Page images
PDF
EPUB

cast out, so some are not held out but by fasting and prayer. They that would keep themselves pure, must have their bodies in subjection, and that may require, in some cases, a holy violence, 1 Cor. ix. 27.

3. Keeping of chaste and modest company. Hence Solomon 'exhorts, Prov. v. 8, 9. “ Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house : lest thou give give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel.” How many have been ruined by the company they have fallen into, worse than they had fallen into a den of lions and wolves ? Ill company wears off insensibly the impressions of -virtue on people's spirits ; and if they be not at war with them, the maintaining of peace and converse will make people like them.

4. Being busied in some honest employment. Those that would be virtuous indeed, must not eat the bread of idleness. Honest labour and business cuts off many temptations that idle persons are liable to. Had David been in the field with his army, when he was rising from off his bed in the eveningtide, 2 Sam. xi. 2. he had preferved his chastity when he lost it, and so had Dinah, if she had been at her business in her father's house, when she went out to see the daughters of the land, Gen. xxxiv. 1.

5. Marriage, by those that have not the gift of continency. Hence says the apostle, 1 Cor. vii. 2, 9. “ To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." -Neither marriage nor single life are in themselves morally good or evil, but indifferent. But that state of life is to be chosen by every one, that will most conduce to their leading a holy life. So every particular person ought by themselves to ponder their gift, and other circumstances, which will let them see what is fin and what is duty in this case.

6. Cohabitation and conjugal love and affection betwixt married persons, without which that state will be no fence to purity, but a snare. Hence Solomon says, Prov. v. 19, 20. “ Let her be as the loving hind, and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times, and be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bofom of a stran

ger?"

7. Lastly, Shunning all occasions, and resisting all temptations, to the contrary, Prov. v. 8. forecited. So did Joseph, Gen. xxxix. 8. It is a dangerous business to parley with them. The town that is content to capitulate with the enemy, is next door to surrendering. There are two fins that the scripture bids us flee from. 1. Idolatry, 1 Cor. x. 14. 2. Uncleanness, 1 Cor. vi. 18. Why? Because they are bewitching evils. It is fafer to flee, than to stand to fight them.

SECONDLY, This command requires us to preserve the chaft ty of others, and that so far as we can, in their hearts, lip , and lives. For so far as we might prevent the fin of others, and do it not, and much more when we occasion it, it becomes ours. Besides, that in preserving our own cha{tity, we preserve that of others, and so the means conducing to the one do also conduce to the other. Our duty in this point may be reduced to these two heads.

1. That we may do nothing which may ensnare others. For whosoever lays the snare is partner in the sin that comes by it

. A lamentable instance of this we have in Judah and his daughter-in-law: they were neither of them careful to preserve the other's chastity, and so they fell each by another's snare, Gen. xxxviii. 14, 15, 16. For this cause modest apparel is here required, 1 Tim. ii. 9.; and a careful avoiding of all unseemly behaviour, which may have a tendency to defile the minds of others, though we ourselves have no ill intention. Thus, Bathsheba's washing herself in a place where she might be seen of others, was the fad occasion of the fin that David and she were plunged into, 2 Sam. xi. 2. And truly where both

And truly where both grace and good man. ners are wanting, it is little wonder that people break their necks over one another.

2. That we do every thing incumbent on us to preserve the chastity of others, in heart, speech, and behaviour. Let married persons live together in due love and affection to one another. Let each one be an example of purity to others. Let those whom ye see in danger be rescued by all means, whether by force or persuasion, as the circumstances require. And let none bring others guilt on their own heads, by being filent when they see the smoke, till the flame rise and discover itself. Let parents and masters do what they can to prevent the ruin of their children and servants, by rebuking

any lightness about them, exhorting them, and praying for them ; keeping them out of ill company, not suffering them to be idle or vague, and seasonably disposing of children in marriage. Our bodies are the Lord's; we are or ought to be the temples of God; the heart is the most holy place of the temple, and our speech and behaviour the holy place. Let us take heed we bring in no unclean thing there, but keep his temple pure; for if any defile the temple of God, him will God destroy.

II. I come now to shew, what is forbidden in this command. It forbids“ all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions."

