Imágenes de páginas

too much to our own apprehensions : but the guidance of our pastor is one of the means God affords for our improvement, and his assistance is very necessary to preferve us from being imposed upon. Remember that the careless and secure live in continual hazard of their own eternal loss; and that, if we would be saved, we must continually watch against all temptations: for the judge of eternal life and death declares, What I say unto you, I say unto all; watch.

V. Having considered those christian virtues, which in a proper manner respect our souls; let us now pro- Duties to ceed to those virtues which in a more particular our bodies. manner regard our bodies.

The first of these duties is the virtue of Chastity or Purity, because, as the apostle declares, He that committeth fornication sinneth against his own bo

Of chastity. dy. This virtue consists in abstaining not only from adultery and fornication, but from all other more unnatural forts of it, committed either upon ourselves, or with any others; so that it is a due government of those appetites, which God has planted in us for the increase of mankind, which must be confined within the bounds of lawful matrimony; since any other method of gratifying them is contrary to that purity which the gospel enjoins. And even in that state men are not to give a loose to their appetites like brute beasts which have no understanding; but to keep themselves within the modest rules of a marriage state, which being ordained for the begetting of children to be brought up in the fear of God, and for a remedy against fin, and to avoid fornication, so as to keep ourselves undefiled members of Christ's body, nothing must be committed, which may hinder the first reason for marriage ; and they who prostitute that holy state to the heightening and inflaming their lust, act contrary to the second reason, which only proposes marriage as the means to subdue lust, and to keep men from any finful effects of it; for, This is the will of God, even your fanctification, that you should abstain from fornication, that every one should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, as the Gentiles, which know not God; for God has not called us unto


uncleanness, but unto holiness. Yet in seeing, hearing, and touching, many conclude themselves innocent, while free from the lustful deed, and indulge themselves in all liberties short of the last act of uncleanness. But

He that suffers his eyes to rove, and fixes them upon a forUw!carness bidden object, will be apt to commit adultery, garbidden in according to that observation of our Saviour, He e're very lewat dee that looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath gree. committed adultery with her already in his heart. And we ought rather to cut off our hand than to be guilty of the least uncleanness therewith ; neither must we suffer any evil communication to proceed out of our mouth. He that indulges any of his fenfes fo far, as to excite any desire of forbidden pleasures, defiles his soul therewith. And they, that would preserve their innocence, must keep their eyes, their cars, and their hands chaste; that is, they must neither look upon, read, hear, nor touch any thing that may infiame or dispose them in any manner to gratify their finful paffions. For,

When luft is conceived, it bringeth forth lin: and when Ite mij we are thus set upon a precipice, corrupt nature chiefs of it. pushes us upon the ruin of ourselves. The great neglect of this virtue produces much of that irreligion, which prevails in the world; for if early breaches of innocence had not been made by indulging linful paflions, men's minds would not be fo averse from entertaining the principles of religion founded in the true realon and interest of mankind: for when the spirit is subdued by the flesh, the obligations of religion begin to lose their force; the means of religionare first neglected, and then the principles of it begin to be ques

tioned; and by degrees men are made fuch flaves To ibe foul.

foute to their lufts, that their recovery is desperate, and they are rarely awakened to a sense of their follies, till the miseries of a fad eternity drive them, when it is too late, to repent.

Besides, the finning against our bodies, as the apostle calls www it, expofes us to trouble and vexation of mind; Walde body for if the unclean finner has not cast off the fear of God, a virtuous education, God's all-searching eye, from


which nothing can be hid, a dreadful judgment, which nothing can turn away, a devouring fire, which must be his portion to all eternity, will continually awaken him to repentance, and fill him with the horror of his fins. And, if he has even ftified the checks of his conscience, the eye of man mult still be Thunned and avoided; for, as bad as the world is, vice has not the current stamp: measures must be concerted, opportunities must be sought for, our beft friends must be imposed upon, and every ininute we must tremble for fear of being discovered in our vicious habit. It can hardly be expressed what fears croud upon young persons fedaced by this passion, if there be the least remains of modeft, and sense of honour left; nay the anguish of some people's minds upon these occasions has risen so high, that they have made away with themselves to get rid of its torture. The acute and filthy pains and diseases it brings upon the body, the shame and dishonour which is reaped among men, and the base and dishonourable actions which are the too common supports of such crimes, may convince the finner how dearly he purchases the forbidden pleasures of his lustful appetites. For they, who are under the power of these evil habits, know the force of them; and, notwithstanding their serious resolution at some times, the horror of their condition, their uneasiness from the expence that attends their extravagancies, are not able to break their chains. : And

