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them of old;" which was not only a prohibition of the violation of the rights of marriage, but was, even among the Jews, extended to signify all mixture of sexes not matrimonial. For adultery, in Scripture, is sometimes used to signify fornication, and fornication for adultery; as it is expressed in the permissions of divorce, in the case of fornication: and by Moses's law, fornication also was forbidden; and it was hated also, and reproved, in the natural. But it is very probable, that this precept was restrained only to the instance of adultery in the proper sense, that is, violation of marriage; for Moses did, in other annexes of the law, forbid fornication. And as a blow or wound was not esteemed, in Moses's law, a breach of the sixth commandment; so neither was any thing but adultery esteemed a violation of the seventh, by very many of their own doctors: of which I reckon this a sufficient probation, because they permitted stranger virgins and captives to fornicate; only they believed it sinful in the Hebrew maidens. And when two harlots pleaded before Solomon for the bastard-child, he gave sentence of their question, but nothing of their crime. Strangers2, with the Hebrews, signified, many times, harlots; because they were permitted to be such, and were entertained to such purposes. But these were the licenses of a looser interpretation; God having, to all nations, given sufficient testimony of his detestation of all concubinate not hallowed by marriage of which, among the nations, there was abundant testimony; in that the harlots were not permitted to abide in the cities, and wore veils, in testimony of their shame and habitual indecencies; which we observe in the story of Thamara, and also Chrysippus. And, although it passed without punishment, yet never without shame, and a note of turpitude. And the abstinence from fornication was one of the precepts of Noah, to which the Jews obliged the stranger-proselytes, who were only proselytes of the house: and the apostles enforce it upon the Gentiles, in their first decree at Jerusalem, as renewing an old stock of precepts and obligations, in which all the converted and religious Gentiles did communicate with the Jews.
2 évas vocârunt Græci meretrices et peregrinas, ad morem et ad verbum Hebræorum; et Menandrum transferens, Terentius peregrinam vocat Andriam. a Gen. xxxviii. 14.
38. To this Christ added, that the eyes must not be adulterous; his disciples must not only abstain from the act of unlawful concubinate, but from the impurer intuition of a wife of another man: so, according to the design of his whole sermon, opposing the righteousness of the Spirit to that of the law, or of works, in which the Jews confided. Christians must have chaste desires, not indulging to themselves a liberty of looser thoughts; keeping the threshold of their temples pure, that the Holy Ghost may observe nothing unclean in the entry of his habitation. For he that lusts after a woman wants nothing to the consummation of the act but some convenient circumstances; which, because they are not in our power, the act is impeded, but nothing of the malice abated. But so severe in this was our blessed Master, that he commanded us rather to "put our eyes out," than to suffer them to become an offence to us, that is, an inlet of sin, or an invitation or transmission of impurity; by putting our eyes out," meaning the extinction of all incentives of lust, the rejection of all opportunities and occasions, the quitting all conditions of advantage which ministers fuel to this hell-fire. And by this severity we must understand all beginnings, temptations, likenesses, and insinuations and minutes of lust and impurity, to be forbidden to Christians; such as are all morose delectations in vanity, wanton words, gestures, balls, revellings, wanton diet, garish and lascivious dressings and trimmings of the body, looser banquetings: all making provisions for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts of it," all lust of concupiscence, and all "lust of the eye," and all lust of the hand, unclean contracts, are to be rescinded, all lust of the tongue and palate, all surfeiting and drunkenness: for it is impossible to keep the spirit pure, if it be exposed to all the entertainment of enemies. And if Christ forbade the wanton eye, and placed it under the prohibition of adultery, it is certain, whatsoever ministers to that vice, and invites to
b Nihil refert quibus membris adulteraveris, dixit Archesilaus philosophus. Plutarch.
̓Αρχὴ τοῦ ἔρωτος ὅρασις. — Plato.
Ut jam servaris bene corpus, adultera mens est:
Incesta est etiam sine stupro quæ stuprum quærit. — Seneca.
Πόθεν ποτ' ἄρα γίνεται μοιχῶν γένος; ἐκ κριθιῶντος ἀνδρὸς ἐν ἀφροδισίας.--Clcanthes.
it, is within the same restraint; it is the eye, or the hand, or the foot, that is to be cut off. To this commandment fastings and severe abstinences are apt to be reduced, as being the proper abscission of the instruments and temptations of lust, to which Christ invites by the mixed proposition of threatening and reward; for "better it is to go to heaven with but one eye, or one foot," that is, with a body half nourished, than with full meals and an active lust to "enter into hell." And in this our blessed Lord is a Physician rather than a Lawgiver for abstinence from all impure concubinate, and morose delectations so much as in thought, being the commandment of God; that Christ bids us retrench the occasions and insinuations of lust, it is a facilitating the duty, not a new severity, but a security and caution of prudence.
The Eighth Commandment.
