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2.7 The Seventh Commandment

‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ Exod 20: 14.

God is a pure, holy spirit, and has an infinite antipathy against all uncleanness. In this commandment he has entered his caution against it; non moechaberis, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ The sum of this commandment is, The preservations of corporal purity. We must take heed of running on the rock of uncleanness, and so making shipwreck of our chastity. In this commandment there is something tacitly implied, and something expressly forbidden.

1. The thing implied is that the ordinance of marriage should be observed. ‘Let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.’ 1 Cor 7: 2. ‘Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled.’ Heb 13: 4. God instituted marriage in paradise; he brought the woman to the man. Gen 2: 22. He gave them to each other in marriage. Jesus Christ honoured marriage with his presence. John 2: 2. The first miracle he wrought was at a marriage, when he turned the ‘water into wine.’ Marriage is a type and resemblance of the mystical union between Christ and his church. Eph 5: 32.

In marriage there are general and special duties. The general duty of the husband is to rule. ‘The husband is the head of the wife.’ Eph 5: 23. The head is the seat of rule and judgement; but he must rule with discretion. He is head, therefore must not rule without reason. The general duty on the wife’s part is submission. ‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.’ Eph 5: 22. It is observable that the Holy Ghost passed by Sarah’s failings, not mentioning her unbelief; but he takes notice of that which was good in her, as her reverence and obedience to her husband. ‘Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.’ 1 Pet 3: 6.

The special duties belonging to marriage, are love and fidelity. Love is the marriage of the affections. Eph 5: 25. There is, as it were, but one heart in two bodies. Love lines the yoke and makes it easy; it perfumes the marriage relation; and without it there is not conjugium but conjurgium [not harmony but constant wrangling]. Like two poisons in one stomach, one is ever sick of the other. In marriage there is mutual promise of living together faithfully according to God’s holy ordinance. Among the Romans, on the day of marriage, the woman presented to her husband fire and water: signifying that as fire refines, and water cleanses, she would live with her husband in chastity and sincerity.

II. The thing forbidden in the commandment is infecting ourselves with bodily pollution and uncleanness. ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ The fountain of this sin is lust. Since the fall, holy love has degenerated to lust. Lust is the fever of the soul. There is a twofold adultery.

[1] Mental. ‘Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.’ Matt 5: 28. As a man may die of an inward bleeding, so he may be damned for the inward boilings of lust, if it be not mortified.

{2] Corporal; as when sin has conceived, and brought forth in the act. This is expressly forbidden under a sub poena. ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ This commandment is set as a hedge to keep out uncleanness; and they that break this hedge a serpent shall bite them. Job calls adultery a ‘heinous crime.’ Job 31: 2: Every failing is not a crime; and every crime is not a heinous crime; but adultery is flagitium, ‘a heinous crime.’ The Lord calls it villany. ‘They have committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives.’ Jer 29: 23.

Wherein appears the greatness of this sin?

(1) It is a breach of the marriage-oath. When persons come together in a matrimonial way, they bind themselves by covenant to each other, in the presence of God, to be true and faithful in the conjugal relation. Unchastity falsifies this solemn oath; and herein adultery is worse than fornication, because it is a breach of the conjugal bond.

(2) The greatness of the sin lies in this: that it is a great dishonour done to God. God says, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ The adulterer sets his will above God’s law, tramples upon his command, affronts him to his face; as if a subject should tear his prince’s proclamation. The adulterer is highly injurious to all the Persons in the Trinity. To God the Father. Sinner, God has given thee thy life, and thou dost waste the lamp of life, the flower of thine age in lewdness. He has bestowed on thee many mercies, health, and estate, and thou spendest all on harlots. Did God give thee wages to serve the devil? It is injurious to God the Son, in two ways. As he has purchased thee with his blood. ‘Ye are bought with a price.’ 1 Cor 6: 20. Now he who is bought is not his own; it is a sin for him to go to another, without consent, from Christ, who has bought him with a price. As by virtue of baptism thou art a Christian, and professes that Christ is thy head, and thou art a member of Christ; therefore, what an injury is it to Christ, to ‘take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot’? 1 Cor 6: 15. It is injurious to God the Holy Ghost; for the body is his temple. ‘Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?’ 1 Cor 6: 19. And how great a sin is it to defile his temple!

