Third Property of a Broken Heart: Indignation
Now come we to the third property of a broken and bleeding heart: that is, where there is a hearty and holy indignation against sin (2 Cor. 7:11). The Apostle speaking of godly sorrow: Lo, says he, what indignation has it wrought: there is a twofold indignation.
The former is a sudden anger, that is, when men are soon angry and soon pleased: as it was David, what a pelting chase he was in against Nabal, what big words [boastful words] does he break into while he is going down the hill, how does he upbraid his churlish behavior; and tells what havoc he will make among them [Nabal’s household] before the next morning. Yet by & by, when Abigail meets him with a small gift, with a few soft words, she turns away his wrath and all is well again. So it is in this case, do you not see many a man that when sin galls him, O how bitter and boisterous he is against his lust. But now when as this corrupt heart of ours shall but deck herself with some fair and plausible excuse and bring some present in her hand of gain or pleasure, the matter is taken up and the contention is at an end, and the lust and he are grown good friends.
But now there is another indignation that is called permanent anger, that does continue and remains with a man. So as it is with some men, that when they are once out and angry with a man they are never pleased again. This kind is no way good but [except] against sin, and then it is exceeding good. We are charged not to let the sun go down upon our wrath; neither to give place to the devil (Eph. 4:26), but in this case we must suffer [permit] the sun to go down upon this indignation against this body of sin, or selse we give place to the devil.
When Elisha bid Joash King of Israel to smite the ground with his arrows, the text says he smote the ground thrice and stayed, which if he had done five or six times he had utterly consumed his enemies. It is so in this case, some men will be angry sometimes with their sins: it may be twice or thrice in their lives, but if they would continue their indignation and smite on, they would at last utterly confound their sin and subdue them. The way to avoid the anger of God is to be angry with ourselves, for if we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged of God at the last and great day, this is our comfort that we are angry with our lust: we can never be angry too much, you cannot hate them more than they deserive: but as the Israelites were never to make peace with Amaleck, so no more must we with our sins.