For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
~ Romans 7:2-3
Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her. And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child. And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Because they have committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the LORD. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
~ Leviticus 18:20, Leviticus 20:10, 2 Samuel 11:4-5, 2 Samuel 11:27, Hebrews 13:4, Ephesians 5:5, Jeremiah 29:23, Malachi 3:5, Revelation 21:8
To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
~ Proverbs 2:16-18, Proverbs 7:26-27
They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
~ Jeremiah 5:8, Matthew 5:28
The Seventh Commandment, by Thomas Watson. This is from his sermons on the Ten Commandments.
You shall not commit adultery.
~ Exodus 20:14
God is a pure, holy being, and has an infinite antipathy against all impurity. In this commandment he has entered his caution against it, “You shall not commit adultery.” The sum of this commandment is–the preservations of bodily purity. We must take heed of running on the rock of impurity, and so making shipwreck of our chastity. In this commandment there is something tacitly implied, and something expressly forbidden.
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 7:2. “Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled.” Heb 13:4. God instituted marriage in paradise; he brought the woman to the man. Gen 2:22. He gave them to each other in marriage. Jesus Christ honoured marriage with his presence. John 2:2. 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 5:32.
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 5:23. The head is the seat of rule and judgment; 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 5:22. It is observable that the Holy Spirit 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.” 1 Pet 3:6.
The special duties belonging to marriage, are love and fidelity. Love is the marriage of the affections. Eph 5:25. 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 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 impurity. “You shall 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.
(1) Mental. “Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matt 5:28. As a man may die of an inward bleeding, so he may be damned for the inward boilings of lust, if it is not mortified.
(2) Physical; as when sin has conceived, and brought forth in the act. This is expressly forbidden, “You shall not commit adultery.” This commandment is set up as a hedge to keep out impurity; and those who break this hedge a serpent shall bite them. Job calls adultery a “heinous crime.” Job 31:2: Every failing is not a crime; and every crime is not a heinous crime; but adultery is “a heinous crime.” The Lord calls it villainy. “They have committed villainy in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives.” Jer 29:23.
Wherein appears the greatness of this sin?
(1) It is a breach of the marriage-oath. When people come together in matrimony, they bind themselves by covenant to each other, in the presence of God, to be true and faithful in the marital relation. Unchastity breaks this solemn oath; and herein adultery is worse than fornication, because it is a breach of the marital bond.
(2) The greatness of the sin lies in this: that it is a great dishonour done to God. God says, “You shall 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 you your life, and you do waste the lamp of life, the flower of your age in lewdness. He has bestowed on you many mercies, health, and estate, and you spend all on harlots. Did God give you wages–to serve the devil. It is injurious to God the Son, in two ways. As he has purchased you with his blood. “You are bought with a price.” 1 Cor 6:20. 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 you are a Christian, and professes that Christ is your head, and you are 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”? 1 Cor 6:15. It is injurious to God the Holy Spirit; for the body is his temple. “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you?” 1 Cor 6:19. 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 colour.
(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.” 1 Cor 7:2. Therefore, after this remedy prescribed, to be guilty of fornication or adultery, is inexcusable; it is like a rich thief, who steals when he has no need. This increases the sin.
Use one. The church of Rome is here condemned, which allows the sin of fortification and adultery. It does not allow its priests to marry—but they may have their paramours. The worst kind of impurity, incest with the nearest of kin, is dispensed with for money. It was once said of Rome, Rome was become a common stew. And no wonder, when the Pope, for a sum of money, could give a license to commit impurity; and, if the license were not enough, he would give them a pardon. Many of the Papists judge fornication to be venial. God condemns the very lusting. Matt 5:28. If God condemns the thought, how dare they allow the act 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 impurity.
Use two. 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 7:4. 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 your filthiness is lewdness.” Ezek 24:13. 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 between two notorious strumpets. This is to love forbidden fruit, to love to drink of stolen waters. “Son of man,” he said, “do you see what they are doing? Do you see the great sins the people of Israel are doing to drive me from my Temple? But come, and you will see even greater sins than these.” Then he brought me to the door of the Temple courtyard, where I could see an opening in the wall. He said to me, “Now, son of man, dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and uncovered a door to a hidden room. “Go in,” he said, “and see the unspeakable wickedness going on in there.” Ezekiel 8:6-9. 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, etc. And may not the Lord go from his sanctuary? 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.