(3) The sin of adultery lies in this: that it is committed with mature deliberation. There is contriving the sin in the mind, then consent in the will, and then the sin is put forth into act. To sin against the light of nature, and to sin deliberately, is like the dye to the wool, it gives sin a tincture, and dyes it of a crimson colour.

(4) That which makes adultery so sinful is, that it is needless. God has provided a remedy to prevent it. ‘To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife.’ 1 Cor 7: 2. Therefore, after this remedy prescribed, to be guilty of fornication or adultery, is inexcusable; it is like a rich thief, that steals when he has no need. This increases the sin.

Use one. The church of Rome is here condemned, which allows the sin of fortification and adultery. It suffers not its priests to marry, but they may have their courtesans. The worst kind of uncleanness, incest with the nearest of kin, is dispensed with for money. It was once said of Rome, Urbs est jam tota lupanar, Rome was become a common stew. And no wonder, when the Pope, for a sum of money, could give a license and patent to commit uncleanness; and, if the patent were not enough, he would give them a pardon. Many of the Papists judge fornication to be venial. God condemns the very lusting. Matt 5: 28. If God condemns the thought, how dare they allow the fact of fornication? You see what a cage of unclean birds the church of Rome is. They call themselves the Holy Catholic Church; but how can they be holy who are so steeped and parboiled in fornication, incest, sodomy, and all manner of uncleanness?

Use two. It is a matter for lamentation to see this commandment so slighted and violated among us. Adultery is the reigning sin of the times. ‘They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker.’ Hos 7: 4. The time of King Henry VIII was called the golden age, but this may be called the unclean age, wherein whore-hunting is common. ‘In thy filthiness is lewdness.’ Ezek 24: 13. Luther tells us of one who said, ‘If he might but satisfy his lust, and be carried from one whore-house to another, he would desire no other heaven’; and who afterwards breathed out his soul betwixt two notorious strumpets. This is to love forbidden fruit, to love to drink of stolen waters. ‘Son of man, dig in the wall; and when I had digged, behold a door; and he said, Go in and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.’ Ezek 8: 8, 9. Could we, as the prophet, dig in the walls of many houses, what vile abominations should we see there! In some chambers we might see fornication; dig further, and we may see adultery; dig further, and we may see incest, &c. And may not the Lord go from his sanctuary? ‘Sees thou the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth, that I should go far off from my sanctuary?’ Ezek 8: 6. God might remove his gospel, and then we might write Ichabod on this nation, ‘The glory is departed.’ Let us mourn for what we cannot reform.

Use three. For exhortation, to keep ourselves from the sin of adultery. ‘Let every man have his own wife,’ says Paul, not his concubine, nor his courtesan. 1 Cor 7: 2. That I may deter you from adultery, let me show you the great evil of it.

(1) It is a thievish sin. It is the highest sort of theft. The adulterer steals from his neighbour that which is more than his goods and estate; he steals away his wife from him, who is flesh of his flesh.

(2) Adultery debases a person; it makes him resemble the beasts; therefore the adulterer is described like a horse neighing. ‘Every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife.’ Jer 5: 8. Nay, it is worse than brutish; for some creatures that are void of reason, yet by the instinct of nature, observe some decorum and chastity. The turtle dove is a chaste creature, and keeps to its mate; and the stork, wherever he flies, comes into no nest but his own. Naturalists write that if a stork, leaving his own mate, joins with any other, all the rest of the storks fall upon it, and pull its feathers from it. Adultery is worse than brutish, it degrades a person of his honour.

