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« felves with too short and narrow definitions of “ the crime; vainly imagining, that where there " is not the outward act of lewdness, there is no « adultery. For I must tell you,
that whosoever co allows his eyes the liberty of gazing upon a wo“ man, with an intention of kindling in himself or « her, lascivious and unchaste desires; and whatso“ ever woman adorns her self out of a design of
raising an unlawful passion in the breast of a be“ holder; he or she, tho' they only indulge them
selves in lustful wishes and imaginations, without “ proceeding to any unlawful act, are adulterers in " the esteem of God, and will be punished as such. “And tho' perhaps, considering the corruption of “ human nature, a restraint of this kind
seem as grievous as the plucking out a right eyc, or “ the cutting off a right hand; yet it must be done, if
ye will avoid the torments of hell fire, « which wait upon the breach of this command"ment. The want or loss of any enjoyment here, " though never fo.delightful, or (as ye may think “ it) hard to be parted with, is surely rather to be 5 chosen than eternal ruin. And as to the matter “ of divorce, which is another liberty contrary to " the tenor of the fame commandment; it was in" deed for some peculiar reasons permitted to your “ fathers to put away their wives, when they had taken a díflike to them; provided they did it “ with the formalities of law, a bill of divorce
ment put into their hands. But this was not fo “ from the beginning, nor lawful in it self; only “ a licence granted to that stiff-necked generation, « for fear of a worse consequence, and for prevent“ing of a greater evil. This permission I do now “ by divine authority revoke, and I will that ye,
my Disciples, kcep strictly up to the primitive in« ftitution of matrimony, which was such a conjunction, as made man and wife one flesh, not
“ again to be disjoined, but by violence ; and 56 therefore whosoever puts away his wife, unless “ The first of all break the union by joining her
self with another, causeth both her and him that marries her to commit adultery.
This paragraph therefore supplies us with two particulars worthy of our enquiry. I. The extent of this commandment, and the
height to which our Saviour carries the noti
on of christian chastity. II. What he has directed with regard to di
I. THE extent of this commandment, and the height to which our Saviour carries the notion of christian chastity. When God, the sole Author and Dilposer of all things, thinks fit to publish his laws and decrees to the world, it is not for the devil to contend with the Almighty, and deny his authority; no, that would be too much; all that this wily enemy of mankind has to do, is by falfe glorses and pretexts to beguile the frail mind of man, and endeavour to interpret away the substance of the command. This we fee was the case with the Jews the devil durst not say that adultery was lawful, when God had given this commandment, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but taking advantage of the indulgence that was allowed that stubborn people, for the hardness of their hearts, to put away their wives by a bill of divorcement for lome great and notorious crimes, he introduces it into practice for every frivolous pretence and idle dilike; and so far prevails over the minds of that people, that we find their very doctors and interpreters of the law gravely putting the question to our Saviour, whether it was not lawful for a man
to put away his wife upon every occasion. Our Saviour confutes this error, and at the same time explains the prohibition in its utmost latitude, extending it to all uncleanness of the mind as well as thc body; forbidding the inward luft of fancy and defire : By which is not here meant all natural defire in general; for God has implanted no appetite in us that is originally sinful, or that becomes so any other way but by corruption and abuse. Nor is it the first kindling of an impure thought; for that an unavoidable accident may do, and when it does; we ought to mourn for the corruption of our hearts,, and labour presently to suppress it. But what our Saviour here speaks of, is å lustful inclination blown up into a flame by our encouragement and fond indulgence. It is the act of the will that makes this sinful; when a loose heart sends out the eye to pimp for its debauched desires, and the roving lewd imagination pleases and entertains it felf with the speculation of a vice, which it wishes for an opportunity of practising. And in this case fornication or adultery is really committed in the heart'; for so far as the finner dares to
gog He has the enjoyment in a corrupted fancy, and the defilement sticks upon his conscience; his fpirit, the best part of him, is debauched, and no thanks to any virtue in him, that his body is not so too. Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. When wethus
gaze and entertain a vicious fancy, what do we do else but court temptation. And where is it like to end, if circumstances happen to favour our defires, but in actual and compleat impurity? St. Peter's expression is remarkable to this purpose, where he describes fome who walked after the flesh in the luft of uncleanness, * Having eyes full of adultery,
* 2 Pet. ii. 14.
and that CANNOT CEASE FROM SIN. Implying, that the indulgence they gave to a luftful eye,
not only argued, but encreased the filthiness of their hearts; and chain'd them down to habits of lewdness by such a powerful fascination, that they could not cease from sin. The fad example of David ought to be remember'd also, who from the top of his
palace gazed himself into wicked desires of Bathsheba, till he had made his appetite too strong both for his reason and his religion, and could not stop short of finishing the sin his fancy had begun: nor could he stop even there; for adultery with the wife drew him on to a deliberate murder of the husband; and the guilt of both these horrid crimes so stupified his conscience, that 'tis thought to be near a year before he was brought to repentance for them by the Prophet Nathan. Whosoever therefore would be chaste, must keep a strict guard upon his Eyes, and as * Job did, muit make a covenant with them. He must avoid with abhorrence all unclean thoughts, and all lascivious books and pictures. He must stop his ears to all smut, and indecent jests, and lewd conversation, and he must shun the company of such as are addicted to them. For as our Saviour's design in this paragraph is to fence in the seventh commandment, and in order to that directs us to guard the purity of our minds; and that this may be effectus ally done, he cautions us against such impressions from without as may defile them: this instance of looking upon a woman to lust after her, may very well include a prohibition of whatever is like to contribute to the fame impurity. And now after the divine preacher had thus restrained this appetite, and directed us to such an exactness of purity in our yery thoughts; one would not think, I say, that.
* Job xxxi. 1.
the tempter could possibly suggest any thing against this commandment, that could have any influence upon us : Yet some wretches there are so abandon'd of God, and wholly given up to sin and folly, that after all that our Saviour has said, should he return to the world again, we should hear them exceed their masters the Pharisees, and even dare to ask their Lord, whether fornication be not lawful; pleading that, by the interpretation of the original, it does not appear that fornication is any where forbid in the New Testament. They are willing to load adultery as heavy as you please, and paint it in the blackest colours, if you will but allow fornication to be comparatively little or nothing: And indeed it must be confess'd, that adultery is a fin of a deep dye, and has many and very heinous aggravations; yet 'twere cafy to sew that the New Teftament every where abounds with texts against fornication as well as adultery, and to shew that they both stand forbid by name with equal earnestness, But I shall confine my self to the argument in this paragragh of our Saviour's sermon, and desire to know how fornication is consistent with the chastity here prescribed; and the severe obligations to purity, which those are under who profess to serve a pure and holy God, and are baptized into a pure and holy religion. * For this is the will of God, even our fančtification, that we should abstain from fornication ; that every one of us jould know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the luft of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles, who know not God. Must I refrain from every loose and idle thought, and may I commit actual lewdness? Must I not look on a woman to lust after her, and may I fulfil the lufts of the flesh with her? Must I cut off a right hand, or pluck out a right eye, ras
* Theff. iv. 3, 4, 5.