39. "Thou shalt not steal." To this precept Christ added nothing; because God had already, in the decalogue, fortified this precept with a restraint upon the desires. For the tenth commandment forbids all coveting of our neighbour's goods: for the wife there reckoned, and forbidden to be desired from another man, is not a restraint of libidinous appetite, but of the covetous; it being accounted part of wealth to have a numerous family, many wives, and many servants: and this also God, by the prophet Nathan, upbraided to David, as an instance of David's wealth and God's liberality. But yet this commandment Christ adopted into his law, it being prohibited by the natural law, or the law of right reason, commonwealths not being able to subsist without distinction of dominion, nor industry to be encouraged but by propriety, nor families to be maintained but by defence of just rights and truly purchased possessions. And this prohibition extends to all injustice, whether done by force or fraud; whether it be by ablation, or prevention,
Crescit indulgens sibi dirus hydrops,
Nec sitim pellit, nisi causa morbi
Fugerit venis, et aquosus albo
Corpore languor. Horat: lib. ii. Od. 2.
d Ὁ γὰρ τοῖς ἀλλοτρίοις ἐπικεχηνὼς, κοινὸς πόλεως ἐχθρός· βουλήσει μὲν πάντων, δυνάμει δὲ τὰ τῶν τίνων ἀφαιρούμενος. Philo in Exposit. Gener.
Κλοκὴ μὲν χρημάτων ανελεύθερον. — Plato, lib. x. de Leg.
or detaining of rights; any thing in which injury is done, directly or obliquely, to our neighbour's fortune®.
The Ninth Commandment.
40. "Thou shalt not bear false witness." That is, thou shalt not answer in judgment against thy neighbour falselyf: which testimony, in the law, was given solemnly and by oath, invoking the name of God. "I adjure thee by God that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ," said the high priest to the blessed Jesus, that is, speak upon thy oath; and then he told them fully, though they made it the pretence of murdering him, and he knew they would do so. Confessing and witnessing truth is giving glory to God: but false witness is high injustice, it is inhumanity and treason against the quietness, or life, or possession of a just person; it is in itself irregular and unreasonable, and, therefore, is so forbidden to Christians, not only as it is unjust, but as it is false. For a lie in communication and private converse is also forbidden, as well as unjust testimony &; "Let every man speak truth with his neighbour "," that is, in private society : and whether a lie be in jest or earnest, when the purpose is to deceive and abuse, though in the smallest instance, it is in that degree criminal as it is injurious'. I find not the same affirmed in every deception of our neighbours, wherein no man is injured, and some are benefited; the error of the affirmation being nothing but a natural irregularity, nothing malicious, but very charitable. I find no severity superadded by Christ to this commandment, prohibiting such discourse, which, without injury to any man, deceives a man into piety or safety. But this is to be extended no farther in
e Paulus J. C. lib. i. D. de Furtis. Ulpian. 1. Probrum, D. de Verborum Significatione.
· Οὐ γὰρ ἐπὶ ψεύδεσσι πατὴς Ζεὺς ἔσσετ ̓ ἀρωγός. -- Homer. lib. iv. Il.
Τοῦ δὲ τ ̓ ἀμαυροτέρη γενεὴ μετόπισθε λέλειπται.
Β ̓Αλήθειά ἐστι μεγάλη ἀρχὴ τῆς ἀρετῆς. — Pind. ψεῦδος δὲ μισεῖ πᾶς φρόνιμος καὶ σοφός. — Menand. Ephes. iv. 25.
Epaminondam ne joco quidem mentitum fuisse narrant fidi scriptores.
Hesiod. lib. i. "Epy.
all things else we must be severe in our discourses, and "neither lie in a great matter nor a small, for the custom thereof is not good," saith the son of Sirach. I could add, concerning this precept, that Christ, having left it in that condition he found it in the decalogue, without any change or alteration of circumstance, we are commanded to give true testimony in judgment; which, because it was under an oath, there lies upon us no prohibition, but a severity of injunction, to swear truth in judgment when we are required. The securing of testimonies was by the sanctity of an oath, and this remains unaltered in Christianity.
The Tenth Commandment.
41. "Thou shalt not covet." This commandment we find nowhere repeated in the Gospel by our blessed Saviour; but it is inserted in the repetition of the second table, which St. Paul mentioned to the Romans: for it was so abundantly expressed in the enclosures of other precepts, and the whole design of Christ's doctrine, that it was less needful specially to express that which is every where affixed to many precepts evangelical. Particularly it is inherent in the first beatitude, "Blessed are the poor in spirit;" and it means, that we should not wish our neighbour's goods with a deliberate entertained desire, but that, upon the commencement of the motion, it be disbanded instantly: for he that does not at the first address and incitement of the passion suppress it, he hath given it that entertainment which, in every period of staying, is a degree of morose delectation in the appetite. And to this I find not Christ added any thing; for the law itself, forbidding to entertain the desire, hath commanded the instant and present suppression; they are the same thing, and cannot reasonably be distinguished. Now that Christ, in the instance of adultery, hath commanded to abstain also from occasions and accesses towards the lust, this hath not the same severity; because the
* Furtum quoque sine ulla attrectatione fieri posse solà mente, atque animo ut furtum fiat annitente. — A. Gell. lib. xi. c. 18.
Has patitur pœnas peccandi sola voluntas.
Nam scelus intra se tantùm qui cogitat ullum,
Non minùs esse turpe oculos quàm pedes in aliena immittere, dixit Xenocrates.