(3) Adultery pollutes. The devil is called an unclean spirit. Luke 11: 24. The adulterer is the devil’s first-born; he is unclean; he is a moving quagmire; he is all over ulcerated with sin; his eyes sparkle with lust; his mouth foams out filth; his heart burns like mount Etna, in unclean desires; and he is so filthy, that if he die in this sin, all the flames of hell will never purge away his uncleanness. And, as for the adulteress, who can paint her black enough? The Scriptures calls her a deep ditch. Prov 23: 27. She is a common drain; whereas a believer’s body is a living temple, and his soul a little heaven, be spangled with the graces, as so many stars. The body of a harlot is a walking dung hill, and her soul a lesser hell.

(4) Adultery is destructive to the body. ‘And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed.’ Prov 5: 11. It brings into a consumption. Uncleanness turns the body into a hospital, it wastes the radical moisture, rots the skull, and eats the beauty of the face. As the flame wastes the candle, so the fire of lust consumes the bones. The adulterer hastens his own death. ‘Till a dart strike through his liver.’ Prov 7: 23. The Romans had their funerals at the gate of Venus’s temple, to signify that lust brings death. Venus is lust.

(5.) Adultery is a drain upon the purse; it wastes not the body only, but the estate. ‘By means of a whorish woman, a man is brought to a piece of bread.’ Prov 6: 26. Whores are the devil’s horse-leeches, sponges that suck in money. The prodigal son spent his portion when he fell among harlots. Luke 15: 30. The concubine of King Edward III, when he was dying, got all she could from him, and even plucked the rings off his fingers, and so left him. He that lives in luxury, dies in beggary.

(6) Adultery destroys reputation. ‘Whoso committeth adultery with a woman, a wound and dishonour shall he get, and his reproach shall not be wiped away.’ Prov 6: 32, 33. Some, when they get wounds, get honour. The soldier’s wounds are full of honour; the martyr’s wounds for Christ are full of honour; but the adulterer gets wounds, but no honour to his name. ‘His reproach shall not be wiped away.’ Wounds of reputation no physician can heal. When the adulterer dies, his shame lives. When his body rots underground, his name rots above ground. His base-born children are living monuments of his shame.

(7) This sin impairs the mind; it steals away the understanding; it stupefies the heart. ‘Whoredom and wine take away the heart.’ Hos 4: 11. It cats out all heart for good. Solomon besotted himself with women, and they enticed him to idolatry.

(8) This sin incurs temporal judgements. The Mosaic law made adultery death. ‘The adulterer and adulteress shall surely be put to death;’ and the usual death was stoning. Lev 20: 10; Deut 22: 24. The Salons commanded persons taken in this sin to be burnt. The Romans caused their heads to be stricken off. Like a scorpion, this sin carries a sting in its tail. The adultery of Paris and Helen was the death of both, and the ruin of Troy. ‘Jealousy is the rage of a man.’ Prov 6: 34. The adulterer is often killed in the act of his sin. Adultery cost Otho the emperor, and Pope Sixtus IV their lives. Laeta venire Venus, tristis abire solet [Lust’s practice is to make a joyful entrance, but she leaves in misery]. I have read of two citizens in London, in 1583, who, having defiled themselves with adultery on the Lord’s-day, were immediately struck dead with fire from heaven. If all who are now guilty of this sin were to be punished in this manner, it would rain fire again, as on Sodom.

(9) Adultery, without repentance, damns the soul. ‘Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, shall enter into the kingdom of God.’ 1 Cor 6: 9. The fire of lust brings to the fire of hell. ‘Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.’ Heb 13: 4. Though men may neglect to judge them, yet God will judge them. But will not God judge all other sinners? Yes. Why then does the apostle say, ‘Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge’? The meaning is, he will judge them assuredly; they shall not escape the hand of justice; and he will punish them severely. ‘The Lord knoweth how to reserve the unjust to the day of judgement to be punished, but chiefly them that walk in the lust of uncleanness.’ 2 Pet 2: 9, 10. The harlot’s breast keeps from Abraham’s bosom. Momentaneum est quod delectat, auternum quod cruciat [The delight lasts a moment, the torment an eternity]. Who for a cup of pleasure would drink a sea of wrath? ‘Her guests are in the depths of hell.’ Prov 9: 18. A wise traveller, though many pleasant dishes are set before him at the inn, forbears to taste, because of the reckoning. We are all travellers to Jerusalem above; and when many baits of temptation are set before us, we should refrain, and think of the reckoning which will be brought in at death. With what stomach could Dionysius eat his dainties, when he imagined there was a naked sword hung over his head as he sat at meat? While the adulterer feeds on strange flesh, the sword of God’s justice hangs over his head. Causinus speaks of a tree growing in Spain, that is of a sweet smell, and pleasant to the taste, but the juice of it is poisonous. This is an emblem of a harlot; who is perfumed with powders, and fair to look on, but poisonous and damnable to the soul. ‘She has cast down many wounded, yea, many strong men have been slain by her.’ Prov 7: 26.

