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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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A violent passion of the mind, arising from the receipt, or supposed receipt, of any injury, with a present purpose of revenge. All anger is by no means sinful; it was designed by the Author of our nature for self-defense; nor is it altogether a selfish passion, since it is excited by injuries offered to others as well as ourselves, and sometimes prompts us to reclaim offenders from sin and danger, Ephesians 4:26; but it becomes sinful when conceived upon trivial occasions or inadequate provocations; when it breaks forth into outrageous actions; vents itself in reviling language, or is concealed in our thoughts to the degree of hatred. To suppress this passion the following reflections of arch-deacon Paley, may not be unsuitable: "We should consider the possibility of mistaking the motives from which the conduct that offends us proceeded; how often our offences have been the effect of inadvertency, when they were construed into indications of malice; the inducement which prompted our adversary to act as he did, and how powerfully the same inducement has, at one time or other, operated upon ourselves; that he is suffering, perhaps, under a contrition, which he is ashamed or wants opportunity to confess; and how ungenerous it is to triumph by coldness or insult over a spirit already humbled in secret; that the returns of kindness are sweet, and that there is neither honor, nor virtue, nor use, in resisting them; for some persons think themselves bound to cherish and keep alive their indignation, when they find it dying away of itself.

We may remember that others have their passions, their prejudices, their favorite aims, their fears, their caution, their interests , their sudden impulses, their varieties of apprehension, as well as we: we may recollect what hath sometimes passed in our own minds when we have got on the wrong side of a quarrel, and imagine the same to be passing in our adversary's mind now: when we became sensible of our misbehavior, what palliations we perceived in it, and expected others to perceive; how we were affected by the kindness, and felt the superiority of a generous reception, and ready forgiveness; how persecution revived our spirits with our enmity, and seemed to justify the conduct in ourselves, which we before blamed. Add to this the indecency of extravagant anger; how it renders us while it lasts, the scorn and sport of all about us, of which it leaves us, when it ceases, sensible and ashamed; the inconveniences and irretrievable misconduct into which our irascibility has sometimes betrayed us; the friendships it has lost us; the distresses and embarrassments in which we have been involved by it; and the repentance which, on one account or other, it always costs us.

But the reflection calculated above all others to allay that haughtiness of temper which is ever finding out provocations, and which renders anger so impetuous, is, that which the Gospel proposes; namely, that we ourselves are, or shortly shall be, suppliants for mercy and pardon at the judgment seat of God. Imagine our secret sins all disclosed and brought to light; imagine us thus humbled and exposed; trembling under the hand of God; casting ourselves on his compassion; crying out for mercy; imagine such a creature to talk of satisfaction and revenge; refusing to be entreated, disdaining to forgive; extreme to mark and to resent what is done amiss; imagine, I say, this, and you can hardly feign to yourself an instance of more impious and unnatural arrogance." Paley's Mor. Phil. ch.7. vol 1:; Fawcett's excellent Treatise on Anger;

Seed's Posth. Ser. ser.11.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Anger'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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Anger of God