Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
~ 1 Peter 5:2
There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
~ Ecclesiastes 4:8, Proverbs 23:5, Mark 4:19
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
~ Romans 6:12, 2 Timothy 2:22, Romans 13:14
Directions Against Inward Filthy Lusts, by Richard Baxter. This is an excerpt from his work, “The Christian Directory”.
1. Direct. 1. Because with most the temperature of the Body hath a great hand in this sin, your first care must be about the body to reduce it unto a temper less inclined to lust: And here the chief remedy is fasting and much abstinence. And this may the better be born, because for the most part it is persons so strong as to be able to endure it that are under this temptation. If your Temptation be not strong, the less abstinence from meat and drink may serve turn: (For I would prescribe you no stronger Physick than is needful to cure your disease.) But if it be violent and lesser means will not prevail, it’s better your bodies be somewhat weakened, than your souls corrupted and undone. Therefore in this case, 1. Eat no Breakfast nor Suppers; but one meal a day, unless a bit or two of Bread and a sup or two of Water in the morning, and yet not too full a dinner, and nothing at night. 2. Drink no Wine or strong Drink, but Water if the stomach can bear it without sickness, (and usually in such hot bodies it is healthfuller than Beer). 3 Eat no hot Spices or strong or heating or windy meats: Eat Lettice and such cooling Herbs. 4. If need require it, be often let blood, or purged with such purges as copiously evacuate serosity, and not only irritate. 5. And oft bath in cold Water. But the Physicion should be advised with, that they may be safely done.
2. If you think this course too dear a cure, and had rather cherish your flesh and lust, you are not the persons that I am now Directing; for I speak to such only as are willing to be cured, and to use the necessary means that they may be cured? If you be not brought to this, your Conscience had need of better awakening. I am sure Christ saith that when the Bridegroom was taken from them, his Disciples should fast, Mar. 2. 19, 20. And even painful Paul was in fasting often, 2 Cor. 6. 5. & 11. 27. and kept under his body and brought it into subjection, lest by any means when he had Preached to others himself should be a castaway, 1 Cor. 9. 27. And I am sure that the ancient Christians that lived in solitude and eat many of them nothing but bread and water, or meaner fare than bread, did not think this cure too dear. Yea smaller necessities than this engaged them in fasting, 1 Cor. 7. 5. This unclean Devil will scarcely be cast out but by prayer and fasting, Mar. 9. 29.
3. And I must tell you that Fulness doth naturally cherish Lust, as fewel doth the fire. Fulness of bread prepared the Sodomites for their filthy lusts. It’s no more wonder that a stuffed paunch hath a lustful fury, than that the water runs into the Pipes when the Cistern is full, or than it is wonder to see a dunghill bear weeds, or a Carrion to be full of crawling Magots. Plutarch speaks of a Spartan that being asked why Lycurgus made no Law against Adultery, answered, There are no Adulterers with us: But saith the other, what if there should be any? saith the Spartan, Then be is to pay an Oxe so great as shall stand on this side the River Tayget and drink of the River Eurota: saith the other, that is imp•ssible: And saith the Spartan Et quo pacto Spartae existat adulter in quâ divitiae, deliciae, & corporis adscititius cultus probro habentur? & contra verecundia, modestia, ac obedientiae Magistratibus debitae observatio decori laudi (que) dantur? that is, And how can there be an Adulterer at Sparta, where Riches, delights and strange attire or ornament are a disgrace or reproach? and contrarily shamefaceness, modesty and the observance of due obedience to Magistrates is an honour and praise? And if Rich men think it their priviledge to fare sumptuously and satisfie their appetites, they must take it for their priviledge to feed their lust? But God giveth no man plenty for such uses; nor is it any excuse for eating and drinking much, because you have much, no more than it would be to your Cooks to put much Salt in your meat more than in poorer men’s, because you have more. He that observeth the filthy and and pernicious effects of that Gluttony which is accounted Rich men’s honour and felicity, will never envy them that miserable happiness, but say rather as Antisthenes, Hostium filiis contingat in deliciis vivere: Let it befall the Children of my enemies to live in delights: but that the curse is too heavy for a Christian to use to any of his enemies. But for himself he must remember that he is the Servant of a Holy God, and hath a Holy work to do, and Holy sacrifices to offer to him, and therefore must not pamper his flesh, as if he were preparing a sacrifice for Venus. For as 1 Thes. 4. 3, 4. This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the lust of concupiscence as the Gentiles that know not God. As the Philosopher answered Antigonus when he asked him whether he should go to a merry feast that he was invited to, Thou art the Son of a King, so it is answer enough for a Christian against Temptations to voluptuousness, I am the Son of the most Holy God. If thou be invited to feasts where urgency or allurement is like to make thee break thy bounds, go not, or go back when thou feest the bait. As Epaminondas in Plutarch finding excess at a feast that he was invited to, went away when he saw it, saying, Ego te sacrificare, non lascivire putaram: so say thou, I came to dine and not to be wanton or luxurious; to support my body for duty, and not to pamper it for lust. Plutarch marvaileth at the folly of those men that detest the charms of witches lest they hurt them, and fear not but love the charms of dishes which hurt a thousand where witches hurt one. Withdraw the fuel of excess and the fire of lust will of it self go out: or at least this enemy must be besieged and starved out, when it cannot be conquered by storm.