(10) The adulterer not only wrongs his own soul, but does what in him lies to destroy the soul of another, and so kills two at once. He is worse than the thief; for, suppose a thief robs a man, yea, takes away his life, the man’s soul may be happy; he may go to heaven as well as if he had died in his bed. But he who commits adultery, endangers the soul of another, and deprives her of salvation so far as in him lies. Now, what a fearful thing is it to be an instrument to draw another to hell!

(11) The adulterer is abhorred of God. ‘The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein.’ Prov 22: 14. What can be worse than to be abhorred of God? God may be angry with his own children; but for God to abhor a man, is the highest degree of hatred.

How does the Lord show his abhorrence of the adulterer?

In giving him up to a reprobate mind, and a seared conscience. Rom 1: 28. He is then in such a condition that he cannot repent. He is abhorred of God. He stands upon the threshold of hell; and when death gives him a push, he tumbles in. All this should sound a retreat in our ears, and call us off from the pursuit of so damnable a sin as uncleanness. Hear what the Scriptures say: ‘Come not nigh the door of her house.’ Prov 5: 8. ‘Her house is the way to hell.’ Prov 7: 27.

(12) Adultery sows discord. It destroys peace and love, the two best flowers that grow in a family. It sets husband against wife, and wife against husband; and so causes the ‘joints of the same body to smite one against another.’ This division in a family works confusion; for ‘A house divided against a house falleth.’ Luke 11: 17. Omne divisibile est corruptibile.

Use four. I shall give some directions, by way of antidote, to keep from the infection of this sin.

(1) Come not into the company of a whorish woman; avoid her house, as a seaman does a rock. ‘Come not nigh the door of her house.’ Prov 5: 8. He who would not have the plague, must not come near infected houses; every whore-house has the plague in it. Not to beware of the occasion of sin, and yet pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation,’ is, as if one should put his finger into the candle, and yet pray that it may not be burnt.

(2) Look to your eyes. Much sin comes in by the eye. ‘Having eyes full of adultery.’ 2 Pet 2: 14. The eye tempts the fancy, and the fancy works upon the heart. A wanton amorous eye may usher in sin. Eve first saw the tree of knowledge, and then she took. Gen 3: 6. First she looked and then she loved. The eye often sets the heart on fire; therefore Job laid a law upon his eyes. ‘I made a covenant with my eyes, why then should I think upon a maid?’ Job 31: 1. Democritus the philosopher plucked out his eyes, because he would not be tempted with vain objects; the Scripture does not bid us do this, but to set a watch before our eyes.

(3) Look to your lips. Take heed of any unseemly word that may enkindle unclean thoughts in yourselves or others. ‘Evil communications corrupt good manners.’ 1 Cor 15: 33. Impure discourse is the bellows to blow up the fire of lust. Much evil is conveyed to the heart by the tongue. ‘Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth.’ Psa 141: 3.

(4) Look in a special manner to your heart. ‘Keep thy heart with all diligence.’ Prov 4: 23. Every one has a tempter in his own bosom. ‘Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.’ Matt 15: 19. Thinking of sin makes way for the act of sin. Suppress the first risings of sin in your heart. As the serpent, when danger is near, keeps his head, so keep your heart, which is the spring from whence all lustful motions proceed.

