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Hate is obdurate and long-standing anger. Anger, when it is not soon assuaged, becomes malice, wherefore the Apostle exhorts and teaches us to set aside anger at the very beginning and quickly: "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil" (Eph. 4:26-27). And hence we see that whoever nurses anger and malice for his neighbor gives place to the devil. The devil already possesses him like a spirit of malice and leads him about as a captive. Hate arises either from envy, as with Cain who nursed a hatred for his brother, Abel, whose happiness he envied, and he killed him (Gen. 4); or from an offense done to someone. Thus, people become angered and embittered at those who have offended them, and they desire to render them evil for evil, and so avenge their offense. Hatred is a most abominable sin and worthy of derision. Every other sin brings either some gain or some pleasure to the sinner. The thief steals to satisfy his soul. A fornicator fornicates to please his flesh. A bitter man is embittered without any of that. He sins and he suffers; he transgresses and he is eaten, he avenges and he endures vengeance. Thus, hatred is itself the punishment and scourge of the malicious.

If it were possible to look into the heart of a malicious man, nothing else would appear but only the torment of hell. So it is that malicious people are darkened and withered, for malice eats up their flesh like a poison. O cruel passion, cruel and destructive both to the malicious and to those against whom it arises and takes up arms! When it is not cut off in the beginning it works great calamities, much the same as a fire having gained strength eats up many houses.

Malice is the sort of thing that if it is not cut off at the very beginning multiplies without limit, in the same way as a flame blazes up on finding dry materials, says Chrysostom. Malice is perpetrated in various ways:

1. By deprivation of health, as those people who harbor malice against their neighbor give him poison, and so damage his health. Hence that man lives and dies enduring almost constant torment. This is the action of malice and its destructive fruit.

2. By taking of life, as did Cain who killed Abel his brother.

3. By evil talk and slander. A malicious man who wishes to get revenge on his neighbor and has nothing with which to harm him, fabricates some vice in him and so carries about a false and evil rumor of him, or makes something big out of something small, and knowing a twig calls it a log. So it is that many people endure false slander and abuse. The cause of all this is malice.

4. The hateful often boast about having perpetrated malice: "I gave him to know," or, "let him remember me!" To such people the saying from the Psalms applies, "Why dost thou boast in evil, O mighty man?" (Ps. 51:3 [KJV-Ps. 52:1]). This rejoicing and boasting in the harm and destruction of others is the loathsome and abominable stench of malice. O the cruel and destructive action of malice! A man that sinned against God and his neighbor ought to be sorry and repent, but the hateful man boasts of it and is proud, he sins and boasts of his sin, he commits iniquity and is proud of his lawlessness. In him operates abominable and pestilent malice. O man! You boast and rejoice now in your iniquitous deed, but if you do not correct yourself you will someday sigh, shed tears, and weep when all your lawless acts are set before you and they become manifest to all the world, as will the rest of your iniquities too. Then will you see your destruction.

5. Hate operates and multiplies so powerfully in some people that they are not afraid to say, "Let me perish, yet I will get even with him!" Poor creature! Perhaps you do not know what destruction is? Put your hand to the fire and you will taste its bitterness in part. You cannot stand it. Will you be able to stand the bitterness of the fire of Gehenna in which your entire person will be immersed and submerged and will burn forever and not be consumed? But if you look at yourself you will see for yourself that the devil, the spirit of malice, works and speaks such words in you.

You see, beloved Christian, how cruel and serious an evil malice is? The fruits of malice are evil and bitter, and evil and bitter is malice itself which gives birth to such fruit.

Woe to the world for malice! It harms everything and in every way, as we have said above. No one can hide from it anywhere. When it cannot harm a man any other way, then it injects its poison into a man through his tongue. However many misfortunes, calamities, and evils there may be in the world, malice is the cause of all. Woe, then, to the world for malice, but rather greater woe to those that are malicious! They harm the bodies of others, but also their own souls. They put the bodies of others to death, but also their own souls.

They take the temporary life of others, and also their own eternal life. They destroy others temporarily, and themselves also eternally. Malice leads to this terrible evil.

If they do not wish to perish eternally the hateful ought to correct themselves and change their own hateful heart. The following considerations should help in this:

1. It is a fearful thing for Christians to be hateful, who are commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ to love not only friends, but also their enemies.

It is a fearful thing for Christians to do evil who are commanded to do good to those that hate them. It is a fearful thing for Christians to get revenge, who are commanded to forgive the transgressions of others. The avenger will fall into the hands of the avenging God. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31). Let the malicious soul heed this, and let them put the poison of their malice to death by repentance and contrition of heart, otherwise they shall appear at the fearful Judgement of Christ with their sins and receive a reward according to their deeds.

2. It often happens that though they harm others, the malicious first harm themselves. The same poison which they prepare for others they eat themselves. The same sword by which they strip others bare they kill themselves with, and their sword goes into their own heart. And the same pit which they dig for others they fall into themselves. This is what the Psalmist sings, "He opened a pit and dug it, and he shall fall into the hole which he made. His toil shall return upon his own head, and upon his own pate shall his unrighteousness come down" (LXX-Ps. 7:16-17 [KJV-Ps. 7:15-16]). And the Lord says, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Mt. 7:5).

Beloved Christians, let us hear the exhortation of the Apostle, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Eph. 4:26), and let us assuage and calm our wrath at the very beginning, and while this infant of iniquity is still small let us kill it, lest it grow and overcome us. "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:1-2) unto salvation. "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God" (3 Jn. 1:11).

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