If it should arise from a love of praise, or hatred of one's