(5) Look to your attire. We read of the attire of a harlot. Prov 7: 10. A wanton dress is a provocation to lust. Cuttings and braidings of the hair, a painted face, naked breasts, are allurements to vanity. Where the sign is hung out, people will go in and taste the liquor. Jerome says, they who by their lascivious attire endeavour to draw others to lust, though no evil follows, are tempters, and shall be punished, because they offered the poison to others, though they would not drink.

(6) Take heed of evil company. Serpunt vitia et in proximum quemque transiliunt [Vices spread abroad and spring on to any standing by]. Seneca. Sin is a very catching disease; one tempts another to sin, and hardens him in it. There are three cords that draw men to adultery: the inclination of the heart, the persuasion of evil company, and the embraces of the harlot; and this threefold cord is not easily broken. ‘A fire was kindled in their company.’ Psa 106: 18. The fire of lust is kindled in bad company.

(7) Beware of going to plays. A play-house is often a preface to a whorehouse. Ludi praebent semina nequitiae [Plays furnish the seeds of wickedness]. We are bid to avoid all appearance of evil: and are not plays the appearance of evil? Such sights are there that are not fit to be beheld with chaste eyes. Both Fathers and Councils have shown their dislike to going to plays. A learned divine observes, that many have on their death-beds confessed, with tears, that the pollution of their bodies has been occasioned by going to plays.

(8) Take heed of mixed dancing. Instrumenta luxuriae tripudia [Dances are instruments of wantonness]. From dancing, people come to dalliance with another, and from dalliance to uncleanness. ‘There is,’ says Calvin, ‘for the most part, some unchaste behaviour in dancing.’ Dances draw the heart to folly by wanton gestures, by unchaste touches, and by lustful looks. Chrysostom inveighed against mixed dancing in his time. ‘We read,’ he says, ‘of a marriage feast, and of virgins going before with lamps, but of dancing there we read not.’ Matt 25: 7. Many have been ensnared by dancing; as the duke of Normandy, and others. Saltatio adadulteras non ad pudicas pertinet [Dancing is the province not of the chaste woman, but of the adulteress]. Ambrose. Chrysostom says, where dancing is, there the devil is. I speak chiefly of mixed dancing. We read of dances in Scripture, but they were sober and modest. Exod 15: 20. They were not mixed dances, but pious and religious, being usually accompanied with singing praises to God.

(9) Take heed of lascivious books, and pictures that provoke to lust. As the reading of the Scripture stirs up love to God, so reading bad books stirs up the mind to wickedness. I could name one who published a book to the world full of effeminate, amorous, and wanton expressions, who, before he died, was much troubled for it, and burned the book which made so many burn in lust. To lascivious books I may add lascivious pictures, which bewitch the eye, and are incendiaries to lust. They secretly convey poison to the heart. Qui aspicit innocens aspectu fit nocens. Popish pictures are not more prone to stir up idolatry than unclean pictures are to stir up to concupiscence.

(10) Take heed of excess in diet. When gluttony and drunkenness lead the van, chambering and wantonness bring up the rear. Vinum fomentum libidinis; ‘any wine inflames lust;’ and fulness of bread is made the cause of Sodom’s uncleanness. Ezek 16: 49. The rankest weeds grow out of the fattest soil. Uncleanness proceeds from excess. ‘When I had fed them to the full, every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife.’ Jer 5: 8. Get the ‘golden bridle of temperance.’ God allows recruits of nature, and what may fit us the better for his service; but beware of surfeit. Excess in the creature clouds the mind, chokes good affections, and provokes lust. Paul did ‘keep under his body.’ 1 Cor 9: 27. The flesh pampered is apt to rebel. Corpus impinguatum recalcitrat.

(11) Take heed of idleness. When a man is out of a calling, he is ready to receive any temptation. We do not sow seed in fallow-ground; but the devil sows most seed of temptation in such as lie fallow. Idleness is the cause of sodomy and uncleanness. Ezek 16: 49. When David was idle on the top of his house, he espied Bathsheba, and took her to him. 2 Sam 11: 4. Jerome gave his friend counsel to be always well employed in God’s vineyard, that when the devil came, he might have no leisure to listen to temptation.

