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." Nor can we become partakers of wisdom, even though we are considered wise by universal consent, for "anger rests in the bosom of fools." Nor can we even attain immortal life, although we are accounted prudent in the opinion of everybody, for "anger destroys even the prudent." Nor shall we be able with clear judgmentof 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." 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." 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." Nor can we be free from dangerous disturbances, nor be without sin, even though no sort of disturbances be brought upon us by others; because "a passionate man engenders quarrels, but an angry man digs up sins."
Of those who say that anger is not injurious, if we are angry with those who do wrong, since God Himself is said to be angry.
We have heard some people trying to excuse this most pernicious disease of the soul, in such a way as to endeavour to extenuate it by a rather shocking way of interpreting Scripture: as they say that it is not injurious if we are angry with the brethren who do wrong, since, say they, God Himself is said to rage and to be angry with those who either will not know Him, or, knowing Him, spurn Him, as here "And the anger of the Lord was kindled against His people;" or where the prophet prays and says, "O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy displeasure;" not understanding that, while they want to open to men an excuse for a most pestilent sin, they are ascribing to the Divine Infinity and Fountain of all purity a taint of human passion.
THE TWELVE BOOKS OF JOHN CASSIAN ON THE INSTITUTES OF THE COENOBIA AND THE REMEDIES FOR THE EIGHT PRINCIPAL FAULTS,
EXCERPT FROM Book VIII.