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nications, uncleanness, filthiness, foolish talking, jesting which is not convenient.' Those terms all very evidently relate to one and the same subject, and that subject is what I mentioned. The only thing which can create a doubt whether it was that class of vices alone, which St Paul intended, is the word covetousness. Covetousness is put among the other articles enumerated; all uncleanness or covetousness.' Now it appears very manifest that the word covetousness in this place, does not mean covetousness in the sense in which we usually understand it, as it relates to property or to riches, but that it means inordinate desires of another kind, or the intemperate and unlawful indulgence and letting loose men's passions in the article of licentiousness and debauchery. The phrase, I own, is peculiar ; I mean, not only different from the common acceptation of the word at present, but different from the use of the original word in that language, and in the writings of that time; yet I think it can be made out by proofs, that this and not the other, is the sense of the word in this place, and in some other passages of St Paul's epistles. First; the covetous man is called an idolater. Now there is no proper reason for this, or meaning in it, according to the common sense of the word covetous. For though we may sometimes say that a man idolizes gold, it is only a modern fashion of speaking. It is not intended nor found in the language of the New Testament, nor like that language; but in the sense we are arguing for, it is very just and proper. The character of the heathen idolatry, and this is what St Paul refers to, was, that it taught immorality instead of morality ; that instead of prohibiting and discouraging lewd and licentious practices, it promoted and authorized them by the impurity and indecency of its religious rites ; which being the case, it was natural for our apostle to call a man addicted to these vices an idolater; inasmuch as these vices composed the character of that religion, if it deserved the name of religion, and even of its religious worship.
Secondly; in the passage from which our text is taken, v. 13, you read that it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret ;' and what is here said, evidently refers to the offences before enumerated. But its being a shame to speak of it, and its being done in secret, does not apply to covetousness, in the common sense of the term. There is nothing indecent or shameful in the mention of covetousness in that sense; nor in that sense can it be particularly accused of being carried on in secret; but of covetousness in the sense we are affixing to it in this place, the inordinate indulgence of vile and licentious desires, both these may be said truly.
Thirdly; one can hardly avoid being convinced that we are right in our exposition of the word, when we consider how it stands joined with this sort of sins in other parts of St Paul's epistles; Col. iii, 5. Mortisy, therefore, your members which are upon earth ; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.' Again, 1 Cor. v. 9. “I wrote unto you in an epistle, not to keep company with fornicators of this world, or with the covetous;' and in the next verse, “but now,' says he, “I have written unto you, not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother, be a fornicator or covetous.' In both these places, covetousness is put in close connexion with fornication, which connexion establishes the sense we give to it. The fourth chapter of the 1st Thess. verse 5th, is equally strong for our purpose, though not quite so obvious. The passage is this ; Ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus;' an awful preface; then what follows? This is the will of God, even your sanctification; that ye should abstain from fornication ; that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor, not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God; wat no man go beyond, or defraud his brother in any matter, because that the Lord is of all such; as we have also forewarned you
and testified, for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. In this passage the apostle is discoursing of one class and kind of crimes; and what that class was appears from the concluding clause; God bath not called us unto uncleanness.' Now though the word covetousness does not appear in our translation, it does in the original language; for the word which is translated go beyond in this passage, is the word which is translated coveting, covetousness, in the other passages. In each and every one of these passages, it is put as an undoubted and characteristic mark of idolatry. From the term, therefore, being always put by St Paul in strict and close connexion with fornication, we are authorized to conclude that it bore in his mind, and in his manner of writing, a signification similar to what that term bears.
It may be said, that investigations of this sort are superfluous and minute; but I answer, that when we read such strong texts as the present, because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience, it can never be superfluous to ascertain what things the apostle really meant. These declarations are what we have to go by. Their true sense, therefore, is of the utmost moment for us to know; and
in the present instance, I think that it is made out with great certainty, that sins of debauchery and licentiousness were what the apostle had specifically in his mind, when he pronounced this condemnation.
The next observation I have to make is, that these sins were then common amongst the heathen; that the Christians, before their conversion, had been addicted to them; that those who practised them were endeavouring, under various pretexts, to draw others to be partakers with them; that these pretexts were to be resisted by the consideration that, let the slaves or the advocates of those vices say what they will, the wrath of God, because of these, cometh upon the children of disobedience. These sins were so common amongst the idolatrous heathens, that they were emphatically called idolatry itself, and that in all the different passages which have been quoted. Again, some of the Christians themselves, before their conversion, had been addicted to them. Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of the light;' and more express in the epistle to the Colossians, speaking of the same practices; “In the which,' says he, 'ye also walked some tims, when ye lived in them. Thirdly; those who practised these crimes were endeavouring, by various practices, to draw in others to be partakers with them; • Be not ye partakers with them. Let no man deceive you with vain words; have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. This was the state and character of the times. This was the situation of the persons whom St Paul so earnestly admonishes. And in similar situations, the like admonitions will be always necessary.
