Page images

offences for which men suffer death by the law, are so guilty as this of seducing and corrupting a young person to her ruin. The loss of money or property is nothing to it. Now, I may say, whoredom always begins or ends with this. It too often begins with this; or otherwise profligate young men who have already debauched and corrupted themselves in the world, become the authors of this mischief and calamity to others.

Thirdly ; it is mischievous also to the offender himself, and in this way; it draws down the mind from all sense of religion, and by degrees loosens and wears away all the good principles that were in a man. There are some points, which when well passed, all is over with a man; and this seems to be one of those points. When a man has been once brought to allow himself in habitual whoredom and uncleanness, generally speaking, it is all over with him. As to his religious princiciples, he will soon, if I am not mistaken, find a change himself in this respect, which he will be surprised at ; that is, many things which before seemed shocking and abominable to him become so familiar and accustomed to his thoughts as to be made light of; all spiritual meditation and reflection, all religion, and the hopes of it, are laid aside when a man has given himself up entirely to this vice; indeed, he is neither fit for such thoughts, nor has any relish "for them ; his thoughts and his relish are taken up with something else, from which he finds it impossible to lift or disengage himself. I am saying no more than what I believe fact and observation will easily testify. There are scarce any who give themselves up habitually to this vice who retain any sense of their various obligations, or live in the fear of God in other instances. It has a more immediate tendency, I think, than any other vice to create a disregard to all other breaches of the law, and to occasion a total neglect of duty. The duties of devotion, those particularly relating to the Deity, suffer especially by this practice, which clouds the understanding, corrupts the will, debases the affections, and indisposes the whole man for devotion and any proper service of God. It usually occasions all kinds of sins, and prevents the repentance of any. We need not go far to seek for the causes of this effect. One may be, that as there can be no peace but by reconciling, some how or other, their practice with their principles, they who will not conform themselves to the purity required by the gospel, are forced, as it were, to conform their notions to their own impure conversation, and either at once to have done with the belief of Christianity, or, what is more easy and common, to stifle the remem

so more There are no retail God in chan any law, and to stify to this via the fear cy', I thinkies of the bi devoti

hould producagainst it whace, to

brance of it. These are the consequences of whoredom to the public at large, to the partner of our crime in particular, and upon ourselves; and I do not know that I have exaggerated them, or put down any which are not true.

I proceed, in the next place, to set before you some of those declarations against it which are to be found in scripture. I could produce a great deal out of the Book of Proverbs, from the Book of Wisdom, and the prophets, but I shall confine my. self to what Christ and his apostles have said, as being of the higher authority with us, and that according to which we shall be judged. Out of the heart,' says our Saviour himself,

proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man. This is what our Saviour himself says; and one word from him decides the point. You will observe also with what company fornication is classed; with murders, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. I do not mean that these crimes are all to be reckoned equal, because they are all mentioned together; but it proves that they all are crimes. The apostles are more full ; and for this reason, that they had to do with the heathens, who made very light of this crime. St Peter enforces the duty of chastity upon the new Christians in the following very strong terms; Dearly beloved,' says he in his first epistle, 'I beseech you as pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.' And again in his second epistle ; "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished ; but chiefly them that walk after the flesh, in the lust of uncleanness. These are very plain and affecting words; "the Lord knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judge ment to be punished; but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness. St Paul also has treated this subject very largely; as indeed he had occasion, being that to which the people he wrote to were before their conversion much addicted; but fornication, and all uncleanness, let it not be once named amongst you, as becometh saints.' St Paul shows here very plainly his sense of the heinousness of this vice. He not only says, let it not be practised, but not once named amongst you, as becometh saints. This to the Ephesians. To the Corinthians he sets forth the guilt of this vice in this way; Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.' And that the defiling here spoken of is intended of fornication is pretty plain from

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

what he says more fully in the sixth chapter of his epistle ; • Flee fornication; every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body, the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God; and ye are not your own.

