The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson
2. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
2.7 The Seventh Commandment
'Thou shalt not commit adultery.' Exod xx 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
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 vii 2. 'Marriage is honourable and the
bed undefiled.' Heb xiii 4. God instituted marriage in paradise; he
brought the woman to the man. Gen ii 22. He gave them to each other
in marriage. Jesus Christ honoured marriage with his presence. John
ii 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 v 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 v 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 v 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.' I Pet iii 6.
The special duties belonging to marriage, are love and
fidelity. Love is the marriage of the affections. Eph v 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.
 Mental. 'Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her has
committed adultery with her already in his heart.' Matt v 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.
 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 xxxi 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 xxix 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
(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.' I Cor vi 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'?
I Cor vi 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?' I Cor vi 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
(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.' I Cor vii 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.
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 v 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?
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 vii 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 xxiv 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 viii 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 viii 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.
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. I Cor vii 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
(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 v 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 xi 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 xxiii 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
(4) Adultery is destructive to the body. 'And thou mourn at the
last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed.' Prov v 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 vii 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 vi 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 xv 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 vi 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 iv 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 xx 10; Deut xxii 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 vi 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.' I Cor vi 9. The fire of lust brings to the fire of
hell. 'Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.' Heb xiii 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 ii 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 ix 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 vii 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 xxii 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 i 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 v 8. 'Her house is the way to hell.'
Prov vii 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 xi
17. Omne divisibile est corruptibile.
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 v 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 ii 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 iii
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 xxxi 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.' I Cor xv 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
(4) Look in a special manner to your heart. 'Keep thy heart
with all diligence.' Prov iv 23. Every one has a tempter in his own
bosom. 'Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.' Matt xv 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 vii 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 cvi 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
(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 xxv 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 xv 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
(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 xvi 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 v 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.' I Cor ix 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
xvi 49. When David was idle on the top of his house, he espied
Bathsheba, and took her to him. 2 Sam xi 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 xxiv 16. When Solomon had dissuaded from strange
women, he prescribed a remedy against it. 'Rejoice with the wife of
thy youth.' Prov v 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 xvi 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. xxxix 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
(14) Take delight in the word of God. 'How sweet are thy words
unto my taste.' Psa cxix 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 xxiii 12. No
wonder then he made a 'covenant with his eyes.'
(15) If you would abstain from adultery, use serious
consideration. Consider,  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 xiii 27. 'They have committed
adultery with their neighbours' wives; even I know, and am a
witness, saith the Lord.' Jer xxix 23.  Few that are entangled in
the sin of adultery, recover from the snare. 'None that go to her
return again.' Prov ii 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 vii 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.  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 iii
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 xiii 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 v 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 vii 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?
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.' I Pet i 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 iv 24. The soul must especially be kept pure,
because it is the chief place of God's residence. Eph iii 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 v 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 xxxix 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 ii
15. Carry Christ's picture in your conversation. I John ii 6. O let
us labour for this soul purity! Without it there is no seeing God.
Heb xii 14. 'What communion has light with darkness?' 2 Cor vi 14. To
keep the soul pure, have recourse to the blood of Christ: which is
the 'fountain open for sin and uncleanness.' Zech xiii 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 li 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.'