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our failures, our blindness, turn to Him who, we know, so sympathises with us,—who, as St. Paul teaches us, helps our infirmities, and takes part in our poor imperfect prayers, and makes intercession for us with "plaints unutterable,"—yes, identifying Himself in unspoken words with the sorrows and longings of His creatures. Let us try to place clearly before our minds the reality of His Presence with us, and His Help. He will teach if we will listen He will inspire if we will receive. He will bring to
mind if we do not shut Him out. We shall hear His voice if we do not harden our hearts. If in earnestness and sincerity we yield ourselves to His discipline, He will end by bringing us nearer and nearer to the likeness of Jesus Christ, by preparing us for that new world, where those who are to be happy in it, must be holy.
An Address delivered to the Junior Clergy Society in the Crypt of St. Paul's, 12th October 1880.
IN the few words which you expect me to say to you, I suppose that you look for some suggestions to be offered to your consideration touching practical things our hopes, our risks, our difficulties, our temptations. It is obvious that anything that can be presented to you in this short time can be but in the way of thoughts, questions, hints, left with you, to be dealt with by yourselves afterwards.
I will venture so to offer to you the subject which I will call-I will explain myself further— the subject of temper. And by this-this curiously ambiguous but expressive word, meaning at once the restraint of feelings and the very reverse-I mean, not temper, as we call it, shown in the intercourse of society, nor temper shown in argument, nor temper under provocation, nor temper under the troubles and disagreeables of life; but temper, in our habits of mind and thought and feeling, towards
the facts and circumstances which surround our condition, which affect our opinions, our position, our conscience, our duty, and with respect to which we have to exercise judgment and choice. I mean the permanent and recurring impatience and irritation sometimes produced in the mind, by a state of facts which continually cuts across our wishes, jars with our tastes, upsets our theories, or baffles our practical efforts; which seems to us wrong or absurd, but which we cannot alter; which mocks and defies our reason, or our sense of right, or our good feeling, but also defies our strength. Examples of what I mean are to be seen in the chronic irritation of large classes of mankind at the inequality of conditions ; or, to take a different subject, in the impatience felt by some good men at the impossibility of putting down war altogether among men professing to be reasonable as well as Christian. The Psalter, which knows and reflects every phase and shade of human experience, knows this "I was sore troubled: I said in my haste, All men are liars." "My feet were almost gone, my treadings had well-nigh slipt. And why? I was grieved at the wicked; I do also see the ungodly in such prosperity. . . Lo, these are the ungodly, these prosper in the world, and these have riches in possession; and I said, Then have I cleansed my heart in vain, and washed mine hands in innocency. . . . . . Yea, and I had almost said even as they; but lo, then I should have condemned the generation of thy children. . . .
Thus my heart was grieved, and it went even through my reins." It is the state of mind of which the expressive picture is given us in the story of the prophet Jonah, who tried to evade a service in which he thought he might be used, and then discredited; who quarrelled with God's mercy because it did not square with his own prophecy; and who, in answer to his Master's twice-repeated remonstrance, "Doest thou well to be angry?"-bitterly insisted, I do well to be angry, even unto death."
This habitual allowance and nourishing of temper and irritation at a state of facts is plainly a characteristic of some minds, and some minds, too, of the highest order. It is an entirely different thing from simply the presence or the bursting forth of indignation and wrath. To be in the presence of unquestionable injustice or baseness, and not to feel wrath burn at it, is not to be of the mind which the Bible reflects. And there cannot be the seriousness and earnestness and zeal which are essential to all high human character, to say nothing of all high Christian character, without a man chafing and being provoked, when he finds stupidity, or selfishness, or laziness, or insincerity, in his way. Nor am I speaking of that energy, that determination, that fire of hostility, which may animate a great spirit against a great abuse, or a great enemy of truth and goodness against the truth and goodness which he would destroy, or a great fanatic against the barriers of reason and good sense which thwart his
course. In the great conflicts for good or for evil alike, strong hatreds must play as large a part as strong enthusiasms. But I am not speaking of this. I am speaking of what we all understand when we speak of a man showing temper; or having that weakness and defect, in his way of dealing with matters, which we know by the name of temper, whether irritable, or querulous, or acrimonious, or despondent and gloomy.
And I think no one can read history, or watch contemporary action, without observing what a part this plays in affairs, quite apart from differences of view or object, and without seeing that this is a distinct characteristic of some men, and makes the difference between them and others like them, or engaged on the same side, or influenced by the same general principles. It may be affectation: just as there are people who think it fine to be out of health, there are people who think it a mark of being deep, or honest, or conscientious, to show temper at what they find out of joint in the world. It may, of course, be something infinitely poor, mean, peevish, captious, childishly perverse; but the thing is, that it need not at all necessarily be this. It may be the quality of an elevated, not to say of a really noble nature. A man of such a nature, otherwise strong and generous, may be so out of harmony with certain fixed conditions of things round him, may be so possessed by a fierce abiding wrath against certain classes, or institutions, or arrangements which clash with his ideas or stand in the way of