Shun Fornication

And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
~ Genesis 39:12-13, Proverbs 5:8, 1 Corinthians 6:18

To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
~ Proverbs 2:16, Proverbs 6:24-35, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:5

The Directions Against Fornication, by Richard Baxter. This is an excerpt from his work, “The Christian Directory”.

18. Direct. 1. If you would avoid uncleanness, avoid the things that dispose you to it, as Gluttony, or fullness of dyet, and pampering the flesh; Idleness, and other things mentioned under the next Title, of subduing lust. The abating of the filthy Desires is the surest way to prevent the filthy act: which may be done, if you are but willing.

19. Direct. 2. Avoid the present Temptations: Go not where the snare lieth without necessity: Abhor the Devils bellows that blow up the fire of lust; such as entising apparel, filthy talk, and fights, of which more also under the next Title.

20. Direct. 3. Carefully avoid all opportunity of sinning. Come not near the door of her house, saith Solomon Prov. 5. 8. Avoid the company of the person thou art in danger of: Come not where she is: This thou canst do if thou art willing: None will force thee: If thou wilt go seek for a thief, no wonder if thou be rob’d. If thou wilt go seek fire to put in the thatch, no wonder if thy house be burnt. The Devil will sufficiently play the Tempter; Thou needest not help him: thats his part; leave it to himself: It’s thy part to watch against him: And he will find thee work; If thou watch as narrowly and constantly as thou canst, it’s well if thou escape. As thou lovest thy soul, avoid all opportunities of sinning: Make it impossible to thy self: Much of thy safety lieth in this point. Never be in secret company with her thou art in danger of; but either not at all, or only in the sight of others: Especially contrive not such opportunities; as to be together in the night, in the dark, or on the Lords-day when others are at Church (one of the Devils seasons for such works) or any such opportunity leisure and secresie: For opportunity it self is a strong temptation: As it is the way to make a Thief, to set money in his way, or so to trust him as that he can easily deceive or rob you and never be discovered; so it is the way to make your self unclean to get such an opportunity of sinning, that you may easily do it without any probability of impediment or discovery from men. The chief point in all the art or watch is, to keep far enough off. If you touch the pitch you will be defiled. Whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent, Prov. 6. 29. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his cloaths not be burnt? Can one go upon hot coals and his feet not be burnt; so he that goeth in to his neighbours wife, vers. 27, 28. Bring not the fire and the gunpowder to near. If thou canst not keep at a distance, nor forbear the presence of the bait, thou art not like to forbear the sin.

21. Direct. 4. Reverence thy own Conscience: Mark what it speaketh now, for it will shortly speak it in a more terrible manner: Hear it voluntarily; for it is terrible to hear it when thou canst not resist: Treat with Conscience in the way while it is reconcileable: for thou knowest not how terrible a Tormenter it is. I doubt not but it hath given thee some gripes for thy very lust, before it ever came to practise: But the forest of its gripes now, are but like the playing of the Cat with the mouse, before the killing gripe is given. Doth no man see thee? Conscience seeth thee: And thou art a wretch indeed if thou reverence not Conscience more than man: As Chrysostom saith [Suppose no man know the crime but himself and the woman with whom he did commit it! How will he •ear the rebukes of Conscience; when he carrieth about with him so sharp and bitter an accuser? For no man can over-run himself; and no man can avoid the sentence of this court within him: It is a tribunal not to be corrupted with money, nor perverted by flattery; for it is divine, being placed in the soul by God himself: The less the Adulterer now feeleth it, the more he hastneth to the perdition of his soul.] Dost thou not feel a sentence p•st within thee! A terrible sentence; telling thee of the wrath of a Revenging God? Bless God that it is not yet an irreversible sentence; but sue o•t thy pardon quickly lest it come to that. Dost thou not feel, that thou art afraid and ashamed to pray or to address thy self to God? Much more afraid to think of dying, and appearing before him? If thy sin make thee ready to fly from him now, if thou knewest how, canst thou look him in the face at last; or canst thou hope to stand with comfort at his bar? Art thou fit to live in Heaven with him, that makest thy self unfit to pray to him? Even lawful procreation (as I said before) doth blush to come too near to holy exercises: As Chrysostom saith [Die quo liberis operam dedisti legitime, quamvis crimen illud non sit, orare tamen n•n audes—Quod si ab incontaminato lecto resurgens times? ad orandum accedere, quum in Diaboli lecto, our horribile Dei nomen audes invocare.] Conscience is a better friend to thee than thou dost imagine when it would reclaim thee from thy sin: And will be a sharper enemy than thou canst now imagine, if thou obey it not.

22. Direct. 5. Suppose thou sawest written upon the door of the house or chamber where thou entrest to sin, Whoremongers and Adulterers God will judge: Heb. 13. 4. And write that, or such sentences upon thy Chamber door, or at least upon thy heart. Keep thy eye upon the terrible threatnings of the dreadful God. Darest thou sin, when vengeance is at thy back? Will not the thought of Hell-fire quench the fire of lust, or restrain thee from thy presumptuous sin? Dost thou not say with Joseph, How shall I do this great wickedness and sin against God? As it is written of a chast woman that being tempted by a fornicator, wisht him first at her request to hold his finger in the fire: and when he refused, answered him, why then should I burn in Hell to satisfie you? So ask thy self, can I easilier overcome the flames of Hell, than the flames of lust?