(12) To avoid fornication and adultery, let every man have a chaste, entire love to his own wife. Ezekiel’s wife was the desire of his eyes. Chap 24: 16. When Solomon had dissuaded from strange women, he prescribed a remedy against it. ‘Rejoice with the wife of thy youth.’ Prov 5: 18. It is not having a wife, but loving a wife, that makes a man live chastely. He who loves his wife, whom Solomon calls his fountain, will not go abroad to drink of muddy, poisoned waters. Pure conjugal love is a gift of God, and comes from heaven; but, like the vestal fire, it must be cherished, that it go not out. He who loves not his wife, is the likeliest person to embrace the bosom of a stranger.

(13) Labour to get the fear of God into your hearts. ‘By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.’ Prov 16: 6. As the embankment keeps out the water, so the fear of the Lord keeps out uncleanness. Such as want the fear of God, want the bridle that should check them from sin. How did Joseph keep from his mistress’s temptation? The fear of God pulled him back. ‘How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ Gen. 39: 9. Bernard calls holy fear, janitor animae, ‘the door-keeper of the soul.’ As a nobleman’s porter stands at the door, and keeps out vagrants, so the fear of God stands and keeps out all sinful temptations from entering.

(14) Take delight in the word of God. ‘How sweet are thy words unto my taste.’ Psa 119: 103. Chrysostom compares God’s word to a garden. If we walk in this garden, and suck sweetness from the flowers of the promises, we shall never care to pluck the ‘forbidden fruit.’ Sint castae deliciae meae scripturae [Let the Scriptures be my pure pleasure]. Augustine. The reason why persons seek after unchaste, sinful pleasures, is because they have no better. Caesar riding through a city, and seeing the women play with dogs and parrots, said, ‘Sure they have no children.’ So they that sport with harlots have no better pleasures. He that has once tasted Christ in a promise, is ravished with delight; and how would he scorn a motion to sin! Job said, the word was his ‘appointed food.’ Job 23: 12. No wonder then he made a ‘covenant with his eyes.’

(15) If you would abstain from adultery, use serious consideration. Consider, [1] God sees thee in the act of sin. He sees all thy curtain wickedness. He is totus oculus, ‘all eye.’ The clouds are no canopy, the night is no curtain to hide thee from God’s eye. Thou canst not sin, but thy Judge looks on. ‘I have seen thy adulteries and thy neighings.’ Jer 13: 27. ‘They have committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives; even I know, and am a witness, saith the Lord.’ Jer 29: 23. [2] Few that are entangled in the sin of adultery, recover from the snare. ‘None that go to her return again.’ Prov 2: 19. This made some of the ancients conclude that adultery was an unpardonable sin; but it is not so. David repented. Mary Magdalene was a weeping penitent; upon her amorous eyes that sparkled with lose, she sought to be revenged, by washing Christ’s feet with her tears. Some, therefore have recovered from the snare. ‘None that go to her return,’ that is, ‘very few;’ it is rare to hear of any who are enchanted and bewitched with this sin of adultery, that recover from it. Her ‘heart is snares and nets, and her hands are bands.’ Eccl 7: 26. Her ‘heart is snares,’ that is, she is subtle to deceive those who come to her; and ‘her hands are bands,’ that is her embraces are powerful to hold and entangle her lovers. Plutarch said of the Persian kings, ‘They were captives to their concubines,’ they were so inflamed, that they had no power to leave their company. This consideration should make all fearful of this sin. Soft pleasures harden the heart. [3] Consider what Scripture says, which may ponere obicem, ‘lay a bar in the way’ to this sin. ‘I will be a swift witness against the adulterers.’ Mal 3: 5. It is good when God is a witness ‘for us’, when he witnesses to our sincerity, as he did to Job’s; but it is sad to have God a ‘witness against us.’ ‘I,’ says God, ‘will be a witness against the adulterer.’ And who shall disprove his witness? He is both witness and judge. ‘Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.’ Heb 13: 4. [4] Consider the sad farewell the sin of adultery leaves. It leaves a hell in the conscience. ‘The lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, but her end is bitter as wormwood.’ Prov 5: 4. The goddess Diana was so artificially drawn, that she seemed to smile upon those that came into her temple, but frown on those that went out. So the harlot smiles on her lovers as they come to her, but at last come the frown and the sting. ‘Till a dart strike through his liver.’ Prov 7: 23. ‘Her end is bitter.’ When a man has been virtuous, the labour is gone, but the comfort remains; but when he has been vicious and unclean, the pleasure is gone, but the sting remains. Delectat in momentum, cruciat in aeternum [He gains momentary pleasure and then eternal torment]. Jerome. When the senses have been feasted with unchaste pleasures, the soul is left to pay the reckoning. Stolen waters are sweet; but, as poison, though sweet in the mouth, it torments the bowels. Sin always ends in a tragedy. Memorable is that which Fincelius reports of a priest in Flanders, who enticed a maid to uncleanness. She objected how vile a sin it was, he told her that by authority from the Pope he could commit any sin; so at last he drew her to his wicked purpose. But when they had been together a while, in came the devil, and took away the harlot from the priest’s side, and, notwithstanding all her crying out, carried her away. If the devil should come and carry away all that are guilty of bodily uncleanness in this nation, I fear more would be carried away than would be left behind.