In nothing more quickly did the corrupt nature of man vent itself, than in inordinate concupiscence, which brought shame along with it, as its just punishment; which makes it hard to speak of it, and so much the rather that corrupt nature is apt, through Satan's influence, to turn the very commandment against it unto an occasion of fin. Therefore, though there is a necessity of speaking something on it, we cannot enlarge with that freedom upon it that we can do on other commands. Sist your hearts, then, as in the presence of a holy God, who will call us to an account in ihis matter before his tremendous judgment-feat, and hear his holy law, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

In this short abbreviate of the law of God, where one fin is expressly condemned, under it are forbidden all sins of the fame kind. So here the whole dunghill of filthiness is set before us for our abhorrence, and detestation of our souls, as we would not bring down the wrath of God on us. Here then all gross acts of filthiness are forbidden As,

1. All unnatural lusts, not to be mentioned without horror; filthy fellowship with devils, as the guilty do suppose; Sodomy, persons abusing themselves with those of their own fex, Rom. i. 24.-27. ; beastiality, Lev. xviii. 22. And to these we may add incest, which is betwixt persons within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity or affinity, Lev. xviii. 6. Concerning which this is to be observed, that a man must hold at the same distance from the relations of his wife as his own, and contrariwife, Lev. xx. 14. ; and such unnatural mixtures can never be fanctified by marriage.

2. Adultery, where one of the parties, or both, are mar

ried. In this case the aggravations of the fin of the mar. ried

party will be justly charged upon the single person; and for both, “ whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Heb. xiii. 4. And bigamy and poligamy are adultery ; for the vile fact cannot be fanctified, but made worse, by marriage with the adulterer or adulteress, Hof. iv. 10.

They shall commit whoredom, and shall increafe.”

3. Fornication, which is betwixt single persons, Col. iii. 5, 6. “ Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, &c. For which things fake the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience.” Whoredom is a sin that without repentance is a sad badge of a subject of Satan, Eph. v. 5. “ No whoremonger nor unclean perfon-hath any inheritance in the kingdom of God and Christ.” And a vast inconsistency there is betwixt being a member of Christ, and that of a harlot, 1 Cor. vi. 15.

4. Rape, or forcing a person to filthiness, Deut. xxii. 25. This is a capital crime by the laws of God and men.

5. Secret uncleanness in a person by themselves alone, whether they be waking, Eph. v. 12.; or sleeping, at least fo far as they have occasioned it to themselves by their own corrupt imaginations.

6. Lastly, Immoderate and unfeasonable use even of the marriage-bed, and much more of the bed of whoredom. Mark these passages, 1 Theff. iv. 3, 4. 1 Cor. vii. 5. If. lvii. 13. Ezek. xxii. 10. and xviii. 6.

These are the several kinds of vileness here forbidden. But this command goes further, and forbids three sorts of uncleanness befides.

1. Uncleanness in heart, all speculative filthiness, unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections, tho' people do not intend to pursue them to the gross act, Matth. v. 28. " Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Chap. xv. 19. “ Out of the heart proceed-adulteries, fornications." These fall not under the eye of men, but are open to the eye of God, who will judge accordingly. A voluntary thought of these things is dangerous, a delightful rolling of them in the heart is uncleanness before God, and a vitiated habit, whereby on every light occafion these filthy sparks are kindled in the heart, is worst of all, and most abominable.

2. Uncleanness in words, all filthy communications and obscene language, Eph. iv, 29. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.” They are the discoveries of a filthy heart; for “out of the abundance of the heart the mooth speaketh,” contrary to nature, propaling those things which nature teaches to keep secret. They are fnares to the hearers; and to speak of them for delight, is to act the filthiness in words, when they cannot do it otherwise. Neither will the art some have in dressing up their filthy notions in figurative terms excuse; but these in some sort are most dangerous, because the devilish wit displayed in them makes them more sticking ; and so by means of the like phrases occurring in holy exercises, they are the readier even to defile these. Of this sort are filthy songs and ballad finging; and the delightful listening to such things, as the fimple youth did to the speeches of the adulterous whore, Prov. vii. 18.-21.

3. Uncleanness in actions. Besides the gross acts, there are others leading thereunto, which are here also forbidden. As,

(1.) Wanton looks : there are “ eyes full of adultery,” 2 Pet. ii, 14. : “ wanton eyes,” If. iii. 16. Even a look for unlawful carnal delight is the venting of the impurity of the heart; and though it be only from levity and curiosity, it is sinful, as a mean leading to evil.

(2.) Impudent and light behaviour, and immodest gestures, If. iii. 16. indecent postures, contrary to religion and good manners. These are hellish matters of sport, that defile the actors, and those that are witnesses to them without abhorrence. And on this ground ftage-plays and filthy pictures are amongst the things forbidden in this command, Ezek. xxiii. 14.-16.

(3.) Luxurious embraces and dalliances. These are as smoke going before the flame, and were practised by the adulterous whore, Prov. vii. 13.

Now, as all these are here forbidden, so all occasions and incentives to lust are forbidden, all that has a tendency to corrupt our own or neighbour's chastity. (1.) Immodest apparel, Prov. vii. 10.

God appointed apparel, [1.] For necessity, to cover our shame and nakedness; [2.] To distinguish sexes ; [3.] To distinguish callings, the more noble from the meaner fort. The devil has found out the fourth, to be enticements to lust.

« PreviousContinue »