23. Direct. 6. Remember man that God stands by: If he were not there, thou couldst not be there: for in him thou livest, and movest and art: He that made the eye must see, and he that made the light and darkness, doth see as well in the dark as in the light: If thou imagine that he is absent or ignorant thou believest not that he is God: For an absent and ignorant God, is no God. And darest thou, I say darest thou, commit such a villany and God behold thee? what that which thou wouldst be ashamed a Child should see? which thou wouldst not do if a mortal man stood by? Dost thou think that thy locks, or secresie or darkness, have darkenned or shut out God? Dost thou not know that he seeth not only within thy Curtains, but within thy heart? O what a hardened heart hast thou that in the sight of God, thy maker and thy judge, darest do such wickedness. Ask thy Conscience man, would I do this if I were to dye to morrow, and go to God? would I do this it I saw God, yea or but an Angel in the room? If not, shouldst thou do it, when God is as sure there as if thou sawest him? O remember man that he is a Holy God, and hateth uncleanness, and that he is a consuming fire? Heb. 12. 29.

24. Direct. 7. Suppose all the while that thou sawest the Devil opening thee the door, and bringing thee thy mate, and driving on the match, and perswading thee to the sin: What if he appeared to thee openly to play his part, as sure as he now playeth it unseen? would not thy lust be cooled? and would not the Devil cure the disease which he hath excited in thee? why then dost thou obey him now, when he is as certainly the instigator as if thou sawest him? why man, hast thou so little Reason, that seeing and not seeing will make so great a difference with thee? what if thou wert blind, wouldst thou play the Fornicator before all the company, because thou seest them not? when thou knowest they are there? If thou know any thing, thou knowest God is there: and thou maist feel by the temptation that Satan is in it. Wilt thou not be ruled by the Laws, unless thou see the King? wilt thou not fear the infection of the Plague unless thou see it? Use thy Reason for thy soul as well as for thy Body; and do in the case as thou wouldst do if thou saw the Devil tempting thee, and Christ forbiding thee.

25. Direct. 8. If thou be unmarryed marry, if easier remedies will not serve. It is better to marry than to burn, 1 Cor. 7. 9. It is God’s Ordinance partly for this end. Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled, Heb. 13. 4. It is a resemblance of Christ’s Union with his Church, and is sanctified to believers, Eph. 5. 1 Cor. 7. Perhaps it may cast thee upon great troubles in the world, if thou be unready for that state (as it is with Apprentices): Forbear then thy sin at easier rates, or else the lawful means must be used though it undo thee. Its better thy Body be undone than thy soul, if thou wilt needst have it to be one of them: But if thou be marryed already thou art a monster and not a man, if the remedy prevail not with thee: But yet the other directions may be also serviceable to thee.

26. Direct. 9. If less means prevail not open thy case to some able faithful friend, and engage them to watch ever thee and tell them when thou art most endangered by the temptation: This will shame thee from the sin, and lay more engagements on thee to forbear it. If thou tell thy friend, Now I am tempted to the sin, and now I am going to it; he will quickly stop thee: Break thy secresie, and thou losest thy opportunity. Thou canst do this if thou be willing: If ever thy Conscience prevail so far with thee, as to resolve against thy sin, or to be willing to escape, then take the time while Conscience is awake, and go tell thy friend: And tell him who it is that is thy wicked companion, and let him know all thy haunts, that he may know the better how to help thee. Dost thou say, that this will shame thee? It will do so to him that its known to: But that is the benefit of it, and thats the reason I advise thee to it, that shame may help to save thy soul. If thou go on, the sin will both shame and damn thee: and a greater •hame than this is a gentle remedy in so foul and dangerous a disease.

27. Direct. 10. Therefore, if yet all this will not serve turn, Tell it to many, yea rather tell it all the Town than not be cured: And then the publick shame will do much more: Confess it to thy Pastor, and desire him •penly to beg the prayers of the Congregation for thy pardon and recovery. Begin thus to crave the fruit of Church Discipline thy self; so far shouldst thou be from flying from it, and spurning against it as the desperate hardened sinners do. If thou say, This is a hard lesson, remember that the suffering of Hell is harder. Do not say that I wrong thee, by putting thee upon scandal and open shame: It is thou that puttest thy self upon it, by making it necessary, and refusing all easier remedies. I put thee on it, but on supposition that thou wilt not be easilier cured: Almost as Christ puts thee upon cutting off a right hand, or plucking out a right eye lest all the body be cast into hell: This is not the way that he commandeth thee first to take: he would have thee avoid the need of it: but he tells thee that its better do so than worse; and that this is an easie suffering in comparison of Hell. And so I advise thee, if thou love thy credit, forbear thy sin in a cheaper way; but if thou wilt not do so, take this way rather than damn thy soul. If the shame of all the Town be upon thee, and the Boys should hoot after thee in the Streets, if it would drive thee from thy sin, how easie were thy suffering in comparison of what it is like to be? Concealment is Satan’s great advantage. It would be hard for thee to sin thus if it were but opened.