Edwards’ Resolution #15

Posted: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 in Resolutions

download15. Resolved, Never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.

Does Edwards suggest that man can be irrational? Along with being known as one of the greatest theologians and pastors to ever live, Edwards was also known to be one of the foremost philosophers of the 18th century. He dealt with the mind frequently – sinful minds and sinful hearts. He knew man’s propensity to go to any lengths to win an argument, often stating and overstating absurdities in an effort to prove a point.

We would do well to consider Edwards’ thoughts concerning himself in this matter. He examined himself and he knew himself – sometimes “after the fact.” This resolution goes along with the prior resolve on revenge and the next one regarding evil speech. Edwards struggled with relationships and admitted in his diaries that he needed more gentleness. In Marsden’s biography on Edwards we read that his intellectual brilliance “did not translate into being liked by his peers.” Edwards was very serious-minded in all things, sometimes to a fault, and he considered any light-hearted behavior to be useless. Because of this he was regarded by some as a snob.

This perhaps birthed this resolution. There may be a bit of sarcasm mixed with genuineness here. As a pastor, he was faced with troublesome people in his church, people that tested his patience and temper. We conclude such from his diary, “Thursday night, July 11. This day, too impatient at the church meeting. Snares and briars have been in my way this afternoon. It is good, at such times, for one to manifest good nature, even to one’s disadvantage, and so would be imprudent, at other times.” Edwards suggests a remedy for “anger towards irrational beings” – “It is good, at such times, to manifest good nature (remember when mom used to tell you to step away and count to 10), even to one’s disadvantage.” That is truly self-denial and self-control.

So as we examine ourselves today, I ask, “How is it with your temper?” Remember, temper is necessary to strengthen us. It is when our temper is “bad” that we demonstrate weakness that can so easily lead to sin – to “anger towards irrational beings.” Self-control is also called “temperance.”

So – Take a deep breath! Then act, rather than react.

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