Use three. For exhortation, to keep ourselves from the sin of adultery. “Let every man have his own wife,” says Paul, not his concubine, nor his paramour. 1 Cor 7:2. 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 his flesh.
(2) Adultery debases a person. It makes him resemble the beasts; therefore the adulterer is described like a horse neighing. “Everyone neighed after his neighbour’s wife.” Jer 5:8. 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 11:24. 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. He is so filthy, that if he dies in this sin, all the flames of hell will never purge away his immorality. And, as for the adulteress, who can paint her black enough? The Scripture calls her a deep ditch. Prov 23:27. She is a common sewer; whereas a believer’s body is a living temple, and his soul a little heaven, bespangled with the graces, as so many stars. The body of a harlot is a walking dung–hill, and her soul a lesser hell.
(4) Adultery is destructive to the body. “Afterward you will groan in anguish when disease consumes your body.” Prov 5:11. Immorality turns the body into a hospital, it brings foul diseases, 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. “So she seduced him with her pretty speech. With her flattery she enticed him. He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter or like a trapped stag, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life.” Proverbs 7:21-23. The Romans had their funerals at the gate of Venus’ 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. “Keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife. Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.” Proverbs 6:24-26. Whores are the devil’s horse-leeches, sponges that suck in money. The prodigal son spent his inheritance, when he fell among harlots. Luke 15:30. 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 who lives in luxury, dies in beggary.
(6) Adultery destroys reputation. “But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys his own soul. Wounds and constant disgrace are his lot. His shame will never be erased.” Prov 6:32, 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 shame will never be erased.” 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 bastard 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 4:11. It eats all purity out of the heart. Solomon besotted himself with women, and they enticed him to idolatry.
(8) This sin incurs temporal judgments. The Mosaic law made the penalty for adultery, to be death. “The adulterer and adulteress shall surely be put to death;” and the usual death was stoning. Lev 20:10; Deut 22:24. The Saxons commanded people guilty of 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. “For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.” Prov 6:34. The adulterer is often killed in the act of his sin. Adultery cost Otho the emperor, and Pope Sixtus IV their lives. “Lust’s practice is to make a joyful entrance—but she leaves in misery.” I have read of two in London, who, having defiled themselves with adultery, were immediately struck dead with lightening 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. “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexual offenders . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. The fire of lust brings to the fire of hell. “God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Heb 13:4. 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, “God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral”? The meaning is, he will judge them assuredly; they shall not escape the hand of justice; and he will punish them severely. “The Lord knows how to reserve the unjust to the day of judgment to be punished—but chiefly those who walk in the lust of immorality.” 2 Pet 2:9, 10. The harlot’s breasts keeps from Abraham’s bosom. “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 9:18. A wise traveler, though many pleasant dishes are set before him at the inn, forbears to eat all of them–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 pleasure could Dionysius eat his dainties, when he saw there was a glittering sword hung over his head as he sat at table? 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 its juice is poisonous. This is an emblem of a harlot; who is perfumed with powders, and lovely to look on—but poisonous and damnable to the soul. “She has cast down many wounded, yes, many strong men have been slain by her.” Prov 7:26.
(10) The adulterer does what lies in him, 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, yes, and also 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 does all he can, to deprive her of salvation. 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 an adulteress is a deep pit; he who is abhorred by the Lord, will fall into it.” Prov 22:14. 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 1:28. He is then in such a condition that he cannot repent. He is abhorred of God. The immoral person stands upon the threshold of hell; and when death gives him a push, he tumbles in.
(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 falls.” Luke 11:17.
All this should sound a warning in our ears, and call us off from the pursuit of so damnable a sin as immorality. Hear what the Scriptures say: “Her house is the way to hell.” Prov 7:27.