(16) Pray against this sin. Luther gave a lady this advice, that when any lust began to rise in her heart, she should go to prayer. Prayer is the best armour of proof; it quenches the wild fire of lust. If prayer will ‘cast out the devil,’ why may it not cast out those lusts that come from the devil?

Use five. If the body must be kept pure from defilement, much more the ‘soul of a Christian must be kept pure.’ The meaning of the commandment is not only that we should not stain our bodies with adultery, but that we should keep our souls pure. To have a chaste body, but an unclean soul, is like a fair face with bad lungs; or a gilt chimney-piece, that is all soot within. ‘Be ye holy, for I am holy.’ 1 Pet 1: 16. The soul cannot be lovely to God till it has Christ’s image stamped upon it, which consists in righteousness and true holiness. Eph 4: 24. The soul must especially be kept pure, because it is the chief place of God’s residence. Eph 3: 17. A king’s palace must be kept clean, especially his presence-chamber. If the body is the temple, the soul is the ‘Holy of holies,’ and must be consecrated. We must not only keep our bodies from carnal pollution, but our souls from envy and malice.

How shall we know our souls are pure?

(1) If our souls are pure, we flee from the appearance of evil. 1 Thess 5: 22. We shall not do that which looks like sin. When Joseph’s mistress courted and tempted him, he ‘left his garment in her hand, and fled.’ Gen 39: 12 He was suspicious to be near her. Polycarp would not be seen in company with Marcion the heretic, because it would not be good report.

(2) If our souls are pure, the light of purity will shine forth. Aaron had ‘Holiness to the Lord’ written upon his golden plate. Where there is sanctity in the soul, there ‘Holiness to the Lord’ is engraven upon the life. We are adorned with patience, humility, good works, and shine as ‘Lights in the world.’ Phil 2: 15. Carry Christ’s picture in your conversation. 1 John 2: 6. O let us labour for this soul purity! Without it there is no seeing God. Heb 12: 14. ‘What communion has light with darkness?’ 2 Cor 6: 14. To keep the soul pure, have recourse to the blood of Christ: which is the ‘fountain open for sin and uncleanness.’ Zech 13: 1. A soul steeped in the briny tears of repentance, and bathed in the blood of Christ, is made pure. Pray much for a pureness of soul. ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God.’ Psa 51: 10. Some pray for children, others for riches; but pray thou for soul purity. Say, ‘Lord, though my body is kept pure, yet my soul is defiled, I pollute all I touch. O purge me with hyssop, let Christ’s blood sprinkle me, let the Holy Ghost come upon me and anoint me. O make me evangelically pure, that I may be translated to heaven, and placed among the cherubim, where I shall be as holy as thou wouldst have me to be, and as happy as I can desire to be.’

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