I do not want to explain the argument here used by St Paul, or all the expressions contained in it; because I produce it only to show, what it says without any explantion, that St Paul condemned fornication as absolutely and peculiarly inconsistent with the christian profession. In his epistle to the Colossians, for I think there is hardly one of his epistles which does not take notice, more or less, of this, he charges them as follows;

Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence; for which things' sake,' he adds, the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience. For which things' sake; that is, for the sake of fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence. This is a very awakening rebuke to these vices; we find that they call down upon them the wrath of God. Once more also, in his epistle to the Thessalonians; • This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication. Had the apostle stopped here, he had told us every thing we wanted of the will of God. “This is the will of God ;' and to know that will and do it is the whole of our business here ; but he proceeds; that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel,' namely, his own body, 'in sanctification and honor ; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles, which know not God; for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness." There are two very remarkable passages to our purpose in the Revelation of St John, in which you cannot fail to take notice both of the terrible sentence denounced against fornication amongst some other crimes, and also with what other crimes it is classed; The fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.' And again, speaking of those who shall be excluded from the Divine presence, he says; Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. The words of the text I reserve for the conclusion, because it is both positive, and withal so short as to be easily carried in memory. It is in the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews and the fourth verse;

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.'

I shall make no sort of remark on what has been said, but this one ; that if you are satisfied, partly from the harm it does, but principally from these places of scripture, that whoredom is really contrary to the will of God, and will draw down his wrath upon it, it matters not how light the world may in general make of it; because it is by the rules of scripture and reason that we shall be judged at last, and not by the opinion of the world.



PART 11.


Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and

adulterers God will judge.

I have in a former discourse set forth the effects of lewdness as we see them in this world ; and also the consequences that we are to expect to ourselves in the next world, if the threats and declarations of scripture are to be depended on. I made no other observation upon these effects or these declarations than simply this ; that if we saw reason to believe from either of them, or both of them together, that a course of unlawful lewdness was inconsistent with our hopes of salvation, not to suffer ourselves to be led away by the opinion of the world, or expect that these things would pass for trifles hereafter, because they are amongst many accounted trifles here. If, then, this be a vice of that serious nature, and which may have such serious effects upon our everlasting condition, the next great consideration will be, what are the proper preservatives and precautions against it.

Indeed the whole subject of the preservation of virtue is vastly too much neglected, in other circumstances, as well as this. A virtuous and vicious character does not so much consist in one or two, or a few single acts of virtue or of vice, but in such a plan and rule and habit of living, as is suited to promote the one and guard against the other. I allow that the greater part live without any such plan, rule, or habit; and what is the effect? They commit themselves to every situation that presents itself, without reserve, fear, or caution ; and they trust that if a temptation to vice assault them, they shall find firmness and reflection enough in themselves at the time to guard against it; and upon the strength of that presumption, they either lay themselves out for such situations as furnish temptation and opportunities of vice, and are inviting on that account; or they enter heedlessly into such situations; or they fancy the time for exercising their morality is not yet come; as yet there is no harm; and when they fall, as they are almost sure to do, into the snares, why then, they were surprised and taken off their guard, they were overpowered by allurements which no one could resist, the reason they depended upon was perhaps grown dark, the resolutions, which were so steadfast and unconquerable, melted away like snow before the fire ; and He surely, who knows whereof we are made, will condescend to excuse the passions which he himself has implanted, and not condemn with severity our fall, which no human fortitude could prevent;' in which train of thinking the error is, that we do not carry back our minds to that which composes, perhaps, the greatest part of our offence; our leading ourselves into temptation, our either seeking it or suffering ourselves to be drawn into it, or falling upon such a course of life as exposes us to it; which we might have prevented, and which surely we had power enough to have withstood. But surely this delusion can happen but once. A man may be once drawn in, and entangled for want of experience; but he will escape, when he does escape, like a bird out of the hand of the fowler, not to return, one would think, to the snare. Just the contrary is the fact. The same process is renewed, the same often dangerous situation or heedlessnesss about entering into it, the same weakness in yielding; and the same excuses and palliations will be no longer necessary; till a confirmed habit of vice be formed, “when we work uncleanness,' as the apostle expresses it, 'with greediness,' and without any further molestation from the rebukes or checks of conscience.

Having said thus much upon the necessity of looking after the preservation of our virtue in time, and laying out such a plan of life as may best keep us from temptation, and fortify us against it, I now proceed to propose what appear to me the

« PreviousContinue »