Use four. I shall give some directions, by way of antidote, to keep from the infection of this sin.
(1) Do not come into the company of a whorish woman; avoid her house, as a seaman does a rock. “Run from her. Don’t go near the door of her house.” Proverbs 5:8. He who would not have the plague, must not come near infected houses; every whore-house has the plague in it. Not to avoid 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 2:14. The eye tempts the imagination, and the imagination works upon the heart. A lustful amorous eye, may usher in sin. Eve first saw the tree of knowledge–and then she took. Gen 3:6. 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–not to look with lust upon a young woman.” Job 31:1. 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 unclean word which may enkindle unclean thoughts in yourselves or others. “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” 1 Cor 15:33. 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.” Psalm 141:3.
(4) Look in a special manner to your heart. “Guard your heart with all diligence.” Proverbs 4:23. Every person has a tempter in his own bosom. “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.” Matt 15:19. 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–guards 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. Proverbs 7:10. A wanton dress is a provocation to lust. Cuttings and braidings of the hair, a painted face, half-naked breasts, are allurements to immorality. Where the sign is hung out–people will go in and taste the liquor. Jerome says, “those 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, even though they would not drink.”
(6) Take heed of evil company. Sin is a very contagious disease; one person tempts another to sin, and hardens him in it. There are three cords which draw men to immorality: the inclination of the heart, the persuasion of evil company, and the embraces of the harlot. This threefold cord is not easily broken. “A fire was kindled in their company.” Psalm 106:18. The fire of lust is kindled in bad company.
(7) Beware of going to theatres and plays. A play-house is often a preface to a whorehouse. “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, which are not fit to be beheld with chaste eyes. 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 plays.
(8) Take heed of mixed dancing. “Dances are instruments of lust and wantonness.” From dancing, people come to dalliance with another, and from dalliance to immorality. “There is,” says Calvin, “for the most part, some unchaste behaviour in dancing.” Dances draw the heart to immorality–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—but of dancing there we read not.” Matt 25:7. Many have been ensnared by dancing; as the duke of Normandy, and others. “Dancing is not the conduct of a 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 15:20. 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, which provoke to lust. As the reading of the Scripture stirs up love to God, so reading vile books stirs up the mind to wickedness. To lascivious books I may add lascivious pictures, which bewitch the eye, and are incendiaries to lust. They secretly convey poison to the heart.
(10) Take heed of excess in diet. When gluttony and drunkenness lead the van, immorality and wantonness bring up the rear. “Wine inflames lust.” “Sodom’s sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony.” Ezekiel 16:49. The foulest weeds grow out of the fattest soil. Immorality proceeds from excess. “When I had fed them to the full, everyone neighed after his neighbour’s wife.” Jer 5:8. Get the “golden bridle of temperance.” God allows the refreshment of nature, and what may fit us the better for his service; but beware of surfeit. Excess in temporal things–clouds the mind, chokes good affections, and provokes lust. “I discipline my body and bring it under strict control.” 1 Cor 9:27. The flesh pampered–is liable to immorality.
(11) Take heed of idleness. When a man is idle, he is ready to receive any temptation. The devil sows most of his seeds of temptation in fallow ground. Idleness is the cause of sodomy and immorality. “Sodom’s sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony.” Ezek 16:49. When David was idle on the top of his house, he espied Bathsheba, and committed adultery with her. 2 Sam 11:4. 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 24:16. When Solomon had dissuaded from immoral women, he prescribed a remedy against it. “Rejoice with the wife of your youth.” Proverbs 5:18. It is not having a wife—but loving a wife– which 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 marital love is a gift of God, and comes from heaven; but, like the vestal fire, it must be nourished, so that it does not go out. He who does not love his wife, is the likeliest person to embrace the bosom of a harlot.
(13) Labour to get the fear of God into your hearts. “By the fear of the Lord, men depart from evil.” Proverbs 16:6. As the embankment keeps out the water, so the fear of the Lord keeps out immorality. Such as lack the fear of God, lack the bridle which should check them from sin. How did Joseph keep from his mistress’ temptation? The fear of God pulled him back. “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God.” Gen. 39:9. Bernard calls holy fear, “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 entering.