For I take upon me to say, whensoever any licentious practice becomes common in the country, palliatives and excuses, salvos and subterfuges, will never be wanting to draw in and encourage the timid and apprehensive who are entering upon such courses, as well as to fortify and to harden those who are actually and deeply engaged in them; that there will always be found, as I said before, deceivers ; and likewise persons very willing, not to say desirous, to be deceived; that as it was in St Paul's time, so since, so now, so hereafter, it will be the case, that those who give a loose to such practices will endeavour by many vain words, by various forced and futile reasons, both to make themselves as easy as they can in the course which they are following, and to bring others, first to relax in their own condemnation of such examples, and then to imitate them. When this once happens, and it happens to all of us, that is the very case in which
we ought to recollect St Paul's powerful warning, delivered under circumstances perfectly similar to those which we experience; • Let no man deceive you with vain words ;' with artful salvos and subterfuges, with contrived excuses and extenuations ; for the solemn truth remains, and so you will find it to be, that “because of these things, cometh the wrath of God on the children of disobedience.'
Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and
adulterers God will judge.
In treating of the crime of whoredom, thus solemnly rebuked in these words, I shall simply mention to you the mischiefs attending it, and the severe declarations of scripture against it; and then leave it to yourselves to judge whether the allowing ourselves in this practice can be consistent with the hopes of getting to heaven at the last.
Now, I maintain, that whoredom is destructive to the public, destructive to the person joined with us in the crime, and destructive to ourselves. It destroys the public in this way; if there be one thing more than another of consequence to the public morality, it is the encouraging and keeping up of family connexion ; for without families, what would become of the world? The business of it could not be carried on; there would be little private comfort; there would be no industry or regularity in the country; children could not be brought up with
any tolerable care, or sent into the world to do any good in it. But more need not be said; for every man that reflects a moment must perceive that it is morally impossible to keep up any peace, quietness, happiness, or order amongst mankind, without families; and as a proof of it, marriage institutions, of some kind or other, obtain, as far as I know, in every quarter and country of the world ; a plain proof that men are convinced it is absolutely necessary for the common good.
Now whoredom and fornication are sure to hinder and discourage marriage ; for if people are restrained from the unlawful indulgence of the passions, nature herself will take care to point out to them what is lawful, and marriage will be more or less frequent and happy, according as men are tied down from loose and irregular gratifications. I am aware what you will answer ; that this may be a consideration of consequence upon the whole, but that in a single person's case, the harm a single person can do to the whole community in this respect is but a trifle, scarcely to be perceived. To which I answer, that you may say this almost of any crime; it is not a vast or very sensible mischief that any one man, however wicked, can do to the public at large ; but you will please to remember withal, that if the mischief you do is but a trifle with respect to the public happiness, the punishment you suffer for it hereafter is but a trifle with respect to the public misery; the one is proportionable to the other, though but inconsiderable with respect to the whole; it may be enough to destroy you, who in the same view are also inconsiderable. But the proper answer to this, which is a very common way of talking and thinking, is this ; What would be the consequence if every one were to argue so? I allow myself in this, which I own in the general practice to be wrong and hurtful, because my single case can make but small difference. Another has the same reason to
you have; and so if this excuse is to be allowed in one instance, there is nothing left but to allow the sanction to every one that pleases; that is, to make an end at once of all morality and religion in the world.
But secondly; whoredom, I contend, is mischievous in the highest degree possible to the partner of our guilt, the person concerned with us in it. I desire to draw your attention to this point. Imagine a wife, a daughter, a sister of your own, to be the person seduced and corrupted; you cannot conceive a heavier misfortune, an affliction or disgrace that can equal it. What shame, confusion, and misery in a family ! How is a happy and united house thrown into a scene of bitterness, anguish, and reproach! What think you of the author of this misery? Is there no guilt in his behaviour ? Is there no punishment due to it, to be expected for it, from a just and righteous God? He may have got out of the way, and does not see or know all the misery he has occasioned; but does that make it less, or extenuate his offence? I am free to say, that if we compute crimes by the unhappiness and distress they knowingly occasion, and I know no better method of computing, not half the
say so that