Billeder på siden

among the heathen nations, yet it is made necessary by the principles of the christian religion, and a strong and severe guard of prohibitions and threatenings is set all around to secure the practice of it. Now that I may speak of this subject as becomes me, and recommend it in language pure and undefiled, I shall set before you some of these scriptures, that bear witness against all the violations of it, under the following heads:

I. The express precepts of the law of God demand the first place in this catalogue of divine testimonies against impurity, for they were delivered at Mount Sinai to many hundred thousands at once, they were ushered in with lightning, and pronounced with thunder. Er. xx. 14. Thou shalt not commit adultery. This is the seventh command: And that there may not be the least tendency toward this sin, the tenth command is set as a preservative and defence, thou shalt not so much as covet thy neighbour's wife, verse 17. In this epitome and sum of the laws of God, whereby he rules his creatures, which is called the decalogue or ten commandments, you find this vice of impurity is twice forbidden; once in the perfect act, and again in the criminal wish and intention. Observe here, that though the words of these commands directly point to adultery, yet it appears by the very reason of things, as well as from other passages of scripture, that all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions, are here forbidden, as our younger years have been taught in the catechism.

Nor is this a law that belonged only to the Jews, for the New Testament mentions and enjoins this command with the rest, which are of equal force under the gospel. The law forbids all manner of lust, and saith; Thou shalt not covet; Rom. vii. 7. The great apostle puts the Thessalonians in mind of what he had taught them as the law of Christ. 1 Thess. iv. 2, 3, 4, 5. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus: For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God. It is as much as if he had said, it is a dishonour to christianity, and a step of return to heathenism, to give a loose to impure lusts. He repeats the same thing; Eph. iv. 17-21. "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds, having the understanding darkened, and being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them; because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling, have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediBut ye have not so learned Christ;"" if so be ye have been led by him, and taught the truth as it is in Jesus." In vain ye profess to have learned the truth as it is in Jesus, or


to have put on Christ, while you practise the same abominations as ye did before, while ye walk and live as the heathen world.

II. The hateful description of these sins which is given us by the holy writers, should print the same odious image of them upon our minds, and for ever forbid the practice. Solomon, a great king, and a man of excellent wisdom, had well known the mischief and madness of this sort of vice; he gives his son the most solemn charge against it in various parts of the book of Proverbs, more especially in the vi. and vii. chapters, which he spends entirely upon this theme, and in the ii. and vi. and the ix. chapters, where he applies near half of them to the same design; wherein after he has shewn the insinuating flatteries of the wanton woman he never fails to give notice of the terrible attendants of those that follow her. For her house inclines to death, and her paths unto the dead; none that go to her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. There is scarce any iniquity that does so effectually harden the heart, and prevent all repentance. Let not thine heart therefore decline to her ways; go not astray in her paths: For she has cast down many wounded, yea, many strong men have been slain by her: Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death. This leads me to the next particular.

III. If we consider the dismal effects of these impure practices, as they are recorded in sacred history, they should keep our souls awake, and keep us always to the watch, lest we be ensnared. Behold Sampson the strongest of men, who was a holy Nazarite, and devoted to God; how was he brought down shamefully from the heights of his glory to prison and slavery, to blindness and death by the love of strange women! Behold the Jewish hero lying like a thoughtless fool upon the lap of Delilah, while the seven sacred locks of his head were shaven, and his divine strength went from him, for the Lord departed! Behold the wretched captive with his eyes bored out by the Philistines, bound with fetters of brass, and grinding in the prisonhouse! Behold the man who was once their terror, now become their sport, their mockery, and their laughing-stock in the house of Dagon their god: See him there crushed to pieces, and expiring under the weight of his own revenge upon his Philistine enemies; and all this for the love of a harlot! Mark the mischiefs, the calamities, and the bloodshed that pursued the house of David, when adultery and guilt in the matter of Uriah had provoked his God! See how sin and death made wide inroads into his household! See there his son Amnon slain by his brother Absalom for the folly he had wrought in Israel, and the incest with his sister Tamar? Think of Solomon the wisest of men, whose heart was enticed away by strange women from the God and religion of his fathers, when he paid such profane and

[ocr errors]

criminal regard to the idols of his mistresses, as to build temples for them near the temple of Jehovah; and "the Lord was angry with Solomon, when his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and he rent the kingdom from him in the days of his son Rehoboam," and made a long and fatal separation between the tribes of Israel for many generations. And, to name no more, "turn your eyes to Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities of the plain, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh; mark how the Lord rained fire and brimstone out of heaven upon them, and they are set forth for an example suffering the vengeance of eternal fire; Jude 7.