(14) Take delight in the Word of God. “How sweet are your words unto my taste.” Psalm 119:103. 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.” “Let the Scriptures be my pure pleasure,” says Augustine. The reason why people seek after unchaste, sinful pleasures–is because they have nothing better. Caesar riding through a city, and seeing the women play with dogs and parrots, said, “Surely, they have no children.” So those who sport with harlots have no better pleasures. He who has once tasted Christ in a promise, is ravished with delight; and he would scorn a temptation to sin. Job said, that the Word was his “appointed food.” Job 23:12. No wonder then, that he made a “covenant with his eyes.”
(15) If you would abstain from adultery, use serious consideration.
(1) Consider that God sees you in the act of sin. He sees all your curtain wickedness. He is totus oculus–“all eye.” The clouds are no canopy, the night is no curtain–to hide you from God’s eye. Whenever you sin–your Judge looks on. “I have seen your detestable acts–your adulteries and your neighings.” Jer 13:27. “They have committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives. I know it and am a witness to it.–declares the Lord.” Jer 29:23.
(2) Consider that few who are entangled in the sin of adultery, ever recover from the snare. “None that go to her return again.” Proverbs 2:19. 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 which sparkled with lust, she sought to be revenged, by washing Christ’s feet with her tears. Some, therefore have recovered from this snare. “None that go to her return,” that is, “very few.” It is rare to hear of any who are enchanted and bewitched with the sin of immorality, who recover from it. “I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare.” Eccl 7:26. Her “heart is a trap,” that is, she is subtle to deceive those who come to her; and “her hands are chains,” that is her embraces are powerful to hold and entangle her lovers. This consideration should make all fearful of this sin. Soft pleasures, harden the heart.
(3) Consider what Scripture says, which may lay a barricade in the way to this sin. “I will be a swift witness against the adulterers.” Mal 3:5. 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 swift witness against the adulterer.” And who shall disprove God’s witness? He is both witness and judge. “God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.” Heb 13:4.
(4) Consider the sad farewell, which the sin of adultery leaves. It leaves a hell in the conscience. “The lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But the result is as bitter as poison, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to hell.” Proverbs 5:3-5. The goddess Diana was so artfully drawn, that she seemed to smile upon those who came into her temple—but frown on those who went out. So the harlot smiles on her lovers as they come to her–but at last, they come to the frown and the sting. “Until an arrow pierces his liver.” Proverbs 7:23. “Her end is bitter.”
When a man has been virtuous, the labour is gone—but the comfort remains; but when he has been wicked and immoral, the pleasure is gone—but the sting remains. “He gains momentary pleasure–and then eternal torment,” says 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 conscience. Sin always ends in tragedy. Sad is that which Fincelius reports of a priest in Flanders, who enticed a young girl to immorality. When 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 immorality 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 against sin; it quenches the wild fire of lust. If prayer will “cast out the devil,” it will certainly cast out those lusts which come from the devil.
Use five. 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 immorality—but that we should keep our souls pure. To have a chaste body—but an unclean soul, is like a beautiful face with a cancerous heart. “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Pet 1:16. The soul cannot be lovely to God, until it has Christ’s image stamped upon it, which consists in righteousness and true holiness. Eph 4:24. The soul must especially be kept pure, because it is the chief place of God’s residence. Eph 3:17. 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 5:22. 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 39:12 He was suspicious to be near her.
(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 engraved upon the life. We are adorned with patience, humility, good works, and shine as “Lights in the world.” Phil 2:15. Carry Christ’s picture in your life. 1 John 2:6. O let us labor for this soul purity. Without it there is no seeing God. Heb 12:14. “What communion has light with darkness?” 2 Cor 6:14. To keep the soul pure—have recourse to the blood of Christ, which is the “fountain open, to cleanse from sin and impurity.” Zech 13:1. 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.” Psalm 51:10. Some pray for children, others for riches; but you are to pray 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 Spirit 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 you would have me to be, and as happy as I can desire to be.”