4. Direct. 2. Take heed of Idleness, and be wholly taken up in diligent business, of your lawful callings, when you are not exercised in the more immediate service of God. David in his idleness or vacancy catcht those sparks of lust, which in his troubles and military life he was preserved from. Idleness is the soil, the culture, and the opportunity of Lust. The idle person goeth to School to the Devil: He sets all other employment aside, that the Devil may have time to teach him and treat with him and sollicit him to evil: Do you wonder that he is thinking on lustful objects, or that he is taken up in feasting and drinking, in chambering and wantonness? why he hath nothing else to do. Whereas a laborious diligent person hath a body subdued and hardened against the mollities, the effeminateness of the wanton; and a mind employed and taken up with better things: Leave thy body and mind no leisure to think of tempting filthy objects, or to look after them. As Hierome saith, Facito aliquid operis, ut semper Diabolus inveniat te occupatum: Be still doing some work that the Devil may always find thee busie. And do not for thy fleshly ease remit thy labours and indulge thy flesh. Rise early and go late to bed, and put thy self upon a Necessity of diligence all the day: undertake and engage thy self, in as much business as thou art able to go through, that if thou wouldst, thou maist not be able to give any indulgence to the flesh: For if thou be not still pressed by necessity, Lust will serve it self by idleness, and the flesh will lye down if it feel not the spur: Therefore are the Rich and idle more lustful and filthy than the poor labouring people. The same Bed is the place of sloth and Lust. Hear a Heathen and refuse not to imitate him. Seneca saith, (No day passeth me in idleness: Part of the night I reserve for studies: I do not purposely set my self to sleep, but yield to it when it overcometh me: and when my eyes are wearyed with watching, and are falling, I hold them to their work:—I had rather it went ill with me than delicately or tenderly. If thou be delicate or tender the mind by little and little is effeminate, and is dissolved into the similitude of the idleness and sloth in which it lyeth. I sleep very little, and take but a short nap: It sufficeth me to have ceased watching: sometimes I know that I slept, sometime I do but suspect it.) Aristotle saith, Nature made nothing to be idle: And Plato calls Idleness the Plague of Mortals. If thou be resolved to serve and please thy flesh, then never ask advice against thy lust; for its part of the pleasure of it: and then no wonder if thou refuse this Physick as too bitter, and the remedy as too dear: But if thou be resolved to be cured and to be saved, stick not at the pains: give up thy self totally to thy business, and lust will dye for want of food.
5. Direct. 3. If thou wouldst be free from lust, keep far enough from the tempting object. If possible dwell not in the house with any person that thou feelest thy self endangered by: If that be not possible avoid their company; especially in private: Abhor all lascivious and immodest actions. Dost thou give thy self the liberty of wanton dalliance, and lustful embracements, and yet think to be free from lust? wilt thou put thy hand into the fire when thou art afraid of being burnt? either thou hast the power of thy own heart, or thou hast not: If thou hast, why dost thou not quench thy lust? If thou hast not, why dost thou cast it upon greater temptations, and put it farther out of thy power than it is? Fly from a tempting object for thy safety, as thou wouldst fly from an enemy for thy life. These Loving enemies are more dangerous than hating enemies: They get the Key of our hearts, and come in and steal our treasure with our consent, or without resistance; when an open enemy is suspected and shut out.
6. Direct. 4. Command thy Eyes, and as Job 31. 1. make a Covenant with them, that thou mayest not think on tempting objects: Shut these Windows and thou preservest thy heart. Gaze not upon any alluring object. A look hath kindled that fire of Lust in many a heart, that hath ended in the fire of Hell. It’s easier to stop lust at these outward doors, than drive it out when it hath tainted the heart. If thou canst not do this much, how canst thou do more? An ungoverned eye fetcheth fire to burn the soul that should have governed it.
7. Direct. 5. Linger not in the pleasant snares of lust, if thou feel but the least beginnings of it: but quickly cast water on the first discerned spark, before it break out into a flame. The Amorous Poet can teach you this, Ovid. de Rem. Am. If ever delay be dangerous it is here. For delay will occasion such engagements to sin, that you must come off at a far dearer rate. If the meat be undigestible, it’s best not look on it: it’s the next best, not to touch or taste it; but if once it go down, it will cost you sickness and pain to get it up again; and if you do not, you perish by it.