IV. Think of the dreadful threatenings that are denounced against impure sinners in the word of God, and you will find these are flaming witnesses against their practice; Hos. iv. 1-5, "The Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because of killing, stealing, and adultery: therefore shall the land mourn." And God seems to forbid the prophets to give them reproof, as though he resolved to destroy them. Let no man strive and reprove another. His mercy and forgiveness seem to be put to a stand; Jer. v. 7, 9. "How shall I pardon thee for this? saith the Lord; thy children have forsaken me when I fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves in troops in the harlots' houses. Shall I not visit them for these things, saith the Lord? and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?" When the apostle Paul had represented this sort of vice in 1 Cor. vi. 18, 19. " as a defilement of the body, which is the temple of God, and the habitation of the Holy Spirit;" he adds this word of terror; iii. 17. "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is and ought to be holy," and not kept as a nest for unclean vermin. "Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who indulge vile impurities, shall inherit the kingdom of God;" 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Such were some of you, indeed, says St. Paul to his converts, but ye are washed and sanctified from these pollutions, or you could never have been saved. Therefore saith the same holy writer, "let neither fornication, nor any unclean practices be so much as once named amongst you as becometh saints;" that is, let them never be named without abhorrence. "For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor any unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of. disobedience;" Eph. v. 8-6. The visions of St. John in the book of the Revelation, pronounce the doom of whoremongers with the rest of notorious

sinners, and give them "their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death; Rev. xxi. 8. How impiously bold are those sinners, who dare venture through all these terrors to gratify a sensual appetite! Who can rush upon the point of the avenging sword of God, and plunge themselves into everlasting burnings, to taste the deceitful baits of impure and forbidden pleasure!

Before I conclude this head, I would just hint a few directions to those who wonld preserve their modesty and virtue, and prevail against all temptations to impurity.

1 Set a severe watch upon your eyes and your heart. Keep all the powers of nature under a proper discipline, and guard all the avenues of the soul. Secure your senses without, and your fancy within, as much as possible, from all allurements of this kind. Let us remember that sin often begins in the imagination, and therefore we must establish a strict guard upon our roving thoughts, and reduce them when they first begin to go astray. We must lay a strong chain of restraint upon those endless wanderers; for our Saviour himself tells us, Out of the heart proceed adulteries and fornications, which defile the man; Mat. xv. 19.

We must make a self-denying covenant with our eyes, that we may not look upon temptation, lest we be led astray from the paths of purity. Our blessed Lord himself gives us a sufficient caution, when he explains the seventh commandment; Mat. v. 28. I say unto you that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. When our Saviour forbids a wanton look, he requires that we 'put a veil upon our eyes, lest like wandering stars or foolish fires they betray us into foul and miry pits of pollution, or lead us to deep and dangerous pollutions.

Avoid all impure representations, pictures, and images: Turn your eyes from immodest sights, and your ears from polluted language, whether it be in discourse, or writing, a lewd jest, or a wanton song. Let them not entertain you, though they may be attended and adorned with never so many colours of wit, and charms of music. Romances and novels, and invented stories of forbidden love, have painted over these impurities with shining eloquence, and awakened the same foolish passions in the reader. O how unhappily has the art of verse, which was first consecrated to the service of the temple, been prostituted to the vilest purposes, to give gay colours to temptation, and gild over the foulest images of iniquity! And what a multitude of souls may date the commencement of their guilt and ruin from the time when they began to frequent the poisonous entertainments of the stage! Their ears which were shocked at

first with some of the coarse and foul expressions of modern comedy, by degrees are hardened to bear the most offensive language: Their modesty and blushing dies and vanishes by degrees, till at last they learn to relish the grossest pollutions of the theatre, and perhaps put the fable into practice.

As faith and salvation come by hearing, so iniquity and everlasting death come sometimes by hearing too. And what we would not hear, surely we should not speak. Let us then set a guard upon our tongues, lest they border upon forbidden language. No filthiness, no foolish talking, no corrupt communication must proceed out of our mouths; Eph. iv. 29. and v. 4. We should not affect those speeches of a double meaning, which lead the thoughts away to lewd and wanton conceits, and make foul impressions upon the mind. Let your ears hate to be treated with such indecencies, nor let our lips dare to treat others so.

2. Do not make too rich provisions for the feeding of the flesh; indulge not yourselves on the delicacies of the taste, nor in the luxury of excessive sleep: Both of these may incline animal nature to licentious desires: Stand afar off from gluttony and excess of wine, nor pamper the body beyond the just sup port, and due refreshment of nature. The holy apostle in his prohibitions, couples "chambering and wantonness with rioting and drunken practice;" Rom. xiii. 13. and calls them all works of darkness. It is a good remark of Kempis, a devout papist in former days, "Bridle the appetites of the palate, get a sovereignty over them, and you will be better able to master every other appetite."

3. Always employ yourselves in something innocent and useful, that may engage the powers of the body, or the mind, or both, that so temptation may never find you idle. The springs of the sin of Sodom were fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness; therefore they grew haughty, and committed abomination before the Lord; Ezek. xvi. 49, 50. This is an advice of Jerome, one of the christian fathers. Be still doing some work, that the devil, when he comes to tempt, may always find thee busy. Where you are in danger of these sins, put yourselves upon a necessity of diligence all the day, that you may have no time nor room for wild imaginations nor impure indulgences.

4. Avoid the seasons, the places, and the objects of temptation, as far as it is consistent with the necessary duties of life: For he that hath no caution about him, and is not afraid of being tempted, he is not acquainted with human weakness, nor is he so much afraid of sin as he ought to be.

5. Maintain an everlasting and awful sense of the presence of God thy Maker, thy Governor, and thy Judge. Remember the Lord beholds the secret workings of the heart, and the foul

« ForrigeFortsæt »