398) Remedies Against Anger

From Holy Living by Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) (paraphrased)

     1.  Prayer is the great remedy against anger.  When we get angry we ought to say a prayer before we say anything else, and as we approach God in prayer we will lay aside our anger, and the curing of the anger will then be the effect and blessing of our prayers.

     2.  If anger arises in your heart, instantly seal up thy lips and let it not go forth, for anger is like fire in that when it lacks ventilation, it is suppressed.  Anger is a fire, and angry words are like breath to fan it; together they are like steel and flint sending out fire by mutual collision.  Some men can talk themselves into an angry rage, and if their neighbor is also enkindled, together they are enraged.

     3.  Humility is the most excellent natural cure for anger in the world, for he who considers his own failings and remembers that he daily needs God’s pardon and his brother’s forgiveness, will not be as apt to rage at the wrongdoings, irritations, or indiscretions of another.

     4.  Consider the example of the Lord Jesus, who often suffered at the hands of sinners, and received many insults and reproaches from malicious, rash, and foolish persons; and yet in all of them he was calm and gentle.  For if Jesus, though innocent, suffered such great injuries and disgraces, we should be able to quietly endure all the calamities of misfortune, the indiscretion of fellow workers, the mistakes of friends, the irritations of kindred, and the rudeness of enemies, since we deserve this and worse, even hell itself.

     5.  Remove from yourself all provocations and incentives to anger; especially, (a) Games of chance with great wagers.  Be indifferent toward such external things, and do not get passionate upon them, for they are not worth it.  (b) Do not heap up valuables, jewels, glasses, or precious stones, because much may happen in the spoiling or loss of these treasures, and that becomes an irresistible cause of anger.  Those that desire few things, have fewer things to anger them.  (c) Do not listen to tale-bearers, for the tales they tell can make us angry; and, it all may be a lie– but even if it be true, it is a matter for God‘s forgiveness and not our conversation.  And it will serve us well, as much as we are able, to choose to be with peaceable persons.  If we are with peaceful and prudent persons, they will not easily occasion our disturbance.

     6.  Be not inquisitive into the affairs of other men, nor the faults of thy fellow workers, nor the mistakes of thy friends.  And when you do hear something hurtful to yourself, be ready to forgive as you have been forgiven.  But do not look for trouble, for that is like gathering sticks to kindle a fire to burn your own house.

     7.  Use all reasonable means to understand the faults of others, considering that there are many circumstances of time, person, accident, inadvertency, infrequency, aptness to amend, and sorrow for doing it.

     8.  In contentions be always passive, never active; upon the defensive, not the assaulting part.  And then give a gentle answer, receiving the furies and indiscretions of the other, like a stone into a bed of moss and soft compliance, and you shall find it will quiet down more quickly; whereas returning anger with anger makes the contention loud and long, and injurious to both the parties.

     FURTHER THOUGHTS…  1.  Anger is an enemy to sound counsel.  It is a storm out of which no man can be heard to speak.  2.  Of all emotions it does the most to make reason useless.  3.  Uncontrolled anger ends up being troubled at everything, every person, and every accident, and unless it is suppressed, it will make a man always restless.  4.  If it proceeds from a great cause it turns to fury; if from a small cause it is peevishness; and so is always either terrible or ridiculous.  5.  It makes a man’s body contemptible, with the voice horrid, the eyes cruel, the face pale or fiery, the gait fierce, the speech clamorous and loud.  6.  It is troublesome not only to those that suffer it, but to them that must behold it.  7.  It makes marriages, friendships, and societies to be intolerable.  8.  It makes innocent jesting to be the beginning of tragedies, turning friendship into hatred.  It turns the desire for knowledge into an itch for wrangling.  It turns justice into cruelty, and judgment into oppression.  Anger contains all the worst passions; there is in it envy and pride and scorn, rashness and inconsideration, rejoicing in evil and a desire to inflict it, self-love and impatience.  9.  And, lastly, though anger is very troublesome to others, yet it is most troublesome to him that has it.

     In the use of these considerations and exercises, be careful that you do not, in your desire to suppress anger, become angry at yourself for being angry.  But placidly and quietly set upon the mastering of it.  Attempt it first for a day, resolving that day not at all to be angry, and to be watchful and observant, for a day is no great trouble; but, then, after one day’s watchfulness it will be as easy to watch two days as at first it was to watch one day, and so you may increase till it becomes easy and habitual…

     And observe that anger is wrong when it is against charity to myself or my neighbor; but anger against sin is a holy zeal, and a result of love to God and my brother, for whose interest I am passionate.  And if I take care that such anger makes no reflection of scorn or cruelty upon the offender, or of pride to myself, then that anger becomes charity and duty.


Proverbs 15:1  —  A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 29:11  —  A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.

Ecclesiastes 7:9  —  Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

O God, let us not seek beyond Thee what we can find only in Thee, peace and rest, joy and blessedness.  Lift our souls above the round of harassing thoughts to the eternal Presence, the pure bright atmosphere in which Thou art, that there we may breathe freely, there be at rest from ourselves and from all things that weary us; and thence return, with thy peace within us, to do and to bear whatsoever pleaseth Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  –E. B. Pusey