8. Direct. 6. Abhor lascivious immodest speech: As such words come from either vain or filthy hearts, and shew the absence of the fear of God, so they tend to make the hearer like the speaker. And if thy eares grow but patient and reconcileable to such discourse, thou hast lost much of thy innocence already. Christians must abhor the mentioning of such filthy sins, in any other manner, but such as tends to bring the hearers to abhor them. Be not deceived; evil words corrupt good manners. 1 Cor. 15. 33. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers, and grieve not the holy spirit of God. Corrupt communication is rotten stinking communication: and none but Dogs and Crows love Carrion. But Fornication and all uncleanness and (in non-Latin alphabet) inordinate lust or luxury, let it not be once named among you, as becometh Saints; neither filthiness nor foolish talking nor jesting, &c.
9. Direct. 7. Abhor the covering of filthy lust with handsome names to make it the more acceptable. Their discourse is more dangerous that would thus dress up an ugly lust, than theirs that speak of it in nasty language. Thus among the bruitish party, it goeth under the names of Love, and having a Mistris, and Courting, and such like. But (as one saith thats cited in Stobaeus): It is doubled Lust that is commonly called Love, and doubled Love is stark madness. If filthiness will walk abroad, let it go for filthiness, and appear as it is.
10. Direct. 8. Avoid the Reading of Romances and Love stories: which are the Library of Venus; or the Devils Books of the Lustful art; to cover over filthiness with cleanly names, and bewitch the fantasies of fools with fine words: To make men conceive of the ready way to Hell, under the notions and images of Excellency, Beauty, Love, Gallantry: And by representing strong and amorous passions, to stir up the same passions in the Reader. As he that will needs read a Conjuring Book, is well enough served if Devils come about his ears, so he that will needs read such Romances and other Books of the Burning art, it is just with God to suffer an unclean Devil to possess them, and to suffer them to catch the Feaver of Lust, which may not only burn up the heart, but cause that pernicious deliration in the brain, which is the ordinary symptome of it.
11. Direct. 9. Avoid all wanton Stage-plays and Dancings, which either cover the odiousness of lust, or produce temptations to it. As God hath his preachers and holy assemblies and exercises, for the Communion of Saints and the stirring up of Love and holiness; so these are Satan’s instruments and assemblies and exercises, for the communion of sinners, and for the stirring up of lust and filthiness. They that will go to the Devil’s Church deserve to be possessed with his Principles, and numbred with his Disciples. The ancient Christians were very severe against the seeing of these spectacula, shews or plays; especially in any of the Clergy.
12. Direct. 10. Avoid all tempting unnecessary ornaments or attire, and the regarding or gazing on them upon others. It is a procacious lustful desire to seem comely and amiable, which is the common cause of this excess. The Folly or Lust or both, of fashionists and gawdy Gallants, is so conspicuous to all in their affected dress, that never did Pride more cross it self, than in such publications of such disgraceful folly or lust. They that take on them to be adversaries to lust, and yet are careful when they present themselves to sight, to appear in the most adorned manner, and do all that Harlots can do to make themselves a snare to fools, do put the charitable hard to it, whether to believe that it is their tongues or their backs that are the lyer. As Hierome saith, Thou deservest Hell though none be the worse for thee: for thou broughtest the poyson if there had been any to drink it. Let thy apparel be suited not only to thy rank but to thy disease. If thou be enclined to lust, go the more meanly clad thy self, and gaze not on the ornaments of others. It’s folly indeed that will be enamoured on the Taylors work: yet this is so common, that it’s frequently more the apparel than the person that entiseth first! and homely rags would have prevented the deceit: As the Poet saith (Auferimur cultu: gemmis auro(que) teguntur Omnia: pars minima est ipsa puella sui. Ovid. de Remed. Am.
13. Direct. 11. Think on thy tempting object as it is within, and as it shortly will appear without. How ordinary is it for that which you call Beauty to be the portion of a fool; and a fair skin to cover a silly childish pievish mind; and a soul that is enslaved to the Devil. And as Solomon saith, Prov 11. 22. As a jewel of Gold in a Swines snout, so is a fair woman without discretion. And will you lust after an such adorned thing? Think also what a dunghill of filth is covered with all those ornaments; that it would turn thy stomach if thou sawest what is within them. And think what a face that would be if it were but covered with the Pox? and what a face it will be when sickness or age hath consumed or wrinkled it: And think what thy admired Carkass will be when it hath lain a few days in the grave; Then thou wouldst have little mind of it? And how quickly will that be? O man, there is nothing truly amiable in the Creature, but the image of God; the wisdom and holiness and righteousness of the soul. Love this then, if thou wilt Love with wisdom, with purity and safety: For the Love of Purity is pure and safe.