To the former mischief we must add the judgments of God against this vice of uncleanness; some of the most extraordinary is the destruction of Sodom

me. The jung

en and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone from hea- Gud again ven; and the untimely death of Amnon, as also it. of Zimri and Cosbi (who were flain in the very act) should deter the most vicious from the evil of their way and rather, because God, who seeth all things, and hath made man to be the temple of his Holy Spirit, declares, by his apostle, That if any man defile the temple of God he thall be destroyed. Thus

It is easy to infer the deplorable state of an un- , clean person, who, being cut off by the hand of frona kwes. divine justice, is shut out of the kingdom of beaven ; ven.

because unchalte

because nothing impure can dwell therein ; and consigned to the flames of hell, to be punished for the lustful flames

Aune of his flesh. I therefore conclude, that notwith. Against the o law of na- standing the ill-bred and brutal talk of libertines, tions than which nothing can be more brutal, except it be their actions : fornication is a crime ; because it is to do that which can never be for the good of the world, that it should be universally done; it being impoffible, that any para ticular practice should be warrantable, which, if it became general, would be introductive of disorder and confusion. For that is confeffedly contrary to the laws of nature, which; if univerially practised, would interfere with the general peace and happiness of mankind. In cases, where one has as much right to gratify himself as another; whatever would be big with evils, and productive of misery, if all men were to do it, cannot, for that very reason, be lawful to any man: because any man by so doing contributes his Thare to the introduction of that misery and disorder. : • VI. Perhaps the first motions of our passions may not be Helps to under our government, and that we may not be ebaplity. answerable for them ; but it is in our own power to stifle and suppress them, to reject them with horror and confusion, and to apply our minds vigorously upon other objects, which will certainly divert them; because the frame of our nature is not capable of dwelling at the same time intirely upon two things. Wherefore we must take care not to indulge any filthy fancies, we must cast away every scene of luft, that represents itself tous, with indignation; and hereour fecurity lies in flight, rather than looking the temptation in the face. And as we must govern our thoughts by looking forward, fo we must guard against obscene remembrances of what is past; for this is deliberately to delight ourselves with such follies, in which, it may be, we have been at first engaged by rashness and surprise. The greatest sign of a corrupt heart is filthy and unclean discourse: therefore we must take care that our speech does not betray the disorder of our hearts, and especially that our words be free from open lewdness, and from any double meaning ; and never to make use of words capable of several fenfes, with a design to create any unchaste thoughts in those we converse with : nay, we must even avoid conveying any unchaste thought to our neighbour, tho’we can preserve ourselves from blame in the way of expressing it: for this manner of offending does most hurt, because the poison is gilded and made palatable.: whereas. downright filthy talk thocks at first hearing, and, being directly opposite to natural modesty, has not so bad an influence upon the hearers. In reports also concerningothers, we must not so repeat particulars, as to offend christian modesty; for hereby wecontract too great a familiarity with idle discourse, and corrupt the minds of the hearers, by entertaining them with such things which they should never learn, but should forget as soon as they chance to hear them. Filthy conversation is most unbecoming in those who are advanced in years; because it argues a mind extremely depraved, and gives too great countenance to youthful follies. They that resolve to keep their bodies in chastity must not pamper them, nor exceed in meat and drink: for which purpose fasting has in all ages been made use of; and among the many reasons that inforce the practice of it, it is not the least considerable, that it restrains the looser appetites of the flesh, and disposes us to fobriety and seriousness: and when we abate of the rigour of fafting, we should not forget to abstain from such food as is most nourishing to the body; for feeding to the full betrays us to loose mirth, and pampers the unhappy disease of our nature, which it is our chief business to cure and overcome. We must also divert our thoughts from dwelling upon forbidden objects; we must do our duty in our proper callings; for, when we are prosecuting any art or science, when we are employed in any innocent business, or any lawful calling, we are not at leisure to entertain thoughts of pleasure ; and, as the appetites of our bodies frequently follow the bent of our minds, that which we most think of we are readiest to do; consequentlyour great care ought to be to keep ourselves always employed. If we are engaged in a calling, let us prór secute it with diligenceand application: if our condition and quality settles us above a profession, let the care of our own estate, and the acquiring luch knowledge as may be serviceable to ourselves and our neighbour, challenge a great share


« AnteriorContinuar »