14. Direct. 12. Think on thy own death and how fast thou hastest to another world, Is a lustful heart a seemly temper for one that is ready to dye, and ready to see God, and come into that world where there is nothing but pure and holy doth abide.
15. Direct. 13. Consider well the tendency and fruits of lust, that it may still appear to your minds as ugly and terrible as it is indeed. 1. Think what a shame it is to the soul, that can no better rule the body, and that is so much defiled by its lusts. 2. Think what an unfit companion it is to lodge in the same heart with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit; shall a member of Christ be thus polluted? shall the Temple of the Holy Ghost be thus turned into a Swine sty? Is lust fit to dwell with the Love of God? wilt thou entertain thy Lord with such odious company? what an unkindness and injury is this to God, that when he that dwelleth in the highest Heavens condescendeth to take up a dwelling in thy heart, thou shouldst bring these Toads and Snakes into the same room with him? Take heed lest he take it unkindly and be gone: He hath said he will dwell with the humble and contrite heart, but where said he, I will dwell in a lustful heart? 3. Think how unfit it makes thee for Prayer, or any holy address to God. What a shame and fear and deadness it casts upon thy spirit? 4. And think how it tends to worse. Lust tendeth to actual filthiness, and that to Hell: cherish not the Eggs if thou wouldst have none of the Brood: It’s an easie step from a Lustful heart to a defiled body. and a shorter step thence to everlasting horrour than you imagine: As St. James saith, (Every man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own lust and entised; then when lust both conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death, Jam. 1. 13, 14. Gal. 6. 8. If ye sow to the flesh, of the flesh ye shall reap corruption. Remember that Lust is the spawn of sin, and sin is the way to Hell.
16. Direct. 14. Be sure to keep up a holy constant Government over thy Thoughts. Suffer them not to go after tempting, filthy, sensual things. As soon as ever a thought of Lust comes into thy mind, abhor it and cast it out. Abundance of the cure and of thy safety lyeth upon thy Thoughts. They that let their Thoughts run uncontrolled, and seed on filthiness, are already fornicators in the heart; and are hatching the Cockatrice Eggs; and no wonder if from Thoughts they proceed to deeds. O what a deal of uncleanness is committed by the Thoughts which people are little ashamed of because they are unseen of men! If the Thoughts of many were open to beholders, what wantonness and lust would appear in many adorned Sepulchres! Even in the time of holy Worship; when once such give the unclean spirit possession of their thoughts, how hardly is he cast out? they can scarce look a comely person in the face, without some vicious thought. If Hierome confess that in his Wilderness, his Thoughts were running among the Ladies at Rome; what may we think of them that feed such filthy Phantasies. Say not, you cannot rule your Thoughts. You can do much if you will, and more than you do: If money and honour can make an ungodly Preacher command his Thoughts to holy things, in the studies of Divinity through much of his life, you may see that your Thoughts are much in your power (but of this before).
17. Direct. 15. If other means serve not, open thy case to some friend, and shame thy self to him, as I advised under the former Title. Confession and shame, and advise will help thee.
18. Direct. 16. Above all go to Christ for help and beg his spirit, and give up thy Heart to better things: O if it were taken up with God and Heaven and the Holy life thats necessary thereto, these things are so Great and Holy and sweet, and of such concernment to thee, that they would leave little room for Lust within thee; and would make thee abhor it as contrary to those things which have thy heart. No such cure for any carnal Love as the Love of God; nor for fleshly lusts as a spiritual renewed Heavenly mind. Thou wouldst then tell Satan that God hath taken up all the room, and thy narrow Heart is too little for him alone; and that there is no room for lust or the thoughts that serve it. A true Conversion which turneth the heart to God, doth turn it from this with other sins, though some sparks may still be unextinguished: It was once noted that many turne from other sects to the Epicureans, but none from the Epicureans to any other sect: The reason was because nature is inclined to sensuality in all, and when it is confirmed by use and doctrine, Philosophy is too weak to master it: But Christ calleth and saveth Epicures, and Publicans and Harlots, and hath cleansed many such by his grace, which teacheth men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly righteously and godly in the world. Philostratus tells us of a sudden change upon one Isaesaus, that turned him from Luxury to exceeding temperance: so that when one asked him, Is not yonder a handsom woman? he answered, The diseases of my eyes are cured: when they askt him which dish was the pleasantest, he answered, Desii curare; I have done regarding such things: and told them the reason that marvelled at his change, Because he found that he did but gather fruits out of Tantalus garden. They are deceitful lusts, Eph. 4. 22. And Satan himself will reproach thee for ever, if he can deceive thee by them. As Alexander when he had taken Darius his gallantry and sumptuous Houses and Furniture, reproaches him with it saying, Hoccine erat imperare? was this to rule? so Satan would shew thee thy lusts and say, was this to be a Christian and seek salvation?